For Indonesia’s reputation as a nation of islands there is a land route to it. The path via the Motoain border from Timor Leste was created when it gained independence from Indonesia after decades of military occupation and genocide. However, what I found most interesting about the overall Timor island which consists of West Timor (East Indonesia) and East Timor (Timor Leste) is that both sides are Christian, much like how Bali represents a unique slice of Hindu culture within the predominant Islamic Indonesia. Yet the island is strongly divided by national borders. The extremely long bus ride revealed to me the stark contrast in economic outcomes that borders can create and I gained some appreciation for why some people argue to erase borders. From straw huts on one side to brick structures on the other while listening to podcasts about modern western economies, I found myself wondering and inspired to effect change. We stopped at and ate on the Indonesia side and I found myself charged full price for just a sample size serving of each dish, only to make more stops later along roadside markets that charged fair prices. Sunset was brief as we drove through hills, but we finally arrived at Kupang in the late evening.
Restaurants pay the drivers of tourist or long distance buses to stop at them. These commissions are paid by customers via higher prices. This is an annoyance, but a more worrisome concern is food safety. Without dependency on local regular patrons, and a constant influx of new customers, the restaurant can food poison travelers and never know it, nor care.