"A nation under construction" Top 5 Page for this destination East Timor by theo1006
East Timor Travel Guide: 194 reviews and 480 photos
Whereas West-Timor was part of the Dutch East Indies and later became part of Indonesia, the eastern half of Timor island was a Portguese colony until 1975. When the Portuguese had withdrawn and East Timor was on the verge of obtaining a leftist government, the Indonesian Army invaded it. Only after a prolonged struggle Timor-Leste obtained its independence through a UN-backed plebiscite in 1999.
In the following years the new state suffered from internal strife, giving it a reputation of not being safe for tourists. However, things have settled down by now, and we found no reason to feel unsafe in the capital Dili or elsewhere, even at night. As the country badly needs to boost its economy, Timor Leste is now preparing to receive its share of tourism. Still we saw more expats from international organizations than tourists.
After the plebiscite militias - probably spurred on and certainly not kept in check by the Indonesian Army - destroyed almost everything built by the Indonesians. Only road surfacing and bridges they could not destroy: "They did not obtain explosives in time before the UN troops arrived" said our guide.
Reconstruction and development have been centered mainly in Dili. Elsewhere ruins of torched buildings abound, sometimes adjacent to a new building.
Relations with Indonesia are now good, although human rights abuses remain unresolved. During the invasion in 1975 Theo lived in Java. The mood was: we will develop East-Timor like we have developed Java. Indeed Indonesia poured a lot of money in the development of East-Timor, building roads, bridges, schools, clinics, and bringing electricity to the countryside. But development went hand in hand with military suppression. Still many Indonesians do not understand the choice of the East-Timorese: "Why did they choose independence, we did so much for them...... They can only fight, they will go on fighting among themselves and never get anywhere." Such opinions are much like those of the majority of the Dutch when Indonesia gained independence: "Something great was achieved.... They are not ready to govern themselves."
Main reasons for visiting Timor Leste are diving and cultural-historical tourism. We were in for the latter. It is not easy to get around with public transport and outside Dili accommodation is scarce. We rented a car with driver/guide for sightseeing. Cars without driver can also be had, neither are cheap. For those who prefer more adventurous travel: a friend of us - a researcher - trekked on foot from Dili across the island to the south coast.
A 30-day tourist visa can be obtained on arrival in the country for USD 30,-.
Timor-Leste still has no national currency. Bring US dollars, or get them at one of three ATM's in Dili.
See also our pages on the capital Dili and the enclave Oecusse.
And read more on these websites:
Friends of Timor
Discover East Timor.
- Pros:Spectacular scenery, impressive history
- Cons:Out of town facilities are scarce
- In a nutshell:A young country now open to the world
A flight of rocky stairs brings us to the flat top of a small hill, the sacred centre of Suco Liurai or Liurai village.... more travel advice
Maubisse was the mountain resort where Portuguese residents of Dili spent their weekends. Nowadays expats come here for... more travel advice
theo1006's Related Pages
East Timor Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "T I M O R - L E S T E : The Unexplored Land"
- "A nation under construction"
- "Yes, Tourists do come to Timor"
- " Timor trouble soon over??? "
- "TIMOR LESTE"
- "Beautiful and Rugged"
- "East Timor"
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- Things to Do in East Timor
- Hotels in East Timor
- Transportation in East Timor
- Nightlife in East Timor
- Restaurants in East Timor
- Shopping in East Timor
- Warnings and Dangers in East Timor
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