Day 9 – Landfall Again – Kupang & Semau

This island just to the south west of West Timor and about 20nm from the Kupang, our port of entry. Kapung introduced us to rubber time almost immediately. The Indonesian Customs and Immigration had been booked for a 06:00 boarding but finally showed up at around 08:30. It took 21 uniformed gentlemen to process the ship. Needless to say the day’s timetable received a big whack. The Orion did have permission to send an advance party off to scout suitable landing locations and they had left when we anchored at 06:00. Foolishly they had only taken adequate water supplies. It would have probably helped them if a few sandwiches and beers were on hand to while away the time while they waited for news of our departure to their location..

Eventually, Orion weighed anchor and moved down to the southern end of this island where the scouts had located beaches that were clean and without people trying to sell you things.

In a massive and well co-ordinated logistical effort the crew transported all that was required for a sit down BBQ lunch and instead of lunch at 12:00 (which is about when we arrived) the lunch flag was run up about 90 minutes later. Although this location didn’t offer any reef snorkelling a majority plunged into the warm waters for a dip either pre or post lunch. Sadly, the clear blue sky we started with had become obscured by quite heavy forest fire smoke from clearing operations. This limited the scope of wide vista pictures and meant that I couldn’t get anything different than what an Australian beach would provide. Patti, however, did find some interesting objects, skulls, outriggers and the like to concentrate on.

The knock on affect meant that we didn’t have to time to reposition to what would have been the afternoon’s snorkelling location so the anchor was raised and we headed off to our next Spice Island, Savu.

Some fun facts about Semau and Kapung

Although spices are no longer a mainstay of commerce here they are still cultivated for personal use. Other agricultural efforts are; corn, watermelon and mango growing for markets in the surrounding islands as well as producing cooking fire charcoal. Semau has developed a reputation as a great holiday destination for other Indonesians. Due to the safe waters they snorkel, swim and pursue other aquatic sports.

Kapung is the provincial capital of East Nusa Tenggara province. With a 2010 population estimate of over 300,000 (and for the record Indonesian population growth has sunk below the world average so it’s population wont double for another 60 years). There are almost 400,000 people living in the remainder of the Kapung region. The port is the biggest in Timor and apart from being an entry port for goods it possesses a cement processing factory. The buildings are prominent on the skyline and apart from the tyle of fishing boats and the multitude of inter-island ferries in the harbor you could be looking at a port somewhere along the Queensland coast!

Although we didn’t see any other civilisation it was an important location during the spice trading years and both Dutch and Portuguese architectural remains can still be seen.

Into the the 20th C and the island was used for refuelling for early long distance to Aisa and Europe flying routes. Obviously, side of Timor saw a lot of military staging when East Timor was invaded and subsequently camps sprung up to hold displaced East Timorese at this time.

Going back a step to the early 60’s the University of Nusa Cendana was started and this continues to be a major part of the areas development.

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