Sunday, July 13, 2014


Yes, it happens to me again and I know it right?!? I guess I don’t need to repeat this “It has been a while since I last blogged” sentence  again to begin the post every time when my brain re-remember that I actually own a blog after ignoring for long time.

There have been many things that happened to me during my absence, so I could not find enough time to write any post. Fortunately, today I skipped my work and came to one of the coffee shops nearby my research center “Cafe BLACK LABEL” and enjoy a cup of iced americano, so I could do whatever I like. Thinking of continuing the work that has been delayed, I ended up to finish a post that has been sitting in the draft for some weeks.

Unrelated picture, but just to tell this is the place
where I am right now. 

Since forever, many friends of mine asked me to recommend them some of places that they should not miss when they visit Timor-Leste. I have been thought to introduce so many of beautiful places around Dili, the capital of the country, but I did not have enough time to make it happen.

So, now without a further ado, I am more than happy to introduce one of the beautiful places in Dili, which is called “CRISTO REI”.

The majorities of East Timorese from the east to the west always know and tell how beautiful the scenery is in Cristo Rei. But, there are also some who do not know and even have never been there before.

Let me try to look back to share basic information about Cristo Rei (where they called it Christ the King in English) in order to get to know the purpose and background of estabilizing the place.

Based on the history, the name FATUCAMA (location Statue of Christ the King) has its own historical value, because etymology the word FATUCAMA derived from two syllables, Fatuk and Ama, which is given by one of a kings named Joao (deceased) with other traditional leaders of Hera, and the name itself means Father who embraces all people.

Anyway, I think I could not jot down everything in detail here about how the place was established because there is so many histories behind it that I am not really sure know about.

Back to the main point, the Statue of the Cristo Rei was designed by Mochamad Syailillar. The statue was officially unveiled by Suharto in October 1996 as gift from the Indonesian government to the people of Timor-Leste, which was at the time still a province. The area is a sacred area, which is used by local people to make offerings of prayer for salvation. But now, even if used as a sanctuary, the place also serves as a tourist attraction. This area is very nice and cool to enjoy the expanse of the sea breeze from the north.

This area is often visited by both foreign and domestic tourists. It is also said to be a strategic area because by connecting an attraction place, called the Areia Branca  (White Sands in English).

Geographically, Cristo Rei is located approximately 5~6 kilometres from the center of Dili, or 15 minutes by car.

Along the way to Cristo Rei, the visitors can observe how wonderful the special buildings, such as discos, restaurant, and bars, as well as small houses which are lined up around the coast, ranging from Lecidere until the Areia Branca.

The height of the Statue is 27 meters where the number “27” symbolises Timor-Leste as the 27th province of Indonesia at that time. Besides, this statue is the second largest statue in the world after Christ The Redeemer Statue, Brazil, with a 36-meter high statue on the hill at 1.5 miles.

Photo by: Nuno Moreira

Photo by: Nuno Moreira

Once you get to the place, at the base of the hill, there is a car park, amphitheater and small shelters for picnics and gathering. The initial path climbs past the 14 Stations of the Cross in long gradual steps.

There is another wide set of stairs that takes you to the level area with an altar for public masses. The final climb is up a series of short steep steps that may require a pause in conversation to hide any shortness of breath.

After getting to this place, you reach the saddle of the hill where you can see the Statue from closer.

Talking about the beaches around the place, there are plenty of white-sand beaches nearby the Cristo Rei, notably Areia Branca beach (Portuguese for White Sands), Fatucama beach, and Dolok Oan beach.

1. Dolok Oan Beach
Here is the view of the back of Cristo Rei statue. As you can already tell from this picture, tucked away in a code on the backside of the hovering statue lies one of the best beaches around Dili. They called it Dolok oan, and I have no idea why they named it that way. By the way, it goes under the precise but utterly un-charming name of Jesus backside beach. It is a long stretch of white sand with gentle aqua blue water. Even though it is in close proximity to Dili, it is untouched and has some very good snorkeling right from the shore maybe even some of the best in Timor-Leste.

The view of the Dolok Beach, located in backside of the Cristo Rei. Isn't it beautiful?
Photo by: thenadefagus

Remember that, there are no facilities there, so you must bring everything that you need. Bring a towel, some food & drink, some sunscreen and whatever else you need to be self sufficient and happy. Fins and snorkels are optional, but recommended.

To get there you have two options:
1). Walk up the stairs to Cristo Rei. Along the stairs, there are graphic enclaves depicting stages in Christ's life. At the enclave numbered "XIV", take the footpath over the side to the left. The beach is ~5 minutes walk down the path.

2). If you have a car, you can drive towards Cristo Rei, and take the turnoff to Hera. Go up and over the mountain pass. On the bottom of the downhill, take a hard left and backtrack to the beach along the dirt road.

2. Fatucama Beach
The beach is located right in front of the hill where the Statue exists. When you need a little more crowed place, cafes, drink and food vendors, then stay here.

The view of Fatucama beach, locate in front of the Cristo Rei.
Photo by: thenadefagus

3. Areia Branca Beach
Just before the coastal sweep of Dili ends at Cristo Rei there is a large bay area known as Areia Branca. This strip has a coastal walkway, some sun shelters, trees, a few cafes and even accommodation. The water is warm and shallow for 10-15m before it drops off to become darker, cooler and occasionally corralled.

Timorese fishing boat with double skid stabilizers around Areia Branca
Photo By: Alex Autin

These beaches can get crowded at weekends, but there are many other pristine beaches east and west of Dili that are usually empty.  Generally, on the weekends you will find people sitting in chairs enjoying the view, parking their motorbikes and cars pre-exercise and having a coconut or beer post-exercise. Swimming is dependent on the time of year and recent rumors. During the rainy season, Areia Branca water is closer to brown than blue and once a year there is usually a crocodile sighting (So, watch out!!!)

I guess you might question about what you can do in that places aside of swimming.  Well, normally we all want to do different things at the beach. Besides swimming, there are bunch of activities you could do, such as picnic, barbecue party, relax and read, sunbathe, play beach volleyball, just walking on the footpath, take photographs, watch the sunset, celebrate a holiday or special occasion, Frisbee, etc.

Talking about Picnic, there are always a lot of food vendors near the beaches, but as I have mentioned before, sometimes it is nice to pack yourself a really nice picnic with fancy cheeses and luscious fruits and to go indulge in at the beach.

Other interesting thing is watch the sunset. This is one of the favorite things that mostly local and tourists often do at the beach because it is such a sight to see.

The afternoon view of Areia Branca beach.
Photo By: Antonio Serra

PS: Some of pictures were taken by me, some are not. I got them from so many sources on the Internet. I wanna thanks to whoever own the pictures in this post.

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