A Travellerspoint blog

January 2009

Why I haven't posted many photos yet

For anyone wondering why I haven’t gotten around to posting photos yet, here is my poor excuse.

It is a whoooole lotta effort.

I have to:

1. plug my Ericsson / HP iPAQ / camera’s memory card / Matt’s camera into my laptop. (Problem number 1: too many cameras.)
2. transfer the photos into my computer.
3. trawl through the hundreds of photos to find the ones I want to use.
4. save these photos onto a USB key.
5. go to the intarwebs cafe.
6. plug in my USB key.
7. upload photos into a blog entry.
8. write blog entry about photos.

Add to this the fact that my one working USB key got a virus on it which meant I had to delete all of my carefully-selected photos for posting, and every time I've tried to post photos so far the connection has been unusually slow, and you will begin to understand why I haven't posted many photos yet...

Like iPods, I can see why other people enjoy doing it, but man it’s such a lot of TIME! * With photos, I particularly question the effort, as I am a pretty poor photographer. Be sure that I love you all very much to bother.

Additionally, the one and only time I attempted to upload photos to Facebook, I simply couldn’t figure out how to do it... yes I’m sure it’s very easy but no I couldn’t work it out... and that also discouraged me.

  • I swear I am the only person I know who doesn’t have an iPod. Even Matt has one now - although he originally wanted one only so he could put the beep test on it (a running pace thing). I think it takes up too much time making playlists, considering that I enjoy listening to silence or street sounds when I’m walking, I don’t like loud music right in my ears, I think it’s kind of a way to ignore other people and I don’t always want to do that, and I prefer the radio anyway. I have two phones which have a music player function in case I ever change my mind, in any case.

Posted by timortimes 18:38 Comments (0)

Book review: Contest, by Matthew Reilly

Ironically sad but true: Now I have all this free time to read, I find myself with little access to decent books – or even many books. If I could open a store here, it would be a bookstore. I would make a killing from expats who are are dying for a decent book in their own language (not that Timorese literature seems to be common) and I would be able to order whatever I wanted to read myself. Maybe I could sponsor some reading classes to increase literacy AND clientele at the same time... muahahaha... this is not exactly benevolent development, now is it? But damn, I would like some books to read.

To illustrate just how bad some of these books are, here is a book review of probably the worst (Matt put me on to this one):

Contest, by Matthew Reilly

The best part of this dreadful book is the wanky introduction and even wankier ‘interview’ of the author at the end, both written by the author. All else in between is not only predictable (man must fight alien creatures in a contest to the death to save both himself and his daughter! Will they survive? Der), but written in this awful kind of blow-by-blow prose: ‘Sam looked towards the door. He took three steps. He put one hand on the door. He paused. He turned the handle. The door swung open.’ For God’s sake! ‘He opened the door carefully’, wouldn’t that do?

Since the ‘contest’ takes place in the New York State Library, and the poor old library sustains more injuries than the protagonist, I have to say the main thing this book left me with was the question: what did the author have against the New York State Library?

  • **

Next time - a positive book review! I'll do The Adventures of Beedle the Bard, by JK Rowling.

Posted by timortimes 18:34 Comments (0)

Return to work and forms of address

Monday 12th January 1 month, 27 days

Ooohhh one more day of being 26 to go!

I went back to work today. Turns out my counterpart, Herminio, had a motorbike accident during the holiday period – he was on the back of a friend’s bike and they’d been drinking, oh dear – and he went home early to rest his back. They haven’t quite got on to drink-driving laws or education in Timor yet, I notice drink-driving is a bit of a habit with some people (and they aren’t all locals, either).

Something happened to me on my little half-hour walk home today. I got called ‘Mister’ twice by kids. Let me explain a little about this. When you walk down the street in Timor, everyone greets you (unlike Australia, as my housemate Brie points out, where people usually scowl as they walk down the street and ignore everyone else). Usually it is a greeting for the time of day:

Bondia – good morning, to 11.30am
Botardi – good afternoon, to sunset
Bonoiti – good evening, for all the night.
Sometimes you get this on its own, sometimes you get a term of address. Note, the ‘family’ ones are actually used to everyone regardless of whether you are actually related – I get called ‘mana’ and ‘tia’ by perfect strangers:
Alin – younger brother / sister
Mana – older sister
Maun – older brother
Tiu – uncle
Tia – aunt
Senyor – polite form of address for adult male
Senyora – polite form of address for adult female

Now if you are a malae, that is a foreigner (this is a positive, respectful word – unusual, huh?), you also get ‘sister’, ‘brother’, ‘mister’ and / or ‘missis’ from those who speak any English. So I might walk down the road and get ‘Good afternoon, sis!’ from a neighbour. It’s surreal using such familiar words for different linguistic purposes: to say hello, rather than open or close a conversation, for example.

So! Back to my original point! I got called ‘Mister’ twice on the way home today! Usually I don’t love being called ‘Missis’, even though I realise that in Timor I am definitely old enough to be classed as such. When two separate groups of kids called out ‘Hey Mister!’ at me, however, I found my reaction was to laugh and pretend to scold them, ‘No! Lae! Missis, missis!’.

Posted by timortimes 18:18 Comments (0)

New bed and the Trip To The Beach

Saturday 10th January – Sunday 11th January; 1 month, 25-26 days

The main event for Saturday was ordering a bed at a local furniture workshoppy place, to go with our mattress. Beds here are gorgeous carved wooden things with lovely designs (I took pictures of the one in Vila Bemori, it was so pretty, yes I am a little strange). I can already tell that although I’m highly likely to leave a lot of stuff behind in Timor at the end of the year, parting with our bed will be a wrench and I will waste a lot of time trying to think of cheap ways to get it back to Canberra. I was so insistent that we keep at least one bed in Canberra... and now I love this one that doesn’t even exist yet soooo much. Oh dear.

Sunday showed that I am a big sook. We were riding our bikes out to the Cristo Rei (the Christ Statue) so we could climb up the steps and then go down the goat track on the other side to the reputedly much-nicer beach. Now I was pretty keen and willing, although, as we all know, I am not used to riding bikes very far and definitely not in traffic.
I was just thinking how well I was doing at not being scared of traffic when a little silver car slowed down, almost ran into me and forced me off the road. Matters were not helped by the sudden fleeing of my language skills, due to fright. Also the occupants of the car, in trying to establish that I was ok, seemed more like they were angry with me – ahhhh miscommunication.

Anyway, I should’ve rested before we climbed up the hill, but it ended with me in tears halfway down the other side – the hill’s goat track was just too steep and scary, particularly with legs shaky from riding the bike so far and the shock of being run off the road. I’m not really a scared-of-heights person, heights are fine when you have, say, a nice fence or platform in between you and the drop, it’s more that I’m not very daring and am scared-of-heights-when-on-death-defying-narrow-goat-track. I like to think of it this way anyway.

I was still glad I went because the beach was great – white sands, blue water, actual surf. I didn’t feel like swimming, so I just paddled, but there were some really lovely shells. I am a dreadful collector of shells, I just can’t help myself.

Actually, perhaps Sunday showed that I am a big unfit sook, but also that I keep going even when I am scared. I didn’t freeze on the stupid cliff and I didn’t refuse to keep riding along the beach road (which is full of blind corners and turns that jut out into the water with no safety rail or proper bike track). Also I’d go back again (and next time I will have a rest before going up and over the hill).

I try, damn it!

Posted by timortimes 18:14 Comments (0)

Strange things that people do in Timor

Friday 9th January - 1 month, 24 days

Do you notice how we are creeping up to the two-months-in-Timor mark? Oh my!

Posted a package to my family today (trying to post as early as possible for Dad’s birthday on 2nd February. Forgive me if it doesn’t get through until April, Dad, I tried!).

Now, in Australia, when you pay for more than a certain amount of postage, the post office staff print off a tidy little piece of paper that has the amount of postage you paid for, they stick it on the parcel, and away it goes. Not so in Timor, however.

The woman in the post office took two entire sheets of stamps – that would be about, oh, 70-odd stamps, I believe - and wound clear masking tape (that’s tape two inches wide) around and around and around my parcel. AAAAAAAA. As a former stamp collector and generally picky person, NONONONONONO.

But I couldn’t really do anything, because you know, it would’ve looked weird, and rude.

So! Mum and Dad! When (if) you get that parcel, please know that I was not the person who taped up the parcel. I just watched in disbelief. It was the only polite thing to do.

Posted by timortimes 18:12 Comments (0)

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