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Monday, March 21, 2005

Trepidations about Timor-Leste

(Wah, big word, "trepidations"!)

The trip became real today when my boss signed my leave form. He, like everyone else, was surprised to hear that I'm going to what is commonly thought to be a God-forsaken place.

I've been reading up on Timor-Leste to familiarise myself with the country. One big help has been Virtual Tourist. From what I've read, it seems that I should have only three big worries:
  1. malaria
  2. security
  3. language
Since I'll be there on a church trip, I don't think I'll have many opportunities to sightsee (there's apparenty a great beach/outdoors place at Atauro Island), but I hope we'll be able to see the statue of Jesus, which is apparently close to the airport. Hey, it's a church trip, I think we can find an excuse to go there, heh!

Accomodation-wise, I haven't read anything negative. The only negative thing I heard is about the polluted water, even in the hotels, but I don't know how true that is. There also is supposedly a hotel run by Singaporeans and Malaysians, maybe we'll be staying there?

I've decided not to think about security for now. It'll just put me off the trip. I do hope we have a capable guide.

(As you can tell, I haven't been briefed about the trip, aside from the travel period and cost.)

Instead, I'll focus on learning "Tetum", the national language. Unfortunately, the much vaunted English language will be of little use because less than 5% of the population can speak it, and you can bet that these are the higher-ups/elites. The other major language is Portugese.

According to this guide to Tetum phrases, it seems that the language's grammar/syntax is relatively easy to grasp. After perusing a few phrases, I can figure out some direct translations, e.g.
  • "what" = "saida",
  • "you" = "ita",
  • "diak" = "okay/fine", etc.
And from what I can gather from the few phrases there, it seems that I can translate directly from broken English into passable Tetum. These, of course, are just phrases. I wonder what full sentences are like.

Oh, and to think that I suck at learning non-English languages.

Things to do:
  • find my backpack - I'm sure my mum has it stashed somewhere. I don't intend to lug a suitcase.
  • begin a malaria treatment
  • buy lots and lots of mosquito repellant
  • buy water purifying tablets
  • beg/borrow/steal/withdraw US dollars
  • learn Tetum

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1 comment:

Tym said...

If you need a backpack, just ask. I think we've got a couple stashed away in the storeroom.

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