Dilly Dallying out of Dili

Asia has begun!

I arrived in Dili the capital of Timor Leste handy enough, except for the rip off $450 fare for the 1 hour and 15 minute flight, same duration as Dublin to Paris. Stupid me had left my few dollars in my checked pack so a very nice Aussie man loaned me the $30 for my VOA or visa on arrival till I retrieved my pack, thanks mate!

So it was a short shared taxi ride to the hostel shared with an Aussie motor biker called Curt who plans on riding his 750cc bike to London, right now he has to wait two weeks for it to arrive from Darwin. I needed to apply here in Dili for my Indonesian visa, preferably a 60 day visa as mentioned before in the update.

So after pleading my case to the ambassador, then being photographed by him I was told to return the next day.

That night I was on a bus to Betano on the south coast of the island for my restart of the run, my start in Asia. A distance of 117km – so one would expect to arrive a couple of hours later. Well how about 14 hours later, almost running pace, well not exactly on these roads, battered and probably blown up in places from the war with Indonesia, never to be repaired as the former Portuguese colony is just too poor.

East Timor, or Timor-Leste as they prefer to be known as, population 1.25 million got it’s independence in 1975, immediately the country was invaded by  Indonesia. Timor-Leste which is  surrounded by Indonesia on three sides, a country in two parts for another province lies to the east   a couple of hundred kilometres away.

This was the start of an international struggle for human rights for the Timorese people. A Ballyfermot man from west Dublin was one of the campaigners at the front of the international protests. Many countries broke off diplomatic relations with the Indonesians including Australia. Later I met an Indonesian man who having won a scholarship to study in Darwin who had to return to Indonesia because of the ending of relations.

So there I was on the bus, a junker, decrepit old banger with worn out tyres, three spares when suddenly for no reason one of the spares lying on the floor of the filthy floor has a blow out, and we haven’t even started yet!

It seems everyone is smoking, no smoking ban in force here. On we chung through the mountains, stopping many times for no apparent reason, also stopping for extra diesel fills for diesel is sold out of houses in litre bottles where the home owner ilks out a living on a marginal markup. We even stop for two more punctures and another stop for what looks like a break failure. I loan them my headlight for the repair for it seems the driver was relying on the light from passenger mobile phones!

Then we stop when we see a truck which has skidded almost off the road, it looks like it is about to topple down the mountain for it is somehow resting at a very acute precarious  angle.

Eventually I made it to Betano and stopped at a cafe for breakfast.

A man called Albert and his buddies from several countries come into the restaurant, they are engineers for a shipping company which has just docked. They treat me to my first Asian road breakfast and take the departure photos for my Asian start… I am off running now, Running free as Iron Maiden would say, bound for Europe, beyond Russia to the Ukraine some 15 or 16 thousand kilometres away to the north and to the west, homeward bound. I cannot imagine what lies ahead as I run 4,000km here through the 7 islands that link Indonesia to Singapore, then 3,000km more to the Chinese border. 5,000 there and depending on my final route decision through Kazakhstan and Russia about another 4,000 there.

That first day I ran by village after village, villages full of life and smiles but sadly perhaps hope is low on their horizons. Running as I am I have a unique opportunity to get close to these people. One family stopped me for lunch of rice, beef and banana plant. Their house was battered, in poor shape but as clean as they could get it for they were proud people.

That first day, after 30 tough kilometres I made it to Ailora where I stopped at a house for water. The people gave me a bed, food and I left them a few dollars as I always do, they need it more than I do. It is always accepted with some embarrassment but I insist and can sense relief, for another weeks supply of rice, the all important staple of their diet,  in a country where the average monthly income is less than $100.

The next day I make it to Zumala, some 35 km up the road, the roads are still in a bad way, some rain and shallow flooding in places. People were shouting their greetings from village to village, just like the constant ‘ Bula ‘ in Fiji, wonderful people.

I screeched to a sudden halt when a man shouted the magic words.. ” Coffee Mister! ”

Coffee Mister!

That night I stayed in the police station in Zumala, the nice officers let me sleep on the floor in a back office.

Then I ran a few more kilometres next day, 39 grueling kilometres every single one of them over the mountains of central Timor.

People continue to call out their greetings, including ‘ Tarde, Tarde ‘ or afternoon. And the Pied Piper is alive and well in Timor-Leste!

On the road there were many animals including pigs, goats, buffaloes and cows, I even saw a cow jump over a drain ditch onto a wall, can’t say I have ever seen a cow jump before, city man that I am!

Also for a country of such immense poverty there seems to be no shortage of power lines. There were also a lot of UNWFP or United Nations World Food Program vehicles, also US Aid and Aussie Aid vehicles on the road, for the country is in dire need of help. There are no road safety signs, for such luxuries seem so low on the priority scale. Many of the international aid projects were never started, like the so called German/EU road project which the battered sign stated the project start date to be 2008 and finish date 2009, was that the time of the financial crisis that hit the western world? Did Timor-Leste suffer for this? I wondered.

So that night I stopped about 5km before Bobonaro at a school which was nearing the end of it’s construction. The nice workers made me coffee and gave me a class room to bed down in. I noted they have power tools here, rare in Latin America.

I ended up abandoning my summer sleeping bag, leaving it for the workers to fight over, I will continue to Bangkok, Thailand with just a sheet bag. Bangkok is where I have Nirvana my trusty Chariot cart awaiting my arrival in about four months time. I have a new winter bag there, so it will be over a year till I need a summer bag, so time to abandon, lighten the load and worry about that later.

Yes the going is tough, tough as the rugged road, hot and humid, On and On I ran over those undulating hills towards the Indonesian border town of Bateguade. I passed through the town of Balibo where I am told five Australian journalists were murdered, murdered because the butchers didn’t like what the journalists were reporting.

I have not seen even one product which was manufactured here, everything seems to be imported from Indonesia.

Eventually I reach the Indonesian border, about a day behind my plan, Timor-Leste being the first country I failed to run a 50km in, but hey, that’s not a problem, Timor-Leste is a problem, I love the people and it was with a heavy heart and sadness in my eyes that I ran into Indonesia, for I can run away, they cannot run, for their problems are too great.

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5 Responses to “Dilly Dallying out of Dili”

  1. Ann Says:

    Really enjoyed that blog entry Tony, it is very sad for them living in such poverty and still sharing what little they have with you

  2. Ken Plourde Says:

    Hi Tony,
    Not sure if you remember me, but you stayed at my place in Maine, way back in the early days of your incredible journey. Glad to see you are still safe and on track. Truly an inspiration to us all!
    Take care and continue to have a safe journey.

  3. theworldjog Says:

    Thanks Ken, yes i remember you as I seem to remember you cancelled an appointment to meet up. I am always saying I am amazed by the many silent readers like yourself that never make comments to the blog, so I never know who is still with me, glad to see you are, best wishes and thanks for great help, Tony

  4. stewart & bernie cochrane Says:

    hi tony…we see you are doing fantastic….
    supreme effort!!!!!!!!!!

    we continue to follow your progress

    take care

    stewartg and bernie cochrane


  5. Serena Says:

    A very touching blog post Tony. Sure the locals appreciate your generosity as much as you appreciate their kindness and hospitality. Serena

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...


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