Largest Floating Bookshop coming to Dili

The World’s Oldest Passenger Ship and
Largest Floating Bookshop on her first visit to Timor-Leste

November 5 – 10, 2008
Dili – The DOULOS will open to the public for the first time in history in the port of Dili, on November 5, 2008.

This World’s Oldest Ocean-going Passenger Ship has been crossing oceans and building bridges between the nations for over 30 years by promoting Knowledge, Help and Hope. The ship’s volunteer crew of 320 people from 50 countries offers an unique opportunity to cross cultural barriers, and raise cultural awareness and understanding of other cultures. Members of the public have opportunities to meet the international crew, experience the numerous cultures on board, and discover more about this historic ship.

The DOULOS is operated by the non-profit charity organization Gute Bücher für Alle (“Good Books for All”), based in Germany. The ship was originally built in 1914 – this makes her only 2 years younger than the Titanic! It is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s Oldest Ocean-going Passenger Ship still active. In the past 31 years, the DOULOS has visited almost 600 ports in 103 countries, and has welcomed over 21 million visitors on board. East Timor will be the 104th country she will visit.

The 130-meter ocean-going vessel offers the World’s Largest Floating Book Exhibition with 8,000 titles in English and a selection in Bahasa. The books cover a wide range of subjects: Dictionaries, novels, cooking, hobbies, sports, medicinal, Bibles, children books, Chrisitian books, etc… During her 6 days stay, various programs such as school visits and International Music Cafes will be offered.

Opening Hours: Everyday, 09:30am – 18:00

Entrance Fee: Free

Note: The ship’s largest event is actually held on-shore. The International Cultural Festival will take place at Salão Delta Nova, 18:00, on the 5th of November, 2008.

Tickets: US$ 1,00
Available at:
Zeon International (Mouzinho de Albuquerque Colmera)
Loja Livru Gracia (Kuluhun st.)
For more information, please check

Felipe Boechat
Email: [email protected]



HORAS : 09:30 – 18:00 TL (Loke Loron – Loron)

Changes, always changes

It seems like every time I look, something has changed.  I have made a few changes to restaurants in my Google Earth landmarks file which include amongst other things the apparent change of HarbourView Cafe to a Thai restaurant.  Maybe the sign was knocked down, is being cleaned/changed or maybe the HarbourView name is no more.

Besides becoming increasingly difficult to cross now, Comorro Road is changing at a rapid rate.  Perkins shipping has moved to “Banana Road”.  There must be about 4 new petrol stations and if you look over fences that you may otherwise fly past in your car, you will see lots of cleared land ready for something.

Physiotherapy Timor is now operating from near the Dili Club so you can get the full body service in that strip of shops now – haircut, massage, a curry, Thai food, pizzas, beer and physiotherapy if you fall off a bar stool.

Restaurant changes

The Harbour View Cafe sign is no more.  The restaurant still exists but now proudly displays the fact that it is a Thai Restaurant.  Not that you would notice a lot of difference once inside (it had Thai food anyway when it was Harbour View) but it is another sign of the changing times (ie no sign anymore).

Similarly, Alfa-Omega appears to no longer exist and is now calling itself Gerland Restaurant, suggesting that “Soupy” has moved on.

The Nautilus restaurant (in the old Fat Boys premises) is ever so slowly taking shape.

The Atlantic Grill is much quieter these days after management changes.

There is a new very local restaurant called Baratu right next to the new EU premises on the east side of the Palacio.

Guido Valadares National Hospital & food

One of the most significant changes around town must be the transformation at the national hospital in Dili.  Two years ago, I would have been tempted to fly to Darwin to get an ingrown toenail attended to, but now the national hospital is starting to look fairly good.

It was held back for a long time by the large number of IDPs living in tents scattered across the hospital campus but since their move a couple of months ago, the renovations have continued.  Give it another 6 months and it should look pretty nice.  And there are no wandering pigs or chooks on the grounds anymore.

Oxfam have just released a revised report on the food supply situation and it does pose a warning about the ability of TL to feed itself.  In theory, there ought to be enough arable land and water to produce adequate supplies but the whole infrastructure around food production is a long way from being able to do this.

A few months back, I dropped into a farm just outside Maubisse while on the way back from Mt. Ramelau.  Unlike most rural properties, it looked like a market garden and I wondered who they sold their stuff to.  It turned out that they had no mechanism to get this stuff to Dili.  No transport of their own and no established mechanism for uniting buying and seller.  (I drafted up some text for a sign and told them to put it facing the oncoming traffic so they can’t miss it – I wonder if they did do this.)

Apparently USAid have helped setup such a mechanism.  I don’t know if that particular property is part of it, but a group called “Zero Star Company” (operating as Timor-Leste Fresh) are selling fruit and (mainly) vegetables by the crate and doing home delivery.  With the closing down of many of the street-side markets, it will probably affect the expat buyer the most and fortuitously, this new delivery procedure will probably appeal to expats most.

Maubisse is about 2 hours drive from Dili in the hills.  It is much cooler and provides better conditions for growing some of your typical western favoured vegetable items – broccoli for one.  This is also the place for the premium coffee.

Fruit & vegetable markets moved on

For those accustomed to buying fruit & veg across the road from Lita Store, those days are now over.  They are no longer there.  For traffic and parking, a good thing.  For convenience and a feeling of putting money directly into Timorese pockets, not so good.

And if you ever used the fresh fruit & veg markets near the Stadium round-about (outside Mercada Lama), gone as well.  And I see the first signs of the ones on Comorro Road going the same way.

The fish sellers who were making the seaside strip across from One More Bar a home, have also moved on.  At least I know where they are and they have finally made those lonely structures down near “Pig Bridge” their new place.

I wondered if the road accident I saw last week outside Lita had anything to do with it.

At this stage, the rugby scrum that you pass through on the way to Dare is still there and there is no sign yet of movement in the market at Pantai Kelapa next to the Pertamina oil facility.

Not sure where this will all end up.


The Mercado Lama group have returned to the new Taibesse market.  The Lita group have also gone there.  The Comorro Road sellers are due to move shortly.  Some will move back to the old Comorro Market site.  The Pantai Kelapa sellers will move after that.  I am told that unresolved east/west issues mean that sellers would prefer to move with their monu/sai mates.

This stuff is good for traffic flow but real bad for providing accessible shopping for non-pedestrians.  The new locations will be hard for car shoppers as parking will not be easy.  I imagine security and convenience will be a problem for a few malae which will drive fresh produce sales back to the supermarkets (ie from the little guys to the big guys).

The job fair

If you were in the region of the Leader supermarket or the Dili Club yesterday, you would have been unable to miss the job fair at Salon Delta Nova.  The street was blocked and at least 1,000 (mostly male) 15 to 25-year olds were pressed up against the gates.  I guess this meant that the Salon itself (a large warehouse sized building) was already chock-a-block.

I suppose this is a practical measure of youth unemployment and demand for jobs that at the moment are in short supply.  Any thought of sticking my nose in was quashed by the sight.  PNTL and ISF were strategically placed just in case frustration in waiting boiled over into anti-social behaviour.

The first rain of the wet season probably cooled things off around 4:30pm.  First rain for ages – I loved it.

A new online business directory for CovaLima has been announced and you can find this at :

This is the 2nd of a planned 13 district business guides.  The test will be if they are kept up-to-date.

ADDENDUM (1 day later) :

Correct me if I have got this wrong but I was told that the job fair only had one company advertising its wares – a Chinese oil company and only 20 jobs were on offer.  I have filed this in the weird department.

The streets

There is no doubt that the traffic is the busiest I have seen it.  No, I haven’t done a traffic survey.  I base it on the increased frequency of cussing and animated hand gestures.  Apart from the florid bits, the words “road awareness” pass my lips all too often.  Like while I am holding back as I see the car in front drift slowly to the right to give a nice wide turning circle in order to go left.  So while I am holding back to avoid possible conflict with parked car on the other side of the road, the car behind floors the pedal and overtakes me.  !@#$#@ … not long to live for these guys !

I had my 20th bicycle tyre blow-out last week – again it was a faulty locally sourced inner tube that was the culprit.  I have now replaced it with a tube sourced from OZ.

Slowly but surely the IDP camps are closing down which makes the streets appear more orderly.  The significant ones to go have been the Jardim camp right outside Hotel Timor, the one at the old Chinese Embassy down near Hotel Dili (plus the huge build-up across the road by the sea) and the huge airport camp.

A lot of the others are a little more hidden or in out-of-the way places so I don’t tend to notice changes in those, but I do notice that the Motael Church camp seems as packed as it has ever been.  So some may have returned home (whether old or new), some have gone to other temporary camps and others have probably moved into some of the existing camps.

The inaugural Timor-Leste Job Fair is on this week at Salon Delta Nova (about 200 metres south of Leader Supermarket) on 7 and 8 October (ie Tuesday and Wednesday).  There has got to be an opening for a driving school !

Even Bali has duds

If you want a break from Dili then Bali is the cheapest destination where there is some semblance of Western comfort items.  In Dili, you eventually get accustomed to life without Starbucks, Mickie Dees, squash courts and golf courses.  And in the end, you don’t really miss them much at all.

But you go to Bali to eat and drink well at half the cost of Dili (and still don’t go to Starbucks, MickieDees, play squash or golf !).  As far as eating goes, my rule is (as far as possible) to eat something you can’t get in Dili.  But it means striking duds occasionally.  It was my turn to choose so I selected the trendy looking Balinese decor restaurant with some Italian-derived dishes on the menu.  I use the term Italian-derived to avoid abuse from RO who would probably be appalled if I just used the word “Italian”.  And there is no way I am going to insult my gnocchi rolling teacher !

Anyway, things were going OK.  Food was OK without being spectacular then it happened.  The band started playing.  A few guys wearing chefs uniforms playing violin, double bass and conga drums.  I choked when they got to “Johnnie B Good”.  Then a few more old classics were butchered.  I sprayed when other diners actually clapped.

I suddenly saw my future as clear as a bell.  Would I be doing this when I am “retired” ? * Yes, the restaurant was probably mostly retired folk and the children were obviously grand-kids.  I blew it.  My rights to choose a restaurant withdrawn until further notice.

And for once, if a guy had said “transport”, I would have accepted instantly and offered to drive back to Dili.

*  That is, clapping musos in chef’s uniforms !