Kupang in West Timor

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Kupang sunset

Kupang in West Timor

Kupang has been a daily stop for Portuguese merchants since Malacca fell into the hands of Portugal in 1511 until the 1550s. He has a good working relationship with the King of Kupang (Raja Helong) in the 1640s and allows the permission and establishment of the church. 1653 Kupang is occupied by the Netherlands and becomes a commercial and trade base for the East India Company government.

Timor Island is located in the eastern part of Indonesia. Further east of the island is Papua, and south is Darwin, Australia. Therefore, Timor may be said to be the farthest end of the Asian cultural sphere. I stayed in Kupang, the capital of Timor Island. After leaving the small airport, it was different from Jakarta and Java Island, and the brightly sunny sky and dry land spread out. The beginning of this rainy season is a month or two behind Java and the rainfall is relatively low. The strong wind blowing from the sea feels quite comfortable. The air and the sun are always different from Java and even from Bali!

Kupang lighthouse by the beach

The eastern half of Timor Island became independent from Indonesia as East Timor in 1999. According to local people, Kupang, which is located at the western end of the island, seems to have been involved in a riot at that time, even though it is the farthest from East Timor. It is said that the cause was the religious conflict between Islam and Christ that somehow broke out from the independence movement. In the first place, what separates only one Timor island into the eastern side of East Timor and the western side of Indonesia is only the difference between the colonial nations of the Netherlands and Portugal.

Kupang artistic wall drawings

There was a backlash against the eastern side, where the colonial return was delayed, as Indonesia during the Suharto era militarily suppressed it, and the difference between the Catholic and Protestant denominations deepened the gap. Without the arbitrary division of the island, without colonial rule in the first place, such a stupid conflict would not have occurred. Even after the formal end of domination, the scars still remain clear, and people are dying where they don’t have to die. Only 20 years ago in this land, and still everywhere in the world.

Kupang Today

Of course, the current calm Kupang does not remind us of such a sad fact. If you walk around the city while being a little tired of the cars and motorcycles that fill the narrow and uneven roads, people and cats live leisurely in the shining sun. The streets along the sea are lined with food stalls in the evening. While being a little worried about the freshness, if you point to your favorite fish from the randomly arranged fish, it will be baked with plenty of sweet and spicy sauce.

Kupang little fishing boats

How to get to Kupang

While not a large city such Surabaya or Denpasar, Kupang is still an important center in East Nusa Tengara (NTT). There are daily flights to and from Jakarta, Bali, Sumba (island), Flores (island), and Alor Island. The top Indonesian airline is Garuda which flies to and from Jakarta and Bali. For the short flights inside the East Nusa Tengara (NTT), you could catch a flight with Air Wings.

Air Wings Flights Indonesia in Kupang

There are also ferry boats that travel to and from Kupang. The PELNI ferry company is the largest in Indonesia and has many connections to port cities everywhere in the country. I would recommend using a ferry only if you have time. It could take days and up to one week traveling from Bali to Kupang by PELNI ferry. It is not a luxurious type of transportation but it is great for those travelers that want to experience the local lifestyle.