Wednesday July 29 evening

We dinghied back to the beach and this time paid the boat boys. Some collective bargaining and the threat of a boycott by the Rally participants had reduced the daily fee for looking after the dinghy from 75000Rp($8.00) to 50000 ($5.50).

A bus took us to a large open air reception with an expo of local arts and crafts put on by the Governor of this Eastern Province. The woven textiles here are beautiful and form a big part of the culture. There were lots of speeches, presentations and dancing. The dancers from nearby island of Roti were exceptional and the dancers from West Pupua were also very good.

Overall it was an amazing and energetic welcome to Indonesia for the Rally Participants. We also found out the Indonesians love very loud music. The louder the better!

Dinner was ok but very little meat. Lots of rice and spiced vegetables.

We were all exhausted and ready for bed by 2200

Thursday July 30

Woken early again by the 0425 call to prayer at the maximum volume the amplifiers can produce. EPA noise pollution levels well exceeded. The Mosque speakers were not far away.

Ashore, we ventured into town. We bypassed all the touts waiting for the yachties and offering everything at inflated prices and had a look around the streets. Betel Nut and its accoutrements were common.

Fully loaded Bemo's

We bargained with a Bemo driver to take us to the Museum. We thought we had done well to get all 4 of us there for 50000Rp ($5.50). We rocked to the deafening music in the Bemo the whole 8.7 km to the Museum. The concierge there spoke English so we arranged for him to ring the Bemo for our return trip with the music turned down. We later found out we had paid about 3 times the correct fare for each trip. No wonder the driver was so happy to return to pick us up. We made his day!

The museum was good and made even better by our delightful guide, who spoke English and gave us a good run down on the history and culture of these Eastern Islands of Indonesia.

It was here that Captain Bligh arrived in his little boat following the mutiny of the Bounty.

The big surprise was how much whaling was a part of the culture here. Humpbacks, Blues, Sperm as well as smaller predatory whales are here in abundance.

That evening we enjoyed our second Gala dinner. This one put on by the mayor of Kupang at a very flash new Hotel Restaurant complex called the “Beer & Barrell”.

The meal was delicious but drinks very expensive 200,000Rp ($22.00) for a glass of wine.

More, speeches, dances, some traditional music and then more very, very loud music, traditional songs, hipped up with a western beat. We retreated down to the beach to get away from the noise.

 

We were ready to depart by 2030.

Friday July 31

Woke up already looking forward to a steak and red wine dinner aboard. However, first we were going “trekking” or so we thought.

Met the group onshore with hiking boots and bathers packed, ready to depart at 0900. Some people had been told 0800 and had been waiting an hour. Then the organisers tried to convince us that the government bus was no longer available so we would have to pay extra. Everybody started to withdraw so they changed their tune and left the price as it was.

The bus was fairly delapidated with very narrow seats. Our guide, Nimrod, was lovely and tried very hard to please us. We stopped at a large traditional market and had a good wander about checking out the produce for sale.

Think we'll pass on the meat section.

 

Onward to the lake. The roads are terribly potholed and washed out so it was a very bumpy ride for 2 hours up into the hills, through Loe and onto the lake. Got lost with a wrong turn and chased down by a guy on a motorbike to redirect us.

Finally arrived at the Lake Park to find the over 1000 people were there waiting to greet, welcome and party with us as the guests of honour. We were held back by Nimrod until the women elders came to meet us and dance us to the waiting crowd. I think we have become a political football for government propaganda but good on them.

We had to dance about 4 long songs (at deafening volume again) with the tiny elder women of this local hill tribe. They really were small and spaced out on betel nut, shuffling the dance steps and smiling with red stained lips and teeth. They really seemed to be enjoying themselves and we felt very welcome.

We final got through to Nimrod that we still wanted to “trek”. He finally arranged for a couple of guides to takes us for a stroll around the lake which was really a fish farm. We were accompanied by many minders, mainly teachers from the local school who could speak English. A toilet stop for the ladies caused much discussion and the girls were directed into the bush.

By this time it was 1330 and we were getting pretty hungry and there was no sign of lunch. Thankfully a few coconut trees were climbed and we all enjoyed a drink of fresh milk and a snack of soft coconut flesh.

Returning from our short leisurely “Trek” we were again greeted by the locals keen to have their photo taken with us. The paparazzi were also their en mass. Another hour of socialising then the call to lunch came. Lots of rice and spicy vegetable dishes.

Finally back in the bus for the long drive home by 1530. At least we had seen a lot of the countryside. Looking forward to a Bintang and our red meat, red wine dinner.

Saturday August 1

Morning on the boat doing boat things. I went over to Ocelot and got a copy of all John's high resolution Kap files for the Indonesian Coast and Islands. These are invaluable over here as the charting is so inaccurate and poor.

Ashore we checked out a guest house for John and Jo and on the way purchased a few veggies. Enjoyed a Bintang with Russell and Rob off Marathon Lady at Teddy's Bar. Organised a case of Bintang for the boat. Over at 999 the kids in the fleet were preparing packs of school supplies to deliver to remote schools. We arranged to carry 4 of the bulky packs.

The dinghy mafia were getting slack and dropped ours and dragged it a bit. I told them off.

Quiet night, ready for an early morning departure.

 

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