Completion of My Visit to the 13 Municipalities of Timor-Leste (Part 2)

By: VZ from Dili, Timor-Leste.

A day at an old chapel, Ainaro villa, Ainaro, 2017

7. Ainaro – Ainaro Municipality

The word Ainaro is a derivative from the Mambae expression ai naru means ‘tall tree’. Ainaro municipality located in southwest part of the country, generally regarded as the coldest municipality in Timor-Leste due to it is located uphill and close to mount Ramelau, the tallest mountain in Timor-Leste. Ainaro is also known for its fertile land that actively produce vegetables, beans, flowers and coffee production by its farmers. My first time visit to Ainaro in 2018 last was realized during my return trip from Covalima to Dili. Along the way is full of green scenery view, landscape full of green hills, mountainous views, grass field and serene house along the street in Ainaro villa town. The city also has many Portuguese and Indonesian historical building remarks. Mambae is also one of main dialect spoken widely with Tetun and Indonesian language are widely understood. The municipalities also has interesting pattern of cultural traditions and historical places to explore especially as it becomes one of historical shelter during Timor-Leste resistant combatants during struggle of independence. The municipality has 4 post-administrative which are Ainaro vila, Hato-udo, Hato-builico and Maubisse. It took 3 to 4 hours to reach Ainaro from Dili and one has to pass by Aileu municipality beforehand.

Dom Boaventura Statue in Luak, Manufahi, 2017

8. Same -Manufahi Municipality

I first time visited this municipality in 2017 on a field trip and mesmerized by the beautiful scenery along the way there. Curvy roads, high steep hills, serene city, fresh cold air. Same is the capital of the municipality and the municipality name Manufahi according to local tales was modified version of the original word in Mambae ‘Maun Fahe‘ means brothers went apart according to local tale that once upon a time there were 5 brother who have to parting ways from their home. What fascinated me most about Same city is the story of Don Boaventura, a local king and regarded by most as hero for his resistance movement during The Great Rebelllion in 1910-1912 against Portuguese colonialism. The statue of Dom Boaventura located in a village named Luak, 20 minutes away from Same city. The city has interesting cultural and historical context to explore with local people. Mambae is also one of main dialect spoken widely with Tetun and Indonesian language are widely understood. The municipality has 4 post-administrative which are Same, Fatuberliu, Alas and Turiscai. It took around 8 to reach Same city from Dili and one will pass by Aileu municipality and Maubisse post-administrative of Aileu beforehand.

The chapel of Black September massacre in Suai, Covalima, 2018

9. Suai – Covalima Municipality

On my first visit to Suai city, I was very excited and intrigued to figure out the city and in particular to see the local chapel where the 1999 Black September massacre happened. It was one of the horrific story of massacre happened to Timorese civilians during the announcement of result of East Timor referendum in 1999. On my arrival, I rushed to see this place first and accompanied by a local guide from the hotel I stayed in. It is an old rustic chapel and some of the windows have been broken but inside was still functional to be used by local people to held catholic church activities. It was in this church that during the civil unrest, local people came to evacuate to this chapel that located uphill guided by four priests (three Timorese and one Indonesia priest) trying to protect them but local the militias came and shooting the civilians including the priests and burnt the chapel. Though the chapel was then renovated, its rustic look and serenity inside tells a lot of untold memories. Suai is one of post-administrative of Covalima Municipality and this municipality located in southwest part of the country.

The municipality borders the Timor Sea to the south, the municipality of Bobonaro to the north, Ainaro to the east, and the Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur to the west. Suai city located in coastal area and the weather is hot during the dry season. However, the Suai Loro beach was nearby and is beautiful to visit with precaution not to bath at the beach or go closer as there are warning of crocodile existence around the water. The sea around Suai is southern sea regarded by Timorese as Tasi Mane means male sea due its loud and resonance sea). The municipality has interesting cultural diversities in its tradition, local arts and beliefs.

The municipality has 6 post-administratives consisted of Fatululic, Fatumean, Fohorem, Zumalai, Maucatar, Suai, and Tilomar.  Tetun Terik, Kemak and Bunak are main dialect while Tetun and Indonesia are also widely uunderstood. Cova Lima municipality also regarded as the furthest municipality to reach from Dili as one has to pass by the curvy road of Aileu and Ainaro to reach Suai city during eight to nine hours trip with car or public trasnport from Dili. Nowaday, one can reach Suai city with ZEEMS flight (a CESSNA type plane) which costs $ 41 to $51 USD flies once a day from Monday to Saturday from Dili with duration of around 35 minutes. Suai has got a new airport build and planned to accommodate the petroleum and gas mining research and activity there. 

Completion of My Visit to the 13 Municipalities of Timor-Leste (Part 1)

Last year, 2018, was the year I completed my visit to the thirteen municipalities of my country, Timor-Leste or usually known as East Timor. This may sounds weird as why as native who grow and live in my own country, I could only made to complete my visit to the country’s thirteen municipalities lately  last year due to personal limitations. After all, thanks to my youth explorer trip during college days and chances of joining field trip as a non-profit institution worker allowed me to travel, work and enjoy the beauty of each municipalities I visited and I could documented their glimpses of beauty in few pictures I took with my camera.

Map of Timor-Leste country

As a beginner in photography, I enjoy doing it for personal fun. To mark my not-so-fancy-explorer trip and capture the glimpse of beauty in each municipality I have ever visited, doing photography for me is an amazing medium to capture the endless impressions on a trip and it also worked as one of a relaxing therapy for my longing explorer spirit. Here are pictures of some interesting spots in the 13 municipalities of Timor-Leste and brief notes of my impression on them.

A Roundabout of Lospalos city, 2015
  1. Lospalos – Lautem Municipality

Known as the eastern edge part municipality of the country, Lospalos as one of post-administrative has became a place where I spent most of my childhood till my adulthood. The name Lospalos was modified by Indonesian government from its origin name Los Pala means ‘the garden’ in Fataluku language, a main dialect in Lautem municipality. The landscape are mostly flat lands and are predominant with grass field. The city at the present day become quieter as most of its young population are emigrating to UK and Ireland to find job. However, this municipality has a lot of interesting touristic places to be visited, strong cultures and traditions continued to carry on and yet many other stories about its people to be explored and retold. The Lautem Municipality composted from 5 post administrative; Lospalos, Tutuala,Lautem, Luro and Iliomar.
Fataluku is one of main dialect along with other dialect such Makassae, Maka-lero and Lovaia (may already extinct at the present day) but Tetun and Indonesian language is widely spoken and understood. It took 8 to 9 hours one day trip with car or public bus to reach this municipality from Dili, the capital of the Timor-Leste.

The restored Mercado Municipal in Baucau city, 2015

2. Baucau – Baucau Municipality

Being a student and living in this city in 2007s, Baucau is popularly known as the second big city in the country and considered second most crowded city as daily movement is seen as active as in Dili the capital, compare to other municipalities. Located at the eastern part of the Timor-leste territory, it is the second municipality people passed by from Lospalos to Dili. The city is also popular for its rocky area dominating its landscape. The Portuguese historical buildings are left among several landmarks in the municipalities and this municipalities also has a lot of beautiful places and interesting stories ad cultures to be explored. The city is also known for it active business activity from its people and religious activities are actively held in the town as the second diocese office located in the city thus become the center of catholic religion administrative at municipality level to cover 4 municipalities such as; Lautem, Baucau, Viqueque and Manatuto. Baucau municipality has 5 post administrative such as: Baucau, Venilale, Vemasse, Laga, Baguia and Quelicai. Makassae is one of main dialect along with other dialect such Uai-maa and Midiki but Tetun and Indonesian language is widely spoken and understood. It took 3 to 4 hours one day trip with car or public bus from Dili to reach Baucau city.

Hanging bridge, Viqueque, 2015

3. Viqueque – Viqueque Municipality

I first time visit this municipality in 2008 and the main city seemed a little bit secluded in the low land and high hills surrounding the landscape of the municipality. The word Viqueque is modified version of the words We Keke (means the eroding water while other local folktale account said it means arm bracelet water) from Tetun Terik, one of a main dialect in Viqueque post administrative. It is located at the south coast part of the Timor-Leste territory and people can reach this municipality from Baucau city or from Manatuto city when coming from Dili. The municipality known to have wider area of grown coconut plants, grow local several varieties of local rices, grow cashew nuts and has some historical places that shares memories of struggles during Indonesian occupation and also beautiful places to visit as well as the interesting cultures and traditions to explore. Viqueque municipality has 5 post administrative such as: Lacluta, Ossu, Uatolari, Uato Carabau and Viqueque. Tetun Terik is one of main dialect along with other dialect such Nau-ueti and Makassae but Tetun and Indonesian language is widely spoken and understood. It took 8 to 9 hours one day trip with car or public bus from Dili to reach Viqueque city.

Subaun hill, Manatuto, 2015

4. Manatuto – Manatuto Municipality

Manatuto city is the city everyone has to passed by when coming from Lospalos, Baucau and Viqueque city on the way to Dili. Located at the central part of the country, the city is known for the historical places with catholic missionary influence in Soibada, ancient kingdoms historical values to retold, culture and traditions of its people, local festivities especially on its gastronomy. The popular one is Balisaun (salted baby shrimps harvested once a year) and akar babilak (palm fiber pancake). The municipality also known for its popular dance on festival of shrimp harvesting named suru boek dance (taking the shrimps in hand/harvesting shrimps). Subaun is one of the popular thrilling steep hills when passing by Manatuto to Dili, however, other landscapes such as beautiful beaches and hills are along the way to enjoyed. Galolen is one of main dialect along with other dialect such Tetun Terik and Idatee but Tetun and Indonesian language is widely spoken and understood. Manatuto municipality has 5 post administrative such as: Barique-Natarbora, Laclo, Laclubar, Laleia, Manatuto and Soibada. It took 2 to 3 hours one day trip with car or public bus from Dili to reach Manatuto city.

Acait harbour at the front of Palacio do Governo, Vera Cruz, Dili, 2015

5. Dili – Dili Municipality

As the capital of the country, Dili is the most crowded city in the territory of Timor-Leste and becomes the central of development of the country thus people from other thirteen municipalities are all move to Dili to reach for a better livelihood and made it the most populated city. There are many interesting places in Dili such as Cristo Rei Statue and beach, Tasi Tolu lakes with Pope St. John Paul Statue to honour his visit in 1989, and many
modern restaurants and bars to hang out in along the way from Comoro road (Nain Feto post-administrative) to Cristo Rei area. However, what I noticed about Dili when I first time came to this place was that many people loved to hang out at the harbor in front of Palacio do Governo (Palace of the Government) in Acait street to enjoy the view of the sea, Atauro island at the northern side and the sunset. Palacio do Governo itself was a historical Portuguese building which today’s served as one of government office. There are many remarks of Portuguese and Indonesian buildings and legacy of dark past of struggle to independence in this city such as Santa Cruz cemetery, Balide prison and other places that record a lot of mementos of the country’s independence and history. Tetun is one of main spoken language along with other language such as Indonesian language, Portuguese and English along with dialects from municipalities. Dili municipality has 5 post administrative such as: Atauro, Cristo Rei, Dom Aleixo, Metinaro, Nain Feto and Vera Cruz. It took 2 hours flight on one day flight from Bali to Dili and trip duration from other municipalities are vary.

A vegetable garden in Seloi village, Aileu, 2013

6. Aileu – Aileu Municipality

What I remembered the most on visiting Aileu for the first time was the
sparse eucalyptus trees and grasses along the road and the fresh cold humid air along way. The word Aileu according to local tale was derived from the expression Ai Kleuk means bent tree is perhaps due to its curvy road.  My first visit was to Remexio post administrative in 2008 and there, the fog always covered the area in the afternoon. My second visit to Aileu city was in 2013 and I noticed the city to be the city of vegetable gardener as many local farmers run garden of vegetables and rice-filed as one their main livelihood source. I love to enjoy the view of the coffee garden, beautiful steep hills and there Seloi lake is one of beautiful place to visit. Aileu is known to be the municipality that supplies vegetables such as green vegetables, cabbage, cauliflowers and beans to Dili and also produce coffee plants. Being located in northwestern part to Dili, it took 1 to 2 hours one day trip with bus, car or motorcycle to reach the city. Mambae is widely spoken among the community but Tetun and Indonesian language is widely spoken and understood. The municipalities also has interesting pattern of cultural traditions and historical Portuguese buildings to explore. The municipality has 4 post-administrative which are Aileu Vila, Laulara, Remexio and Lequidoe.

A Stopover in Loes

From Dili to Jakarta via Bali (1)

It was the last day of June 2013.

I was full of excitement as a teen.

Waiting for my Sriwijaya flight at the Nicolau Lobato Airport in Dili.

With a mind of a wanderer, I asked,  “Would this trip be a jolly?”.

Later the flight came and I went ahead in a tremble along the departure gate.

I got on the airplane; a beautiful air hostess with red dress greeted me.

She had the most beautiful smile of the day.

I showed her my boarding pass; she guided me to my seat.

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I sat contently yet carefully paying attention instead.

Another air hostess was demonstrating the flight safety guide.

After an hour, the plane left the ground and started to take off. My heart jumped.

‘I am flying high!’ my mind exclaimed.

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It was my first trip from Dili to Jakarta.

There is a short transit at Ngurah Rai airport of Denpasar in Bali.

That was also my first time to see Bali, although just at a glance.

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Down there, I saw Bali’s beautiful blue sea with the white cliffs.

The red-brown houses formed like beads.

They spread over a huge green carpet of its green field.

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A very long bridge shaped a curvy line over the sea.

How I wondered to explore those places one day.

“Oh, how wonderful isn’t it?” myself said.

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I had heard about Bali since I was a child in 1990s.

People said that Bali is an island of gods, a paradise for tourists.

That time, I wish that one day I too could visit Bali, as a tourist.

I wanted to see the gods. I wanted to enjoy being at its paradise.

Finally, my wish did come true. Even though only for an instance.

Vitalia Ze, Dili-Bali-Jakarta, 30 June 2013.