Last days in Dili Part 2

At this stage in proceedings I’d been in East Timor for 8 days, and how much had I seen?  Well, I have to say that if it wasn’t on the side of the road I probably didn’t see it, and if it was on the side of the road then there’s a chance that I really only caught a glimpse of it.  As it went past I may have thought to myself something like ‘wow, that looks interesting/cool/different/unusual/worth checking out’, but that’s about the extent of it.  This wasn’t a tour of Timor, after all, it was The Tour de Timor – quite a different matter.

Aerial view. Photo credit: http://www.tourdetimor.com

Aerial view. Photo credit: http://www.tourdetimor.com

There were a few sights to be seen in the various villages where we stopped along the way and to be sure, I wandered about and checked some of them out.  The churches, for example.  Now here’s a funny thing.  In my daily life here in Melbourne I am not a frequent visitor of churches.  Sure enough I pass by the front of many of them during the course of any given day, but to step inside one is a rare event.   School events and funerals are about the only remaining reasons for a godless cyclist like me to genuflect before any kind of altar, which means that at my age I’m still visiting a church more often than I am having a colonoscopy.  As I get older perhaps that ratio will change….

Sorry to bring colonoscopy up like that.  Where was I?  Not visiting churches very often here in my daily life.  And I’ll bet many of you are the same, and yet for some reason when we travel abroad we feel compelled to stop outside of these places of worship, and quite likely also to pop our heads inside to have a squiz.

So, here’s what an old style Portugese influenced church in East Timor (Lacluba) looks like:

Lacluba church - overlooking campsite, end of stage one.

Pretty, isn’t it?

Here’s what the inside of a Timorese church looks like:

Interior of church

Small, isn’t it?  In case you think it’s a kind of reverse Tardis thing, the second picture is not the same church as the first picture.  Least I don’t think it is.  I have to confess to shamelessly ripping this photo off from a fellow rider’s Facebook page, and it was he that entered this place of worship, not me.  Thanks Marcus.

Oh, and here’s the Timor Leste medical school building:

Faculty of Medicine, Manatuto. photo credit: Marcus again. GoodonyaMarcus.

Nothing to do with churches, just one of the sights along the way.  This one was actually right on the side of the road, as we lined up for the start of stage 6.

So, having spent six days riding (or sleeping or eating or getting ready to ride or getting over a ride), and most of Saturday resting or hanging out at the Presidential Palace (as one does), Sunday was the day for a bit of sight seeing.

Naturally enough I should have got myself out of bed at 5 am for an early breakfast and a FULL day of looking around, but really.  It was Sunday.  So I got up a bit later, had a leisurely breakfast, thought about what I was going to do, where I was going to visit, what I was going to see, and it was late morning before I knew it.

I paired up with Marcus the slightly crazy New Zealander (possibly no more or less crazy than me) and we headed off by Taxi to check out Jesus.  I remember from Sunday school that Jesus went missing for 40 days and 40 nights, and was widely reported at the time to have spent some time “in the wilderness”.  I’ve since read that people think maybe he travelled for a time, perhaps as far as India, and was exposed to a few other ideas, most notably Buddhism, and when he returned he was full of this new turn-the-other-cheek stuff, and behold Christianity was born.  Something like that.  I now think that he spent those 40 days in East Timor, and it is because of the time he spent there that there are so many pictures and statues of and references to Jesus in every part of the country.

Biggest of all of them is the statue of Jesus at the eastern end of Dili.  This is the nice end of town where all the expats live, and watching over all of them is this colossus on the top of the hill.

Jesus in the distance

There he is over there, on top of that hill.  To the right of this photo is a wide half moon bay.  The bags on the beach are full of rocks I think.  Or crocodile dung, maybe.  Who knows really?

The nice end of town

This is that same half moon bay, looking back on it from the bottom of the Jesus statue thing.  There are lots of expats on the beach, but I didn’t see any of them in the water.  This local fisherman is walking through the shallows frantically thinking warm, fuzzy, positive thoughts about crocodiles.  As far as I know it worked for him on this occasion.

To get to  the base of the statue you have to climb 862 steps:

Climbing up to Jesus

There he is:

And here he is a bit closer up:

Statue of Jesus - the skinny wastrel seated underneath is the author.

Turning around, this is the view that the Statue has looking westwards each day:

View of Dili

On the way back we took a leisurely stroll along and through the beach-side market area where all manner of locally grown fruit and vegies were to be had.  We bought a whole watermelon for a couple of bucks and split it between us.  I’m sure that a local would have paid a fair bit less for a watermelon, but there you  have it.  The joys of travel, I guess.  And in any case, it was only a couple of bucks.  And it was delicious.  Every single bit of produce on display was most probably about as organic as you can get, since no-one in the whole of Timor Leste has got enough money to pay for pesticides and/or artificial fertilisers.  What a lovely thought.  It was such a delightful stroll through this little market area that I have decided to share it with you.  Take your time…

Lining up the little fishies. Will they go off in the hot afternoon sun?

Could this be Timor's only ranga?

Yum....

Watermelons

Fresh produce. Hungry?

Half a watermelon wasn’t enough for this hungry stage racer, so we continued on and found a nice little spot for lunch before returning to the Timor Lodge to regroup.  I spent the afternoon in a fruitless search for gifts and souvenirs, and, having split my pants earlier in the day, finding a tailor and getting my crotch stitched up.

In the evening I headed back down to the waterfront with a couple of fellow TDTers for a bit of fresh fish.  Along a stretch of beach there is stall after stall of people selling different fishies and crustaceans, freshly caught (one hopes) and freshly char-grilled while you wait.

You wander along in the night, grateful that your human eyes are better at seeing in the half light than your digital camera is:

It looks better than this in the flesh, honest.

You cast your eye over the different seafood that is laid out before you.  If you’re a vegetarian you remind yourself of that revered bit of  South-East Asian Buddhist taxonomy, in which fish are classified as “vegetables that swim”.  And you pick the one you want.  I’ll have that one please, you say.  Cooked, please.

Pick your fish

There are little fishies, bigger fishies,  white fishies, oily fishies, and other kinds of fishies, all of which most certainly have names like cod or mackerel or Patagonian tooth fish or somesuch.  If you’re looking for a blog that is knowledgeable with respect to fish names, this isn’t it.

There are octopus thingies, squid thingies, little crustacean thingies, and other thingies that might be from the sea, or maybe not.  And there are some meat thingies as well for those that like them.  Pork bits, sheep bits, and some things that looked suspiciously like offal bits.  Eating the fish felt adventurous enough.  Offal is for someone else.

If you don’t subscribe to South-east Asian Buddhist Taxonomy and you still want to adhere to your vegetarian principles this is for you:

Corn on the cob

And of course, there has to be a beverage…

The drinks fridge

Having selected your bit of fish, your cob of corn, or whatever else takes your fancy, you pay your money and wait a minute or two while it is cooked.

Charcoal grill

Miraculously there is no sand in the food, the drinks are cold, there are plastic chairs on the beach to sit on….  It’s a cheap, delicious night out.

So there you have it really.  The following morning the great big plane,  using lots of Avgas, the laws of physics and a healthy disrespect for common sense and intuition lifted me and a couple of dozen other cyclists off the ground and returned us promptly to Darwin, from whence we dispersed.  I arrived back in Melbourne last Sunday night.  Today, exactly one week later, I have just received word that my bike has just arrived in Melbourne, so I’m back off to the airport to collect it.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sandra Smith
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 17:53:11

    Thankyou for all that very interesting stuff .. had a real good tour along with your very colourful,descriptive and flowerful words. 😀

    Reply

  2. Lizzie
    Sep 26, 2011 @ 08:15:49

    Its a wonder your guts survived intact. After all that jack hammering on the underpriced giant weighing in at over 13 kg on crap roads, followed by local food of somewhat dubious hygenic standards. What about “vetyclist”, its sounds faster than bikenarian?

    Reply

  3. scottsabode
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 19:31:26

    I very much enjoyed your journey Dr John! Thank you.

    Reply

  4. Martin
    Oct 14, 2011 @ 15:05:31

    Great comments and so true.
    Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to meet on one of these bumpy rocky “road”. You where too fast for me 93rd you said wow congrats.
    See you next year?

    Reply

  5. http://socientize.eu/?q=eu/content/green-smoke-coupons-save-20
    Jul 13, 2013 @ 12:04:21

    Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring
    on other blogs? I have a blog centered on the same topics
    you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my audience would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

    Reply

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