Somewhere in the World-East Timor

If you know me and if you have traveled with me, you know I like to use little catch phrases and my favorite travel phrase is “Somewhere in the World”. It kind of encompasses everything, especially the obvious of where the hell am I. It’s like when you go someplace really random or wacky and you say to yourself kind of jokingly and astonished-where am I? I always answer “somewhere in the world”. East Timor or Timor-Leste as the Timorese prefer to have it be called is certainly somewhere in the world.

I am currently sitting in an Internet cafe around the corner from my little hotel called Hotel Dili. It’s not much but it does the job and even has a cooler where they sell Bintang and Tiger beer and the best part is that it’s a hotel and car repair shop in one. So if you’re up for a good nights sleep and a new lugnut-you’re in luck! In truth though, it’s pretty good and the pickins here are slim-believe me.

As you fly into Timor-Leste you can’t help but notice how gorgeous the island is and the obvious reefs right off the coast which is where I spent the past few hours snorkeling along the coast just outside of Dili. My hotel hooked me up with a driver and guide to bring me to a good spot. I hadn’t been snorkeling in a while so it was nice to do it for a while and it was great visibility but not a ton of fish. I was going to dive but it was just the guide and me and with my equalization problem, I decided it probably wasn’t the smartest move as I have zero interest in ending up in a hospital here in Dili.

The streets of Dili are very calm and the people are truly nice. This may also be the most laid back place I have ever seen. I mean, there are literally tons of people-not homeless people, just sleeping in their cars or just along the waterfront harbor area right by my hotel. It’s shocking to me that these laid back people have had so much violence here over the past decade and that this place is looked upon with such disdain by the International community.

The United Nations presence is very apparent, as it is in Western Sahara, Kosovo or Cyprus to name a few that I have been to in the last year. That is also why the prices are so steep here. The US dollar is the official currency here and while that makes life easier for me-it also makes it more expensive. My crappy little hotel room costs $50 where it should cost like $5 here in Southeast Asia because of all the UN workers staying in them and there only being 2 or 3 hotels-and I use that term lightly.

I’m told by the friendly people back at the hotel and by Lonely Planet that there are a few nice little bars on the harbor to sit and relax at for sunset and for a few drinks at night. Hopefully that will be nice and I can find a decent place to eat around here as I am starving. The Lonely Planet also recommended this “amazing” Turkish place-we’ll see how amazing it is but it’s better than my other prospects for dinner that I’ve seen.

Anyway, I am pleasantly surprised by how pleasant Dili is and I am glad that I came. I won’t lie and say that you should spend a ton of time here but it’s a nice place to spend a night or two and if you do have more time-there is a small island directly across that I hear is nice and relaxing to visit-the name is escaping me right now, but it’s the only one. So if you’re holiday plans take you to East Timor (and who’s doesn’t), it is worth a quick trip. I also hear the trekking is nice out by the Indonesian border with West Timor. I won’t have the time but I’ve heard good things.

On a side note, there are only two cities that fly here to Dili. You can fly Merpati Airlines as I did from Bali which runs a flight a day for about $300 return or you can fly from Darwin, Australia for $500 return-these are the only two ways to get to East Timor by air. Conversely, you can cross overland from Indonesian West Timor, which is an adventure in and of itself to get to.

Merpati flies a cramped old school Boeing 737 where the seats are smaller than normal and there are none empty. Luckily, I fly business class home tomorrow. I had to buy business class back because it was the only seat available back to Bali until Sunday and I don’t think I could do four days here without dying of boredom.

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  1. Wow, great website, hope you enjoy Bali and we will all check your status as you go to all these places. Great to meet you and safe travels mate!

  2. Lee, nice to meet you in Timor-Leste. I will read your webpage and good luck. Your a good ping pong player but I will practice for next time.

  3. Hustling people in Timor?

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