Surfing stellar waves, visiting Komodo dragons on remote beaches, feeding monkeys and anchoring next to the historically renowned Krakatau (crack-a-toe-a) volcano, that became active during our two day stay, are just part of unusual sights experiences we’ve had on the Indonesian islands.
This Southeast Asian Archipelago consists of 17,000 islands where 6,000 are inhabited. Our first port of call on Timor island, Kupang a city where debris and ruble coat many streets, exposed gutters along roads for water run off, and shanty dwellings mingle amongst the elaborate, fence protected mansions, yet put this vision aside and imagine the warm welcome we received while walking down the crowded path in the food market and fellow shoppers calling out,”Hey Mr., Mrs.….Where are you going?” or “Where are you from?”. Not soliciting, just curious and practicing their English and sometimes touching our hands or shoulder when talking to us.
Their body space is up close and personal, at first too close when compared to a westerners’ more than arms length comfort zone, but with so many bodies in such a confined area, you get used to the short distance.
On the flip side, the towns and islands that cater to tourism will bring out the persistent, street hawkers when they see a Bule (boo-lay, white person) walking down the street. The police will stop Indonesians, but will also target westerners and demand money, usually $5 for a bogus violation. Our culture doesn’t tolerate bribes, but immersed in this society, dealing with a corrupt government official and getting tide up in their cryptic justice system, would cost us more in time and money than paying off an officer on the street.
Indonesia is known to many surfers and trying our hand at the sport, the Captain has caught his fair share of the waves, while the First Mate’s attempts have mostly been getting tumbled and tossed about yet managing to ride a couple of waves.