Olympics passes without a murmur here

It came and went.  I saw a bit of the opening ceremony but not the lighting of the torch or the guy racing around the top of the stadium.  Saw a couple of video clips of sporting events, mostly of smiling faces on podiums collecting medals.  Did not see the closing ceremony.  Have’nt heard anyone even discuss the Olympics.

A short-term egg shortage appears to have resolved itself.  It appeared eggs were unobtainable for about 10 days.  I was in a supermarket in Audian a couple of days ago and there was clearly a run on a new egg shipment.

I am not sure how the food distribution system operates but it is obviously all tied up with ship movements.  But I remain perplexed that local production of things such as eggs is never enough to meet local demand.

A new ANZ ATM machine is due to open at the airport soon.  So it may be possible to obtain cash on arrival in the not too distant future.

An “International Expo” is being held at Mercado Lama over the next few days.  There are some tais stalls but for those who have been to the last 2 such events here, it is more a mixed bag with a variety of government departments and some international companies (eg Timor Telecom, CCT, Ensul).  Even if you dont think it applies to you, if you look at it from a “getting it together” point-of-view, it is a pretty well put together event.  Also tons of plants to buy.   Runs from Wednesday (ie yesterday) to Sunday.

The PNTL (ie police) have clamped down on shabby parking and are pinging cars parked on the right-hand side of one-way streets.  This has affected parking outside the ANZ Bank, Kmanek Supermarket (ie Cold Storage) and in the small street next to Hotel Timor, in particular.  People have reported police removing licence plates and more recently letting down tyres.  It appears that one way to avoid “prosecution” is to merely park on the “footpath”.  This seems to be OK.

It must be a slow week over at Chateau FOS.

Falintil Day

Today is another public holiday and it has been pretty quiet out there today.  I realised that the reason for my increased surliness recently while on the bicycle has been the increased road traffic of late.  No problems today but when one is cycling on the correct side of the road near the edge and some pillock overtakes heading straight for you and flashes headlights and hits the horn indicating it is my responsibility to evade him, well …

Anyway, the Falintil boys had a bit of a parade outside the Palacio to celebrate Falintil Day.  The lads eschewed (I finally get to use this word instead of “avoid”) the use of canned music and elected to go for the military band option.  My camera has saved a part of this performance (with sound) as a momento to be replayed in my old age.

A few days ago, a new arriver in town asked about acquiring running shoes.  My answer was the “Oceano” department store near the ANZ Bank.  However, I did do a whip through the Colmera shops today and there are more options than I imagined.  There is no doubt that there is more stuff available now, even if most is at the lower end.  I still go with the “Oceano” option for running shoes.

And the bookshop in Colmera was jam-packed with customers – most books were in Bahasa Indonesian as they are at almost all bookshops in town.  The official languages are Portuguese and Tetum.

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.

Oecussi Festival

Unless I am sadly mistaken, it is Oecussi Festival time.  This coming weekend is a long weekend (ie Timorese public holiday on Friday) so it ought to be the big weekend for this festival.  Google has failed to come up with any more information than that.  I understand that the Nakroma (ie Dili-Oecussi ferry) has a few maintenance issues at the moment and may be out of action which is really good timing for the festival.

So if you come across Dr.Who in your travels, hijack the Tardus and get along down to Oecussi for an old fashioned Timorese knees-up.  There is also the Oecussi races down by the sea on a track that gives the Dili Tasi Tolu track a run for its money – as do the Oecussi horses I am told.  Be prepared for some rustic “tau osan”.  Oecussi is pretty much BYO.

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.

Olympic air quality

One of my more acceptable personal hobbies is monitoring Beijing air pollution figures.  Naturally, Dili is the perfect place to do this.  Part of my ongoing analysis is to be found here.  Now is as good a time as any to have a look at the daily historical record to see what it is really like.

Beijing’s location does not help its desire for clean air.  In reality, Beijing is about 70kms from the Gobi desert to the west.  There is a lot of loess in this area which is really fine dust and at certain times of the year, there are the infamous Beijing sandstorms (around March and April).  Chairman Mao had a vision of a Beijing with a skyline dotted with factory chimneys and there are still some last remnants of this planning vision.  Many of the smokestacks have now been removed but during the same period, the number of cars on the roads has grown rapidly.  In the last couple of years, the older diesel chugging buses have been replaced.

The enormous economic growth in China has been driven by a fair bit of catch-up in acquisition of things such as refrigerators, air conditioners and in fact, lots of gadgets.  This has driven up the demand for electrical power significantly which is usually met by coal-fired power stations, many which are located to the west of Beijing in provinces like Shanxi.  The prevailing wind direction is from the west.

Beijing next to a desert tends to indicate a lack of plentiful water and this is the case.  In summer, temperatures get up to 40 degrees while in winter, it gets down to minus 10 and lower.  So when it comes to selecting the best time to have an Olympic Games, August is the winner.  July may be technically clearer but it is also a lot hotter.  In China, the number 8 is seen as a very lucky number – the word “auspicious” is often used.  So it is no surprise for the Olympics to be commencing on 8/8/08 – lots of auspiciousness in that date.

If I can get my act together, I may publish a few more statistical analyses of the figures over the next week.

National Parks, movies & doorhandles

Today marks the official opening of the Santana National Park which is located way out east past Los Palos.  Yesterday marked the 7am to 5pm closure of streets in central Dili in order to make a movie – an invasion scene for the forthcoming “Balibo Five” movie.

The day before that, a friend arrived in the kitchen at home holding the door handle which had parted ways with the door while entering.  It was clearly an omen ….

For a total eclipse of the sun.  Not here in Dili but it may be partially visible around 5:30pm.