Waiting for the sunrise


Some images more, from Timor Leste.

One thing I cannot clearly get when comes about south east Asian cuisine: where is the cheese? Where are all dairy products? It intrigues me much more, since there are a lot of cattle around. Being in a country where food is such a problem, as Timor Leste is, the lack of these products, actually a complete lack of interest in producing them, intrigues me even more. I’ve been asking some people, searching for a reasonable explanation. Some told me that cheese stinks (well, we all know it), some of them said that milk has such a taste, like poison, that they cannot drink it at all, human explanations like that. This time I got a nice one, in Indonesian, which is widely spoken in Timor Leste after 24 years of occupation, it sounds exactly as it is:

satu hari … sapi lari

dua hari … sapi lari

something like one day the cow runs, two days the cow runs …when they try to milk it, by the way.

Well, what about the third time? Tiga hari … tidak lari … third day … is not running. So the problem is that cow, which is running away when they try to milk it and they try it for two days only. Damn it. Well, in this case the food problem should have some extra explanations. What are the cattle for? 77 buffaloes is the right amount for getting married. The groom’s family will collect all those buffaloes to buy a proper wife for their son. Sounds like a place where parents are not so happy having boys. Imagine that a timorese woman give birth to an average of 7 children, one of the highest birth rate on earth, so what if they end up with 7 boys?

Being the newest country, it might be still time for them to figure out some way to solve their problems. UN came here for five times and they are about to leave the country again after the elections in May 2012. As they did it 4 times already. A lot of NGOs tried to help the new nation in different ways, let’s see what happen next when all of them leaves. I have some ideas involving Indonesian and Chinese products infestation. Hopefully the sun will rise for them.

Traveling Timor Leste might be easy.  A small country that you can even track from north to south in couple of days. You’ll need time and a hand full of small US dollars notes (official currency here). No ATMs out of Dili and Baucau. Biscuits will be your main food, and another hand full of candles and a good torch is essential, since only Dili seams to have 24 hours electricity.

We heard that the south road is hard to travel most of the time, so we tried our luck and headed south. After two weeks of trekking, hitching and so, we made the big loop to south to east to north again. We had excellent times up in the mountains (well, excepting that Chinese-canned-cat-bones we’ve got instead of the chicken curry can we bought), excellent views of both northern and southern cost, friendly people in the traditional villages. We enjoyed cooking fish (well, two hammerhead sharks also), crossing those un-bridged rivers, sleeping in villages houses, escaping from that creepy place where all inhabitants seam to be brothers and sisters, swimming in the emerald waters, sunbathing in the pristine beaches, having a Turkish delight lunch with UN guys we’ve met on the road.

Back in Indonesia , waiting for the ferryboat which will take us to Alor and Solor islands. These are couple of 100 km diameter islands with about 15 different languages are spoken. Where people still hunt wales using wooden harpoons, where animist rituals are performed and tribes were still headhunters about 50 years ago.

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2 comments to “Waiting for the sunrise”

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  1. Not sure about the whole Asia, but the Chinese are in general lactose intolerant. Big companies keep trying to open the market for yoghurts and cheeses, but ‘it doesn’t work’. That said, I know that some populations in the mountains who do not have much else, do drink things like yak milk (yuk :); good for altitude sickness but needs ‘palate training’). That said aswell, it is very obvious for the well trained eye 🙂 that the new generation, specially ABC (American born Chinese) is more open to different food (and ABC women have much bigger tits, statistically :); it must be the food they eat; see ‘well trained eye’). We may assume that other populations in Asia area have the same issues. Not all for sure. Indians have a form of cottage cheese, the ‘paneer’.

    I still don’t know what they do with the cattle in Timor 🙂 .

  2. not sure about the Chinese, you might now better :), but there are some news about SE Asia and milk issue . People in Lamalera- Indonesia told me that drinking milk (susu :D) make them fart ( angin busuk -rotten wind ) a lot. I hope my translation was right, since Indonesian seems very contextual for me :D. I think this after milk effect is not such a problem in China, rather the opposite…together with spiting 🙂 , but somehow it stops Lamalerians drinking milk.
    By the way…I miss the damn milk and cheese …

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