Friday, August 6, 2010

West Timor - Soe

We arrived in Kupang, West Timor to a very gusty and windy day. It’s nowhere near as lush and humid as Bali and it felt like a completely different place. In fact, it is remarkably similar to some parts of northern Australia. It’s the dry season, but there had been unusual amounts of rain and our intended destination had, in fact, been washed out.

I’ve never travelled with a group of 20 before and it took longer than usual to get out of the airport, locate our cars and drivers before heading off to lunch in Kupang at a “seaside restaurant” where we eat some interesting and never seen foods before. Fiona was brave enough to try the avocado, condensed milk and chocolate drink. I was attracted to the condensed milk but put off by the thought of avocado drink. As it turned out it was a good choice. I had a more standard coconut drink.

After lunch we set off for the town of Soe in the highlands. We had been warned to bring our jumpers as Soe is cold. On the way we passed the lowland rice farms and saw the refugee camps that housed refugees from East Timor post independence. It appears they didn’t integrate into West Timor as well as they might have. West Timor has a history of waves of immigration from other places back hundreds of years at least. We are told that many of the East Timorese went back or dispersed, certainly the refugee camps appeared to be empty.

Soe was cold! And there was a stiff wind. Here’s a picture of us huddled around having a drink before dinner, all wearing our entire travelling wardrobe (we just took a subset of our Bali clothes and left the rest behind).

The Bahagia 2 Hotel was extraordinary. Bahagia means “happy”. We asked what Bahagia 1 was like and was told “not very happy at all.”

To get a picture of the Bahagia 2 imagine a wild west theme complete with statue of cowboy mounted on his rearing horse combined with the best of Asian karaoke bar complete with a wall mounted lobster and you’ve got the picture. Not gelling for you? Here’s the evidence below.

Jean from Threads of Life and Fiona deep in conversation, not even noticing the giant lobster behind them.

I could have taken these chairs home.

Dinner and then breakfast the next morning was basic – no fancy drinks up here! Although someone did manage to find a number of bottles of Guinness. Go figure.

We had been told that West Timor was very poor, so I was surprised to see that the houses seemed relatively solid and well built. Some extraordinary looking houses here! Often painted in wild colours. And churches everywhere. This is protestant area and it’s clear that their Christianity is active. Apparently Islam is unlikely to take much of a hold here because everyone likes eating pig so much. A pictorial post on houses will come soon – I’m amassing the material.


  1. Very amazing. I promise to make you a replica out of papier mache for Christmas but only if you are good.