Visiting the Country of Nothingness – Timor Leste

Submitted by mumunmumun on 12 April 2011   •  Abroad

March 2011

Popping out an idea such as ‘going to Timor Leste’ amongst the Indonesians can only result in one reaction: “Why? There’s nothing there!”. There’s nothing in the Sahara either, but people still find breathtaking beauty. So, I went. I had to! I was really curious, did separation bring more good than bad?

Travel Indonesia: Timor Leste

Timor Leste was once an Indonesian province! It was originally called Timor Timur, which roughly translates to East of East (how much more east can you go?) It was the youngest province to join yet it didn’t stay for long. As foster parents, we weren’t very good. I’m not going to go in to more details, it’ll be too political.

The rumors were true. There’s nothing in Timor Leste. No malls, no theaters, no entertainment park, no luxurious hotels (not yet),… nothing! Only people struggling to making a good living amongst the development of their newborn country. Definitely not Indonesian tourism magnet! But that’s not what I saw.

Travel Indonesia: Timor Leste

Spending my 4 days in Dili and a bit on the outskirts, I saw vast natural views that people would pay a lot to see, long stretches of white sandy beaches, various turquoise waters, and sharp hills poking to the sky. I ate relatively affordable international tasting dishes, far better than I find in Jakarta even. I dived in to a rich marine neighborhood, with visibility for 30 m (or probably more?!) and without other dive companies crowding the waters (dived with Dive Timor by the way). I met the people that look mean and stand too close to you. But they’re really just onions that need a gentle peal, friendly, curious to new and shiny things.

Travel Indonesia: Timor Leste

As for Dili, it’s cleaner than our capital, obviously. There weren’t many beggars, hardly any actually. However, a village 30 minutes from Dili, the capital, is said to look similar than those located 3 hours away. Wealth is yet to be distributed. And it was pretty weird to be spending US dollars everywhere, being the main currency there is. I would like to be in the US to use the money on a daily basis. But overall, for a country that is supported by various developed country and foreign investment, run by a president and prime minister loved by their people and is willing to fight for them, I expected more development.

Nonetheless, I would recommend anyone to go to Timor Leste (not betraying Indohoy, just saying though). Anyone that loves a laidback atmosphere in a tropical country of a simple town (should I call it that) would definitely love Timor Leste! They would love the nothingness of it.

Travel Indonesia: Timor Leste

By the way, I also saw Raul Lemos’s house for Krisdayanti (Indonesian celebrity). It’s NOT exactly by the beach. It’s in an alley located by the beach, come on. But you really don’t need to see that.


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