Head work

Haircuts share an enormous number of similarities across the Asian region. Something which does not usually come in the package back in my real world, is the scalp massage.

Years ago, I lived in Turkey for a couple of years. I recall affectionately, the reaction when one of my work colleagues returned from his first haircut to inform everyone that not only do you get a head massage, but an ear clean and optional manicure and/or pedicure. And to top it off, a cold beer was provided on-request – all done from the central haircutting cockpit. From then on, we were hooked, although I admit I never did take up the manicure or pedicure options.

Having completed my 2nd cut here, I can report that the head massage is alive and well, with a wash and head massage both before and after the cut. As for the hairstyle, there is a certain coiffed look that seems “in”. The 2nd cut was US$5 and I rate it 50% better than the 1st cut which cost me US$10.

I went in looking like Bruce the jackaroo from Darwin and came out looking like Eugene, the chopper pilot. Fortunately, it was raining when I left, and by the time I got back to my world again, I had reverted back to George, the fashion victim.

Internet Connectivity

Well, you wouldn’t be reading this if I didn’t have an internet connection at all. And no, it is not too hard, but compared to developed countries, it is very expensive.

What encouraged me to comment on it all now is that over the last five days, internet connectivity has slowed to a crawl and been off completely for long periods. Everyone I know who uses the internet is complaining. Everyone is “thanking” their “friends” who thought they would like to see a picture of their new cat. People are complaining about why they have not replied to email from 4 days ago. It has all got very painful.

After 2 hours of solid email downloading from multiple mailboxes and numerous browser tabs with web pages being downloaded, I got a magnificent 3.3 Mbytes. Thats about 28 kbytes per minute.

So what do you pay for this ? Well, there are a couple of “internet cafes”. Perhaps the best I know of is directly across the road from the ANZ Bank. It charges about US$1 per 15 minutes and it is definitely about 3 times as fast in downloading (yeah, I measured it) than the Hotel Timor business centre which charges US$2 per 15 minutes during the day and US$1-50 between 5pm and 11pm. (Hotel Timor about 12 kbps, across the road from ANZ about 40kbps).

There are a few others (like Global Net) which I have not tried yet. I like the ones that allow you to connect your laptop directly into their network so I can read and prepare emails away from the “cafe”. And write stuff like this.

I have been told that Timor Telecom hold the monopoly rights to all telecommunications whether it be nationally or internationally. There is no vigorous competition amongst ISPs, leaving it to internet cafes to pick through the scraps.

Most of the time I use dial-up, although the designated dial-up number appears to be blocked at the Hotel Timor. If you call it advertising, the dial-up plans are shown in the table below :

Occasional User

Normal User

Intensive User



6 to 30


One-off connection fee




Monthly charge




Price /min (normal)




Price/min (economic)




– The Normal period is Monday to Friday from 0800H to 2000H and Saturdays from 0800H to 1300H
– The Economic period is the rest of the time

As for broadband, I have seen no reference to ADSL and a 64k permanent link will set you back a cool US$500 per month plus US$500 to set it up. A swifter 512k permanent line will set you back US$3,450 per month – this is a long way from the US$40 per month for a 2Mbps cable connection that I used to have.

Today, there is no connectivity at all. I can dial-in, but a traceroute reveals no connectivity past the server at the other end of the dial-up link, not even to Timor Telecom’s DNS servers. I checked with an internet cafe (by phone) and no go there either. They don’t know and Timor Telecom won’t tell them either. I think this is called busted !