Journey to Rote – Day 1: First Night in Kupang

At the end of February, a friend told me about Rote Mengajar. It’s a volunteer activity to spend a day, teaching the children at elementary schools in Rote about our profession. They were looking for volunteers and I decided to submit an application.

It didn’t take long for me to make this decision because since last year, I’ve been thinking of visiting the eastern part of Indonesia. I usually travel alone but somehow, I didn’t have the courage to do so to travel to this part of Indonesia. The reason was it’s harder to find travel information about the places in eastern Indonesia. Another reason was the lack of transportation choices. So, joining group activity such as Rote Mengajar was a great opportunity to visit the amazing places there.

A few days later, I received email confirming my registration as one of the volunteer photographers. Yeay!

My amazement about Rote started right at the beginning. I thought, I could arrive in Rote sooner because on April 5th, I would have finished my trip to Ambon. But…..when I searched for the transportation…..I was amazed to find out that there’s no direct means of transportation from Ambon to Rote. All the flights from Ambon transit in Jakarta or Surabaya before they connect to other flights to Kupang. Well…..well……isn’t it amazing how far you have to fly all the way to Java to reach other part of eastern Indonesian islands that look so close in a map? ^_^

So, I went all the way back to Jakarta, slept 2 nights on my own bed before I took off to Rote on April 7th.

I booked a flight with Sriwijaya Airlines, a direct flight from Jakarta to Kupang. The flight was scheduled to leave CGK airport at 12 PM. I arrived early at the airport so I had time to search for a place that sell Telkomsel sim card. Another amazement was that all the stores inside Terminal 1 in CGK didn’t sell phone sim cards. So, I had to go outside the Departure area in Terminal 1 and found a store alongside the rows of restaurants at the Arrival area that sold Telkomsel sim card for IDR 60k. I had to top up the balance at a nearby ATM because the initial balance was only IDR 5k. After that, I re-enter the departure area, found a place to sit and started the registration process for the new sim card. If you want to know why I had to buy a Telkomsel simcard, it’s because it’s the only phone network service that could be used in Rote.

After I finished dealing with the sim card registration, I went to the boarding room. The one printed in the boarding pass was A6 but when I checked the TV display, it showed that for the flight to Kupang, the boarding room was A4. So, I went there. The boarding room looked almost deserted but there were the airline staffs. So I waited there. When it’s time for boarding, I asked the staff, were there any delays because they didn’t get ready for boarding. The staff checked my boarding pass and told me the flight was already boarding from A6. Whoaaaaa…..I took quick steps to go to that boarding room and boarded the plane safely. Phew.

The plane didn’t go directly from Jakarta to Kupang. It made a 30 minutes transit in Surabaya. Almost all of the passenger took off there. There were only several people who stayed in the plane while it was being cleaned. The weather outside was raining.

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As I was watching the crews preparing the plane for its next flight, a girl came to my seat and introduced herself as one of the volunteers for Rote Mengajar. I was amazed to hear her story that it’s her first time to join this kind of activity and she came on her own. Wow……because the first time I volunteered to teach elementary school children, I barely could sleep, worried about how I should explain my job to them.

We arrived at El Tari airport in Kupang at 5 PM. The view from my window seat was amazing. The sun was shining brightly and everywhere I looked, there were trees.

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After we picked up our luggage and went outside the airport, I found out that there were 5 of us, volunteers of Rote Mengajar, who flew together from Jakarta. So, the first thing we did after we met with the nice guy who picked us up from the airport was taking pictures (with the Komodos at El Tari airport).

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From the airport, we went directly to Lasiana beach because other volunteers who arrived earlier were already there, at OCD Cafe, The sun was already set by the time we arrived there and the electricity was out. So we had the great view of the blue sky from the beach.

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The ice breaking & introduction game that we played that night at OCD cafe was led by members of Geng Motor Imut (roughly translated as: Cute Motorcyclist Gang). It was fun despite the dark and the hunger……kekekekeke…..btw, the gang is unlike any cyclist gang you know. They didn’t just hang out and drove their motorcycles together, they also do a lot of social works for the community. Here’s one of the news of their work: Geng Motor Imut Temukan Alat Mengubah Air Laut Jadi Tawar

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The dinner was simple but tasty. Too bad that I was too hungry to take picture of the meals…..kekekeke……I leave that to your imagination…..or better…..if you’re in Kupang, go to OCD Cafe at Lasiana Beach. ^_^

On that first night in Kupang, we stayed at the training facility owned by LPMP Kupang.

That night, the temperature was rather hot & humid and we spent some time looking for the AC remote controller before we finally crashed for the night.

zzzzzzz……………

FYI:

– the airplane ticket from Jakarta to Kupang, one way was around IDR 1,400,000

– the Rote Mengajar committee did a great job on preparing the accommodation & transportation so we only had to pay very little for the dinner & a night stay at LPMP.

 

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