Thursday, March 25, 2010

From Dili to Liquica (East Timor) by Dahon D3 Folding Bike

I am on my second flying tour in Timor Leste now. This time I had brought along a Dahon D3 flding bike. Wighing only 10.5 kilos I managed to take it along without having to pay any extra luggage to the airlines . I had had bicycleinflamatolosis the last trip I was in Timor. Every time I see a cyclist or a good route I my legs would itch .This Dahon D3 is a newly accuired toy, my third addition to my Dahon collection.....
So, here is the bike all ready to be unfolded for the ride. It unfolds in 15 sec and by sunrise last Sunday I was on the road. I had selected the route from Dili to Liquica for my initial exploration trip out of town. Of course nowadays with Google earth I can almost preview the route before I embark on the journey. Seeing on the computer screen is one thing but nothing can beat the trip by bicycle. With a bicycle I can SEE, SMELL, LISTEN and FEEL the Timorese !With the sun behind me it was a very pleasant ride when I started off.After a few km the road became deserted. I almost had the whole road for myself. This gate here is the limits of Dili town. Passing this gate leads on to the countryside.Generally the road is very good for cycling but very bad when one is in a car as there are a lot of pot holes and is generally narrow. Of course ther are hills and going up these hills can be quite a strain on my leg muscles especially on this bike where I have to work on only a 3 speed hub gear.BUT what is there to complain when there are beautiful unspoilt views like this along the way. I am not in a racing mode but rather in a EYE FEASTING and PHOTOGRAPHY MODE. It is absolutely amazing when I get to see unspoilt nature.
Every few km there would be a small settlement. These houses are built from the leaves and stems of the palm trees.

This man told me the palm leaves last more than five years so every five years or so he has to build a new house.

A communal well is the place to get drinking water. There are also "shared" tube wells in some places. A few families would share a common water point.

In this part of the world water buffaloes are stilla symbol of wealth. I was told if you want to get married to a girl you will have to give a dowry of 10 buffaloes to the girl's family. These are then shared between the girl's relatives. So you can see plenty of "Living Wealth" in this mud pool!I definitely think the dowry is worth it as the womenfolks here have to work very hard. How many of our wives are willing to collect firewood for cooking? Don't even think about it!Maybe it is easier for the mothers to look after their children here. Most of the kids I see here run around on their own and play noisly with the other kids. Never mind that their football is half flat but most important they are living like the way kids should be. CAREFREE without much worries for tutions and homework.There is a big lagoon just before the halfway point. The locals named it TASIK TALO. I was told that there are some very good dive sites in the vicinity of the lagoon. I hope all these will not be spoilt by tourism.
These boats are not traditional fishing boats but I believe it must be from some government aids to the fishermen.On weekends even the fishermen take a rest.

On my left it is mostly rolling hills and I have the Bonda Sea on my right.Don't this picture reminds you of some scenery from Monte Carlo? The road here is just by the side of the cliff . This makes a trip by bicycle so unique and interesting.

There is already some developments in this area. Very nice hotel/lodge is seen on the slope of the mountain overlooking the sea.

BUT if I am on HOLIDAY MODE, this would be my choice of accommodation! Cheap, close to nature and natural.And this would be my mode of transportation on roads! Cheap and relaible and the credits from the peddling goes to my health account.

Another well fed wedding dowry grazing happily by the beach.Being a mischievous guy, I challenged this man for a race. I could see a hill about a km ahead. This man willingly accepted the challenge! Of course it was not fair for him for he is carrying a big box behind. After a couple of minutes I reached the top of the hill and expected him to be pushing his bicycle but no, he peddled all the way to the top.

We became friends and started chatting . He stays in Liquicia and bakes bread to sell to the villagers . I examined the contents of the box behind and it was empty meaning he had had a good day. These home mede bread sells for USD 5 cents and the bigger one USD 10 cents. On a typical day he gets about USD 17.00 and he gets to cycle about 10 km selling the bread .On the outbound trip the villagers collects the bread from him and when he rings his battery operated horn on the return leg they come out to pay him. I don't know if he has any bad debts.

Here is another home made log cart. Every home seems to have one.

While I waited for the bread man to reach the top I taught a boy how to take pictures with a camera and this is the result. Notice the steep slope behind me.

On nearing Luquica this "house" caught my attention. Seeing the courses they offered I went in and was suprised that a Malaysian lady by the name of Jenny is running the place. I did not get to meet her as she had gone to the village church.I managed to have a chat with the students here . They spoke suprisingly good English. SOL means Seeds Of Life, a NGO trying to improve the lives of the people through education.These boys were excited about my Dahon and a few of them had a joy ride with my bicycle.I headed for the only reataurant in Liquica and this lady owner told me they are closed on Sundays. Luckily I had prepared a packet of fried rice for this trip otherwise I would have been very hungry.

On the way back I met this lady selling fruits by the roadside. I purchsed these two sour sops for USD 2 and she offered me some home grwon bitter gourds free. I did not bargain but people here are good.

So the journey home I had to carry these two fruits in my back pack and it must have weighed a few kilos!
It was a good weekend ride and I only managed to spend USD2 for the trip. Even the restaurant do not want to make money from me. The total distance covered is 60 km and I was at home just before noon. Not bad........anyone wants to make this trip? I can assist......


  1. Every pic you take, every story you tell, goes straight into my inspirational account!

  2. Get out of your arm chair and comfort zone. Get going..go cycling !


  3. Just a quick correction. The SOLS 24/7 sign in your photo is for the organisation 'Science of Life Systems 24/7' their website is As you mention, their is also an NGO operating in Dili called 'Seeds of Life' (SOL), their website is

    Keep up the good work.


  4. Point noted Dan..I am still waiting for a complimentary copy of your coffe table book on East Timor.


  5. hahaha, the sour sop looks delicious. But what kind of dish would sour sop and bitter gourd make la. Ai yo, I may need return my master cook badge already. hahaha. Bitter gourd with some eggs and dried shrimps, maybe make a companion with rice. She took you for a sucker la. How make a dish that taste bitter sweet and sour.hahahahaha. add aome salt and your taste buds will have field day.hahaha