Kepa to Nikiniki racetrack

Trip Start Jul 30, 2013
Trip End Oct 26, 2013

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Like all good plans my decision to make an early start was put on hold by meeting two charming guides from the Indonesian tour guides association at breakfast. A simple good morning always seems to turn into a long chat. Great blokes and a fund of information. Then a short backtrack to a little village Maubisi to look at and of course buy a couple of Ikat weavings. It sure is fun speaking no Indonesian but for a few words,and having a very poor map with hardly anything marked on it along with no signposts. It tests your power of communication to find a very small art shop in an obscure village but it is a laugh a minute on both sides. Back to Kefa to visit the bank and get fuel. Lining up with the 20 or so scooters who take about a liter each there are howls of laughter and astonishment as the Suzuki swallows 20 or more liters.

Then the fun started. I don't know if I have had a better days motorcycling but it would be a short list. Admittedly I recall some great days on the Great Ocean Road, the Gillies, The Oxley Hwy and the Great Alpine Road but the Kepa to Nikiniki road in West Timor is a cracker. Those Australian roads are a ton of fun but lack the variety of never knowing that in the next second coming around the bend will be a minibus with eight or nine passengers a couple of goats and a few chickens on the roof all clinging on for dear life as the driver,looking out thru a mirrored image of the Virgin Mary that covers the windscreen, tries his best to break the world land speed record. Mixed in with this are two or three scooters abreast racing like crazy as they overtake a tip truck that is spilling gravel as it claws its way up a hill. When the road is good it is great but just as suddenly, mid bend often, it drops six inches to really rough gravel with the smaller rocks the size of tennis balls for about 50 meters then straight back to great tar again. There is also the ever present Dog, pig, goat and cow wandering out of a plantation towards some better spot on the other side of the road. But when it is good the ride is sublime, bend after perfect bend up and down the ranges with great hotmix and only the occassional wave of melted tar that has slipped down the hill like a small black tsunami waiting to throw your front wheel out and you off the cliff that runs alongside the road. It is a test of concentration that is well rewarded as you travel thru lines of banana groves, fantastic rain forest and small villages of thached roofed beehive cottages. The speed is never that great, tops about 75/80km but the twists make it seem faster and a lot of fun.

After a stop at a warung for some sort of rice dish I set off to search for Boti a village visited in 2009 but with the advantage of a guide in the car. I find that if you just stop beside someone on the road, look stupid and say Boti pointing ahead they take pity on you and point the way, which is fortunate as there is no way you could find it otherwise . The road, well that is too good a description, a track really, wind up and along knife edged mountains and is as rough as can be. The Suzuki dirt bike heritage earned its pay this afternoon, very very steep slopes with lots of loose gravel, landslides, washouts and sand and dust gave me a good workout. I began to think that I was a long way from help and if I had a spill it would be a difficult extraction. I remembered that we had a tough time in the Landcruiser on this goat track but after about 90 minutes I finally made it exhausted to Boti. This place is a village that maintains its traditional culture with about seventy famlies living a subsistance lifestyle ruled by a king who works alongside them all in the fields. Liesbeth and I came here in 2009 and I found our names in the visitors book. The women do traditional weavings with hand spun cotton that they grow and dyes made from plants of the surrounding forest. Beautiful work that takes about a year to make a piece the size of a sarong on a backstrap loom. Since it has now been written up in the Lonley Planet the visitor numbers have skyrocketed along with the prices of the Ikat weavings. Just after I got here a group of six Italian tourists arrived with their guide in a 4WD bus and then a couple of Russians and a German. All including me are staying the night in VERY basic huts made of bamboo with low thatch roofs, with really hard beds, no lights and the most basic of bathrooms.

I cheerfully took a mandi, which is where you stand on a concrete floor in the small bamboo hut and pour water over yourself with a dipper, soap up and repeat water to rinse off, but the Italians looked a bit horrified at the prospect.Still they were troopers and eventually all gave it a go. We had a simple but nice meal of rice and local veg with a little pork and chicken both very tough then adjourned to the dance area where the whole village played and danced including the king who did a solo on a sort of ukulele. After an early Breakfast the king announced that as I was the first Tourist to ever come on a motorcycle by myself without a guide so must be a "strong man" and as a thank you for the return visit they would present me with a woven scarf to remember them all.

So back along the rough track without problems to Nikiniki where the market was in full swing. Every imaginable thing was out for sale, food, chickens, cloth, hardware, phones, cows and anything else you can think of. As this is a culture that revolves around the motorcycle whenever I stop a crowd gather to look at the bike and ask the usual questions, how much did it cost? how fast will it go? Is the petrol tank really that big? Then a couple of hrs ride along good road where occasionally a local hotshot roars up on his 150cc bike and tries to race me thru the corners. For the sake of Indonesian national pride and personal bragging rights I fang along for a while giving him a good run then let him get away to tell his mate how he bested the foreigner on a bigger bike. Loads of fun all round. Pretty soon I was in Kupang for lunch and as you get closer to the bigger cities the near miss rate goes up, it is always wise to pay constant attention as anything can and will happen. Will stay the night in Kupang and catch dodgy ferry to Flores tomorrow.
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Liesbeth on

I remember Kefa a.k.a. Kefamanu where we bought that beautiful, museum-quality weaving from the ibu recommended to us by Joanna in Darwin. x x

la-force on

so you've done your 20 seconds today then.

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