Things You Need To Know Before Visiting Kupang, Indonesia

I had rare opportunity to visit Kupang finally! One of big city that I never thought I will be there. Even I had a wish to visit East Nusa Tenggara, especially Flores, last year, but still, I haven’t had Kupang in my mind. But it was happened, I am there for 6 days, exploring Kupang and surrounding. It was such a great journey!

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The Kupang International Airport, El Tari.

I would like to tell you about my experience in Kupang so it probably helps you if you want to visit the city or simply you never been there before…

 

  1. Be Prepared with the Strong Heat

Kupang can be so hot that you better use sunblock before you go outside. Hat and sunglasses also should be handy items that you need to bring everywhere. It is very common to see roads in some area in Kupang (not the city) are not yet good. Some are so bumpy and have lots of holes. If you drive motorbike and can’t stand with ashes, you need to wear mask. Using helmet is mandatory, but apparently, it is mandatory only for the one who drive. If you are the passenger, it’s kind of ok to not wearing helmet. Ups.

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A day can be so hot like this.
  1. The Noisy Bemo

Their bemo (public transportation) is modernly equipped with strong loud speaker and they love to hear LOUD music! If you care enough with your ears, probably avoid Bemo is recommended. But if you want to experience local’s life as how I do everywhere I go, try one time taking ride of Bemo is ok as well. It was a bit strange for me to listen to their music, they can mixed the loudest house music songs with gospel songs… Or just simply playing Christian house music songs. Whatever who sings it, I am sure not the original singers. Oh they also busy cover their Bemo with sticker of Jesus Christ or Mary or anything looks so Christianity. It kind of reminds me of Jeepney in Philippines.

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The colorful bemo in Kupang.
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Inside of the bemo.

 

  1. It is Difficult to Avoid Transportation Scam in the Port

While in the city you can take Bemo with normal cost (around 2,500 rupiah), but it is different in port. Once you arrive in the airport, some of Bemo drivers will offer you their ride, but don’t be surprise if they ask some crazy amount such as 100,000 rupiah per one person. Especially if they see you bring some heavy bag! I was so frustrated when trying to find transportation from the port to my friend’s house. Finally a pick up offered me a ride with cheaper price (around 50,000 rupiah). But the thing is, if you take public transportation with full of passengers, you should be very patience because the driver will drop all the passengers one by one in front of their house. For my case, I always dropped the last. Argh.

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Bolok port, the slow ferry port in Kupang. The other one called as Tenau for fast ferry.
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Slow ferry schedule from Kupang to islands surroundings.

 

  1. Recommended Place to Stay

My stay in Kupang actually lasted for 6 days. One memorable stayed I had in La Hasienda Hotel. If you google about hotels in Kupang, you can find La Hasienda easily. They offer you airport pick up for free and their wifi also quite strong even only available in the lobby. They have medium rate, for 300.000 rupiah/night. Even without any swimming pool, with such a lovely Mexican style interior, I think you will enjoy your stay in this hotel.

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Me, in one of cute interior in La Hasienda.
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Inside of the room.

Another option is to stay in Ima hotel. I had a pleasant 5 days staying in Ima hotel. They have plenty of breakfast choices and have a big room with wifi inside of the room. Nice choice if you want a bit of luxury room to sleep.

 

  1. Try Their Famous Food

There are some Kupang authentic food which you shouldn’t forget to try. For example Jagung Bose (Bose Corn), Se’I Babi (Pork Smoked Beef) and if you don’t eat pork, there are beef edition as well. And eat fish. Lots of variety of fishes they make. From soup to grill to fried, all sooo delicious. For people who like spicy food as me, I loveee their sambal so much! For vegetables, don’t forget to try papaya leaves. It is bitter but very good for our health 😉

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Fish soup. Lekker!
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Love their sambal. Too spicy to handle but taste sooo good!
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Jagung Bose, their authentic food made from corn.
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The famous Se’i. But this one is beef.
  1. Try Their Snack

In some streets in the city, you can find lots of snacks seller with their tempting small cakes. Price around 2.000 rupiah per-each. You may try some variety such as Kueku, Onde, Perut Ayam (literally meaning is Chicken Belly, but it isn’t made from Chicken or any animals belly, hahaha) and lots of another sweet treat and salty ones to try.

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Kue ku – the sweet treat. Nom nom…
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Called as “Perut Ayam” literally means the belly of chicken. But actually it made from flour and sugar 😉
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The cake seller.
  1. Go Visit the Sasandu House

Actually they write it Sasando, but from my host in Oenitas village, pak Esau Nalle, he fixed my understanding about word of Sasando. He said, the right one is Sasandu, taken from Sari and Sandu, means, the vibrate melody. Sasandu originally comes from Rote, but don’t worry if you can’t visit Rote during your stay in Kupang and wanna see the pieces for real. You can go to pak Jeremias A Pah’s place, a Sasandu workshop and also a store, for you if you want to buy one. If you are lucky, you can also listen him playing the Sasandu. It was a priceless moment for me!

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Mr. Jeremias A Pah with his son and crew, played the Gong music.
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Some of the achievements and acknowledgement of Mr. Jeremias A Pah.
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Sasandu, traditional musical equipment from Rote.
  1. Private Pool on a Cave

If you say nothing to see in Kupang, you are soooo wrong. There is one (apart of many) beautiful place to swim as it is your one special private pool! Special, because it is beyond normal pool! You can swim inside of the Crystal Cave near Bolok. Really great, huh? It is for free, but you probably need a local guide (usually kids), so prepare some amount around 20.000 rupiah to give to them.

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Look at this beautiful place! So magical!!!

The unfortunate thing about this destination that the cave is so slippery, a bit smelly and so many trash surrounding the cave. Local tourism department including with their local people need to protect the hygiene and beauty of the cave as soon as possible, since I also see some of vandalism in their wall. That’s too bad because we don’t know how many years the age of the cave. It’s very sad to ruin such heritage and one of the treasure of Kupang just because of idle hands.

 

  1. Crosses in Kupang
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Lots of crosses you will see on their streets/hills.

The majority religions in Kupang are Catholic and Christian. Even there are also another religions such as Moslem, Buddhist and Hindu. Once I passed a beautiful big mosque in the city. But the interesting part for me was seeing some crosses on the streets. There are usually three plain crosses used for Easter. Some located in hills, I think it’s as a reminder about the Jesus Christ crucified in Golgota.

  1. Paid a bit effort to explore outside of Kupang

If you have more time and want to see more from Kupang. Surrounding the city, there are so many places to visit. You can bring your motorbike and cross the island to visit one of small beautiful island nearby called Semau island.

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Bola Palelo in SOE, NTT.

Also you can hop on public transportation or rent a car or motorbike to go to SOE (Timur Tengah Selatan) to see beautiful panoramic view and feeling the different atmosphere of traditional local people lifestyle in SOE. Another option is to book your flight to visit Rote island, 30 minutes flying from Kupang. Just give yourself a time to explore the area, I bet you will see lots of memorable things as well.

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Beautiful beach in Semau island.

 

Cheers,
Dea Sihotang

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