Monday 23 April 2007

Weaving tour of East Timor

Here's notice of a very interesting opportunity for cross-cultural craft

ETWA East Timor Weaving Tour - 10th - 22nd July 2007

The ETWA Weaving Tour aims to give cultural experiences to members and friends and will be the first of its kind to East Timor. With a focus on indigenous weavings and fair trade development, we will discover how women live in traditional society and also as citizens in an emerging democracy. Making extended visits to women's projects and to a community in the Lautem district, we will be immersed in village life and learn about traditional weaving in a series of participatory workshops.

But the tour also aims to give something back to the communities who will be our hosts. As a way of expressing our appreciation to the women who will share their knowledge and experiences with us, we ask participants to fundraise a minimum of AU$500 each so the tour helps our East Timorese friends in their efforts to weave sustainable businesses. It's not difficult and ETWA can help with ideas! Please contact us by email: or phone Deb on 0401 418 939.

Workshops: Four days will be spent in the company of local weavers in Iliomar discovering the complexities of traditional Tais weaving. Master weavers will take us through the weaving process and there'll be plenty of time for discussion about techniques and cultural/symbolic value. We will share stories with women and their families; participate in and become accustomed to village life. When the local telegraph spreads news of our presence, there will be ample opportunities to purchase new Tais directly from producers, and so we will also play a role in cultural preservation and poverty alleviation.

Iliomar is an isolated sub-district, inland from Los Palos in the south east of the island. Makalero is the local dialect of Iliomnar and many women do not speak Tetun but communication will not be hindered as our friends will help with translating. Women play a key role in traditional and contemporary social order, quietly bearing the onus of domestic work, caring for their often large families and imparting cultural knowledge, particularly through the weaving of Tais. The time in Iliomar will help us learn about the lives of individual women, their daily routines, work, responsibilities, experiences and dreams for the future.


  • Day 1: 8pm depart Melbourne. Arrive Dili 4.45pm. Stay in Dili.

  • Day 2: Visit local projects (Alola, Hadidan Cooperative, Arte Moris). Stay in Dili.

  • Day 3: 9am, depart for Baucau. Quick stop in Metinaro for morning tea. Arrive Baucau 1pm, have lunch, visit market, beach etc. Stay in Baucau.

  • Day 4: 8am depart for Los Palos, arrive 12pm, go to market, have lunch, visit local weaving groups. Stay in Los Palos.

  • Day 5: 10am depart for Iliomar, sight seeing on the way.

  • Arrive Kainliu 2pm, visit villages and local sites. Stay in Kainliu.

  • Day 6, 7 & 8:

  • Weaving workshops with community. Stay in Kainliu.

  • Day 9: Conclude workshops, purchase Tais and have celebration feast with weavers and their families. Stay in Kainliu.

  • Day 10: 9am depart for Com. Arrive 1pm, go to beach etc. Stay at Com Resort.

  • Day 11: 9pm day trip to Tutuala. 2pm depart for Baucau, arrive 6pm. Stay at Laho silk farm.

  • Day 12: Tour of Laho. 3pm depart for Dili. Stay in Dili.

  • Day 13: 9am depart for Darwin.

Itinerary: Our tour begins in Dili. We will spend the following day visiting local projects and women's groups in and around Dili and buying supplies for our trip to the districts. On day 3 we will head east to Baucau, the second largest city in East Timor, stopping along the way in Metinaro to visit our friends at the IDP camp. After a night in Baucau, we head further east along the coast and then inland to Los Palos in the Lautem district, renowned for its traditional cultural roots and spectacular Tais. We'll have lunch in the town centre, check out the market, visit local weaving groups and stay overnight in Los Palos. The next day we will make our way through the hills to the sub-district of Iliomar and arrive in time to meet our friends and share a meal in Kainliu. This picturesque and tranquil village will be our base for five days. We'll meet the community and hook up with local weavers for three days of workshops. Participating in and connecting with the local way of life will be a rich cultural learning experience. On our last night in Iliomar, we'll share a celebration feast with the community in appreciation for their hospitality. On day 10 we say goodbye to Iliomar and make our way north to the coast where we will stay at the Com Beach Resort. Com is renowned for its spectacular Tais and breathtaking beaches. We'll take a day trip south to Tutuala on day 11, and make our way back to Buacua in the late afternoon, arriving at the Laho silk farm, our base for the night. A morning spent exploring the various aspects of the farm then we depart Dili for in the late afternoon. Day 12 and the last night in East Timor will be spent having dinner and sunset drinks on the beach.

Cost: $2,500.00/ person (Melb- Dili return)

Includes air fares, insurance, tour guide, accommodation and local travel (taxis & 4WD with an experienced driver), plus $500 contribution to partner projects in East Timor.

Other Costs:

  • Meals: Allow AUS $300

  • (restaurants & communal meals)

  • Visas: Approx AUS$40 (USD$30)

  • Taxes: Departure tax approx AUS $15 (USD$10)

  • (Total approx AUS$355.00)



In Dili: Hotel, twin/ double with bathroom

In Iliomar: Basic rooms, shared facilities

In Com: Resort, twin/ double with bathroom

Spending Money: Local currency is US dollars. How much extra money you need will depend on what you plan to buy, however a minimum of AU$350 should be sufficient to cover meals, bottled water etc.

Travel: Travel in and around Dili is easy and inexpensive by taxi or Mikrolet (small buses), however due to the security situation, extra care must be taken at all times. Outside of Dili is slow going. The terrain is hilly; roads are narrow, in very poor condition with many sharp and often hazardous bends. If you are prone to motion sickness, taking appropriate medication is a must.

Local Conditions: The tour will take place between April and November after the wet season. It is humid but not too hot with temperatures between 25° and 30°. Outside of Dili there will be limited access to mobile phone networks, hot water, bottled water, fruits and vegetables (local produce is organic). We will try to purchase our main supplies in Dili. As mosquitos thrive in East Timor's climate, Malaria is widespread. Consult your travel doctor before departure about anti-malaria medication. Wearing insect repellent and protective clothing at all times is essential.

Conduct: Tourism is just beginning in East Timor. The occupation has left a legacy of poverty, suspicion and trauma, especially for women who were widowed (47% of married women) and are now the sole providers for their families. In light of the generous nature of East Timorese people, you must commit to making an active contribution and respect and abide by local protocols and etiquette. Payments made to local vendors and purchases of new Tais will help build sustainable communities.

Liability: The tour is coordinated by ETWA to maximize the group experience and individual participants agree to take responsibility for their personal safety and the safety of all belongings. ETWA accepts no liability for cancellation of flights, injury or loss of property.

Terms: The tour will be postponed and rescheduled if it is unsafe to travel to East Timor due to political or civil instability. Prices have been calculated to maximize group discounts and may increase if discount airfares are not available or if the Australian dollar decreases against the US dollar. 60% non-refundable deposit must be received two months prior to departure to secure both discounted airfares and your place on the tour. Balance paid ten days prior to departure.

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