East Timor may not be the first country you think of travelling to. But if you are the adventurous type this is a fantastic destination. Here are six reasons that you might find this tiny and very new country appealing.
1. It is very mountainous
The mountains surrounding Hato Builico
Legend says that a giant crocodile was transformed into the island of Timor. The mountains of the island are the ridges of the crocodiles back. If you’ve ever seen a crocodiles back you’ll know that this means this country is mountainous! This is fantastic if you like trekking as there is heaps of it to do here. You can climb Mt Ramelau, at 2986m above sea level its the highest mountain in Timor. At the base of this mountain is the village of Hato Builico where there is more walks to do, you could spend quite a few days here alone. http://hatobuilico.com
On the flip side it means that vehicle travel is full of twists and turns on the windy roads through the mountains. This requires patience and lots of it. You won’t get anywhere quickly in this small country.
2. Public transport is an adventure
A truck load of people
Lets be honest, travelling around East Timor on public transport is some of the most adventurous travel you’ll do. Whether its packed like sardines on a mikrolet in Dili, standing for hours on a crammed truck or sweating away on a rickety old bus you’ll build some fabulous memories from your unique experiences. It’s going to take a long time to get anywhere, and yes you could hire a 4×4 with air-conditioning, but travelling like a local with the locals is one of the highlights of being in Timor. And if you ever get stuck, flip out your thumb and hitchhike! There is always someone willing to give you a ride.
An East Timor bus
3. You’ll feel really tall
You’re going to make friends in the country. They are really friendly people. They’re also tiny! So you’ll feel quite tall…
4. The roads aren’t great
I’ve already mentioned the long, windy roads on old rickety buses. But seriously, your bum will be bruised, your patience tested, and its dam hot too. The transport is slow because the roads are in shocking condition, especially once you hit the mountains or get into remote areas. Which of course are the best places to go! Take every ride on these roads as a chance for an adventure and you’ll be fine.
5. The people
You often hear that its the people that make a place. This is certainly true for East Timor. There is little tourism in this country. The people are excited to have you visiting, they want to chat, they want to help and you’ll make many new friends. I had locals take me on tours of their villages, invite me to a funeral, lead me up mountains and drive me back to the closest town (4 hours away) on their motor bike… and not one of them wanted a cent. It was all about interaction with another human being. Isn’t that beautiful?!
The local school teacher who I stumbled across in the village and offered to guide me up Mt Ramelau
Toby used the little english he had to explain what was happening at a funeral I was invited to
Maryo spent the day guiding me around his remote village, and then dropped me back to town, 4 hours by motorbike. Legend
6. There is some really interesting history
As an Australian East Timor is a fascinating country to visit. If you haven’t heard of the Balibo Five. Well, then you need to visit Balibo in East Timor!
This country is young, really young. It is really interesting learning about its history, how it has got to where it is today, and visiting locations where significant things have happened.
Enjoyed this post? Well, do yourself a favour and travel to East Timor. You will absolutely love it!