ARAGORN ... Not all those who wander are lost (JRR Tolkien)

Indonesia - Eastern Part

Indonesia is such a big country, we could not put it all on one web page (and have it load in a reasonable time). Quiz: what is the fourth largest country in the world (in population), after China, India and the US? Yes, Indonesia. What is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world ... yes, Indonesia. We can also attest that it is a country of friendly, open and happy people (quick to laugh). Also that it has one of the widest ranges of diversity in cultures and religions, from Christians in the east to Animists living in traditional villages in the middle, to Indians with Hindu beliefs in Bali and Muslims living everywhere, and, while we were there, practicing Ramadan fasting all day and up praying much of the night. Although we were in urban areas too, the Indonesians seemed to have a large part of the population out fishing all the time! Throughout the three Indonesia pages, look at all the different designs of watercraft - there are so many different types in Indonesia, and only a few are familiar to us. From the animal kingdom, we saw monkeys, Komodo Dragons, orangutans and a ton of bird life. Indonesia was a wonderful place. Look below!

This page covers Kupang and Timor, plus Sumba. See other Indonesia pages in Photo Gallery too.

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This is just one type of fishing boat we encountered in our first day in Indonesia, while anchored off the town of Kupang, Timor Island. The people are very friendly, and love to have their picture taken - see the man in the red shirt waving to us. The town is old and new ... more modern construction next to old fortifications like the old turret in the right side of the photo.

And what kind of weird craft is this? As we entered Kupang harbor, this appeared, from afar to be a two-masted schooner, with hundreds of halyards and shrouds. We couldn't figure it out, so we circled. (see below)

The thing was another way to fish! A raft made up of a hull, with large outriggers like a trimaran, and nets slung between them. The masts merely held the net control lines. These craft are semi-permanently moored in deep water, and at night they light lanterns, drop the nets. The fish swim toward the light, where they get scooped up by the net.

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At the market in Kupang, you can buy almost anything that is grown, and then some. While we were there, we encountered this woman, who like many Indonesians, was always smiling. We liked her, and she loved to have her photo taken.

Buying a lot at the market? Can't find a shopping cart - because they don't exist in the market? Just hire one of the cart boys to shlep your goods around. They are everywhere, they work for peanuts and they are happy!

At the end of marketing, local residents board the van, called a "Bemo" for a small bus ride with 12 or 15 of their nearest and dearest friends. But the price is right, 1000 Rupiah (about $0.10). The two westerners at the right are David and Sue Arnold from the yacht PAROO who joined the rally in Australia for the trip to the Mediterranean.

Refueling in Timor is a bit different ... there is no fuel dock to pull up to. Instead six people in this large dugout canoe pull up with many jerry jugs of fuel inside. They pump it up (orange pump) and into our tanks. We baja filter all our fuel, and when you saw how dirty the filter screens were after this load of fuel, you are thankful you have the baja. They have six people on board as labor is cheap in most places in Indonesia, so everyone gets in on the act.

Getting to land in Kupang meant landing on the beach, at which point five or six guys would run down, pick up your dinghy and motor and carry it 25 yards up the beach. They worked from 7 am to 11 pm, and it cost you 20,000 rupiah ($2.00) a day to have them move and guard your dink. The leader of the beach patrol was Waddi, age unknown, no teeth, 85 lbs. soaking wet (yet lifts the dinghy with the best), and happy and eager at all times.

"Whenever two boats get within sight of one another, they will race." This holds for these Timor ferries.

While on a short tour of Timor, we saw this man climbing a palm, barefoot and no ropes. He is climbing a "sugar palm", and the baskets catch dripping sap, which later is boiled down into sugar, much like maple sugar. Of course when you tap a maple tree you don't risk falling off one of twenty, 30-foot high trees you go up every two days.

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While Indonesia has many modern, urban areas, it has many rural areas too. We visited Sumba, an island off the tourist track and with a lot of people living basic lives. Even in the towns, subsistence farming is usual. The people have a system of royalty they keep despite the regular government. Dowries of cattle are the norm. In some parts of the island the people live in very traditional ways, not wanting to change. Many of them are animists. For all that, the people tend to be industrious, wanting to do commerce, they weave an ikat cloth famous throughout Indonesia, and they love their horses.

This is a traditional village in Sumba - thatched huts, stone tombs in the middle of town and animist sacred places we cannot walk on. Sumba has relatively few tourists, and we were able to see some people living the way they have done for the last thousand years - farming, carrying water up the hill, storing rice for next year, etc. To enter a village any stranger has to leave a betel nut for the village elders.

The people of Sumba are crazy about horses. Their ponies are a bit smaller than what you see in the US, but with a little cross-breeding with Arabians, they have some fast animals. The horse races are different though. The track is not elegant, and the jockeys are local kids, riding bare back. The horses run several laps until the first horse is so far ahead the others just rein in and go home. The betting is fierce in the stands though, with school kids(!) and adults walking around with wads of money to put on the horses.

This "Ikat" cloth is the most famous of Sumba's exports. Here you see a frame with the threads of the cloth already dyed the proper colors, ready to be woven into the final cloth.

This is the weaving process for the final Ikat cloth. In basic villages such as this one, everyone gets into the act. This woman is not only a talented weaver, but the royal queen: the wife of the king of the village.

The biggest event in the life of a Sumba person is the funeral and entombment. They spend more on these than on marriage or birth celebrations. This is the tomb of a king of a village, and may hold several people. The Sumba have an enlightened approach to royalty making sure royalty knows what their job is. For example the rooster at the top of the tomb is a sign of royalty, but reminds the kings of their job. The rooster must hunt and scratch out food for their subjects, especially if times are hard, and so must the king.

Sumba, like a lot of Indonesia, has contrasts of old and new. Here the man in traditional garb walks past the wooden house with corrugated tin roof, and a brand new satellite dish.

We love to excite kids in less-developed areas by snapping their photos and then showing them the shot on the screen of the digital camera. In Sumba, this traditional village elder was enthralled. Notice the tradition of filing down the teeth to sharpen them, and the red mouth from eating betel nut.

For one of our tour days in Sumba we spent ten hours out on a bus, rented from the local municipal services. The local busses are gaily painted, but suffer from flats! It was a quick change, and we were soon underway.

Every afternoon when we returned to the boat in Sumba, we found the local kids from 5 to 12 swimming off the dock. They swam after us and begged to be photoed. As this is a family website, we omit the photos of them diving off the dock, because they swim in their birthday suits.

This is a second shot of the town dock in Sumba. Notice the different types of cargo and fishing vessels here and in the prior photo.

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