Cristo Riviera

This year, the road to the Cristo Rei statue has been upgraded and is now almost 100% pothole-less.  It even has lights.  It has new restaurants at Metiaut who have lifted the game a bit.

Further down past the Metiaut restaurant strip, there are signs of increased development with a trend to building properties on the seaside of the road with 2 metre high fences around them.  Maybe one day, you will not be able to see the sea from the road.

Further along again, there is a big re-development of the Cristo Rei restaurant strip from Caz Bar onwards.  Public toilets are being built at both ends and a new low stone wall alongside the road.  Small statues sit each side of the numerous openings in this stone wall.  A footpath is being constructed just over the wall.

I can almost see the day when this area has sun lounges for hire.  Although this may appeal to some, a typical OZ response to that is to find another beach.  Anyway, welcome to Cristo Riviera.

Tennis courts

I was just listening to Radio OZ this morning and I just caught the end of an interview about tennis courts in Dili and how the expats kept a lot of these courts for their own exclusive use.

I think this gives the wrong impression.  It made it sound like Dili is full of exclusive private clubs for expat use.

As far as I know, there are 2 public courts just behind the university and another single public court buried in Bebonuk.  I don’t know of any other public courts.

There is a house near the port that has a court but it is no longer used as one and I will assume there are some other courts in disrepair.  None of the hotels or accommodation establishments have tennis courts (to my knowledge).  As far as exclusive use tennis courts, I only know of the US Embassy and the OZ Defence Force Cooperation program staff compound which have one each.  Both of these are long-term establishments and not available to expats at large either.

Now a plug for “Timor-Leste Kids Tennis”.  This is a program for children, aiming at giving them the opportunity to participate.  The 3-pronged approach is aimed at :

  • Introducing ball skills
  • Introducing mini-tennis
  • Introducing (or re-establishing) tennis courts and clubs

This group is looking for new/used tennis balls, tennis racquets, sports shoes/socks, strings/grips and any other relevant equipment or training services.

If you wish to contribute, you can contact :

  1. Armindo da Costa
    National Tennis Advisor, National Tennis Federation
    armindodacosta {at) yahoo (dot} com
  2. Sarah Johnston
    Education and Training Consultant
    sarah (at} johnston-international {dot) com

Note : Within 5 minutes of that interview above, the ABC radio transmission ceased and suddenly it was BBC radio.  Transmission breaks are common but switching stations is a new one on me.

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.

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.

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.

Football at the stadium

The last time I went to the stadium, it was the new President’s campaign rally about 6 weeks ago.  The grass was knee high and it looked more like a cow paddock.

Depending on who you work for and whether you care, yesterday was a public holiday.

I was told of a football (ie soccer) game on yesterday afternoon and thought I should go and see my 1st ever game at the stadium, thinking there had not been one for a long time.  I was later told there was a game a few months back when the army and police held a reconciliation game but I knew nothing of that one.

The first game was a slightly humourous affair between aged UN staff and a Timorese government team which included a few ministers.  It was a nil all draw but the Timorese government team won on points, saved only by a very competent performance from the UN goalkeeper.  There was a large contingent of ISF soldiers watching the game as they were part of the organising group with the Timorese football association (FFTL).

The 2nd game was between a F-FDTL team (I think) and a PNTL team.  The standard was significantly higher than the 1st game, with the result going to F-FDTL 1-nil on penalty.  They could have won by a bit more if some of the goal shooters were a little less goal hungry.

The conditions were hot and dry with a steady breeze from the north (ie sea) making comfort as good as you are going to get here.  The ground was hard and the bounce looked like they were playing on concrete at times.  The pitch was reasonably flat with patches of dead grass and the occasional bobble which upset things at times.

I imagine if it were well-watered and rolled, it would come up pretty well.

I brought my own water, but imagine sitting through 2 football games with no pies and beer.  No food or drink sales to be found, even with a crowd of 1500 (he guesses).  I was so hungry by the end, I could have gnawed the bum out of a rag doll.

Bicycle rage 101

Maybe I was on the angry pills last week. But usually, I don’t have any trouble driving around and rarely have much trouble on my bicycle but one day last week, I must have popped a bad pill or something.

How can someone on a bicycle get road rage ? Well, if you cycle back from Cristo Rei not long before sunset, you will find yourself cycling west against a stream of vehicles heading for a sunset drink down at the “Caz Bar” or “Sol e Mar” (or a bit of exercise). The road can just fit 2 vehicles and is quite rural at the edges.

But 3 times, oncoming drivers attempted overtaking manoevres just as they were about to pass me. The first time, I was too late to get out a suitably aimed string of invective, but the 2nd guy copped both barrels. You can imagine how it went. I am wary of this stream of traffic, warning systems on alert and say to myself, “you are about to overtake right now aren’t you?”. And he did.

The 3rd one happened in slow motion outside the Lita Store. Another string of invective and my hand went into the air in consternation. The UN police driver following the offender, merely threw both hands into the air as if to say “what can you do?”.

Two minutes later, the piece de resistance occured next to the Palacio do Governo where the traffic was filling both lanes on the one way system. My way was blocked by a group of Timorese trying to cross the road at a “pedestrian crossing”. They were stuck, creeping out a few steps then retreating and I could not get around them unless I veered out into the traffic. I stopped, pondered the situation for 10 seconds then I snapped.

I got off my bike, walked out across the traffic (on the pedestrian crossing) holding up my hand to stop the traffic and herded the group of shocked Timorese across the road, while offering constructive suggestions to the drivers shocked into stopping at such a critical moment in their driving day.

Snorkeling out east

There is no doubt I have been getting too serious here lately.  I haven’t even commented on my trip out east a week or so ago when I finally got to stay at the “Com Resort” at Com which is the only establishment in the country that uses the term “resort”.  And possibly after the Hotel Timor, the only accommodation with conference facilities.

I guess it is the closest thing to a resort.  It’s not bad but perhaps a shade expensive for what you get.  But on the other hand, it is a remote sort of place without electricity, apart from that generated by the resort generator.

We took a Supreme room, meaning it had air-con.  Technically, the small AC unit was probably too small to handle the luxuriously-sized room, but it worked during the prescribed generator operating times of 7pm to 9am.  There was no sign of life from the TV which showed a blue screen and none of the Indovision satellite I expected.  But we were not there to watch TV.

We had our snorkelling gear and were told the best places were at the point to the west of the resort or down at the port in the harbour.  After breakfast, we walked down to the port where 2 Thai fishing boats were docked.  Now, if you don’t snorkle but do want to see coral and fish and stuff like that, the wharf is the place to go (with your camera).  But it is not the place to go to get wet if fishing boats are there as I am sure it was a little bit more than bilge water scum on the surface.

Funny how on the walk back, 10 tais* vendors appeared and had their wares out.  Prices were a bit high so we didn’t partake.  There are probably about 3 or 4 guest houses on the shoreline and if you are prepared to forgo AC (next time) one or two look quite neat.  I love the one with the sign “cold beer, warm beer”.  I think that covers all possibilities.

Later on when the tide was right, we went the other way to the point about 1km west of the resort.   Pretty good to get a coral reef to yourself.  Clearly the other resort guests were not there to get wet.

The next day, we went to Jaco Island via Tutuala.  This is the most eastern point of the island of Timor.  We rented a boat to take us the 500m across to the island and snorkeled off the island just because we were there.  Again, a coral reef to yourself.  You could see a mile under the water which was just far enough to see a small shark, which on seeing us, disappeared as fast as a speeding bullet.  We returned to the mainland and had barbecued fish cooked by the fisherman who inhabit the shore.  The fish was excellent and cost 1/10th of Dili prices and was much better.

All in all a very pleasant trip with absolutely none of the security problems of Dili.

* tais is Timor’s unique woven cloth that at the end of the day, is probably the most likely souvenir purchase one will make.

First Lady Fun Run Results

Last Sunday’s 2nd Annual First Lady Cup Fun Run is over and was a great success. The UN police were most impressed with the organisation of the run and it was totally problem free.

For the record, the results are shown below. Timor-Leste runners did pretty well, particularly the girls.

Top Ten Male

1st... William Harding 35.03
2nd... Richard Quirk
3rd... Filipe Rodrigues (TL)
4th... Augusto Ramos (TL)
5th... Januario da Costa (TL)
6th... Jameto Doreigo (TL)
7th... Steven Tetley
8th... Salim
9th... Robert Murphy
10th... Christian George

Top Ten Female

1st... Ines Markes 48.50 (TL)
2nd... Ruth Cornelius
3rd... Lola salves de Gama (TL)
4th... Gloriana Fatima (TL)
5th... Celia Martin
6th... Annabel Taylor
7th... Fatima Soares (TL)
8th... Aliansa Ramos (TL)
9th... Maria Duana (TL)
10th... Maureen Bronjes

I finished the 10kms … lets talk about the weather, shall we ?