Booming bemos and Bintangs on board
Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
235Trip End Nov 30, 2009
Show trip route
The Portuguese and Dutch have had both had bases of governance here as evidenced by the crumbling fortress wall along the waterfront, and even Captain Bligh spent a few days not long after being booted off The Bounty in the famous mutiny of 1789.
I must say it's good to be back in dodgy but vibrant Asia again, where everyone is smiling and friendly, and everything is so darn cheap. Anyway, this is my fifth day on solid ground and we move on tomorrow so thought I'd better stop drinking and get some writing done. Here's what's been happening.
From photos in the last entry you know we arrived in Kupang at the crack of dawn. The first thing you notice about the place at that time is the pall of smoke that blankets it. The next thing is despite the overwhelming majority of the population (approx 300,000) here being devoutly Christian, you hear the wailing of the Muslim call to prayer loud and clear. It might be a chant, it might be a tirade but it was certainly unexpected. Anyway, within an hour of arrival both the smoke and the chanting had blown over and quite a picturesque seaside town, surrounded by quite impressive mountains, was revealed in all its ramshackle glory.
On board the Customs Clearance process took more than 24 hours so that wrote off most of Wednesday, which was probably fortunate as we were all enormously tired from the all-nighter logged to navigate through the Kupang Strait. Got to dodge those unlit fishing boats and lobster pots. Town officials were conscious that we weren't spending money whilst being confined on the boat so once Customs and Quarantine stopped for the day we were allowed to come into Teddy's Bar, where I got some space from Joe and Michele and had dinner and a few drinks with some new friends from other boats. Was great to be on land again, but was a little wobbly (especially after 3 or 4 beers). After hitching a ride back to the boat I slept pretty well that night!
Ten Customs officials finally reached our yacht around 10am the next morning. Apparently another boat had not declared a couple of firearms earlier in the morning so officials were extra diligent in their searching, however the whole process was so ad hoc you could have stashed a howitzer somewhere below and they probably would have overlooked it. We didn't give them anything (beer, wine, magazines etc) like many other boats, so got off reasonably well in that regard, but Quarantine requesting 'whisky testings' or Immigration that free pair of sunglasses (from straight off your head) was pretty much the order of the day. We were relieved when they finally packed up and left.
We headed ashore to do some money changing and exploring by ubiquitous bemo (sorry, should have got a photo) in the afternoon and then headed back to Teddy's for our first Gala rally event - dinner with the Mayor with traditional Timor music and dancing. The locals wore customary garb and looked a treat in their funky Ikat weaved outfits. Unfortunately those pix didn't work out too well. Once the presentations and speeches were done 200+ hungry sailors demolished the buffet. All us younger crewies formed a table up the back and we set in for a long night drinking - with Dave, Louise and I soldiering on into the sunlight of Friday, assisted by the M-150 energy drink and Onky the bar manager serenading us on his guitar. Petra, Lesley and Ross (one of about 4 here this week!) performed admirably as well and special thanks to Indra for taking us to the locals 'Dancing Hall' and then getting up on stage to play like a demon. Certainly a man of many talents.
Despite the long night we managed to get a guide and car together to go exploring in the hills Friday afternoon. First stop was a mountain full of little Tamarin monkeys (not really sure if that's quite correct but I'll go with it). Cute and well behaved, between running, jumping and flipping they chowed through three bags of peanuts we brought for them and generally didn't scratch or bite, sparing us the inconvenience of rabies on top of a hangover. Definite potential candidates for an army of monkey butlers the boys at home have always been talking about.
Then it was to the markets for some $3 backpack and dodgy clothes shopping, as well as to pick up a mountain of fruit or vegetables for the combined total of 80 cents or so. By then the hangover was really starting to kick in, so we retreated to the waterfront and a couple of beers before scampering home to sleep.
And that was the general pattern with the rest of our stay at Kupang - drink, try to sleep, have hangover, drink etc. There isn't a great deal to do around town so the bar becomes the de facto meeting and entertainment venue. There was another gala cultural dinner last night, with the Governor of the whole Nusa Tenggara province in attendance, so while everything had to be bigger and better than the Mayor's night, it was really more of the same. It's been really hard to write this entry but I've got there in the end, and I'm not the only one who will be glad to move on to new and more sedate islands in the near future.
Over and out
Next entry -> Alor
Entry sponsored by Bintang and M-150 energy drink (woah)