Friday, February 1, 2013

Hash 400 runs x 2 – Diving into Piccadilly Circus – No right turn – Chilly bin + Yoga mats – Some optimism - ATMS again - Telkomcel

Blog ending Saturday 2nd Feb 2013

Updated: Feb 3rd

Three weeks ago the Dili Hash visited Cameo Beach at Liquica for Tail light’s 400th and last run in Timor. With runs only on once a week, this is an impressive number, spread over about 10 years. I cycled out there in about 90 minutes. Nice ride and good to be able to buy fresh bananas for $2 a bunch from roadside stalls to replace the energy stores. We started the run early and did some exploring up in the hills just out of town. Tough work to run uphill, but worth the views. Some of the seafront, not protected by gabions, had been washed away in recent high tides and the awning over the porch couch had to be temporarily taken down due to the seasonal north westerly winds, but the facilities at the beach ('Black Rock') are excellent and we 'beered', swam, wined and dined. After the run about 20 of us took a beer each into the sea to cool off; a pleasant ritual in such clean water. Next day was the cycle home, in about the same time. Kind of surprised me as I thought I’d have been faster with the back wind.
The next (last Sunday actually, Australia Day dominated Saturday) week was the GM’s (Daisy) 400th run at the Beach Side Hotel. Another auspicious occasion with a giant banner with some great photos from the past few years. Daryl has and continues to do many great things for Dili and Timor under his Rotary role. One of the most high profile events is the 1st Lady Run in November. Actually the first, ‘1st Lady’ Kirsty Sword Gusmao. Very popular and the T-shirts are everywhere.

Last Sunday I went for my first scuba dive since 2006, also here. It was just a shore dive near Dili Rock and the water was fairly murky from the strong seasonal tides – OK, not the best time of the year. Eddy, Helen and I parked next to a Dive Timor van, their divers were already out. I’d bought a dive aide-memoire the previous day and discovered that no one uses the manual dive tables anymore – kind of like asking about the tape deck / CD player on a stereo system. A giant computer watch manages all the info about air and safety so we can just go and enjoy ourselves. I still feel uncomfortable about it all as I reckon it’s like school kids relying totally on calculators and not knowing their ‘times tables’ up to 12 x 12. Anyway, we wandered down the reef to about 28m and slowly cruised along and then back up. On the way back Eddie showed me the busy fish place known as ‘Piccadilly Circus’. Lots of wee fry and tentacle waving plants. There was one large groper-type fish, about  50-60cm long that didn’t hang around. Many lengths of old cord lying over the area from earlier fishing and a lot of damaged coral, possibly from Indonesian times when dynamite fishing was apparently popular. Visibility was about 4-5m. We stayed down about 45minutes and walked out onto the beach where Helen was reading her book after doing some snorkelling. She had some delicious Christmas cake and handed out about some bananas to eight local boys (aged 8-11) swimming nearby. They pounced on the food, so maybe they were very hungry.

The local intersection from hell (bridge by the President’s Palace and the bike shop) has undergone a big change. The police have changed the road rules by prohibiting any right turns, either entering or exiting the area. Since we drive on the left here, it is actually working quite well. I was dumb enough to fire off an email to the initial announcement by saying “This is warped and the locals will ignore it”. Happily I am quite wrong and it IS working. People haven’t learnt the trick of simply turning left to actually get into the traffic and then pull a U-turn within about 100m and go back in the direction they really want to go. 

A couple of UN people did a big house sale in Area Branca last week, so I cycled over to see what they had and I could actually remove with my bicycle. The loot consisted of: chilly bin (‘esky’ for Aussies) + 20 cooling pads. Item #2 was a large bag of interlocking mats used for a yoga room. Obviously succumbing to ‘buying stuff’ I now realise I haven’t done any yoga for about 18months and don’t actually have any floor space on which to place the mats. They are currently with a friend who might just have a use for them. Never the less, they were a bargain at only $20, OK?

Last night I took a break from building some laptop computers to do some grocery shopping at Lita + Kamanek then eat some nice Turkish at Tony’s. There I met Kim. She has been here about 13years and organises the annual sailing race to Dili from Darwin. She tells me that local Timorese have been repeatedly involved in the organising in recent years and several of them will be taking a higher management profile this year. The cruiser yachts have previously bought donated medical supplies for Bairo Pite clinic (about 500m from where I live), so that is great news – good karma. After dealing with my work challenges and wondering how to deal with how common theft is in the work environment, this ongoing success was a joy to hear. Apparently the yacht race was a revival. It was kicked off again after someone discovered the previous racing trophies, from Portuguese times, in the Darwin Archives(?).

This afternoon I will take my can of yellow spray paint & cycle part of the way to Liquica to mark that nasty dip in the road. It goes right across, like a subtle ditch that has apparently claimed a few car suspension systems over the past few years. Obviously someone should simply repair the road, but there is a long queue for that sort of thing and there is still the problem of ‘repairs’ failing within 12 months via washout or simply breaking up. Still, if major manufacturers can use ‘planned obsolescence’ with fridges, toasters, TVs etc, then the road repair companies here are successfully using their version

The two ATMs at the bank have now been working for the past two weeks. they will only dispense a maximum of $600 each.

Telkomcel have finally opened their office at Timor Plaza. No actual numbers being sold yet, just distribution of information. Since Telkomcel is the dominant telecomms company in Indonesia, most people think this is the beginning of the end for Timor Telecom (TT). No sympathy there, as the latter have made the most of their ten year monopoly. Recently, a friend bought back a Telkomcel phone from Bali and it works here in Dili! Slight problem with it requiring an international call to actually receive/send to TT and landline numbers here + no way to boost the credit. But it does show that the new cellphone network is actually functioning.

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