Introducing Dili, East Timor (Timor Leste)

introducing timor leste
Nothing is easy in East Timor.
The expensive flights that is hard to come by. To reach the country you need to travel all the way to Bali, spend a night over there and catch the next day one and only flight via Merpati Airlines.
introducing timor leste

It feels like you traveled half way across the world to a destination that only a handful people know exists. But on a brighter side, it gives you a license to brag, to claim the title as one of the few who took the road less traveled.
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste

Nothing is easy in East Timor.
The influx of foreigners, predominantly starting from the arrival of UN and NGOs volunteers who help built Timor has created an unbelievable inflation that makes me wonder most of the time how the locals manage to get by.

For “Malays” (foreigners) like me, the safest and most convenient option is stay at a hotel or serviced apartment which can cost up to 90USD per day. The accommodations are acceptable by standard but not worth the money, and the worst part has to be paying extra for a Wifi connection. If you happen to book a hotel with free wireless internet, don’t celebrate yet, try using it for an hour and you will be impatient to how slow it could get.
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste

Nothing is easy in East Timor.
Whenever I enter a supermarket, I switch into a “panic buying” mode. Almost all goods on the shelves are imported from other countries making the product not only expensive but can be scarce sometimes. It is often common to see empty shelves and if you really like a particular brand of cereal, buy at least an extra box or else you need to wait for a month or two before you can purchase them again.
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste

I never had been so happy seeing a can of Pringles; I gleefully gallop down towards the cashier and was smiling ear to ear. I event went back to the office and broadcast to everyone that Kmanek at Timor Plaza has plenty of Pringles on the shelves.

Though, one thing that I love to buy and will encourage anyone to do the same is the delicious, organic Timorese coffee beans. If you read this post by googling about Timor Leste, let me remind you to bring a coffee press and try Café Timor.
introducing timor leste

Nothing is easy in East Timor.
Timor Leste economy is single handedly monopolized by the Chinese. They own the construction business, supermarkets, hotels, anything that there is, well maybe with the exception of diving schools and bars owned by the Aussies.

The national currency is US Dollar and banks/ATM machine are scarce. The ANZ bank machine is the only one that international ATM cardholders can access and it dispense money at 20 USD denominations only.
So you have 20 USD, you buy something and you will receive change at 1 USD denomination that is so filthy that you can only imagine that they have been in the circulation for more than a decade, well maybe since the country independence.
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste

Nothing is easy in East Timor.
But the yellow cab driver navigates the road as if they are sleeping half of the time. They drive easy as a breeze, to the tune of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” and it feels like reaching two blocks can take forever.
introducing timor leste

Did I mention that there are no traffic lights? Timor Leste is over-all a safe country but the worst thing that could happen to anyone is be caught in a vehicular accident, which I feel like can happen at any moment.
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste

Nothing is easy in East Timor.
But they are blessed with amazing nature that can rival any other neighbouring South East Asian country.
introducing timor leste

The easily accessible beach of Areia Branca, Cape Fatucama and Jesus Backside is magnificently undisturbed that you feel vindicated of taking the trouble of visiting one of the world’s newest independent country, just watch out for saltwater crocodiles when you swim.
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste

Nothing is easy in East Timor.
Life has not been easy for Timorese. Independence has not been easy for Timorese.
Yet, they are the kindest, the warmest and the most accommodating people in the region particularly if you take time to converse with them or let them play with your digital camera.
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste

Colonized by Portugal since 16th century and officially occupied and claimed to be Indonesia’s 27th province in 1975, no more than a year right after Timor Leste was finally free from its Western occupants.

When the rest of the countries around the world were celebrating their century of independence, Timorese was still fighting for theirs. Countless men and women have died on their struggle for freedom, it has been a long, hard road but finally on May 20, 2002, East Timor is officially recognized as the newest sovereign state of the 21st century.
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste

Nothing is easy in East Timor.
They might be lacking any 21st century perks but one thing remains true above all else- they have abundance of Faith.

Faith in their religion.
introducing timor leste

Faith in their art. Faith in their heritage, their culture.
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste

Faith that one day life will be better. I hope and I know it will be.
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste
introducing timor leste

Nothing is easy in East Timor.
Yet, here I am.
Leaving all the comforts and familiarity of one country and venturing to a completely new ground.
introducing timor leste

I guess, what I truly feel while writing this post is best describe by the words of Ernesto ‘Ché’ Guevara de la Serna from “The Motorcycle Diaries”:

“What do we leave behind when we cross each frontier? Each moment seems split in two; melancholy for what was left behind and the excitement of entering a new land”.

18 thoughts on “Introducing Dili, East Timor (Timor Leste)

  1. I like how you contrast both nihon and Timor Leste. Those experiences are invaluable and makes us appreciate life just that little bit more =)

  2. It is wonderful to see and hear about East Timor as it is now, a very close neighbour to the country I live in. Thanks so much for sharing you journey there.

  3. Fascinating post.The beauty of the places,the pictures.The scenes of poverty and dismay break the hear.Best wishes.jalal

  4. Thanks for this post. I have a few friends who have lived and worked in Timor and the disparity in prices and dual economy is something they always talked about. Beautiful photos.

  5. Just loved reading about your writing!
    You are a wonderful writer and I know the whole Team is very happy to have you come and work with us, even if for a short time. We hope you enjoy the time ahead in our beloved country. May the Lord bless you in all that you do unto Him? Ermera Oan/Estado

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