A Travellerspoint blog

December 2008

Ridiculous blog entry tags

Meta

A meta comment on this blog’s layout. I like everything except the ridiculously unimaginative selection of tags for entries that this blog gives – and the lack of an ‘other’ or make-up-your-own option. What if I want to write about Navel-gazing? Or Goats, Pigs and Dogs? Or It’s Bloody Hot?

Here is the list of idiotic tags:

Food
Living abroad
Preparation
Animal
Air travel
Armchair travel
Automotive
Backpacking
Bicycle
Boating
Bus
Business travel
Cruises
Disabilities
Ecotourism
Educational
Events
Family travel
Foot
Gay travel
Health and medicine
Hitchhiking
Lodging
Luxury travel
Motorcycle
Packing
Photography
Postcards
Round the world
Seniors
Shopping
Tips and tricks
Tourist sites
Train travel
Transportation
Travelling with pets
Vegetarian
Volunteer
Women

It's like they took a list of key words from a bloody search engine or something.

Right! Who agrees with me? Silly list, or does it have merit? I think the best way to deal with this list is as follows:

a) stop using tags and use subtitle as my 'tag'.
b) write an entry for every tag I haven't yet used.

Right. I used 'Food', 'Living abroad' and 'Preparation' before I gave up in disgust a few entries ago. Next on the list is 'animal'.

Posted by timortimes 00:32 Comments (0)

Getting 'round town

Transport

So, Matt and I decided long before we got here that we wouldn’t need a car, and walking and bikes would be the go in Dili. We were warned off taxis before we came, both by the AVI country briefing and by the DFAT website, but now we’re here we’ve been told what to avoid (don’t get in if the windows are very dark, there is another person in the car, or it looks too clapped-out), and everyone seems to use them. Mostly cheap too: $2 is the standard fare around town (taxis aren’t metered).

Dili is pretty compact, so it is even easier to walk around than I would have expected (if I had had expectations: I was trying very hard to come here with none, except perhaps that it would be very hot). Once we get bikes, most places will be pretty easily accessible. Ironically, the bike shop is a bit far to walk to, but I guess we’ll just catch a taxi and ride our bikes home.

Before I came here I was kind of glad that Dili sounded small: about 100,000 people sounded about right to me. Now I am glad. It’s my size town.

Posted by timortimes 00:29 Comments (0)

Learning Tetum and Revising Indonesian

Language

So I just finished seven days’ worth of Tetum classes. Unfortunately, although I can now say very confidently ‘Hau nia naran Kate. Hau hosi Australia’ (My name is Kate. I am from Australia) and converse at length about my thirst and hunger, I am not much closer to being able to house-hunt in Tetum, which is my most pressing language need at the moment. Some Timorese people do have a bit of English, but most know Bahasa Indonesia (besides, of course, Dili Tetum), so this means I resort to Bahasa a lot.

I learnt Bahasa for about ten years on and off – from year 6, a few years in high school and then I accidentally ended up majoring in it at uni – so although I am rusty, it’s coming back quickly. We were watching an English-language TV show that had Indonesian subtitles the other night, and I realised that I could read the subtitles. Not just bits of them, but all of them (enough to surprise Matt by laughing randomly at poor translations).

Unfortunately I have been kind of lazy, and every time I am home, I forget to look up the words I wanted that day. My conversations with Timorese people about houses must sound like the oddest broken English to them. The other unfortunate thing (that is actually unfortunate, as opposed to being something I can fix) is that I’ve always been better at understanding written language than spoken, but I need to speak it more than I need to read it at the moment. Ah well.

On the bright side, I packed my beloved Kamus Bahasa (the big purple dictionary pair that everyone who studies Indo gets in the end), so they’re here for when I get not-lazy; and the Tetum textbook is very good. So I expect to be able to teach myself a lot of Tetum. Mrs Sheridan (high school Indo teacher) would be very proud of me.

Posted by timortimes 00:28 Comments (0)

Stuff there is and is not a lot of in Dili

Observations

Stuff there is a lot of in Dili

Rain.

Or, there will be. Rainy season has started. So far this means showers a couple of times a day, sometimes heavy, sometimes not. There are still big sunshiny periods where you can get heaps done. Anyone reading from the Far North Coast should be jealous now. :)

Rubble

There are a lot of burnt out buildings. Some you can tell were gorgeous Portuguese colonial buildings which would look fantastic with a lot (a LOT) of loving care. There are also a lot of vacant lots just covered in the aforementioned rubble – often in between intact, lived in, cared for houses. Matt keeps commenting that he’d like to know when they were burnt out. I suspect a lot were done in 1999 when the Indonesians did their final tour of the town.

Cute kids

A large percentage (around 30%?) of Dili’s population is under 15. There are cute kids everywhere, in groups, shyly smiling and waving and trying out their English on us. Of course, there are little ruffians around too – no group of kids is complete without them, I guess. I am particularly in love with the two little girls in our guesthouse complex – I suppose higher exposure intensifies the effect of The Cute.

Short people

I am a well-fed giant among women in Timor. Of course, other expats dwarf me. But still. At the supermarket, in the rumah makan, at work... I am experiencing the novel sensation of living life without (a) a crick in my neck (b) being forced to talk into people’s armpits.

Goats, pigs and dogs

Goats are cute, in their own goaty way. Pigs are scary and live well off the rubbish on the street (I presume the goats do too, but they are not nearly as fat). Dogs are everywhere and have a cowed fear in their eyes – it’s very sad. People don’t treat them well and they skitter away whenever you approach them. Every time I see a puppy I still squeal ‘Puppy!’ and want to cuddle it and love it, but I know I can’t. :(

Oh there are cats too. Not as many though. They have one distinct advantage over cats in Australia, and that’s that they seem to be as cowed as the dogs - and therefore, so far, none have tried to rub their allergen-laden little faces up against me, as all cats seem to at home. I’m not advocating cruelty to any animal – merely enjoying the lack of pushy cats in my face.

Stuff there is not a lot of in Dili

Grass.

I always pitied Canberra because it always seems to have dead, brown grass, unlike other areas of Australia with higher rainfall. Now I realise how well-off Canberra is in terms of grass: at least they have grass to go green when it rains 3 times a year.
On the other hand, Dili streets are strangely reminiscent of Broadwater, in particular the Mill (sugar mill) grounds. Most have dusty bitumen, some even have kerbs, some are dirt. So it’s not postcard-worthy, but it’s something I’m well used to.

Female expats my age

Where the hell are they all? Trapped in Bangkok airport? Everyone here is just lovely but I do miss my girls in Australia. You all know who you are.

Cheap, liveable housing

  • cries*

Posted by timortimes 00:24 Comments (0)

Heat

Living in tropical climes

Anyone who has ever been forced to listen to my complaints about being cold in Canberra (approximately 90% of the year) will be pleased to know that I really, really prefer being stinky hot to freezing cold. It’s not that I don’t collapse, a gasping, wet rag of a person, onto my bed after a half hour jaunt in the afternoon sun. It’s just that I find it easier to deal with the fact that it’s hot and I’m sweaty and hot, and that I also find it easier to recover. Wear a (proper) hat, wear sunnies, wear long cotton clothing. Don’t go out in the sun if you can avoid it. When I do have to go out in the sun, I know if I just get home and lie still for a bit, I’ll cool down. When it’s too hot to go out, I don’t feel trapped in my room, like I do when it’s cold (I mean Canberra cold – when you know it’s 10 degrees outside at 2pm in the afternoon and that’s without windchill). I know I can go out for a walk in the morning when it’s coolest and escape to the office or have a nap at home in the hottest part of the day.

When I am cold in winter (the 9 month winter of Canberra), people always say ‘But you can put more clothes on and get warm!’ I don’t know how many times I have tried to explain. I Can’t Get Warm If I Am Cold. No, Really. There are two ways I can get warm if I am cold: get into bed or have a shower. Since I can’t do this at work, or wear a blanket to do everything, I stay cold. And cranky. And unable to think properly. I would wear a blanket everywhere if I could, it would definitely help, but for some reason it’s frowned upon in the public service. I don’t know why. I would certainly be able to concentrate a lot better in the arctic airconditioning.

When I commented at language classes the other day that the weather that day was the reason I came to Dili (it was less humid than it had been, just a pleasant hot day), people laughed sadly at me. ‘Oh it’s just not like this, it’s always humid’ they said. Well, I don’t love humidity, but honestly I don’t mind.

Posted by timortimes 00:21 Comments (0)

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