Kupang - Indonesia

Trip Start Jul 22, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

We left Darwin on July 22 at 11am and we were the very first to break open our big lightweight spinnaker at the start. Before long all the old racers came out of the closet and it was on for young and old. If you are keen to read more on the event and the sail go to: http://www.sailindonesia.net/history/history2006.php

Our crew on board Tactical Directions for the rally was Big Tone, and Amorica and myself. The sail had everything from squalls, beautiful sailing conditions, no wind to just pleasant sailing. Tone was tremendous as during the middle of the night one night he had to go to the end of the bow sprit and release and reconnect a pin, all while the boat was pitching up and down. We crossed the line on July 25th with less than 10 boats ahead of us, with many of them having motored much more than us. Trillium, a Farrier 31' trimarine with nothing in it won and sailed all the way.

Immediately upon arrival we headed for a cold beer at Teddy's Bar which is right on the Kupang beach where you are in easy view of the boats at anchor. There was a welcoming party where all three of us really got into the dancing and it was such a great timedrinking and socialising with everyone and a great atmosphere to be forging some friendships that are still so close even today, 3 years down the track.

The highlight though was our trip inland to see a highland village that about 8 of us wanted to do. Now you have to understand that Kupang is a sleepy town normally and when the yachts come once a year its a big thing and the people start to see the dollar signs in their eyes. You learn to accept this....to a certain degree. We found out that there are many scam artists on the prowl.

To set the scene - there were many so called tour operators that all were meant to be working either with Ted's bar, or the rally itself. So one guy comes up to Ginny (Ascension) and myself offering us this unbelievable deal to see this remote mountain village. He spins us this line that we will have our own luxury van, 4WD, good seats etc. Lunch will be served as will afternoon tea - one day - cheap cheap. Ginny and I say yeah, book us for 9 people. Don told us to be all ready at 6am the next morning and to meet near Ted's bar. I cannot remember paying in full or a substantial deposit but Don was in front!

Next morning we meet dead on 6am. Don is there waiting. He tells us "so sorry, the van has gone as he couldn't wait" - we all say but you told us 6am and it is only 6am. Don says don't worry he has another van organised. 10mins later a van/bus pulls up. We all hop on. Off on our adventure! Pretty soon it becomes apparent that this is not a private van, but rather the local bus as it kept stopping and picking up people, pigs, dogs, etc and dropping them off. A few angry glances to Don but he says don't worry, private van at the next town.

We finally arrive at this town where we were all told to get off. We linger and walk around a local market as Don told us to wait as the van was not there yet. So we wander around but just one look at Don told us that in fact he had no van lined up - he was out negotiating with local taxt drivers to get us a ride to the village. Well he finally gets us a van!!! If you could call it that. This van was so old and the seats so uncomfortable, but, we've come this far....what the heck?? So in we go, cramped as it was - everyone was looking at each other in disbelief and then Ginny and I had these cold hard stares....you got us into this....!!!

Well I have to say that had to be the worst trip I've taken. We went up and down mountains, through creek beds, villages, ravines and everything a geologist on a new field trip is likely to cover. Thing is though, WE PUSHED THE VAN UP HILLS!!! Yep, this thing was no 4WD, it was lucky to be one wheel drive! We all had to get out and push on many occassions and going down the sides of these steep cliffs - well I had bruising on my arm as Amorica sitting beside me had a vice like grip to ward off her anxiety...it was like, "Tony, this is your fault I'm here!"

After about 4 hours of travelling we did indeed come upon this mountain village where we were welcomed in the traditional style, the men were presented with what to me was a Koftan by the elders of the village. A donation of course was then given (I wonder how much of this Don pocketed?)and we were then shown through the village and all their handicrafts.

After a couple of hours at the village the trek home was to look forward to .....NOT!

The same scenario happened again, stopping, pushing etc until finally we reached the town where the van was hired. After clearly a big argument between the van owner and Don, which to us had to be because Don was trying to screw him also, we transferred to another bus which took us back to Kupang where another argument ensued with Don.

This we all thought was the start of Indonesia, so we didn't have a pleasant experience dealing with this character. We reported him to the staff of Ted's Bar as Don had been wearing a badge indicating he was a staff member. What Ted did we have no idea - all we know is that we paid to see the village of Boti and we got to see it - but not how we were promised. What's that old adage, "once bitten twice shy" - a good lesson.

PS: As a postscript to this. I was in Raffles Marina in Singapore and who should come up to me and ask if I wanted him to clean my boat...you guessed it! Don! Apparently he had signed on to a big boat that was goind to Thailand but he was told to leave in Singapore. Wonder why! You can also guess what I said to him!!!!!!!!!!!
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