A couple of events

It may be a bit late but the Alola Foundation is having a 20% off sale today (ie Saturday 20 Sept. 10am to 3pm).  All sorts of tais-based goods are available and these days, things like laptop bags and trendy document wallets are also there.  If you haven’t been to Alola, its about 300 metres south (ie towards the hills) from the big roundabout near the Stadium – on your right.  Stock up for XMas presents … did I just say that !?

On September 27, there is the “Great Dili Dally Car Rally”.  (Note to file : Do not go out cycling that day !)  $10 Adults, $5 children, free for under 10s.  Phone 7328804 if interested.  Proceeds go to the Fuan Nabilan centre for blind children.

Amendment : if children under 10 are getting to drive around Dili for free, then I’ll not only lock up the bicycle but climb up a mango tree until its over.

Tarts on the couch

The two Chris’s put a name to their hobby band last night – “Tarts on the Couch”.  No doubt related to many hours spent on the couch practising for their rare public appearances.  (And the amount of “I remember when …” crap spoken.)

The boys have struck an arrangement with one of the better local bands in town to front them just to get their own rocks off.  Backed by the Timorese boys on drums, bass and guitar, the twin guitar heroes strutted their stuff at Motion last night.

Good time had by all with some fairly dodgy dancing and some manoeuvres best left to the privacy of one’s own home.  Going to see a rock band sure is a great way to blow out the Dili dust.  Loved the Hendrix stuff C1 !!  But why did I go home after midnight and put on death metal at full bore ?

Holiday Weekend Things

The streets are a bit quieter except for the military parade practice outside the Palacio accompanied by street closures.

The old Jardim IDP camp outside Hotel Timor has a bright shiny tin fence encircling it.  It also has a developers sign which is a pretty good indication that its days as a park are over.  The sign mentions 3 companies : Home Rest International, Diamond Sea Development and Pacific Timor Internet.

There is a new restaurant down at the Metiaut seaside strip – the New Paradise.  It appears to be aiming at the higher end and has a sense of permanency about it.  It may well be a new incarnation of the old Paradise Balinese restaurant which means involvement by Andy – lately of Hotel Vila Verde.

There is a brand-spanking new white line down the centre of the road from the President’s house right into town (or almost as I don’t think it has quite made it all the way yet).

In Australian Rules football news, the Timor-Leste Crocs defeated the East Dili Eels 8-3-51 to 6-7-43 at the National Stadium.  The Crocs crocks sustained moderate injuries with Crocs full-back, Daisy injuring his wrist requiring hospital treatment.  Another injury to an Eels player resulted in the Crocs captain switching sides to even up the numbers.  The Crocs played like a rabble after that turncoat effort but held on to win thanks to some poor goal kicking by the Eels late in the game.

The ersatz Olympics

It is day 7 of the Olympics and apart from seeing a couple of short clips on satellite news services, I have not seen a complete event yet.  Although TVTL did have the opening ceremony, I have seen no more sign of action there and although TVRI (an Indonesian TV station) has the Indonesian TV rights, I have not cracked any Olympics coverage there when I have looked.

I guess it must be happening as other news reports say it is but they also talk of fake fireworks displays in the opening ceremony, fake singers and fake weather.  I am starting to wonder if this whole thing is being faked in some studio in Shenzhen next-door to the fake NorthFace adventure gear factory.

It is more clear evidence of the whole world turning to fakedom.  I am pretty sure that one day I will make a mistake and make an appointment with a spin doctor to syringe my ears.  He will convince me that I actually will hear better with my ears blocked and will bill me anyway and suggest that I should return to hand in my reading glasses so I can see more clearly.

Olympic-less TV

I just presumed that bits of the Olympics would be on the IndoVision satellite feed.  I checked the on-screen program schedule last night and no sign whatsoever of any Olympic stuff at all.  Sometimes the schedule is wrong but it could mean that the only way to see the opening ceremony later today is to go to the Dili Club, One More Bar or Dili Beach Hotel.  Or some of the accommodation places that have the OZ satellite feed (he says contemplating some serious gatecrashing).  [Head shakes, eyes roll.]

Tony at The Kebab Club (ie Turkish food) is off until the 20th of August to go to his sister’s wedding so it is closed until then.  [Head shakes.]

The Jardim park that sits across the road from the Hotel Timor has now been fenced off with bright shiny tin fencing.  The local press report that a well-known Jakarta gangster, “Hercules” has acquired the necessary permission to convert the park into a supermarket/swimming pool complex.  [Head shakes, eyes roll.]

FOLLOW-UP : It appears I forgot little old TVTL who appear to be re-broadcasting the New Zealand Olympic coverage.

Walks around Dili

I have cycled over most of Dili itself, and cycled, run or walked numerous other parts of the surrounds.  Dili is surrounded by hills so as long as you know up from down, you are unlikely to get totally lost.  However, you may find yourself cornered on really steep and slippery slopes – slippery as most of the hills are very gravelly.

I would not recommend mountain biking on the hills unless you are experienced and have lots of tyre repair gear.  For the visitor who really wants fresh air, views and exercise, I have added 5 possible walk/run/cycle routes to my Google Earth file which includes the “must-do” trip up to see Jesus.  These 5 trails are on well-defined paths with little likelihood of getting lost.  Just don’t forget to take plenty of water.

They are :

Dare to Dili – take a vehicle up to the Dare turn-off called “Fatuk Nava”.  Take the road to Dare from the turn-off and after about 600 metres take the pathway downhill (shown as a sharp dogleg to the right).  Follow this old roadway (called Fatuk Laran) all the way to Vila Verde Cathedral.  This is all downhill and tough on knees but has speccy views.

Seeing Jesus – a typical walk/run from Caz Bar (or one of the other bar/restaurants in the vicinity) to the Jesus statue and back.  This is the tourist guide “been there done that” tick it off walk/run.

Daisy’s Loop – the loop from Caz Bar up “Ramos-Horta hill” over the top and diown to the sea on the other side with scramble up the hill to join the “Seeing Jesus” track.

Seeing the Pope – a much shorter walk (or even a car trip to the top) to see the Pope and yet more views of Dili from the western end.

City to Bars walk/run – from the Palacio (or anywhere really) to the Caz Bar/Atlantic Grill/Sol e Mar restaurant area and back.  A flat seaside walk with numerous refreshment stops possible.

There are numerous variations and one or two more that I could add.

The best place to be during the Olympics

Although I will probably watch the opening ceremony to see how the Chinese put that together and I will probably watch a few sporting events that I would otherwise never watch (think synchronised swimming), I am glad I will be in Dili during the Olympics – as far away as possible from the hooplah.  No shops with Olympics specials, no endless ads on TV about Olympics this and Olympics that.  In fact, I think it quite possible to skip the whole thing and never know it existed.  That probably makes Dili a good candidate for those wishing to drop out … but of course, you just end up dropping in to something else.

I watched a piece on TV last night about the effects of the global downturn.  Higher prices, reduced family incomes leading to mortgage pressures, banks hauling in bad loans etc. and felt mighty glad these issues just don’t hit the radar here.  I am just not enticed to take out a bank loan here or whip down and buy the latest electronics gadgetry or domestic labour-saving device.  Am I concerned that I am not wearing the latest in t-shirt, shorts and sandals ?

Will the Beijing air be breathable during the Games, will there be any Olympic terrorism (apart from the Chinese security services themselves), will it be the greatest Olympics ever ?

Will there be yogurt at the supermarket today, or cheese or bacon ?  Will there be a power cut today ?  Will I have to plunge the toilet this morning ?

Timor-Leste Crocs football

Recently, I was a little disturbed that I was not called on to offer my silky skills to the newly-formed “Timor-Leste Crocs” AFL football team *.  Obviously, the news of my dog bite and tree incident travels fast and they assumed I was on the injury list.  The Crocs went to Bali to play in the 2008 Bali Nines competition (because 9 players fit more easily into the much smaller soccer pitch playing area).

However, I have made myself available for the next match which is coming up soon I believe here in Dili.  My health insurance is paid up and I need a trip to Darwin anyway 🙂

I think the Crocs came 6th out of 9 teams and played against the elite of expat-based teams from Bali, Jakarta, Borneo, Dubai and a couple of others.  The boys were extremely complimentary towards the standard of playing surface in Bali.  It is a pity I don’t play too well on the bumpy surface likely here in Dili.  (This is called excuse forward planning.)

Watch out for this memorable game coming up soon.

* AFL means Australian Rules football.  Normally 18 players a side on thee ground at the one time.

This is really about Nairobi

This is not about Dili at all but reading about Kenya being on the edge of civil war brought back memories of some quite risky behaviour on my part once.

I had just finished a 4 week safari tour of Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire, Rwanda and Uganda on the back of one of those open safari trucks.  Four weeks, about a dozen people, shorts and t-shirts throughout and a fair bit of testosterone.   After farewelling all the others, I spent the last couple of days in the 680 Hotel by myself.
I was alone in the bar one night and the black guy next to me suddenly turns around and says “why do you white guys all stick to this part of town … you never come and mix with where the black people live”.  Perhaps it was the sudden absence of heaps of company (including one or two girls that I regretted not having made advances towards) or perhaps it was the drink but I agreed with him.  He goaded me before finally offering to take me to “where the black people live” north of Tom Mboya street.  I agreed.

So off we go on foot and as we pass Tom Mboya street, the general streetscape tended to head to a rougher style.  We went into a bar – rough-looking by western standards.  Not a white man in sight.  My “mate” orders 2 beers.  I don’t understand what he says but he ends up having an argument with the barman.  He finally comes back with 2 warm beers.  I say to him, “it was me, wasn’t it?” He said, “Yes”.  I gradually feel more uncomfortable and am not really enjoying this beer (too warm) much at all.  About 20 bright white eyes stare at me.

He sees my discomfort and after the beers are demolished, offers succour by asking me, “let’s get out here … why not come and see where we really live out in the suburbs”.  It is now dark and I am obviously in a very uncomfortable place for a white man and say “yeah, why not!”

So off we go to a bus stop and hop in a small mini-bus.  He has a another argument with the driver.  I knew it was me again.  “So what was it this time?”, I ask.   He replied, “the driver wanted the white man to pay 3 times the normal fare … don’t worry, you are my guest, it is now OK”.

It is pitch black outside and we are clearly leaving town for god knows where.  About 20 minutes later, we pull up in some village out of town and go to yet another bar.  This time, I know there is not another white man for miles.  There is a group of guys playing guitar and singing.  They all say hello to me and make me feel quite welcome.  I have a beer.  This is not too bad, I tell myself.

Then my host says to me, “I have to go, I’ll be back later”.  And he leaves.  So there I am drinking beer in a bar after dark way out of town without a clue where I am and outside the bar, it is totally pitch black.  I start fretting.  For an hour, I find solace in beer and pretend that I really have not put a skid mark on my y-fronts when I am sure that I have.

Finally, my mate returns and I spin a story that I have to get back into town as I have arranged to meet friends for dinner.  He orders a car and the guy drives me back to my hotel and everything was fine.

It was probably next day that I decided to do a brewery tour of the Kenya brewery.  I manage to find a bus going the 20kms out of town and ask the driver to stop at the appropriate place.  He did and pointed me in the general direction.   The Kenya brewery campus is huge and has a mini-bus that runs non-stop in a huge loop around the place.  I find the main office and ask about the brewery tour.  It was Wednesday and the tour was only weekly on a Tuesday.  The security guard directs me to a brewery bar instead.  Regretfully, I accept this fall-back position.

I am walking through the campus and again, it appears I am the only white guy.  Everyone stares at the white guy with shorts, t-shirt, thongs and day-pack.  I walk past a small building with a trestle seat running across the full-length of the front of the bulding.  There are black guys sitting backs to the wall, all necking from large beer bottles.  They all stare at me.  I conclude that the only way out of this was to assume this was the bar and do what nature intended in this circumstance and join them on the seat drinking beer with back to the wall.

I purchased a wonderful cold beer from the bar which was surrounded by prison bars.  Except in this case, it looked like the barman was the prisoner.  I found my spot on the wall, drank some beer, no-one looked at me anymore and life was good.  Then it started going downhill.  I had obviously sat next to the brewery drunk.  We strike up conversation.  He is drunk but I press on.  He asks me why I am there and then starts getting awfully sorry that I had travelled so far and couldn’t do a tour.  I ask if there are any trinkets like brewery caps, glasses, bottle openers etc.  Of course, in the sales department.  He goes off to clock off for the day, we hop onto the mini-bus and shuffle off to the marketing building and I purchase my stash.

Suitably satiated, my drunken friend suggests we go to another bar on campus.  I agree.  This one is much smaller but still has the bar surrounded by iron bars.  I have a few more beers then my drunken friend starts asking for my phone number and address.  Then he calls the bar-woman for more beer.  The rather large lady brings the 2 bottles over and my friend starts massaging her breasts.  She doesn’t bat an eyelid.  He could have been checking them for ripeness – slightly uncool, me thinks.  A whiff of common sense tells me that it is now time to go so I spin the old chestnut about meeting friends for dinner and say I must go.

My drunken friend follows me out the main road inside the brewery campus.  There are food stalls lining the road and my friend is getting extremely garrulous.  He starts talking to some ladies at the stalls and offers to arrange a woman for the night for me.  And oh yeah, I tell him one of the friends is my girlfriend.  My speed hastens as I head for the bus.

On the bus which was packed, my drunken friend stood up the front next to the driver and was telling anyone within earshot that I was his mate.  Gulp.  In the end, no problems.

I have since been told several times, “you must have rocks in your head … you could get killed”.  Dili is so much easier and there are no bars out of town to get me into trouble.  And never make assumptions about anything.