Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 9 May 2010 • Itinerary
Oktober & December 2009
By now, I thought I knew Indonesia well. I thought I could predict what I would see and experience. Yet this country again proves me wrong. Venturing to the east of Indonesia is a whole new ride. I pass by Kupang once in a while when I have to work on Wetar. I never really had time to actually ‘see’ the area due to work, but I do get glimpses of the Timor island. And it’s surprising! Although categorized as one of the most dry and poor province in Indonesia, it’s wealthy in exoticism. Hmm… there’s an idea for you… poverty is exoticism. Such a satire statement hey?
This entry is actually an accumulation of two visits. You might recall the entry about Maumere? Well some parts of this entry was when Compadre and I passed through the city to transit. And another part is when I happen to be stuck in the city for a day since my working group were waiting for parts for our trip to Wetar. On this trip, I was accompanied by colleagues and members of the playgroup at Wetar, Anggi and Cecep.
Most people would recommend this waterfall for those in the area. So, why visit this waterfall? First, wouldn’t it be great to see a continuous waterfall in a dry area? Just think of how ironic nature is. Second, it looks great online. Yet it’s just not clear. Besides, it was infamous, so I just had to try it just to say ‘yes, I’ve seen it before’. No matter how shallow it sounds, it’s one reason to get me off my butt to see the waterfall. It’s not off the beaten track but as beaten as the track in Indonesia, it will surprise you none the less.
Oenesu waterfall is located about an hour drive to the west of the city. Although only located about 17 km from the city, the small winding scenic road will get you there less than an hour. I visited Oenesu right about the end of the dry season, so the favorite color of nature along the path is brown and yellow of dry plants, and a tad of green for the starting of the rainy season and some red Bougainville flowers blooming. Ah… a sprinkle of color did the magic. Oh, not to forget the dark tan of the local people and their white teeth smiling towards us 😀
The dry area and the hilly topography make fascinating scenes to see, made me look like a puppy looking out the window of our taxi wondering where we were going. I grew up in West Java, a province that is well known to be lush green since the soil is so fertile, so a sight as this was a wonder!
Oenesu waterfall is beautiful. It consists of a few terraces made from smooth boulders due to constant friction with the water. The water was clear and formed semi green ponds under each fall. It was also nice splashing a bit since you have to walk through it in the dry season.
The fall itself is pretty straight forward. It’s located so close to the entry gate of the area you come in through and does not offer any kind of forest walk getting there. It’s a choice of how you would like to see the water fall first; from the bottom which includes a steep stairway down, or from above which you can just happily stroll to from the front gate. I’m not sure if this would be the case in the wet season.
I recommend taking the bottom way since you could see the waterfall directly.
Sadly to say, in the dry season, it’s quite dirty. There were bits and pieces of trash everywhere, even creating a stench smell. I was so disappointed, not of the beauty of the waterfall which could be so refreshing to see, but of the people who had little understanding of the consequences of their short mind actions, and to the tourism department for neglecting to do something about it. It was such a pity, because the water was so clear, but the trash distracted my enjoyment towards nature. In the wet season, the trash probably would be washed away so you can’t see it. Maybe it depends also on your luck the day you visit.
Would I recommend it to you? Till today, I’m still considering if I should. * sigh *
Although one side of Kupang let me down, doesn’t mean another can’t lift me up. From a trusted source that warned me about Oenesu, I read that Tablolong beach is the ‘IT’ beach in this area. I waited for an opportunity to see this beach. As mentioned before, as soon as I knew we needed to wait a day for some parts before leaving for work in Kupang, I hit the road. Seducing my playgroup mates was no problem!
We walked to the nearest ojeg centre to rent a motorcycle. Since I heard that venturing to Tablolong is basically following the same road to Oenesu but ignoring the turn to the waterfall… then I figured we were all good to go ourselves. With Anggi and Cecep, we rented 2 motorcycles.
Since Anggi had a new Canon D5000, we often stopped on the way to enjoy a few photo hunts. Luckily we did, ‘cause then I can show you what I mean by great views of the dry east means.
After about 1,5 hour ride to the south, including our photo sessions, we finally came to the end of the road which actually ended in a village of Tablolong. We kinda hesitated on the way there because it didn’t seem we were getting anywhere close to a beach. But asking for directions is always a pleasure, especially to the locals. Assured we were on the right track, we then enjoyed having a few clicks with the local goats in a bear meadow (see: snapsots).
Tablolong village is located just by a white sandy beach. Not intending to disturb anyone in this quiet little village, we ventured a little more entering the gate to the public beach area.
We followed the small coarsely asphalted road to THE BEACH! Stopping at some random corner, we parked our cycles and just walked. It was sooo quiet! Only sounds of waves and a few seaweed farmers chatting and doin’ their thang! We walked around on the rocky parts, squealing and giggling making the only artificial sound of happiness because we were just awed! After all this time passing Kupang, we missed out on this??! And not to sound too exaggerating, the colours were stunning! Just the blue, green, white and brown of the locals that you would imagine it to be.
This beach was so deserted, it was really ours. Amongst these colours, there were rows of the local sea weed plantations. A local man was nice enough to tell a little about how he has lived all his life as a seaweed farmer and how it’s very common for foreigners to take pictures with him hehehehe… he must be more famous amongst tourists than we thought. He was also nice enough to tell us that a lot of foreigners swim in the beach on the other side. We definitely would check it out after exploring this one.
We walked a small distance on the beach only to realize we would have walk quite a distance to the motorcycles if we ever wanted to see that other side. This particular beach failed to make any bad points for us. Anggi was going crazy with his camera, I was in it for the light tan, and Cecep apparently didn’t know where we were heading in the first place, hence the shoes. What a great dude… he was in it for the sake of… well… for fun! Woohoo!
We popped in to the next beach. Following the same road, it ended in an abandon government building. We stopped and peeked in the beach which was white sandy with no rocks lying around. Just a few houses on the beach which had dried seaweed around. The salty smell from the dried seaweed however didn’t back us down to splash around a bit. And what do you know… the fisherman that we talked to, lived here. We met him again just to take pictures and stare at his sea weed load of the day.
Ok… this is the part when you will consider us stupid as hell, because we were. We didn’t swim in the waters! We didn’t bring any change of clothes, we weren’t ready to be seduced as intense as this, and we didn’t wanna bother to get wet… which we know is a big time stupidity. Don’t worry, we’ve punished ourselves by or regrets pretty bad.
Heading back, we tuck a turn in a junction that I knew lead to the coast. And again, we were awed by the dry scenic hilly road. This road meets up to the main harbor road and straight facing the coast.
One of my favorite to see on the road was the rock fence that the people made to barrier their land. The fences were made from lime stone and rocks that are arranged starting from the big to the smallest. They placed and chose each rock just to fit near to perfect, created this fascinating fence. And no cement! Primitive but it is a work of art. The land it protects looks hardly fertile but I guess it’s worth a lot for such an effort.
After a great day, we stopped by the Pantai Laut restaurant. Just to enjoy more of the coastline… amongst the barb wire 😛 But no wire can stop us from enjoying the great watermelon juice. After this, it’s back to work!
So far this is the entry about Kupang. I know for sure there are so many more places to visit in this area, because I’ve already made a list about it hehehehehe… and thus, I’ll see you guys later on.
The eastern people of Indonesia have a thing for yellow rice for breakfast as I have experienced in the Makassar and Maumere also. The locals will always recommend it to whoever asks about the local food in the morning. So here is our driver’s recommendation, which I highly believe because it’s local knowledge.
This yellow rice venue based on the name who owns it. It provides great soft and warm yellow rice. Like most of the ‘warung nasi’ or food stalls, the waiter near the display window will scoop up some yellow rice before asking what side dishes you would prefer. There are so many side dishes to choose from so I need not tell you what to eat. Have a pick and have a tasty adventure!
Javanese or not, it tasted yummy, being rich in flavor for each side dishes. I passed the kitchen when I had to go to the toilet, and I saw why the food was good. One of the secrets? They still cook it with firewood.
A portion would cost about Rp 10,000/person including a tea drink of your temperature preference.
Nasi Kuning Mba Sri
Jl. Aernona; just on the junction with Jl. Sudirman
Jl. Aernona; di simpangan dengan jalan jl. Sudirman
I usually look out for the presence of night markets. There’s just something about them that allures me to come and see them … maybe it’s the food or just the lights lining up as if offering so much? I don’t know but I just love them, no matter what they sell.
There aren’t a lot of places where you can get late muchies in Kupang, may it be heavy or not. But this place is a guarantee!
It serves so many different food from meatball soup (bakso), fried rice and noodles, fried chicken and catfish or lele, and its specialty… SEAFOOD! Well of course, it’s a city beside the sea! I chose one of my favorites ever… grilled squid. And it tasted… heavenly! Not like rubber at all, and the sauce was gooood. May I add a bunch of juice stalls that would make juices from all sorts of tropical and non-tropical fruits.
Dishes vary in prices. It could start from about Rp 7,000 (bakso) to Rp 20,000 (grilled squid).
Snacks can start from about Rp 500/piece
Juices can start from a surprising Rp 5,000
Kupang night market
End of Jl. Sumatra
Open every night from 6 pm to 1 am.
When I was in Kupang, I asked the company driver to help me find good food. Well to be exact, good quality Se’I meat. It’s hard to find also in Kupang because it’s a homemade dish during special occasions. But being the driver to many of my bosses, he took us to this restaurant. A resto I recommend!
Here we tried all of the local delicacies. Se’I meat was served on a hot plate, and didn’t look much different to those I tasted in Maumere. But I was… ding dong! Wrong! It was delicious! The dish I had in Maumere was great, but this one was much better. You somehow can taste the flavor of the smoking it had gone through. Quite tender and had a slight dose of spices that were marinated with it. I loved it!!!
I found a poster in a different shop that describes how Se’I meat was made. It said that the meat was smoked and not grilled, with a certain distance from the fire. It also uses wood as the base of the meat when smoked. Last but not least it says, ‘asking how it’s made is not how to enjoy food’. Dude, I’m on whoever made this posters side.
And something that anyone should try and quite common in the east of Indonesia is the side dish, sautéed papaya flower. TRY IT! It’s a bit bitter and spicy but the good way! This time, we also had a dose of bean sprouts sprinkled with salty fish. It’s heaven food to the Indonesian tongue.
And then we tried the local drink, which I forgot what it was called, but it was one of the house’s specialty. Basically it was cendol or small doughy rice flour droplets, with coconut milk and palm sugar syrup. A mouth full indeed, but a heavenly one.
Jl. Timor Raya 126A – Kupang
Phone: +62 380 825014 / 825311
In front of the Tanjung Restaurant lies a beach full of fish. No! They’re not washed up fish. It’s fish caught by the local fishermen and sold directly on the beach.
The thing about these fishes are you can either buy them raw and bring it home, or you can just ask the guys selling it to barbeque it for you. But this isn’t a restaurant. That is the only service they provide. Carbs such as rice or potatoes or any other side dish is BYO. Bring your own!
JL. Timor Raya; Front of Tanjung Restaurant
Fish are also sold other parts along the road but I’m not sure what they serve.
This restaurant and bar is located on the coast of Kupang. It’s a standard restaurant but I’m not sure if it’s ready in the afternoon. By that time it was 2 pm and they didn’t have much ready. Moderate French fries was available to munch on which is about Rp 12,000 / small portion.
But our favorite was the watermelon juice. It was just the right drink on a hot day. It beat a great cold ice tea or coconut milk which are pretty hard to beat! And it only cost not more than Rp 10,000
To get there, head for the main day market, and make left turn once you pass the bridge and follow the small track. It’s not far from the turn and I don’t think you can miss it.
Pantai Laut Resto & Bar
Jl. Tongkol No. 3
Phone: +62 380 8020999
For no special reason either than international tourist like to drink there and my bosses love to come to this place, I’m recommending you to Teddy’s bar for your dose of alcohol or Bintang, the favorite local beer. My bosses say, it’s a decent bar, not too bad people, and located on the beach front so you get a bit of a sea breeze. You’ll have to take their word for it.
Jl. Tongkol No. 1
When I got to Kupang with my compadre, I had the privilege to decide where we were to sleep. Although quite common, I decided to try this B & B since I’m a B & B kinda girl. I’ve seen the bar before which is located just on the main road of the bed and breakfast, and open till late.
The Lavalon is a humble accommodation. Each room is quite spacious and has two single beds, or one double bed accompanied by a fan and a few tables and chairs to put your belongings. The beds in the room, in which we happened to sleep, are ‘hard sleepers’ being very thin mattresses with a pillow provided. But for those that need an extra pillow, then you gotta speak up. The sheets smelled clean and I’m sure it is. The bathroom are common bathrooms, and they’re decent bathrooms to my standards at least. Don’t imagine anything fancy.
The common room
And of course, bathroom
A room cost Rp 40,000/night
And if you happen to forget to buy souvenirs, don’t worry! There are always sellers in front of the B & B selling you their ikat or cloth. It’s not really 100% weaved but it’s close enough if you’re in a hurry. Don’t forget, airport ones are more expensive.
To get to Lavalon, it would cost Rp 60,000 using the official taxi services from the taxi booth in the airport.
Lavalon Bed and Breakfast
Jl. Sumatera No 44. Kupang
Phone: +62 8123770533
Pantai Utara Hotel
Pantai Utara Hotel or the north beach hotel is located as it describes. Although the gate faces the west, it has a great view to the north sea being on the edge of it.
This hotel provides the predictable spring bed, inside bath room, AC and limited channels of TV. Not much to say about it except do not order the coffee… It will disappoint you badly hehehehe…
A room cost Rp 200,000/night.
It is also located near the Lavalon Bed and Breakfast therefore will cost the same of that to Lavalon from and to the airport which is Rp 60,000.
Pantai Utara Hotel
Jln. Sumatra, Kupang 85112
+62-380-822567/ 822757 / 822817
Jl. Sumatera; next to Pantai Utara Hotel.
Budget: Rp 200,000 / night for a standard room.
Kaki Ayam Resort
This resort is located on Tablolong beach. We discovered it when heading out there. It’s where we decided to park the motorcycles. It looked deserted. But there was life! I can’t remember the name of the guy we met but he said his boss is around and we could stay if wanted but just need negotiating. I didn’t want to bother the dude, so sorry because I don’t have any information about pricing and bookings. But’s possible to get there and check in straight away.
The rooms are these small huts. Where do you sleep? Up in the roof of course! We weren’t allowed to see the room. Just look from a far distance. But by the looks of it, bring you mosquito repellent. The bathrooms are located separately.
Since I had such luxury to rent a car/taxi to Oenesu, I can really refer you to a public transportation that can take you there. Based on visual observation, we failed to see any public rides to this area, unless there were some Ojegs.
If you happen to have the same luxury as we did, you could just mention the waterfall to the driver. He will know the way there. But if you happen to rent a motorcycle or car and venture on your own, ask for the Aernona street in Kupang. This road basically will lead you to the south coast as long as you don’t make any turns.
There will be a board telling where you would have to take the left turn. Follow the road and it will terminate at the waterfall area.
As mentioned earlier, to get to Tablolong, you could also follow the Aernona road. Along the way, you will see signs directing you to this village. Just follow them and it’s not hard to get there. Just be a little careful since there isn’t a lot of workshop if anything should happen to your ride.
An alternative road is following the road along the west coast. You will pass the ports and eventually end up near the village.
A taxi will cost Rp 250,000 for half the day taking you anywhere including outter city trips. The rules commonly are Rp 50,000 per hour within the city, and you have to negotiate a certain price if you want to travel out of the city depending on the location of course. This type of taxi is the private looking cars. Some can be found hanging round hotels like the Maya hotel.
This is the best kind of transportation for the area I say. It’s cheap, fleksible and easy to manage. If you come to Kupang, make sure can use one of these or take a friend that can.
A motorcycle, from experience, can be rented for Rp 40,000/day or about 12 hours. Now this price is a haggled price, so always try to haggle whatever price they throw at you. You can rent them from ojeg services at ojeg centres near where ever you are. They’re everywhere so it won’t be too hard to find. Please be aware of the type of tires of your motorcycles. Make sure they’re the moderate size fit for intercity rides and not the thin racing kind. Tire services are hard to find once you’re out of the city.
Just in case you need one, tire services are called Tambal Ban and you would recognize one from the existence of a compressor and tire hanged somewhere, spelling also all sort off ‘tubeless’ spelling.
Bemo’s are mini buses that take you around the city. They cost about Rp 2,000-3,000 per trip. Like most of the public transportation in the eastern parts of Indonesia, bemo’s are found to be decorative and loud. Make sure you shout out nice and loud when you wanna stop.
Admissions to Oenesu water fall park is Rp 5,000/person.
There are some souvenir shops around Kupang, which are also called art shops as to those in Maumere, Flores. These shops will generally sell weaved goods such as blankets, bags, purses, clothes, waist bands, and countless other items.
The will also provide you with wood carvings and bone carvings with local patterns. They’re pretty tribal.
Another kind of shop is the food shop, where you can get all your munchies to go such as frozen Se’I, coffee, chips, and chilly paste. One of my favorite is the candy made of local sugar. Just has a different sweetness to it. I happen to stop by Sudimampir which has most of what you would like to take home.
Jl. Jend. Sudirman no. 8 Nunleu-Kupang
How much can you spend? Well that depends on how much you want and how much you CAN spend :D.