14 August 2013 | 10 09'S:123 34'E, Teddy's Bar, Kupang, East Nusa Tengarra, Indonesia
After the amazing sail across the Timor Sea, we dropped anchor in Kupang, Timor, Indonesia on Tuesday, July 30, 2013. The 5am arrival was quite interesting, as we navigated the channel into Kupang from the south, with many unmarked fishing buoys, boats, ferries, etc. creating obstacles that demanded not only our eyes, but also our ears to navigate. As the anchor settled in front of Teddy's Bar, the nearby drummer was providing a back beat only to be matched by the mosque's call to prayer 100 yds. apart. This was Kupang, the air scented with a mix of fried rice and spring rolls, with a little brush fire smoke for effect. For our first Asian country, our senses were on fire with everything new.
The welcome at Kupang for the Sail Indonesia 2013 fleet was amazing. The rather large city of +250,000 put together a red carpet extravaganza! After the CIQP visit to Sea Child (Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Port Control), where every drawer was opened, every mattress was searched, even the engine compartments were inspected! The boarding part of 6 Indonesia Officials took pictures of everything, including the take down of the Q flag! We finally received approval to leave Sea Child and finish the clearance process. The shore was decorated with hundreds of flags, lining the beach and pier where dozens of dinghy boys were waiting for the fleet of rally boats to come ashore, lifting the dinghys out of the water and placing them neatly along the sand. Sea Child was the first cat to finish the rally, even passing up 2 cats that left Darwin a day earlier! When we went ashore, there were about a dozen other rally participants or so that came in after us, and we were to ld to wait near the dinghys by the local Kupang officials. We were parched, tired from the night sail, and eager to be done with the government process. However, this would have to wait. We were finally led up the shore, through the growing crowds to the waiting traditional dancers that led us up to the covered stage area. Each one of us was presented with a traditional Rote Island hat & embroidered scarfs, and once under the large tent, we were given front row seats while the governor and mayor of Kupang gave speeches in both Bahasa Indonesia and English. We were then all gathered on the stage, where throngs of photographers took hundreds of photographs. One of these pictures ended up on the front page of the Timor Daily News. The national radio of Indonesia was there interviewing rally participants, and we were told that these interviews were broadcast simultaneously throughout Indonesia! We were in shock, all this attention from a welcoming nation, and as we fina lly were able to finish the clearance process and grab an icy beer at Teddy's Bar, we watched the remaining +75 boats sail in and drop their anchors, too.
Kupang was interesting, a bustling city with thousands of motor bikes everywhere! Signs & flags were all over the city, welcoming the Sail Komodo/Sail Indonesia rally. We were treated like royalty and given shirts, rally flags, and local food at every official function held for us. On Friday, there was a technical briefing where rally books with charts were handed out. Then, a wonderful buffet dinner & dancing followed, along with a local fashion show by a Kupang designer. We noticed how beautiful the Indonesian men & women are, their fashions conservative as you would expect in a Muslim country. On Saturday, the Kupang Gala was held for the Sail Indonesia participants, and this was more like a beautiful wedding reception than anything else! We all sat around the tables that were set for the government dignitaries, and were thrilled to watch more native dancing and another fashion show. After all the government officials were seated, we all enjoyed a delicious local d inner and listened to several speeches welcoming us to Indonesia. The week long series of events culminated with a sail-off on Sunday, with more speeches and more entertainment on the massive stage that was set up at the anchorage. Every night music played until well after 3am, and the call to prayer would come at 5am. As this was set during Ramadan, we were intrigued by the Muslim influences, where after dark dozens and dozens of food carts would line the city streets and the pier by the giant stage. We took a tour of Kupang and visited their local museum, water falls, and even a crystal blue cave with deep spring water and pool big enough to swim laps! This pool reminded us of the caves we saw in Poor Knights, New Zealand. All of this is just the beginning of our rally through Indonesia, a week spent in Kupang, Timor, to be followed by several more interesting ports!