Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today i didnt really feel like typing, heres some photos instead..

a few random photos for your eyes... total upload time for these 10 or so photos... 1 hour, 45 mins. you you better enjoy!

'The Presidents Palace' though I'm pretty sure its more like a government building than a palace as such. I'm told the president has a full T-Rex skeleton in his office, pretty cool....

the beach out the front of our place, not as many boats as usual, all the fishermen were out on the water, was a good fishing day they told me.

on his way to the market. some guys walk many kms to make very little money, i think this is why we as Malae get charged a premium price because they know we can afford it and also means that they may not have to work quite as hard the next day. a good wage in Timor is around $5 per day, thats for someone working full time say in construction, or as an English teacher

 im not sure if i find these hand prints really disturbing given the history of this place or if they are a much more innocent thing, still undecided, i like the shot though.

 Prichard, this photo is for you... i feel like this cloud looks like sausage dog, i felt you would appreciate it... wish the exposure was a little better so you could actually see it.. anyway you get the idea..
this photo really sums up Dili. lots of big cars, random animals of every variety everywhere, strange graffiti, and potholes..

i loved this little boy, he was really cute and just generally awesome.. he was standing watching the other kids play some card game that we couldn't work out..

our little family of goats that run past down the beach every morning.. turns out they really like coconut also.

 one of the many extravagant graves i was talking about earlier, for a culture that is incredibly poor its crazy how magnificent their graves can be, there is a huge respect for the dead here.
will add more photos when i get home...

off to market with his veges, this guy lives in the same neighborhood as us. nice old guy, always says hi. he walks about 3 kms to the market each day, and makes about $2 for his trouble.

this is the place we are staying, ours is the middle one.

Tuesday was a bit of a nothing day, Mat went to the 'country' to some town i cant pronounce the name of, (though it sounded kinda like something a white trash, trailer park kinda person would name their kid)
He went with one of the midwives from Dr Dans clinic. the idea being to compare the services between the 'city' clinic in Dili and these smaller communities. in these smaller communities there is a much higher rate of malaria and other very treatable conditions, though in these more remote places, getting to Dili for treatment is quite unlikely, they instead have to rely on these mobile clinics that visit maybe once a month. though when needed they do go and pick up patients who need hospital care.

i spent most of the day at home, went for a wander down the beach, sat and read my book, took some photos at the cemetery and chilled some more..

Mick will be back in Dili tomorrow (i will believe that when i actually see it, apparently he has been saying this since the start of March...). this is a really good thing, because i was kinda getting a bit bored and over being here, it will be really awesome to see this place from his point of view, he is the eyes and ears of this country, not much happens without him knowing. he has also asked me to work on a couple of projects for him while we are here. i am possibly going to be working at Ba Futuru (in Tetum meaning 'for the future') they work with the youth community developing "sustainable human development by facilitating the psychosocial recovery of conflict-affected, vulnerable and at-risk children and youth" Ba Futuru is a non-profit development organization established in Timor-Leste in 2004. 

Mick knows the people who run this place in Timor, and apparently they are looking for any help they can get which is like most places in timor. I'm more than willing to help in anyway i can, especially when Mick is involved, he has helped us (Mat in particular) so much with making this trip happen. i think mat really needed this. and anyway it keeps me interested and helps them, so why wouldn't i?

Monday, April 25, 2011

So the amazing stir fry kinda didn't happen..

Update on the last post.

Dinner would have been awesome... If the power didn't die. Power cuts are common in Timor, we have had quite a few since we have been here but they have only lasted about 30mins at the longest, it's now 8.45 it's been out since about 7.15pm. I had even cut everything up and had it all ready to go, was just waiting for Mat to come back so I could cook it up. he was down the beach taking photos of the sunset...
Anyway.. We have solar power as backup but it's really only enough to power lights, and the small fan we have over the bed.
As a backup we bought a couple packets of mi goreng noodles so all we had to do was boil the kettle to eat them. Turns out we didn't even have enough power to boil the kettle.. Damn it!

So Mat ended up eating the packet of mi goreng raw and I sooked for a bit, wished that the mains power would come back on, then gave in and had a bowl of cereal.

So seat belts really aren't the done thing

Yesterday for Easter Sunday, I decided not to go up the mountain for the stations of the cross, the weather was still looking pretty shitty and I had had basically no sleep the night before, though Mat went with one of our newly made friends. They ended up going up on a motorbike, to the statue of the pope. (on one side of Dili there is a statue of Jesus and one of the pope on the other.) this is one of the highest points in Dili so mat had some great photos of the outlook. All the way up the hill they stopped for the stations of the cross before finally making it up to the statue of John Paul II.

I spent most of the day around where we are staying. Went for a walk around, sat on the beach and read my book. Really nice lazy day!

Last night was probably the hottest night we have had followed today by the hottest day, it feels like it is 35 degrees and 100% humidity, I'm not feeling all that well as a result. Because it had rained so much over the weekend there was a lot of water around and therefor a lot of mozzies, well a lot more than usual. I woke up today with about 15 new bites, they must breed them tough here, we have 3 citronella diffusers around the bed as well as a lamp which burns citronella oil, and they still attack us.

Mat headed in early to the clinic today, while I stayed home and did some washing (like the good little housewife I am..) there is no such thing as a washing machine here, so iv been hand washing in the kitchen sink! Because it is so humid, everything takes like 2 days to dry too!

Around lunch time I went into Dili to meet Mat. We are about 2 kms from the main road, usually while walking from our place up to the road, a taxi will come past for you to jump in but today I made it the whole way to the road before I got a cab. When you stand near the road or walk down any road in dili, every cab honks at you, but none of them just have normal horns, all are random novelty sounds and quite a few also have flashing lights and are all covered in random bright stickers, anything to try to get your attention.

The cab I got in today, im not sure was actually a cab, I think this guy was just taking his daughter to school and thought he would pick me up on the way. Though he was really lovely and took me where I wanted to go. You can kinda tell when the cars are personal cars or taxis by the state of disrepair, this car was really well kept and actually had seat belts, a rare find in a cab. Those that actually have belts don't ever get used, when we jump in a cab and buckle up (when there is a belt) we get the strangest looks, one guy actually said about it then laughed at us.. In Timor no one can really afford insurance so everyone just drives quite slow, averaging 30-40kms, you wouldn't really want them to go much faster anyway, especially when there doesn't seem to be any road rules, though the single traffic light in Dili everyone seems to obey.

There is a lot of one way streets in Dili, they are lined to make it a 2 lane road but no one pays much attention to that, sometimes it can change to 4 or 5 lanes, with motorbikes weaving in and out of the other traffic. Only about half of the people actually wear helmets but most of the time they aren't done up. One of our local friends offered me a lift on his bike today, I politely refused..

Once I met up with Mat today, we had lunch at a little indonesian place we found. for the amount of death and destruction the Indonesians caused this place I'm surprised by the amount of indonesian stuff you see around. There is tones of statues and memorials of Indonesians and quite a lot of buildings (which have since been half burnt down) which were built by the indonesians still around. A lot of timorese also speak bahasa (Indonesian) because while the indonesians were occupying it was compulsorily taught in schools.

Anyway I had nasi goreng for lunch, it was pretty awesome, though I have a feeling it was full of msg. Mat decided to order something random off the menu as he always does, today it backfired big time. What he ordered turned out to be a dessert, which consisted of what look like milk, Milo, chocolate topping, those weird jelly pearls you get in bubble cup, some bread that had pink food colouring on it and then massive chunks of ice. Basically it looked like someone ate dessert then threw up in a bowl.

To his credit he ate quite a bit of it, but thought if he ate any more he would be 'pissing out both ends' charming Mathew.

Iv been feeling pretty shitty all day, iv been quite dizzy and light headed, thought it was just because it was hot and I was dehydrated but it doesn't seem to help when I have a heap of water, I felt a bit better once i had eaten some lunch but im feeling a bit sketchy again a few hours later. This might be what sends me home.

After lunch we decided to head to the supermarket, to the market and then home. Like always at the market, once we had selected our veges etc, we got quoted $6 then 5 seconds later it became $7.50, the longer you hang around the more it seems to cost! We did buy a pineapple that looks freaking amazing though, can't wait to get into that.

Back at home now, just sitting on the daybed out on the front porch, watching the waves roll in. Mat is having a nap, it's amazing how tired you get here, I think it's just the weather and the humidity but it really takes it out of you.

I'm going to try to make some sort of awesome stirfry for dinner tonight, should have bought some hokkien noodles or something though, getting a little over rice.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

cold and wet, another day in Dili

we have just escaped the rain into the 'superfast internet cafe' its totally a lie its crappy and slow, but thats how it is here. it is absolutly pissing down, tropical rain for over an hour now, and it doesnt look like stopping, aparently there is going to be massive storms for the next couple days.

this morning we again went to see Dr Dan, because it is easter weekend there is no where as many patients there. the avearge amount of patients is 300 a day for this clinic, today there was probably only 80-100. he works with no resources, its amazing what he can acomplish. i brought my little photo printer to timor with me, so we printed some of the images of the people at the clinic that Mat had taken the day before, they were so excited ands happy to receive them, these are quite possibly the only photos of their kids they will ever have.  becasuse of how poor the country is no one has cameras and therefore no photos, it is even more important to the parents at the clinic because there is a chance their kids wont live.

were we are staying is close to a cemetry, the graves are the most incredible structures i have ever seen at a cemetry. they are every colour that you could imagine, and made from anythign from wood to ceramic tiles, to concrete that has been coloured and painted. as amazing as they are visually they are absolutly devastating when you read the inscriptions. we found one that was a childs grave, they had lived for only 4 days.
i will put up some photos when i get back.

yesterday was Good Friday, (Friday, Friday, Friday) so after we had been to the internet cafe we were walking around and we came across the massive cathedral in town. there was so many people there, i swear most of Dili was there. we decided to go in to have a look, every single pew was completly full of people, what would usually seat 5 people was seating 9 or 10. they had set up extra seating whereever they could fit it in the church and it still wasnt enough, people stood around as well as spilling outside into the grounds. it was a really strange experience, we could understand a single word that was being spoken yet it was an incredible sight, especially when everyone stood up and sang, something that will stay with me.

tomorrow for easter sunday we are supposed to be going with a few locals up to the statue of jesus which is up on a hill not too far from Dili.  apparently all the locals go up here and replay or reinact the stations of the cross. again i think this would be an interestign experience. though i said to Mat if its raining like it is at the moment there is no way im going, i dont feel likel hiking in the pissing rain.

Friday, April 22, 2011

they even have public holidays in timor..

Good Friday in Timor.
Like in Aust nothing is open and there is very little people around in the streets, we were supposed to go to church with a group of local boys that we met, but we think they must have gone without us, some sort of miscommunication I'm sure, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are pretty much the most important days to the timorese, with about 90% of the population being catholic.

I haven't done much for the last couple days, yesterday was spent mostly at home, last night we were invited around for a BBQ at our neighbors, they are expats who have been living and working in Dili for about 2 years each. Monty runs an English language school, and Kat works in some sort of teaching and development role, heading out into communities and teaching them skills to help their families and communities
be more self sufficient and be able to support themselves etc. they have been so nice to us. Rich (our other contact) left for Australia on Wednesday so they have been there to help if need be, which included feeding us 2 nights in a row. Kat has flown to Bali for the Easter break, and Monty has take a couple of his friends who are over from Perth hiking up one of the many mountains for the weekend..

Yesterday Mat went out in the morning to one of the doctors clinics in Dili, to meet with "Doctor Dan' who we have figured to be a bit of a celebrity of sorts. everyone seems to know him. Google this man, he is amazing, the work he does with the resources he has is ridiculous.

This morning i went with Mat to Doctor Dan's,  we followed him while he checked on patients, there was one lady pregnant with twins, who has some sort of heart defect which means she probably wont survive childbirth, she is also so malnourished her thighs would be about the same size as my arms. there was another lady who was sitting with her 2 kids, they had tested for Malaria and Hep A/B and were treating for TB, they were close to 2 months old and only weighed 6 kilos, and they had been there for a month and still couldn't make them gain any weight, the next test was to be for HIV, it is absolutely devastating to see this. Talking to Dr Dan, he says the most common things he treats, are infectious diseases, which is most other countries are not problem, they become much worse here because of the close proximity of houses and also the amount of people in each house as well as poor nutrition and sanitation. these can include things as simple as a cold, yet here it develops and becomes much worse because the nutrition isn't very good and the lack of basic medications. He was telling us today that he has recently had to smuggle drugs in through the Singaporean Mafia with the help of the PM's wife, for his patients, these same malaria meds cost about $10 and are readily available in Australia. I really wish there was something more i could do.

Mat is wanting to do a story on womens issues in Timor, at this clinic they have a program that is training Timorese midwives as well as nurses. he is most probably going to go out to the districts with one of the travelling clinics, where they go to the smallest villages to treat anyone unwell, as travel here can be quite difficult, especially for those living in the mountains. the Timorese are amazing people, the amount of shit they have dealt with and continue to deal with everyday is insurmountable, yet they are always smiling and are so incredibly patient.

today while wandering the streets of Dili, we came across a Tais Market, Tais being the traditional woven cloth of the timorese, it is all hand woven exclusively by women. These cloths come in so so many different patterns, shapes and sizes, they are so intricately designed and you don't very often see the same patterns recurring.  like many things here they seemed to have a local price and a malae price, we don't mind paying a little more but sometimes they are just making fools of us. there isn't much of a bargaining culture here, though at this market, i said no to one lady and she asked how much i wanted to pay, so we haggled a bit, i felt bad haggling too much, i think she was happy withe the price in the end.

the weather today is super hot, and quite high humidity, im struggling the most since we have been here.. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


P.s If anyone wants to contact me my phone number in timor is +6707942366 feel free to text or call... :-) though the reception is pretty bad so you might not get through..

If it only has one wheel its a uni cycle.

early start day 2.

we woke up to a rooster crowing, really in the country now haha.
yesterday at the markert we kept getting approached by kida with trays of eggs, we thought they were fresh eggs, but rich told us that they are actually hard boiled, on tuesday morning wandering out the out the front walking along the beach was one of these kids, Mat bought 4 eggs for $1.

we headed into town with Rich, he works at the presidents palace, which seems to be more like a government building rather than a palace as such. we hung out there for a while, made friends with some of the timorese guys he works with, then Cowboy, one of these guys, drove us to meet a photographer from the UN that Mat had organised a meeting with, we had a coffee and some brekki, then off to explore the city again.

we came across a group of kids playing soccer in the street, we ended up hanging out with them for close to 2 hours, taking photos, much to their delight.

we found a supermarket where we could buy some food and supplies, wont be going hungry again tonight.. we bought a big bag of rice, among other things to keep us going.

you seem many funny and interesting things while wandering around, a kid rode past on his bike, except the front wheel was missing, so he was riding it like uni cycle, amazing how adaptable these people are.

on our way home we stopped at the Comoro Market, so we grabbed some fresh veges to make some dinner. nothing like the good old Vic market, the meat vendors have it sitting open air on their cart, brushing off the flies with a stick, clearly a lot of people buy meat this way, but my food safety knowledge got in the way, I couldn't ever buy it from them.

it was so so hot today!  felt sticky and gross all day, came home and made some dinner, that actually wasn't too bad considering i had no \thing in the way of pots/pans/stove etc to cook with. ended up making a kinda bastardized risotto in an electric fry pan with chicken and veges.. then had a shower, there is only cold water so its an interesting experience.... lucky that Timor is so hot its actually not too bad, couldn't imagine doing it in winter.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day One Timor.

so we made it, it was the most amazing flight out of Darwin, the sunrise was spectacular. flight to Dili was super quick, only about 50mins.

as we were landing seeing the country for the first time was amazing, huge hills, beautiful water, the river running into the ocean. and so many people standing outside the fence watching the planes come in.

we were picked up at the airport by Richard, one of mats contacts good mates and neighbours. he took us back to where we would be staying. its actually on the beach, 20m and theres water, this is a really simple and beautiful place.

after a bit of a nap, we went for a walk around to try to get our bearings, while walking down the beach we ran into a couple aussies, who live in the place next door, they gave us a crash course in Tetum which was really handy while we were wandering around. they also told us that we would be called 'malae' which basically means foreigner, it isnt an insult just a means of reference.

rich came back around 12 and took into town for lunch, we ended up going to a thai place, which was awesome, lunch and a drink $5USD
after lunch we got dropped of at one of the many markets and had a look around, we had a lot of people laugh at us and call out malae, Mat almost started a riot when he got his camera out. we struggled through with out limited tetum and the prasebook we bought with us from home, every time we bought something we would ask how much? and they would say $1 then change their mind and charge us $2, we knew we were being ripped off but didnt mind that much. everyone kept trying to make up buy this random food, that we later discovered to be betal. (think thats how its spelt) Mat tried it, i decided not too, he ended up spitting it out because it was horrible and he could then still taste it for the whole day..
 this is the market, it stretched on forever, built in between the trees, absolutely no system to it at all.

we decided to try to find a place to buy Sim cards for our phones, we had no idea which way to go or where we could actually get them. We asked a local and they told us to find Timor Telecom. after walking around for probably 2 hours or so, (every now and then getting directions from locals) we asked another guy and he offered to take us there, he walked with us for nearly 20 mins, told the people at the shop what we needed then waited out the from for another 10 mins to make sure we didn't have any problems. try getting someone in Melbourne to do that!

it was getting towards 5pm so we thought we would go back to the place we were staying, we weren't really sure what to do for food etc. we had asked rich what to tell the taxi driver to be able to get home. when we said that to the taxi driver he had no idea... after 40 mins in the cab we actually made it back to where we were staying, Rich didnt get home till quite late so  we ended up having 2 min noodles from our next door neighbor because she took pity on us..

there is a school near where we are staying, so walking around with our cameras we often get attacked by small kids, yelling 'Mister Mister, Photo Photo! or simply Malae! Malae! on our way home we got chased down the street after we had spent 10 mins with them taking photos., they ran home along side us.


would love to add way more photos but iv been sitting here for 2 hours and i have uploaded like 6 photos, i will never again complain about how fast my internet is..

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hello Darwin!

So we made it to Darwin, landed at about 1.45am local time, did a wee, watched the AFP put some guy in the back of their truck. then sat for a long time...

we thought we would be able to check our bags in and then go up to the terminals and go for a wander, turns out the check in for our flight to Dili doesn't open until 3 hours before the flight, which makes it 3.15am. hour and a half wait out the front of the check in counters.. not so fun. we did make a tidy little place for ourselves...

Packed, checked in and flying.

I decided I was going to be supremly organised, So I packed on Thursday, then unpacked and repacked on sat at about 1am, went to work Sunday from 9.45-2.45, then when I got home I repacked for the third time, I was banned from touching my bag again....
Kinda destroyed my room in the process..

Out for dinner with Kim (mats mum) before she dropped us at the airport. Took us nearly 25mins just to get to the airport from where you exit the freeway, there was so much traffic, Sunday night must be the time to fly.

A long walk from where Kim dropped us off to the check in, me being a sook that my bag was heavy. We found some random scales weighing them, my big bag was 14kg, and carry on was 10kg, just mats carry on was 17, plus 20kg of camera gear. We thought we had better even out our bags to make sure Mat was under the limit, after moving everything Mat weighed in at 20.4 luckily they didn't weigh his carry on, then we would be screwed.

After the amount of traffic we thought check-in was going to be a nightmare, turns out it was just us and about 3 other people..
While were waiting Mat tells me that he only let me come for my baggage allowance. thanks..

Flight ended up being delayed by about 1/2 an hour, I went for a wander while we were waiting to board, while I was walking there the guy in front of me stepped on a mouse, it kind got up and hobbled away, then it was still sitting in the same place when came back.. Man I hate mice.

We left Melbourne at about 10.15pm. We get to Darwin at about 1.30am local time, which I'm pretty sure is about 2am Melbourne time.

Currently on the plane, in the middle of 3 seats the worst spot to be sitting, Mat stole the window seat and has been taking photos non-stop out the window, I'm not going to judge it's what makes him happy. Though I will add that he looks like a fool. He has both my jacket and my cardi wrapped around his camera and over his head to try to stop the reflections on the window.
Most of his shots have come out really well, but we all know mat, good is not good enough..

We also have a lady about 3 seats behind who is clearly watching a DVD or something, the plane is silent being that it's just past midnight, and she keep laughing so so loudly followed by coughing and gargling sounds like she is going to choke, not so secretly I'm kinda hoping she does... That's a bit mean but it's super annoying!

I just realised this is the second time Mat and I have been awake the whole night of our anniversary. Though spending it flying and in an airport is a bit different to dinner and drinks and walking home in the early hours of the morning.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Got Some Money, Ready To Be Rolled..

This trip is actually starting to feel like it's going to happen, its all happened so quick it kinda feels like a dream.

Today was a largely unsuccessful day, I planned to go into the city before work and pick up all the little bits and peices I needed to take away, then didn't write a list and couldn't really remember what I wanted.. Aimlessly walked around Melb for 2 hours.. Not looking forward to having to pack.

Though i did go and change all my money over to US$, by the way, it totally looks like monopoly money... Was super uncomfortable wandering down Elizabeth St in the city with $1500 in cash in my wallet. I kept looking around for shady people that were gonna jump me lol. I was making myself completely paranoid.

And So It Begins.

So this is the beginnings of my blog, at the moment it's my travel blog because I'm too lazy to talk to everyone to update them, so if you can read this is what you're getting...

First a bit of a who, what, why..
This whole Timor thing came about, well actually I'm not sure where it started... but anyway for one reason or another Mat became interested in Timor, i think it was through his film contacts namely Nathan Phllips, who was an actor in the movie they made about what happened with the journalists at Balibo in 1975. Through making the film Nathan became friends with the Timor community, including the president Jose Ramos-Horta and Michael Stone, who is now Mats contact in Timor.

Mick has lived and worked in Timor for nearly 10 years i think Mat said, he speaks Tetum, the national language of East Timor and is (or was, not all that sure) one of the defence and security advisers to the president. He also started the 'Tour De Timor' bike race. Like they do the Tour De France, except in Timor, the main aim is to improve tourism in Timor, and therefore helping the economy and everything that comes with that. 
For this trip Mat and i are going to be hanging out with Michael, photographing whatever and whenever we can, Mat is looking at this more like a working holiday, so he is hoping (and i think he will succeed) to shoot (for all you out there not a photographer reading this, 'shoot' refers to taking a photo, not shooting someone... just clarifying, this seems to freak people out when they don't really know what you're talking about..) a couple of stories and then sell them to either newspapers or magazines etc.

To be honest I'm not all that sure what my motivation is for going, i can think of a million reasons why it is going to be an amazing experience, but I'm not too sure what it is that made me decide to go. i am a little scared and freaking out a bit about it but so looking forward to it. I'll let you know when i figure it out.

So I'm leaving the country in 4 days.. awesome, except for the impending doom I'm feeling due to a severe lack of planning being really unprepared and having nothing organised...

Though on the upside we finally booked our flight to Darwin on Tuesday, I think Mat had really just had enough of my insistent nagging and freak outs about getting organised so we looked at flights. The original plan was to fly to Darwin early Monday morning and then continue to Timor later on in the day, but looking at flights we decided to go Sunday night, the flight worked out quite a lot cheaper and cheaper is always a better option... official flight time is 9.30pm Sunday night, arriving in Darwin at 1.25am (local time, which is +1hour) then to find something to do for 12 hours till the flight to Timor.

So far we have only booked our flights to Darwin, Michael is trying to work us out some sweet deal with the flights from Darwin to Timor, we think the idea is that we only have to pay the taxes, again cheaper is always better. We decided to take the later flight to Timor being that neither of us had ever been to Darwin before, good excuse to have a look around.

Still so many things i need to do...
- change over some money to US $
- register with smart traveller
- copy all my travel documents etc.
- stop mum from stressing
- decide what to pack
- pack
- unpack
- re -pack....