Thursday, June 17, 2010

boat ride from kupang

a local helmet?

Not enough to top up Hope Too.

Sleeping above the hot pan.


We rode 3 hours to the Indonesia border. When we wanted to leave Timor Leste, the immigration officer was out for lunch. They were late for half hour for work. There were almost 40 people still have not had their lunch, sitting under the hot sun waiting for the immigration officer to come back.

The ‘out process’ for Timor Leste was made easy for us with a little patience.

When we reached the Indonesia side, it became so different.

There were many ‘kind helpers’ around the immigration building. Upon seeing me, some came out, pointed their hands out to direct me to stop at their desired destination trying to ‘help’ me. I ignored them because I wanted to go to the immigration counter which luckily, there was a signage. After stopping my bike, Sam came down, I took off my helmet and there were about 2-3 guys out of their gang trying to tell me:

Hello, motorcycle, go there, custom, chop.

The bad bad me ignored them.

I walked to the officer, he said the same, telling me to go to the custom office to get paperwork done for my bike. I said:

ok, later, but immigration first.

He suddenly felt more important. He stood up and went back into the office counter.

I went to his office counter to fill in the arrival form. As usual, a helper would follow me and tell me were to stand.

I took the arrival form, the ‘helper’ took out his pen and place it along my eye sight but the bad bad me ignored them and I took my own pen out.

Then I wanted to walk to a table to fill in the form and the ‘helper’ asked me to come to a nearer platform to fill in the form. The bad bad me totally ignored his call. While filling up the form, suddenly all of them, yes, all of them about 10-20 of the kind helpers that were hanging around the office, ran to a bus approaching from Timor Leste.

Yes, I had mastered the level 10 of the Kungfu on how to deal with the ‘helpers’ in every border crossing.

Having the stamps on our passport was easy, what was even easier was the custom clearance. I just took my carnet (CPD) to the custom officer and he filled in my papers and stamped on it without checking my bike.

When it was almost finished, another ‘helper’ tried to instruct me to go to another counter to report. This time I was shaken because he might be true. Anyway, I had my passport and carnet being stamped and I do not owe them anything. If any official want to check on me they should come to me. The ‘helper’ seems persistent that we must go to the other counter to report. Sam told him off that we had already done it, then, the ‘helper’ became satisfied.

We had our first lunch at about 3pm at an Indonesian local restaurant. It was a small village and it was quite dark inside. I parked Hope Too near the door and I would sit at a chair facing Hope Too directly in sight. A curious man, about in his 40s, stopped his bike near Hope Too, observed him, then looked at me while I was eating. He tried to knock every plastic part on Hope Too to test if it was unbreakable and up to his standard. The owner of the restaurant was with him discussing about Hope Too with him. He looked at me again and smiled when I smiled back. He stood nearer to Hope Too, trying to get the bird’s eye view of riding Hope Too with his side of his hips touching the seat and his hand on Hope Too’s handlebar. He looked at me and smiled and I smiled back. Then he climbed over the Hope Too and sit on it.

I stood up and shouted at him.

He came down.

Still observing at a different way, he would try to touch everything he could to help us by making sure everything on the bike is still there, also, to remind himself that what he saw was real and not dreaming.

We quickly finished up our rice, paid up and rode off.

Riding in the same type of terrain of Timor Leste, this island had mountains and hills being formed million years ago by the aggressive movement of land plates. The ring of fire in planet earth passes thro many places in Indonesia. Thus, making this country a ‘smoking country’.

The volcanoes are smoking.
The vehicles are smoking.
The rubbishes are smoking.
The people are smoking.
Even the recent youtube clip about a 2 years old Indonesian baby smoking 20 sticks a day!

Everytime we enter a new country, we would not want to travel for a long distance. Staying an early day in a new country would help to ‘orientate’ us to the culture and the system. This place was different. On the map it would be 200km straight line to where we wanted to go but on actual ground, it would be 50% more. Most of the time we were riding along the contour and ridge of the mountain. Going down to the bottom of the mountain, cross a bridge, ascend again, rounding up the mountain, made our journey even longer. With the ageing of Hope Too, he could hardly climb up the mountain as the chain and sprockets were very worn. Pray for us that it would last till home, which is about 7000km away on the road.

Round and round, we were again racing with time for sunset. We had reached a country where the time was +8GMT (same as Singapore) but the sun sets at 1700hrs.

Town road were disorganized. We looked at the map in our guide book and the actual terrain. Maybe my navigation skills had to brush up more but many times the map made no sense. We arrived in the nearest ‘stayable’ town, So’e, near sunset hours. Stopping and reading the map, going round and round the busy and noisy street, someone just walked across the road just to look at Hope Too. He was part of a group of Ojek that was hanging around the corner of the street. (Ojek is a motorcycle taxi). This young gentleman walked across with big steps and his both arms swinging 45degrees out, with his neck trying to lean forward so that his eye sight would be faster than his body movement.

We were lost in this mess. I was reading the map with Hope Too Idling. Both of us were on the bike. Hope Too was angry and started to turn on his fan to cool himself down.

I felt very weird when this gentleman was going around us to spot for something for 20 seconds. I started to ask him about the road that we wanted to go.

‘hello, selamat malam. Di mana Jalan Merpati?’

he answered:

‘Jalan Merpati?!’

He wasn’t sure of where it was and he shouted at his gang about where is Jalan Merpati. The whole group came, about 10-20 of them. Some rode thier bike just to cross the street, some ran over, and some pedestrians stopped too to see what’s going on. Within 5 seconds, we were totally surrounded by people. Some just want to see what’s happening, some lean themselves on Hope Too, some touching Hope Too by knocking, trying to test the material made on Hope Too, some touching our front saddlebags like trying to move them.

Everyone started to talk something which we couldn’t really understand. They discuss among themselves about where we wanted to go. Then I tried to ask them about a bank named BNI, which was a more strategic place in the town to help me navigate.

I asked

Di mana BNI? (I pronounced bee-and-eye)

One answered:


I said no, bee-and-eye.

he replied

bee-and-yee?wang? money?

when I was about to say something, Hope Too suddenly gas up. The RMP when up. I saw somebody’s hand on my throttle, trying to give Hope Too a rev. I pushed his hands away and I saw his face, he was laughing.

I find that the situation was not right. Without speaking furthur, I press my horn (the horn was broken as my fart would be louder) and try to squeeze away from the crowd.

At last we found a lovely place to stay and Hope Too could rest his back.

Before we went to sleep, the 2 incidents that happened today about people molesting Hope Too made me insomniac.

The homestay we were at was really homely. Breakfast was served at the owner’s living room by his granny. There were photos of granny when she married. She was a beautiful young lady. Granny had wrinkles and walked slowly in her sarong. They were Catholics. Anyone that stayed here would really feel homely with Granny around. The picture gave me a thought:

Everyone would age. We could not go back in time.

The ride from So’e to Kupang was only 2 hours.

Hotel was affordable and inside compound type of parking. Our aim was to catch the ferry ride tomorrow to the next island. As usual, I would switch on the alarm on Hope Too when he was parked out of our sight. When we were in the room, I had to walked out 2-3 times to see why Hope Too was shouting for help. Then every time I would witness some guys standing around Hope Too.

Kupang was the major town of west Timor of Indoneisa. We went into a university to get our first cheap internet connection (in Timor Leste, slow internet was us$4.00/hr), about us$0.45 per hour. yes, we paid for what we get, able to log into our mail and facebook would be good enough. Uploading one picture into our blog was not possible.

In the night, we went to the pasar malam (night market). it had been a really long time that we had not visit a real pasar malam. The road was closed to allow hawkers on their pushcart to set up tables and chairs. There were all kinds of local treats. We had some grilled seafood, which we missed a lot. The fish were ordered was melting in our mouth. Great food and very affordable price.

There was no certainty about the boat ride. some people said it would leave at 5pm, some said 6pm, some said 4pm. Ticket office would not be opened until the boat was ready for in-process. We do not want to miss this twice a week ferry.

We went to the harbour at 1130am. There were some mess in buying tickets. For the bike, we paid extra than the locals because it was a much bigger bike. Then for the bike ticket, it would include a rider, that was me. After buying that, the officer told Sam to go to another building to buy her passenger ticket. Sam went to queue up in one of the 2 booth. When it was her turn, the officer told her to come after 1pm because it was lunch time.
Sam came back and update me about the lunch wait until 1pm. Then another officer manning at the gate into the ferry waved us to go in. Sam told him that she had not bought the ticket but the officer hinted us something like, it’s ok, no problem type of gesture. We went in, parked our bike, laid our ground sheet and sat down.

the ferry leaves the harbour at 4pm. Luckily we came in early to reserve an area for Hope Too and ourselves. So what we did in this 4-5 hours? Sit down, rejected hawkers that came to sell wallet and drinks, eat our lunch pack, hiding ourselves away from the sun, looking at people that were looking at us, looking at people knocking at Hope Too, trying to avoid people stepping on us when we were laying down and many more! So much activities to do.

Timor Leste exit to Indonesia.

a better way to travel by bike in Timor Leste.

i don't like this!


atticus said...

Always looking forward to reading your latest post. Interesting as always.

I can't help noticing that your writing skills have improved over the years/months. Great job! :)

Fajar said...

hello, im Fajar from HTML( honda Tiger Mailing List) Yogyakarta.
How are you?

singaporedream said...

thank you atticus, we will keep up!