3 Ojek's, 1 Bus and 9 Long Hours - crossing the border from East Timor to West Timor and on to Kupang
I was determined to go snorkeling before I left Oecussi and so I was up at 6.30am with bathers on and snorkel in hand and headed to the beach. It was a perfect morning, the water was calm, the sky clear and the sun was about to peer over the mountains and say good morning.
The water was a great temperature and I did not hesitate on the way in although there was a bit of hesitation once in wondering if I would see an unwanted visitor. The scenery under the water was great. Great big coral and fish of all shapes, colours and sizes. It was a delightful start to the day and I was wishing that I had been out the previous days as well. I didn't spend too long out as that unwanted visitor kept on lingering in the back of my mind, so much that I would pop my head up above the surface just too make sure there was nothing lurking close by (mind you if there was I would have had no chance) plus I had a border crossing to make followed by a decent bus journey.
With bags packed and my tummy filled with a fried egg and bread roll (no fancy breakfasts around here) I was off on my way to find an Ojek (motorbike) to get me to the border. My first offer was $20, way too much. I made my way up to where the buses stopped to see if they went that way but no I would have to hire it on my own and that was too expensive. I then tried to ask if I could get a local bus to the next town and then from there get to the border but no-one seemed to understand. Soon though I had about 3 people bargaining to get me to the border and I got it for $7. The journey was beautiful and we drove through many small villages during the hour it took us to get to the border. My Ojek driver was an excellent driver and I gave him $10 for his efforts although he didn't seem too excited by my generosity. Once at the border I had to show my passport at the checkpoint, then it was up the hill to the E-Timor immigration office to fill in paperwork and show my passport to have it stamped then it was a short walk across to Indonesia. First I had to go to the Immigration Office to fill out paperwork and have my passport stamped then I had to go to this other office and have my passport checked and then I had to go to the customs office to have my bag checked and of course he had to check my passport and then finally I had to go to the army checkpoint to have my passport checked again. Once I got through all of these passport checks I could finally get on an Ojek to Kefa where I could pick up a bus for the 5 hour journey to Kupang. Of course I had to bargain again for the Ojek and I got it from $5 down to $3. It was a decent 20km's to Kefa and again I passed through beautiful small villages, very basic houses/huts and some beehive like ones with just a small door at the front.
Once at the Kefa bus station I was mobbed by touts to get me on their bus and before I could say anything someone had my pack and was off to the next bus departing for Kupang. The trip was long and non adventurous and the landscape was all starting to look the same. The one thing that I am struggling with here with the transportation being it bus or ferry is that you can smoke on them making the hot and sweaty trip even more uncomfortable. Once in Kupang I then had the dilemma of payment as I was still travelling with US dollars and had only $3 worth of Indonesian Rupea from an earlier trip in the year, also my smallest note consisted of a $5 note only and I was praying that this would be enough as I needed the local money for my Ojek or local bus to the hotel. The guy was happy to accept my $5 although it was obviously not something that happened too often as he was like what do I do with it now? With that settled I was on another Ojek, and this time I didn't bargain as it seemed more than reasonable, and on my way to the hotel. Through the bustling streets we wound our way down the road to the sea side of Kupang in the central area. The hotel was pretty basic but I was not on for traipsing around to save a $1. An afternoon snack and breakfast was included so I sat down to a coffee (which was really bad) and muffin to think about what I would do next. The guy at the reception was really helpful in regards to ferry departures and I soon found out that the ferry I needed was leaving the next day and would take about 16 hours (yuck). I was hoping to spend a day or two in Kupang but with the next ferry being the following week I was not up for spending that much time here. Not having eaten since breakfast (although I did save one of my bread rolls and ate that around midday) I was keen for some food. I was recommended to head around up behind the hotel to where there was a university and plenty of places to eat. There was plenty of street eating to be had and I opted for this pancake type thing which I chose to be filled with cheese (and also came with condensed milk spread over the cheese) and at $1.50 I thought it was a bit expensive and that I was getting ripped off big time but then when I got it and saw how BIG it was then I could see that I was being charged the right amount. I also opted for some Nasi Goreng (fried rice with some vegetables and a fried egg) from another street stall. I saw it being made earlier on when I walked past so new it was nice and fresh and at 80 cents was a real bargain and bloody nice. Of course my eyes were bigger than my belly from not having eaten too many meals over the past few days and I struggled to eat the Nasi Goreng yet start on the pancake. So I ate one piece of the pancake which I must say was nice but nothing to write home about (although I 'm writing about it now) and I gave the rest to another hotel guest who seemed very pleased with my donation. So really for 80 cents I could have been filled up nicely for dinner without having to go for the extra's but then again it's always nice to try new things, and what you get in one town is not necessarily what you will get in the next (although nasi Goreng is a staple throughout all of Indonesia.