Goodbye Timor-Leste, hello FSM

by Priya Chandra

Just got back from 4 days onboard HMAS Betano (one of the Navy’s Landing Craft Heavy ships). I was there with a photographer and a videographer writing stories, taking images and creating video news articles on the veterinarians – if you want to see the pieces we wrote please check out facebook.com/adfpacificpartnership over the next couple of days.

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The ships are really small – only 44 metres in length and are designed to transport stuff and people onto beaches where bigger ships can’t go. They’re also really old and yet being onboard was a great experience.

Not just because I was back doing Royal Australian Navy things – though that was a big part of it – it was more the atmosphere on the smaller ships. A true sense of being invited to stay at someone’s house and live with their family for a short while. Everyone went out of their way to welcome us and look after us with great food, beer issues and outdoor movies every night.

Certainly the Americans were amazed at the level of hospitality and came back raving about the food (like everyone does). I certainly believe that the Royal Australian Navy trains some of the best cooks and gives them the skills to not only cook to a routine but also think on their feet.

I turned up and told the chef that I was vegetarian that day – from then on there was always a meal available for me to eat regardless of what else was on the menu. Contrast that to my current ship where the chefs still can’t remember to put aside a bowl of veggies for me before adding bacon to the main vegetable dish!

We were accommodated in shipping container style modules on the tank deck – it sounds spartan but it was actually quite nice, air conditioned and the beds were very comfortable. The only downside was that the toilets and showers were in the main part of the ship which meant a bit of a hike in the morning and evening when getting ready.

Back on Cleveland now though and about to head off for the final leg of the adventure – Federated States of Micronesia. Seriously can’t wait, it sounds like an amazing place and then finally of course Hawaii!

And just so you know I really was in East Timor – here’s me at the base of the Jesus Statue after climbing 580 steps to the top!

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One Comment to “Goodbye Timor-Leste, hello FSM”

  1. Whoa! That’s a big Jesus…or a tiny Priya, depending on which way you look at it.

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