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November 7, 2013

Kupang Adventure


Last month, I went to an amazing island in the east part of Indonesia’s archipelago. It was a work trip for one of my clients in order to do a survey for their upcoming campaign. It felt really good that I actually can departure to somewhere I'd never go to during my casual days. It makes me love my job a lil bit more.

For any of you who don’t know much about Indonesia, there is a place in this country called Nusa Tenggara Timur – in English it should be East Southeast Nusa (I guess). Not really sure about that. ANYWAY, I flew there using Garuda Airlines for 4-5 hours and landed on the El Tari International Airport in Kupang city. It was probably the smallest airport I’ve ever been.

First impression: Arid. And sizzling hot. Even from the plane window, I could see how dry and infertile the soil was. I can still remember the monologue inside my head going like, "Damn it. I thought this is going to be all tropically, beach-esque, and stuff. Look at those cracks on the ground!" Well, to be honest I kinda knew what I signed up for. It was just an inner voice that was still hoping for something that it wanted to happen. But that voice was totally wrong.

So, basically I was working for the whole trip; no time to relax. Like literally, I didn't get enough sleep for the whole 3 days. Or 4 days. I can't even remember. That's how tired I was. Buuut, some parts of the work were so fun and adventurous.

There was a time where I had to print shitloads of papers in several different local photocopy stores cause the electricity went out. What a perfect time when we urgently needed them. I also got to meet  the local people and learned a bit of their language. Some dudes told me to try the most famous brothel houses and order the hookers. Appreciate the hospitality guys. :D

Apart from a few other culture-shocking experiences, the highlight of the trip was when I have to visit the remote village which was located 5-6 hours by car from the city, Kupang. The village is called Desa Bitobe - very small, small population, and definitely far from modern life.



My client, my team as their PR consultants, as well as some media journalists went there and did a research that is going to be used as the core of the campaign. We built a partnership with the local governments to help the home-grown society to live a better life in the future by making them as a pilot project for this sustainable campaign.

We got to see the traditional houses, animals/pets, how the kids were raised, how they processed their food, and most importantly how they kept waking up every morning to survive. To be honest, I genuinely felt sorry for them because they live such an unfortunate life they have been living for years.  It broke my heart to know how bad they need help and the amount of source is very scarce. I shed some manly tears to see how lots of kids were, literally, walking at least 7-8 KM from home to school and back. Carrying gallons of water in each hand. Barefoot.




Since the lack of hygiene and source of clean water, it was so hard for the kids to stay healthy, let alone to achieve higher education. It broke my heart to see how low their awareness of health and the fact that I can't do anything about it, killed me even more. But I still believe that by visiting them on behalf of my client, taking the national media journalists - and providing them with the real, raw views - I kinda helped, although not significantly. Hopefully it will give them the idea of what to write. Hence, the coverage will grasp people's attention about the issue.

Have I mentioned how I got through the entire journey? I had to be in a car for 5-6 hours cruising some rocky, steep, and unflattering roads. Hoofing barricades of jungles and rivers, hills and cliffs. Actually it's not that bad when you drive a 4-Wheel-Drive semi-off-road car, like the other of my team. But oh, guess what, I was slowly riding a lame-ass Kijang Inova. The most gas-guzzling car ever. So I was being left behind all the time.



Can you imagine what if you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, with bad signal reception, and without any electricity? Yep, you're done, right? That's what freaked myself out the whole hours on the road, I was all like, "OMG OMG OMG.. Please don't mess up.. OMG OMG.. Watch out.. Keep driving.. Keep going.. I don't wanna die.. AAAHHH.."

However, I made it safely back to the hotel. I was sooo happy to see the civilisation in the city. In fact, on the way back from the Jumanji to the city, I got to see deers and horses running around the field full of grass. The surrounding was also chill and refreshing in the afternoon-evening, unlike the super hot weather during the day.

more pics of this post, click here.

After all, that trip really slapped me out of my selfish and ungrateful self. I learned many lessons about life and it grew me up as a person. As much as I was shocked with all the outlandish experiences there, I have this determination to go back there someday. I want to return and give my contribution to the people there. But for now, I'll always pray and hope the best for them.

Please, stay strong guys 
Sincerely,
Rago

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