Wednesday, June 2, 2010

East timor, dili


To talk about East Timor, the locals preferred it to be called Timor Leste, we had deep feelings. Our first 4 nights were living in the capital city of Dili. Errol sacrificed his sleep to drive us to the airport of Darwin at 4am. The 65minutes flight was very worth because when we reach the land of Timor Leste, we could see the morning sun luminating the sharp green hills of the land. Sam and I were astonished. It felt like joining a special tour group to take helicopter, paying hundreds of dollars and sit with the tourist to take pictures from the sky. We did not (will not) participate in such tour but this A$285 flight from Darwin to Dili did had same feel. Its worth.

I was so hanged with the view that when Sam ask me to bring down the camera from the luggage compartment on top of us, I would rather spend this meaningful and unforgettable moment to witness every second of it.

After the plane has landed, we had to wait for 10 minutes in the plane because the airport only have 1 set of mobile stairs to service 1 plane at a time. From our window, we saw many aircraft, which 90% of the aircraft at the airport had ‘UN’ logoed on it.

A standard of US$30 visa was paid to get 30days stay in the country. Baggage clearance was easy and the duty free shop was smaller than the ‘mama shop’ near my house in Singapore. (mama shop is a common small sized grocery shop that usually mended by traditional Indian man.)

10 packets of 20 sticks ‘M’ brand cigarette in Darwin airport cost about a$45.00.
10 packets of 20 sticks ‘M’ brand cigarette in Dili airport cost about US$9.50.

Note that US$1.00 is about a$1.20.

There would usually be the taxi touts in every airport but all of them were just hanging out and 1 of them asked me if I want taxi; I showed him my palm. Meanwhile with our luggage’s, we just sit around to observe for 10 minutes on what’s happening and went to the taxi stand.

We asked how much to go to Hotel Rocella at xxx road. They quoted US$10.00 and I agreed. Before entering the taxi, I questioned the driver if US$10 is for 1 person or total (as what we had learned in India), he was laughing out and said US$10 for total. Sam and I were able to communicate with the locals with simple Portuguese we learned when we were in Brasil and a little bit of Bahasa. Finally we found it useful. When we spoke Portuguese, the locals seemed friendlier and had 2.85cm more of smile to us.

To my surprise, after getting onto the taxi, the driver does not know the way even I had the full address written. He went down to ask other people along the way and he tried to call his friend. After seeing his effort, I finally spoke up and drew a map of the location for him which made him excited and curious about us. Many times we said we want to drop off and walk by ourselves and he insisted that he will bring us to the exact location. For him, it doesn’t matter if we drop off early from the taxi because we still need to pay him us$10. Thumbs up for him. The driver had very dark skin and features of an Indonesian. He seems like a fishing village man (looked similar to the natives living in the deserted island of Panama) but his name was John and had a catholic cross hanged onto his rear mirror.

Living expenses here are not cheap as you thought it would be. The cheapest room we had in town was US$30, a backpacker hostel that was situated 20 minutes walk from town would be US$25 but when we want to eat, we would need to plan 20 minutes ahead before we get hungry, if not, the expensive restaurant would just be at the door step of the US$25 backpacker hostel.

Anyway, Hotel Rocella was situated 10 walking steps from the Perkins office where I had to get information of Hope Too’s location.

We walked the streets of this tropical town, getting ourselves sweat, contaminated with the noise from vehicles, always bending my back to bow to nobody because of the newly planted trees that blocked the walkway along the road.

There were many people along the road of Dili just sitting around, lighting a cigarette, having 5 of the same pushcart business within 10 meters, hugging their fighting cock around, children picking up aluminum drink cans from places that no one would ever stepped on, vendors selling citrus and peanuts on that was hanging on the 2 ends of a bamboo pole. Some family had their house as tent along the beach and cook with collected wood. Life seems very bad and poor to them in the foreigner’s eyes because foreigner would compare their life with them in their own develop country. For us, we see these people as the happiest people. I do enjoy the scroll along the beach seeing these happy people because they do not have anything to worry about.

As for Hope Too, we booked the shipment that would reach Dili on 20th May (Thursday). Knowing the arrival date, we booked the air ticket to reach Dili on 21st May (Friday) morning so, when we reached Dili, we were able to collect Hope Too on the same day.

Well, plan would always be plan and it would not be reality because it was a plan, not reality.
On the day we reached Dili (21st May, Friday), we went to Perkins to check whereabouts was Hope Too as the schedule was that the ship would arrive on 20th May, the guy said, tomorrow.

So we went on 22nd May, Saturday, they looked at my papers and said,

The ship arrived but you have to wait till Monday to collect because today is Saturday.

Despite all these, they were really very polite and with courtesy. Not like in some places in the world, the shipping company would be ignoring us since they had our cargo and we had paid our money.

Perkins’ schedule was not in time and that 2 days of delay in their shipment had caused us 4 days of delay in our Timor Leste trip, meaning that we had to spend 4 extra days (average US$50/day) because of ... What to do…… they are the only shipper to Dili and now all I hope for is that the bike would be in 1 piece when we receive it.

We noticed the people are very easy going and cool. We walked around to look for some touristic site to take pictures till we went into a government compound unknowingly because there wasn’t any fence around it. Then a security guard came to us and said:

Can I have your I.D.?!

I asked why.

He insisted more and firmly:

No… do you have an I.D.?!!! Are you a journalist or what?!!

Then Sam started speaking a bit of Bahasa to him and suddenly his voice became soft toned, shake hands with Sam and explained more to her politely and respectfully. In the end we noticed that everyone that comes into this compound had to register with him at a ‘gate’ hidden in a corner. It was our fault but he was VERY POLITE and VERY RESPECTFUL to us for our mistake done. We had not experienced this anywhere in the world.

We had points added for the people here.

How much it cost and how to ship my motorcycle from Darwin, Australia to Dili, Timor Leste (East Timor).

Perkins Shipping Pty Ltd
Frances Bay Drive, Darwin NT 0800
GPO Box 1019, Darwin NT 0801
Ph: +61 8 8982 2012 / 2015
Fax +61 8 8941 0991
Email: (I think she had left Perkins)
Don’t border to email the main Perkins email.

Quote on Ocean freight for:

a) Crated motorcycle:

Ocean Freight: a$100 per weight (tonne) or measure (m3), min 1cbm
E.T.T. (East Timor tax): 2.64% of Ocean Freight
B.A.F. (Fuel surcharge): a$9.00 per weight (tonne) or measure (m3).

b) Uncrated motorcycle:

Ocean Freight: a$100 per weight (tonne) or measure (m3), min AUD$350.00
E.T.T. (East Timor tax): 2.64% of Ocean Freight
B.A.F. (Fuel surcharge): a$9.00 per weight (tonne) or measure (m3).

Darwin local charges:
Port Service Security: a$0.25 per weight (tonne) or measure (m3)
Port Security charge: a$10.00 per weight (tonne) or measure (m3)

No local charges in Dili are included in this quote.

ok, this is what they quote me but what happened?

I check their webpage for the latest schedule. I emailed them on what are the procedure when I hand over the bike to them, their reply was:

bike will be lashed into the container.

(it was a short and sharp email reply from them despite my long enquiry and using the western culture of saying hi and good day before anything.)

ok, it sounded simple. I went to see the officer in charge when I reached Darwin few days in advance to understand more about the actual price that they will charge and the real procedure. The officer in charge named… I don’t want to mention her name here, let’s call her Greasy…

We met Greasy and she explained more that she would only need the copy of my Carnet (CPD) and on the day of sending the bike here, I have to clear the custom myself. Full stop.

I ask her to look at my bike and measure how much will she charge. I put on the full pannier on the bike. I dragged Greasy out of the aircon room and she did not had a step out of the roof onto the tar, she immediately put on her sonnies (OZ slang for sunglasses).

Greasy didn’t border to measure and said,
it’s ok, I will charge you the minimum amount uncrated.
that was a$350.

It sounded so good to us! Then she said:

Oh, one thing I always forgot to put in the quote, which was a$100 for loading and lashing.

I asked if I can do the loading and lashing myself and save on the a$100, she said I cannot do that due to the insurance the company had and some policies that I am not allowed to do it.

We have to use Perkins to go to Timor Leste, they control the market. If we go to other agent, they will still use the boat from Perkins and the price would be higher because Perkins is sort of the main contractor in the region.

So on the actual day of sending, I went to Perkins and they asked me if I had cleared the customs, I replied negative.

Greasy: Then you have to before you come to us.
Me: so where is the custom office?
Greasy: just down the road, very near.
Me: Do you have the road name? Would you mind showing me on the map?
Greasy: …. flip flip flip flip flip the road directory and try to point out of her office window.

My wife and I were VERY lucky that were staying with our friend in Darwin, which knew the way and could drove us around.

My friend that we stayed with, Errol said: Is it the one down CBD at junction of Lindsay street and Wood Street?

Greasy: yeah... that’s the one!

Errol drove his car and lead us to the custom house. It wasn’t as described as ‘just down the road, very near’. I parked outside, took the Carnet (CPD) and went in. I told the lady officer in the office that I am going to export the bike out and I showed her the Carnet. Straight away, the officer was very efficient, she know what to do. she came to inspect my bike, to see the VIN and engine number is the same as the Carnet. then she stamped on the Carnet. That’s it! No charges.

We went back to Perkins. Showed her all the documents and paid up. Upon paying, they wanted to give me a paper written invoice then with a Perkins stamp. I rejected the receipt and requested a proper and itemized with Perkins’ letter head and invoice number. The cashiers, Greasy #2, being disappointed, went back to her table and type something which looked like a proper invoice to proof that I had paid to hand me.

Then I drove my bike into the dark yard…took a picture and said goodbye.

Greasy said she will email me the actual seaway bill when the ship leaves the port. I must have the seaway bill number in order to collect the bike in Dili. On the day the ship left, I checked the email for long time and nothing came in. I call them and Greasy said…

er… I just sent an hour ago, didn’t you receive it? er... no, half hour ago.

Okie, I patiently waited for another 3 hours, nothing came in. Lucky again, we are still in Darwin when the ship leaves and Errol was able to drive me straight to Greasy’s face to get the document that she supposed to email me.

Till today, the email was stolen by some cable thieves and the mystery of the missing email wasn’t solved yet.

As stated by them, the bike should reach the destination in 3 day’s time. They indicated that it is an estimated time. In actual fact it became 7 days! what a good estimate.

We reached Timor Leste thinking that the ship would really arrive in time but it was 4 days late. We stayed in Hotel Rocella, which was opposite to Perkin’s agent.

The morning 21st May 2010, Friday, when we reached Dili at 8am, we walked straight to the Perkins office. According to the schedule, the ship should arrive on the day before, 20th May 2010. I showed them my invoice and seaway bill. They said ship hasn’t arrived and I should come again tomorrow.

So tomorrow I was so happy to go again. They said the ship arrived. They made me signed a document that was an arrival notice and said:

today Saturday, custom not working. Come again on Monday.

We went back on Monday, 24th May 2010. They said,

Yes, ship arrived. you pay and take this, go to the custom office, get your Carnet stamped, and then go to the container yard to take your motorcycle.

ok, we were so happy!

We walked to the custom office, showed the lady our Carnet (CPD) and she just stamped on it without seeing our bike. I also have to tell her that she must tear off one part of the document and keep for her record.

Then we took a taxi to the container yard at about 930am.

The guy in charge said

container still in port, come again 2pm, maybe better at 3pm. we took a taxi back.

at 2pm, the container arrived at the yard and my bike was being tied by rope. The point that they tied in the front pulled almost bend the plastic of my bike! What a Flintstone technique that they use to tie down my bike for that a$100 they charged. The guys in the Dili yard were real friend and real helpful. We did not pay any money. Just have to photocopy the ‘stamped’ Carnet and the Seaway bill to them.

We were free to go.

Petrol station is just down the road. It’s call ‘bensin’. us$0.95 per liter. Don’t use ‘solar’ because that’s diesel.


what we paid for in Darwin side was:

Ocean freight (180kg, 3.036kg) a$350.00
Port Security surcharge (m3) a$0.25
Darwin Port Service (Ex. GST) a$10.00
Bunker Adjustment factor a$9.00
East Timor Tax a$9.25
Other Charges (loading and lashing) a$100.00

Total a$478.50

My wife and I also made an effort to ask our Estonian friend that traveled the same route with us but was about 6 months faster than us. They also used Perkins and their BMW GS1150 was not smaller than my Honda XRV 750. What they paid for in Darwin side 6 months ago with a bike not small then mine was:

Ocean freight a$236.30
Port Security surcharge (m3) a$0.59 ($0.25 x 2.362 m3)
Bunker Adjustment factor a$17.73 (2.64% x 236.30)
East Timor Tax a$17.73

Total a$260.86

In his email, he also mentioned that the guy that took the actual measurement of his bike was nice.


When I received the bike, the container was very empty, just my bike and about 20 small parcels. They used rope to tie my bike which was very cost efficient (for them).

At this point, you may think that I have a problem, maybe I am very proud, cocky and demanding so they want to put extra charge on me but I have not been in contact with Perkins except for asking quote though email one month before the shipping date. How cocky can I be? On the first meeting with Greasy, she sounded like I was her best friend. Maybe I have a Chinese face that would hint her that I come from the other world, I am a tourist and my father is the CEO of a big company and my mum own the largest massage parlor in Asia.

Anyway, the charges we had in Dili were the same as our friend from Estonia, which was:

DOC us$30.00
WF us$16.00
Total: us$46.00

What to do, they are the only company around. So I am writing this to tell you not to expect too much things.

Perkin office in Darwin:
S12 27.668 E130 50.879

Custom office of Darwin:
S12 27.529 E130 50.425
Junction of Wood St and Lindsay st.

Perkin agent in Dili (SDV Pty Ltd) and Rocella Hotel:
S8 33.171 E125 34.954

Perkin container yard in Dili:
S8 33.629 E125 32.665
Address given to me: Banana Road, Aimutin, Hudi Laran. Contact Mr Carmo: 7269360. After some taxi ride, we realized that the area was named ‘Delta’.

Dili Seaport Custom office:
S8 33.186 E125 34.420

In Dili, don’t border to ask the taxi driver how much to go where or don’t expect to have a meter in the taxi. The charges that we had for taxi ride for 2 person was usually us$2.00 per trip within Dili. Not to mention from Airport to Dili, they could charge 10-20 times more than the local. So we learn, get into the taxi, tell them


or some other places in short (without taking out Lonely Planet and showing them the map).

Then I just pay the taxi us$2.00 when my wife and I got off.

The email from our Estonian friend complained about the expensive taxi ride they had in Dili. hee….

Welcome to Asia!

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