Indonesia : Pulau Timor = Timor Island

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We were up with the roosters again today, had breakfast, and were on the road by 9. Our plan for the day is to get near to the Indonesian border and find somewhere to stay there. Plans change.

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We had 2 km of muddy construction to get back out of town and then 32 km of good curvy road to back track to just past Aileu. There is a circle route from here to the coast thru the coffee region towards Gleno instead of going back to Dili.

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The turn off is about 6.5 km past Aileu. The road is good for about 1 km and then disintegrates. I had put my memory card in the camera, but did not click it in perfectly and unfortunately I don’t have pics of the worst parts!

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The first 4 km are gravel with some old pavement, but the next 10 are deeply rutted dried mud, steep rocky section, and very dusty. This was quite challenging on Lulu who is very low and the bash plate hits a lot of things and the panniers in the deep ruts can be a challenge. It is hard to believe but we did meet some small trucks on the route. Then suddenly 5 km from the main road there is a beautiful paved 1 lane road.

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Coffee beans drying in the sun.

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Just north of the turn off to the main road we stopped for a brake at a fruit stand and then had an amazing curvy paved road down to the coast.

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We got some not great gas yesterday in Same and at the coast found some premium to top up. Here we had 99 km to go to the Indonesian border town of Batugade.

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The road is newly paved in sections, but others are washed away or falling apart. There are a few “tourist” sights, but the one prison ruins we stopped at was boarded up. The views are stunning along the coast and often the waves crash on the rocks right beside the road. We arrived to Batugade and as we had seen nowhere to eat all day and lunch was bananas, cookies, and chips! The desperation meal of the adventure rider!

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We decided to ride the 14 km up to Balibo where there is supposed to be a hotel in an old fort.

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The road is good for the first 8 km and then is destroyed. The town is not much to speak of and neither is the fort. The hotel here is very expensive (95USD) for nothing special and she then offered us 120 for 2 rooms, but they do not even take in the spectacular view. There is a “guest house” in the grocery store in town, but no way! You walked thru the ramshackle store and then the even worse store room that smelled of rotten meat, thru the garage where for some reason a truck was running with the doors closed, up a rickety rusted spiral staircase past the owners outdoor living quarters to the rooms (24 USD no fan). The rooms were not that bad it was all the rest.

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It is 330 and we decided to make for the border, which is 18 km away. This means a back track the way we came and then 4 km past the town.

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When you pull up to the Timor Leste  border area there is to the left before the actual border a covered area with 2 desks. Both have police sitting at them, but one desk has a crumples paper sign that says Timor Leste to Indonesia and the other the opposite. Here the officer checks your passport and carnet and sends you on to the real border where you park under the cover. Here you fill in an immigration card (they have them in English). You then walk 30 m across to the customs officer. She was very nice and stamped the 3 carnet asap. You then walk back 15 m to the immigration to get your exit stamp and hand in the immigration card. We were all done here before 430.

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You then drive across the bridge to the massive elaborate Indonesian border. Here you pass the first police check and then take the second left to customs (there are no signs for directions and no one directing you and so we went around the round about and straight to the border complex. Here the very nice guard said we had to go back to customs first).

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There you park and go into the customs office. They also hand you a Customs declaration card in English. We had to wait a while for the head man to return to stamp the carnets. By then it was 450 and the border closes at 5! Now instead of just going forward you have to turn left down a dirt alley and then back track to the other border buildings.

Here we parked again and rushed into the office with our passports. You have to fill in an immigration card and then you go to the officer at the border port at the left. Here they were a bit confused as we had visas, but they called in the boss who spoke English and he told them just to process the entries. He advised us on a choice of hotels and gave us his cell number in case we had any issues. The last step it to go to customs declaration and hand in the card. Here they wanted us to put out riding jackets thru the X-ray and “your luggage”. We just grabbed the seat dry bags and came back in. No one told the poor X-ray guy (who had shut down the computer and the X-ray machine and was already walking out the door) and he had to restart the machines to scan the last 2 bags. We where out of there by 520 and into Indonesia.

We were treated to perfectly paved road and until the city of Atambua no traffic.

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They do not follow the rules of the road like in Timor Leste, half are not wearing helmets, all drive like mad men, and in the city in under 20 min nearly all of us could have had an accident if we were not being aggressively defensive. The worst is the scooters on your right who come up beside you and then want to turn left right infront of you.

We made it alive, starved and tired to the hotel. 40 $ Canadian for a very nice huge room with bath and air con. We pigged out in the restaurant and it was 11$ for 3 of us! Nice not to pay the Dili price for things that have been so inflated by the UN and other groups.

We were woken at 430 am by loud talking and people walking down the hotel hallway. Then 15 min later the bellow of the call to prayer. We have not heard this for a long time. The Muslim population here is not visibly very large, but the entire city is woken at 5 am anyway. We also had a walk about the morning market in search of SIM cards.

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We have been unable to get the Indonesia maps on open street to load or function and so we are running of of Google and maps.me for an exit route from the city. We do have some map overlapping from the Malaysia tile for the Kupang area.

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We set out just before 9 with the plan to just get as far at So’e in 167 km since we do not know what to expect from the road and traffic and can not predict the travel time.  The road smooth as silk and very curvy. There is not much traffic, but it was still very slow going and we made the city after 4 hours.

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We stopped in So’e and finally after a lot of searching found a restaurant. This is a bit of a challenge here as most eating places just have precooked food that they serve up. The cold fish and chicken sitting our with the flies is less than appealing. We managed to find a spot with a hot fire grill and had some amazing half chicken meals  and a coke for 3.50 each.

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It will be a long, tiring, and hot day, but we decided to go for Kupang so we can stay 2 nights in the same spot. We are headed to the hotel recommended by the riders we met in Darwin. With a good location, underground parking, and a value price. The day went well with major curves and several mountain crossings.

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There was almost no problems until the last 35 km with the heavy truck traffic and the ADV moron (first rider we have seen) on a V Strom who was passing on a blind corner and was head on in Dan’s lane. The scooter riders have not been as bad as expected either, they are pretty chill and school like fish. They obey the signal lights and most use their turn signals. They are much better than in Atambua.

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We arrived very hot and very tired and happy to find the hotel nicer than expected. We did a bit of a walk around and then ended up in the hotel for dinner.

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We were please to see a real breakfast buffet with Asian and Western choices. They even had pancakes! Today is errand day.

1. Get new SIM cards this is 1 month 17 GB for under 10$. And stickers!

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2. Get a GRAB taxi the 11 km to the port to confirm the ferry will go to Larantuka on Flores tomorrow and at what time (web says 1300, concierge called the office they say 11, guy at the port say 12??) We we be there at 830 and get the tickets (265,000 R for 1 bike and rider or about 25$). The ferry takes 13 hours and usually leaves at 1300 and arrives at 0200!

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3. Get to the car wash….Amazing wash job, air hose dry, and plastics polish.

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For dinner we had found a pork BBq place on line and a Carefour! We set off the 1.3 km to the store hoping to get some great snacks for the ferry, but when we got there it was mostly clothing and some fruit and NOT a real Carefour supermarket. From here it is another 1.5 km to Aroma! We had a pretty good all meat meal! Luckily there was a grocery next door, but really all they had was water and cookies that would be suitable. We got a GRAB home for 10,000R =1$.

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4 Responses to Indonesia : Pulau Timor = Timor Island

  1. Good to see you guys are still riding. When will you be in Canada ?

    • Sara says:

      We are in New Hampshire and should be back in BC by the end of Sept. Your photos are fantastic!!!! Look forward to seeing you and hearing about the trip this fall. Sara

  2. Ed von Euw says:

    I hope you had a chance in Kupang to visit the old maritime cemetery overlooking the ocean on the road to the ferry dock–it has some old dutch headstones, as well as a few from Captain Bligh’s shipmates, not something you see everyday!
    I think you’ll really like Flores Island. I assessed water resources there in 1990-91 and met very friendly locals, found lots of volcanoes and deep ravines, komodo dragons near Labuhanbajo, multi-coloured volcanic lakes at Kelimutu, a stone age village in Bena, and a river that flows out of a cave. And only a very few intrepid and interesting tourists. I wished at the time that I had a motorcycle instead of a 4 wheel drive cage, although most of the roads were very rough back then.

    • Sara says:

      We did not get to the cemetery, which is too bad as I love old cemeteries . We loved Flores especially as there were so few vehicles. We did get to Bena and to see the Dragons. We did not enjoy the Indonesian ferry travel much and 2 ferries sank while we were there. I am a bit behind in the posts as we flew back from Borneo To Montreal last week. This was via Frankfurt and Toronto for us and via Baku, Amsterdam, Frankfurt for the bikes. We are now in new Hampshire enjoying the USA! Sara

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