Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Just Chillin Out.. With A Chicken On The Car..

The past few days have been full of adventures in Timor-Leste. I have been out to Liquica, and through some of the district. You will have to forgive the lack of frequent uploads. The net here is a little slow..
Here are some other pics from other adventures through East Timor!

 Alor Island, Indonesia from a cliff near Liquica, Timor-Leste
 A typical Timorese scene. Goats on the road, and sardines strapped to the windscreen wipers. There is some shark hanging off the rear view mirror.

The setting sun reflects copper on the Wetar Strait

Fishermen cooking fish on a palm frond fire. Marinir, Dili.

The tint in a taxi drivers car. The tint job usually consists of a massive sticker which covers the majority of the windscreen. Sometimes, Dash ornaments adorn the drivers vision. In this case, the driver had heaps of beany babies and stickers of Jesus next to Miley Cyrus.

On our way to Liquica (Pronounced Lick Is Ca), we stopped off at one of the many Indonesian restaurants in Dili to pick up lunch. When we got back to the 4WD, two chickens had found the roof.

Fishermen at Sunset,  Marinir, Dili. The island in the background is Alor Island, Indonesia.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I saw a family on a bike with an umbrella.

Okay. So I am not going to lie. I am writing this post because I am pinned down in the internet cafe. The cab driver pretty much ripped us off to get here, and it was hammering rain. It still is. Its not that I don't love tropical rain, I truly do. It's just that all my camera gear will get fried in it. Today, I went back to Bairo Pite Clinic. I revisited a few of the families who I had previously photographed, and gave them some prints (Thank you Mr Polaroid Printer Thingy). It's quiet humbling in the sense that most families in Timor Leste don't own a camera unless they are wealthy. The families who visit Dr Dan are anything but wealthy. So the shitty little sticker prints which I have just given to this mum may be the only record she has of her children.

We had an interesting meal at a restaurant with a fighting cock tethered to a cart out the front. I have no idea what we ate. I couldn't pronounce it. But we did wash it down with some jasmine ice tea, which was refreshing.

As much of Dili has shut down for easter, my projects have temporarily been put on hold. I may have to stay in Timor Leste for another week. I have been put in touch with a Aida, a Timorese lady who goes into the district (the bush) and trains Timorese traditional midwives. Next week will be fairly as I will be out shooting agricultural elements of Baucau, as well as wherever the wind takes me. By wind, I mean serendipitous contact with Malay and Timorese people.

Tomorrow morning will involve me getting up at the stroke of dawn. As it is Easter Sunday, I will be heading in with a brother (we are all brothers and sisters here) to the bridge which crosses the Comoro River and we shall walk for about 2 kms up the road to pray.

Furthermore, I have taken to photographing interesting graffiti around town. I am not claiming it as my work, but that of a brave people, the majority of whom want peace. I will upload some more images when I get to Melbourne, but poor internet is getting in the way. I honestly thought I would miss Melbourne, but this place is so beautiful, and the people are amazing.

Mat - Out
If this makes no sense and is just a ramble, it is because I am tired, and this is the first thing that comes to my head and creeps to my fingertips.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bairo Pite Clinic

Timor is a very humbling place. The people are so beautiful and friendly. The weather is sticky (its wet season), and unforgivable. The food is amazing. After walking around Dili for a day, being showered with 'Malay! Malay! Mister! Foto!', you kind of feel like escaping the heat and humidity with a shower. There is something wrong with the pipes at the moment, and the water pressure is close to nil. The water is cold at night. And you think to yourself... 'Shit'. Then you think 'about 50 metres from where I will sleep tonight is a cemetery where half the residents are children. Almost half the kids in the country are malnourished. A wage of $5USD a day is pretty reasonable'. Then you think 'this shower is pretty much awesome'.

Over the past few days, I have been at the Bairo Pite Clinic. It is run by Dr Daniel Murphey, or as he is famously known in Dili (and around the world), Dr Dan. Dr Dan has been in Timor-Leste since it was occupied by Indonesia in 1998. He set up his clinic in an abandoned Indonesian clinic catering to the needs of the Indonesian military. Initially, his patients consisted of a daily tide of gunshot wounds with modern high velocity weapons. These weapons would destroy the flesh around the penetrated area, leaving limbs shattered, and people as amputees.

Times have now changed, and Dr Dan cares for an array of tropical diseases, and what he calls 'general human disease'. He shrugs off what he has done as and is a man of action who does not let bureaucracy or administration get in the way of his work. Everything is donated from around the world. His carpark has an ambulance donated by Red Crescent Kuwait. His medications are sourced from obscure, grey, sources.

Meeting his patients was quiet difficult. I followed Dr Dan on his daily visit of the wards in his hospital. The buildings often have cracked, peeling walls filled with donated beds (not necessarily of the hospital variety, but whatever he can get his hands on). The first patient who I had met was a lady who was pregnant (with what I would later be told were twins). Her husband sat by her bed, as she listened to Doctor Dan (Who is fluent in Tetun). I asked him if she was just suffering from malnutrition (her arms looked quiet thin). He replied Rhumatic Fever, a disease which attacks the valves of the heart. Giving birth would place her at significant risk of death.

Today, a young lady saw that I had a camera and asked I come and take photos of her children. I willfully complied as she had explained in Tetun that she had given birth to twins. She picked up her children, propped them next to each other with a soft toy and some clothes. She looked like any new mother should. Proud as punch. I am not really a fan of the posed photos, however, I really didnt mind. She asked if she could have a copy, which I said I would bring on Monday. Dr Dan came in shortly after on his ward run and picked up the children, both of which he explained were a month old and not putting on any weight. He said that they had been treated for TB for almost a month now, indicating they were not suffering from the leading killer in Timor Leste. The next option, he said was HIV testing.

It is a fairly tragic place, and preventable disease associated with poverty is rampant. Thankfully people like Dr Dan are around.

Unfortunately I can't load any photos. The internet here is terrible. When I get home...

Mat - Out

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Traffic in Dili. For some reason, taxi drivers tape up half their windows. I think it is to stop glare. Visibility isn't much of a problem when the top speed doesn't usually go beyond 40 kms an hour.

When Ash and I arrived in Dili, we dropped our stuff off at Michael's place and headed for a walk up and down the beach. As we returned, there were two kids really close to Michael's place. They were extremely shy, and we plied them over with little koala toy's which Ash bought from the market before we flew out. The older of the two children took them, looked at us, and quickly walked away. I managed to grab this photo from a distance. Every time we walk past their property, we are greeted with a wave.

While walking back from a market (Taxi's are cheap and plentiful, however, you do not get to learn anything about the culture), we walked through a tight, close living suburb, where houses where not closer than a hallway a part. I do not want to call them slums, as I have never really been to one, and do not know what to compare it to. We found a bunch of kids playing soccer in front of a few houses down a small street. After taking a few pics, it didn't take long for all the children of the neighborhood to turn up and say 'Mister!Mister!Foto!Foto!'. At first, it was curiosity in us as foreigners, and at being able to see a photo of themselves. It quickly turned into photo-bombing and tongues being poked out.

 I don't think there was a time while we were in the area that the kids weren't interested in us. Even while half a bunch of kids were playing soccer, an adorable toddler was following me around, playing with my camera, sticking his face in the lens. I had to stop and clean my lens several times. I showed him how to press the shutter. Every time I crouched down thereafter, tiny hands would reach for my camera and take photos. Every time I would stand up, he would be there, grabbing my leg. When we left, he was crying hysterically and  had to be carried away by his sister.
At the Comoro Market, Dili.
The beach at the doorstep of Michael's place, and our home for the next three weeks. Fishermen pack up their boats at sunset.

As I was embarking on my first stroll through Dili, little phrasebook in hand, I came across this lady, machete in hand, cutting down a tree.
'Bondia (Good Morning), I said.
'Bondia', she replied.
Then an awkward conversation which I did not know how to exit started. After 10 minutes of me flicking through the phrasebook like an idiot, I worked out that her name is Nepolina Perez. And she knew my name was Mat. After this valuable exchange of information, we parted ways.

Today is day three in Timor. It has been relatively slow compared to the rest of the time we have spent here. We flew up on Sunday night/Monday morning arriving in Dili at approximately 07.00 local time. Not really knowing what to expect, our host Richard Bell, a young apprentice (sort of) for Michael Stone (who is currently on leave in Australia) picked us up from the airport. We arrived just after a storm, so the humidity was fairly low.. but that would quickly change.
Richard gave us a lift back to the place where we will spend the majority of the next few weeks. Marinir (It's next to the sea and about 200 metres from Dili airport) is a beautiful little spot. We are literally metres away from the beach. It is a suburb, but in the same sense, very rural. Pigs, chickens, and stray dogs roam the area, and children stair out from behind gates built of palm fronds, smiling and waiving and yelling out 'Bondia!' (good morning!)

 Our first reaction was to wander down and talk to fishermen. Armed with our little phrasebook (which I have now dubbed 'The Bible', Ash and I made really broken awkward conversation with the fishermen. Ash had a bit of a nap, and I did what I do when going anywhere strange. Walk randomly, and ignore all the books and guides and DFAT website warnings.

I quickly learned that there was a school nearby, and that 'Malay' (pronounced 'may lie') means foreigner. As soon as a camera is visible, children flock in groups yelling 'Mister!Mister!Foto!Foto!'. Pretty quickly, the two kids who had yelled this out turned into about a dozen.
We went to the market, where we stuck out like a sore thumb. You can walk through the markets for hours and not see any other foreigners. Ash and I picked up some foodstuffs, and pushed on.
The past few days, Ash and I have been acclimatising, playing soccer with kids, walking around Dili and polishing our dodgy, embarrassingly poor Tetum.Tomorrow, the real action starts. I begin my projects..
There is very limited internet here. I will keep posted when I can.

P.S. - You better like these photos. They took an hour to load. All three mb of them. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rose St Market

My mum has always told me not to talk to people who look strange. Perhaps that is why I have spent my life trying to talk to people who seem strange.

I have been trying to get her out the house, just for a bit of emotional respite. We decided to head down to the Rose St Markets in Fitzroy. My mum pointed to a man with a studded leather jacket and said something along the lines of 'Look at this guy. Who dresses like that?'.  Two seconds later, he pointed us in the direction of the Rose St Market, and I had to take a photo of my mum with him.

Gold Fields / The Holidays

Ash bought some tickets for the Gold Fields and The Holidays at East Brunswick Club. Some friends and I went along.

Gold Fields

Gold Fields

Gold Fields

Gold Fields

Gold Fields

Gold Fields

The Holidays

The Holidays

The Holidays

The Holidays

Friday, April 8, 2011


Ash has these homing pigeons that live near her house. They fly around in a massive figure of eight around her and her neighbours backyards. I like hearing the fluttering of their wings.


Ash and I went to Pepper Cafe near Newmarket Station. Probably should be known as Girdwood Hygienic Library. I recommend.

This and That.

Been looking at some Friedlander, Trent Parke, and other street photos lately. So much so that this happened.