tues april 19th (Rita writes)
On arrival we took a taxi for change- instead of unpacking our bikes, to the chosen Dili guest house-a very basic standard, but unbelievably a european toilet here, which always makes other inadequacies easier to bear e.g. Cockroaches.
Arriving in Dili is like walking into a messy room, where to start??
We cleared off out for a meal and found a caf used primarily by UN personnel - we ate what was on offer ie caesar salad and burger. There are no tourists here but us -but lots of UN so they keep the expensive hotels going.
Our room turned out to be very hot, fan only and pretty unbearable but we survived-at least no beasties, even though it looks like that sort of place- can you imagine? I doubt it..
At b/fast (19/04) plan WAS TO HIRE Car to cover whole of east timor-Paul went to car hire site while I read up on recent violent timor history.
On return he told me about street protests which were going on. Our plan was to get out of the capital but if things were going to kick off I thought it would be a good plan to stick near the airport 4 a getaway.
Paul wanted to go on to Bacau by bus(car hire is too dear by our budget standard) but I thought we woud hang on to see what if anything materialised after the catholic presidents speech at 3pm.
The muslim prime minister has some different ideas about how the country`s schools should be run despite 90per cent of population being catholic-they donâ™t like it and it seems they are inclined to protest at the drop of a hat. 75per cent unemployment and the extreme heat make for tensions!!!!
I donâ™t see any point in getting tied up in their battles for the sake of it-perhaps I should call in Kate Adie
or Urla guerlin- she is usually in the thick of war zones. Paul has got the photos though!!
We left the Dili gh intending to chk out the home office website but en route I though it would be a good plan to check out local feeling on the ground, in a cafĂ©-which we did.
We chatted with a well travelled, fairly good englIsh speaking local who gave us the low down and as the day wore on the crowds dispersed but we didnt wait for the speech we left at 2.30 for Baucau. after soup,salad & steak .
IF YOU ALONE CAN KEEP YOUR HEAD WHEN ALL AROUND ARE LOSING THEIRS_perhaps you have completely misunderstood the situation-Paul thought this an appropriate sentiment for the moment.
We had a great journey by minibus - although very cramped to begin with -I moved to the back seat half way thro the trip-(3 hours)_TO GIVE US BOTH MORE SPACE!!!!seats not designed for 2 europeans.
Timor delgihtful Timor. Back to basics 5kms outside Dili, Happy people,friendly faces all, little to No english,big on portugese here - grass roofed shacks or corrugated galvanise shambles, pomegranates growing along roadside which hugs the coast almost all the way to Baucau. Clear turquoise sea with little golden sandy bays where no one swims but local fishermen - tourism hasnâ™t found timor yet so no postcards. Spot the whiteman here, very very few tourists although I did spot a real cyclist on the road from the bus, he will probably arrive here at baucau 2morro.
Our first guest house attempt was 20 dollars but they werenâ™t into bartering so we werenâ™t into staying and glad we didnâ™t as down the hill we met an ozzie male staying for 2 months ih baucau who gave us directions to brunos guest house, he also offered to lend his snorkel gear and we gave him info re protests in Dili and he also gave us directions to beer and food.
Ozzies are great at travelling and passing on info.
Bingo! Beautiful white tiled floor, en suite, balcony area and brekkers available, 15 dollars, bargain- only problem loads of dogs
Theydont like dogs much here and are trated cruelly. Ponies on the other hand as working beasts are better treated.
We are going to beach it here- may climb a mountain, we will decide 2morro.
We had a salad and chicken kebabs at terras novas-a small cafĂ© a couple hundred yards from our guest house-large portions but pretty non descript food.
Wed 20th april
We walked 5kms all windingl down hill to the fabulous beach, past the large clean swimming pool, which all can use, through small villages and terraced rice fields,past pomegranate trees and small goat herds destined for the table,under banyan trees and banana palms with birds nest ferns, past many cockerells(for cock fighting) and wild boar,possibly also destined for the pot.
Women carrying groceries,veggies, water and chickens in rattan baskets on their heads as they walk from the market. I wish also I had invented flip flops,they are worn by all. Delapidated potugese buildings have been left abandoned on the shore, sadly, and the locals have built their own style huts from rattan walls with palm leaf rooves same as all over east timor.
At the bottom of hill were several small bays obviously not much used, except by a few fishermen. Again there are old portugese buildings here left to rack and ruin-Paul says destroyed when Indonesians pulled out a few years ago.
We dabbled and swam for a while nervously in fear of the dreaded stinging jelly fish, then we retraced our steps up the hill since there was no last bus where we made enquiries and where we had no chance of striking up a conversation !!!!!Language barrier.
We made our way by microlet to restaurant Benefice recommended by Lorcan the ozzie, who said it was good value and he often ate there, but we didnâ™t happen to meet up again. .
I ate steak in tomato sauce with chinese style mix veg while Paul tried stirfry rice and chicken curry (haviing established the meat was off the bone-always a must to consider in these indo/chino/malay countries).
Both were good although a little tame flavour wise by our rating.
We walked part way then caught microlet at random to our guest house and read. Presently on Brick Lane and Dark Winter.
Thurs 21st april
At 9am we left for Venilale some 28kms to south of Baucau by minibus - a short trip 0nly 50 minutes, a small town with a substantial school for around 350 pupils but very little else except some wonderful scenery.
No chance of striking up a conversation here as the locals speak Tetun-have you heard of it??? BUT ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS and in no time we were being welcomed by the local bobby who had heard of our arrival possibly by jungle grapevine.
We asked about the hot springs at baican but he recommended against going there, he took our names etc as he said in case "anything happened to us!!!" we checked out the very basic local market, all veggies and exercise books as far as I could see, then we walked 2wards the school built 1933. We were mobbed by curious kids practising basic english as they were on a break time.
Veronica and Maria were most keen to practice . Others wanted to shake hands, ask our names and ages and from which country??? After which their repertoire depleted, they wanted to have their photos taken. At first we thought they wanted cash for them, but actually they just like to have their pics taken. Reluctantly we took a few.
Although very hot 25 degrees, it was breezy and we decided to walk back towards Baucau and take some photos of interesting countryside as well as get some exercise.
We walked about 6kms afterwhich we caught a bus back into Baucau.
We ate soup and had a beer in the posh hotel which the locals call FLAMBOYANT, because it is smarter than anything else and strikingly pink!!
Intending to take a swim in the local pool we started down the hill and would you believe they had emptied for cleaning-so we walked up to a look out point and took in the scenery -long untouched sandy beaches-ripe for the tourists. We have seen some tourists to be fair, but v few-which is just how we like it.
We look forward to returning in the future to see what progress, if you call tourism progress. There is no sign yet of revenue from the oil field in the timor sea.
A late meal in terras novas then back to guest house 4 pack up b4 return to Dili 2morro.
Early up and bus to Dili-our bags grabbed at the terminal by an over enthusiastic scout rounding up passengers for his bus-and then we waited another hour and 20 mins till he got a bus full -no timetables here.
Good book made journey pass so quickly and on arriva lat 1.15 had snack in city cafĂ©.
We booked back into Dili gh as it was so cheap only 2.50 each i.e.$10 although grotty - Paul didnâ™t tell me about the roaches he had seen in dining area!!!til later.
We walked east along the coast towards the famous christ statue which competes with the one in Rio deJaneiro, past the R/Catholic demonstrators. Probably about 150 now protesting, but numbers are increasing as folk come in from the villages- maybe it will get to be a big demo, we havenâ™t yet seen the papers to know what was said in the presidents speech.
We gave the gruta santa ana en route a miss. The christ statue with open arms is 27 meters tall and located on a peninsula overlooking Dili across the bay.
We indulged in a couple of glasses wine etc while watching the sunset and later walked back to town for a cinese all you can eat-nobody does it better!
We booked transport to the airport for 7 so we could visit the cathedral en route, allegedly the largest in se asia. We were also shown one of the few existing traditional stilted houses, which escaped the ransacking on the departure of the indonesians.
We arrived in Darwin at 11.15, no hassle this time but we were amused to see an arrogant UN worker get a 220 dollar fine for an orange in his luggage.
Booked into dorm at melaleucah back packers.