Soe

Travel Guide Lesser Sunda Islands West Timor Soe

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Introduction

Soe, pronounced as two syllables: Sou-ei, is the capital of South Central Timor regency on the island of Timor – the eastern part of which is the now the independent state Timor-Leste. Located at an altitude of 800 metres the town has a relatively cool climate. It is a good base for excursions to places that are too far to reach in a day from Kupang.

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Sights and Activities

Oehala Falls

Oehala Falls

© theo1006

  • Oehala Multiple Falls - Oe, pronounced 'ou-ei', in Dawan (Timorese) means water. So if the name of any place starts with Oe, one knows there is water around. The Oehala falls are a popular place where Soe people go to cool off on a hot day. Yet they are still relatively clear of litter. Bring your own picnic: no food sellers. The falls are located 10 kilometres north of Soe. A bus direction Kapan will drop you off at the access road, then you have to walk another 3 kilometres. Alternatively negotiate a price with an ojeg driver. Or make a visit to the Oehala falls part of a longer trip to Kapan (botanical garden and Mollo palace) or to Fatumenasi alpine village and Gunung Mutis Nature Reserve.
  • Gunung Mutis Nature Reserve - For nature lovers a trip to Gunung Mutis Nature Reserve is a must. Both the alpine landscape on the way getting there through Fatumnasi mountain range as well as the rugged landscape of the reserve at 2,000 metres elevation are quite unusual for Indonesia. Infrequent public transport goes as far as Fatumnasi at 41 kilometres from Soe, and ojeg's are reluctant to go that far out and up. So it is best to come with a rented car. If you like trekking, ask your driver to allow time for a hike on the rocky outcrops and to the natural bonsai trees. For a hike to Mount Mutis summit (about 2,375 metres) you are advised to stay over at Pak Matheos's homestay at Fatumnasi village. Not because the trek is long, but in order set out early and reach the summit before clouds spoil the view.
  • Fortified Village None - They call it benteng None or 'None fort', which conveys the idea of thick walls and towers. Actually the village None is built on an outcrop of rock with ravines on three sides, making it unassailable from these sides. At the fourth side a low wall kept enemies at bay. Holes in the parapet allowed defendants to shoot at them with home-made fire-arms. The fortification dates from precolonial times (the village guide put its age at eight centuries), when headhunting raids on rival tribes were part of the culture. The village is accustomed to receiving visitors. A guide will appear with a guest book and expect a contribution. He will talk at length about the divination procedures to decide whether a raid would be successful. Be prepared to buy some traditional cloth at the end of your tour around the fort. None village is easily reached, just a 15 minutes walk off the main road from Soe to Niki-Niki at 19 kilometres from Soe. By the way, a none is a weaving tool used for measuring off thread.
Boti Guesthouse

Boti Guesthouse

© theo1006

  • Boti Traditional Village - Boti is the best-known traditional village in South Central Timor regency, because its people, guided by their village king or raja, reject modernization and the Christian religion; they stick to their adat and are self-sufficient. The 250 people of Boti speak little Indonesian language and no English at all. Children attend primary school, but only for four years and they are taught in the local language. It is mandatory that you come with a guide who can act as an interpreter. It is also the guide's responsibility that customs are observed: a visitor should bring a gift of sirih pinang and join in chewing some. If you are not up to doing the latter, it is sufficient that the guide does. The distance from Soe to Boti is about 50 kilometres, travel time is at least 2 hours because the last 10 kilometres lead through arid country along a bumpy mountain road. In stark contrast with the landscape around, the village has lush vegetation and is surprisingly cool. It has its own never-dry water source. One is invited to stay over in the guest house. The village has a souvenir shop, with only locally made items.
  • Royal Palace Sonaf Sonbesi - In colonial times Timor Tengah Selatan regency was governed by the three kings of the Mollo, Amanuban and Amenatun tribes. Sonaf Sonbesi is the name of the royal residence of the Amanuban tribe and located in Niki-Niki town 27 kilometres east of Soe. The house of Amanuban dates its dynasty back to AD 1604, when its ancestors came from India, probably in concert with the Portuguese. In the republic of Indonesia the raja’s have no political power any more, but raja Nesi Nope (deceased in 2012) doubled as mayor of Niki-Niki town. The present raja is his cousin Louis Nope. Visitors are welcome, but remember that the family is not rich. Be prepared to buy a traditional blanket or the like.
  • Royal Palace Sonaf Ajaobaki - Sonaf means palace, and Sonaf Ajaobaki is the name of the residence of one of the three kings of Timor Tengah Selatan regency, who in colonial times were allowed to self-rule their tribe. Of course since the independence of Indonesia these kings or raja have no real power any more. The Ajaobaki palace was the centre of the Mollo kingdom, it lies a short distance north of Kapan village, 25 kilometres from Soe, and can be reached by ojeg or minibus. Good manners require that after paying one’s respects to the family one also visits the royal cemetery nearby.
Oetune Beach

Oetune Beach

© theo1006

  • Kolbano and Oetune Beaches - There are two popular beaches on the coast south of Soe, sought out for a weekend outing. Kolbano beach is famous for its coloured pebbles, Oetune's broad sand beach is more suitable for swimming. It takes about three hours to reach either of them from Soe by car or motorcycle, because of the road conditions. And it takes an hour to get from one to the other, a distance of 20 kilometres. So count on a day tour to visit either of them or to make a round trip and see them both. The pebbly beach of Kolbano is a couple of kilometres long, but the usual entry point is at a landmark rock. Close to this there are a few gazebos, which are also available at the parking field of Oetune beach. But at neither beach there are food stalls or other facilities. A walk east along Oetune beach leads to some sand dunes.

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Getting There

By Bus

Soe is on the Kupang-Dili route served by the daily minibus service of Timor Tour & Travel. Check for schedule and price at their Kupang office, Jalan Timor Raya #77.

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Getting Around

Getting around in Soe is easy and cheap. There are both minibuses (angkot) and motorbikes (ojeg) that charge a flat rate for a ride. But be sure to be home before dark, service stops soon after nightfall. Bring a flashlight in case you have to walk home in the dark; public lighting is minimal and there are frequent blackouts.

Getting out of town is a different matter. To reach the closer destinations, like Oehala Falls, an ojeg for a negotiated price is still best. Buses ply only the main routes, and ojeg drivers may decline to ride several hours on bumpy roads to a remoter destination. Then your only option is a rental car.

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Eat

  • Depot Joy - Right across the road from Hotel Bahagia, offers usual mi, nasi and capcay dishes, but also sate babi and babi kecap. The restaurant is clean and the food is good value for money.
  • Amertha Boga - Run by a Balinese family and offers cheap and tasty Javanese food. Like Depot Joy, Amertha Boga is located on Jalan Gajah Mada, but closer to the city centre and close to Hotel Gajah Mada.
  • Warung Sari Laut - Although Soe is far from the sea, you can still eat seafood. Warung Sari Laut close to the market has ikan bakar on the menu as well as other dishes,

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Sleep

  • Hotel Timor Megah - The newest and most pretentious hotel in Soe. 30 rooms ranging in price from IDR 250,000 to IDR 400,000. Address: Jalan Gajah Mada #56.
  • Hotel Gajah Mada - The number one hotel in Soe when it started business in 2009. Choice of rooms with or without AC and hot water. Nice views from the rooms at the back. Conveniently close to restaurant Amertha Boga and the local office of Timor Tour and Travel (bus service between Kupang and Dili).
  • Hotel Bahagia - Formerly named Hotel Bahagia Dua. Frequented by government officials, still modest by western standards. Located two kilometres west of town centre. But Chinese-run 3M supermarket and restaurant Depot Joy are close by.
  • Nope's Royal Homestay - Consists of one cottage in the yard of mr Pae Nope. It is royal because mr Nope is a brother of late Raja Nesi Nope of Amanuban, the king of one of the three main tribes of South Central Timor regency. But nowadays royalty has to earn their living like everyone else, and mr Nope earns his living partly by acting as tour leader throughout West Timor. American breakfast for two is included. Address: Jalan Merpati #8.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet is becoming more widely used in Indonesia, and warung Internet (warnet) - Internet cafés - are emerging everywhere. A lot of restaurants and cafés in big cities normally have wireless internet available for free. Internet connection speed in Indonesia varies between ISP and location. Prices vary considerably, and as usual you tend to get what you pay for, but you'll usually be looking at around Rp3,000 to Rp5,000 per hour with faster access than from your own mobile phone. In large cities, there are free WiFi hotspots in many shopping malls, McDonald restaurants, Starbucks cafes, 7 Eleven convenience stores, and in some restaurants and bars. Some hotels provide free hotspots in the lobby and/or in their restaurants and even in your rooms.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

You can use 112 as an emergency number through mobile phones. Other numbers include 110 (police), 113 (fire) and 118 (ambulance).
The international phone code is 62.

If you have GSM cellular phone, ask your local provider about "roaming agreement/facility" with local GSM operators in Indonesia (i.e.: PT Indosat, PT Telkomsel, PT XL Axiata). The cheapest way is buying a local SIM card, which would be much cheaper to call and especially use internet compared to your own cell phone's sim card.

The Indonesian mobile phone market is heavily competitive and prices are low: you can pick up a prepaid SIM card for less than Rp 10,000 and calls may cost as little as Rp 300 a minute to some other countries using certain carriers (subject to the usual host of restrictions). SMS (text message) service is generally very cheap, with local SMS as low as Rp129-165, and international SMS for Rp400-600. Indonesia is also the world's largest market for used phones, and basic models start from Rp 150,000, with used ones being even cheaper.

Post

Pos Indonesia provides the postal service in Indonesia. Pos Indonesia is government-owned and offers services ranging from sending letters and packages to money transfers (usually to remote areas which have no bank branch/ATM nearby) and selling postcards and stamps. Sending a postcards, letter or parcel is relatively expensive, but fairly reliable. It takes several days at least to send it within Indonesia, at least a week internationally. It is recommended to send letters from a Pos Indonesia branch, not by putting it inside orange mailbox (called Bis Surat) in the roadside, because some of the mailboxes are in very bad condition and aren't checked regularly by Pos Indonesia. Opening times of post offices usually tend to follow general business hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm (sometimes shorter hours on Fridays), Saturdays from 8:00am to 1:00pm, closed on Sundays. Bigger cities, tourist areas and central post offices tend to keep longer hours, into the evenings.

Private postal services based in Indonesia include CV Titipan Kilat (CV TIKI), Jalur Nugraha Ekaputra (JNE), Caraka, and RPX. There are also foreign postal services that have branches in Indonesia, including DHL, TNT, UPS, and FedEx.

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This is version 29. Last edited at 8:29 on Jan 7, 19 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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