We made it safely to West Timor!
30 July 2008 | Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia
Well, we finally made it to Indo! The trip across was fairly uneventful and there didn't appear to be as many fishing boats and nets to dodge as we had been made to believe. The conditions unfortunately were not very conducive to sailing and we became a motor boat for most of the trip. But it was beautiful, calm seas, magnificent sunsets, it took us 3 days to cover the 470 nautical miles to Kupang. To our surprise on arrival we were the 10th boat out of 117 to cross the finish line so we were pretty happy with that.
Once arriving in Kupang at around midday on 29th of July we had to undertake the task of trying to check into the country. Indonesia does not seem to be big on systems but they love their paperwork. On arrival we were asked to anchor in the Quarantine area and await the Quarantine officials who would come out to our boat. Unfortunately as we had arrived at midday they decided to go to lunch for ½ an hour, 2 hours later we saw them board their boat and take off into the distance away from all the yachts. Finally we contacted Sail Indonesia to find out what was going on and found that they had decided they wanted to check us in somewhere else and that they wanted us to move. We all stayed where we were and eventually they came back to us. Instead of coming back in their boat they came back by road which meant that all the yachts then had to run them around in their dinghy's. Jay went into shore and picked up two officials to bring out to the boat, they were terrified of the water and gripped on to the inflatable for dear life. At this point it had become quite rough in the anchorage and getting them on to the boat was a bit of a mission but we got there, after establishing that we had no diseases we were finished with Quarantine... for the moment. Next Jay had to run across to the Customs boat and pick up two Customs officials. Customs have a 36 ft fibreglass speed boat with three 200hp motors on it but they have no dinghy attached to it so all boats had to pick up the officials themselves. More paperwork to fill out, a thorough search of the boat and our first problem... we are having a problem with our Indonesian Sponsor. Apparently Customs are making things difficult because with last year's rally they didn't get their cut of the money. Every yacht in the anchorage currently has a big sticker on it about 350mm high by 500mm wide which means we have not cleared into the country. We are currently waiting for a letter from some high ranking official somewhere in Jakarta to say that we can all enter the country. This doesn't stop us from going ashore just from leaving Kupang until Customs remove the sticker. Finally we went ashore to complete immigration only to find that they had decided to stop work for the day. Lucky for us there was plenty of cold Bintang at Teddy's Hotel and we sat down to celebrate our arrival in Indonesia.
We were keen to experience something of Kupang on our first day and after talking with a pleasant Kupang local, both Jay and I and our new friends, Ian and Michelle from 'Raku' took up Alfredo's offer to take us to the market for dinner. We found a nice looking stall and sat down to enjoy a plateful of local Kupang Cuisine which included coconut and vegetable dishes along with spicy chicken and fish all served with rice. It was delicious and perfectly safe, we have had no sign of the dreaded 'Bali Belly'.
After a well deserved sleep we awoke the next morning to the sounds of the local Muslims being called to prayer and of course the fishing boats taking off for the day as we are anchored amongst them. We decided to head into shore early for some breakfast and to tackle immigration, we were also meeting with Alfredo and some of his English students to spend the day with them so they could practice their English. More boats had arrived overnight and we knew that if we did not hurry we might get caught up in the rush to complete immigration. We entered the room being used for immigration only to find that immigration were not there but that Quarantine and Customs needed us to fill in yet more forms and pay them some money! With that out of the way we retired to Teddy's Hotel to have some breakfast and await Immigrations arrival. Jay enjoyed a Nasi Goreng while I had a delicious vegetable omelette at a cost of about $1 each. By the time immigration arrived we had to join a queue only to get to the front and find out that they were waiting for the stamp to arrive so that they could stamp our passports. We were to hand over the passports and copies of numerous documents and return in 3 hours. We found out that apparently Kupang only has one set of stamps for immigration and that most of the time they are kept at the airport (obviously) so every time someone arrives in Kupang the stamps have to be collected and ferried to the point of entry... welcome to Indonesia!
We left with the crew from 'Raku' for a walk around town with the English students to see some of Kupang. As we walked we tried to communicate with the students who were by now starting to get over their shyness. We had some things that we had to try and find while we were in town but it was all too hard with the students in tow and we were exhausted by the end of the day, they wore us out.