After leaving Darwin on a North Air 6:30am flight I arrived in Dili bang on schedule. It was only an hour and 15-minute flight and the view from the plane window was a total contrast to Aussie, very hilly and rugged, indeed very picturesque.
Dili is the capital of East Timor and is nestled between the sea and the hills. Its currency is the US$. Its primary language is Portuguese.
To get into East Timor you need to get a visa on entry. Back in Australia the travel agent told me I would need to show an itinerary of my ongoing travel, bank statements to show I had funds to travel out of the country and US$30 for the visa. The reality was I gave the immigration officer my entry card that I filled in on the plane, and my passport was stamped with the visa. I was through the airport in minutes. Wow how easy was that!!
Now I needed to find somewhere to stay. I was fortunate that I had sat next to an East Timor government official on the plane (a group of them had been at a conference in Darwin) who told me of some hotels in my price range. It was just as well because there was no information or tourist office at the airport.
As soon as I got outside the airport the taxi drivers came in like buzzards to a carcass. In most cases the Taxis are old and in disrepair and painted yellow, mainly by hand.
The taxi driver I had, spoke pretty good English which was a real help. On the way to the hotel, he stopped for me to pick up a sim card for my phone, actually he did it for me. He charged me US$15 from the airport, I had been done but didn't mind too much as he had been a real help.
The hotel I'm staying at is the Hotel Colmera which is right in the centre of Dili. It costs US$35 per night and comes with a queen size bed, air conditioning free Wi-Fi, free laundry service and separate bath room.
I wanted to achieve a number of things today.
1- Ensure the container my bike was packed in was on the ship that it was supposed to be.
2 - Get my Indonesian Visa
3- Rent a scooter to get around Dili.
I achieved none of these things. I did get to the Indonesian Embassy and was told to come back tomorrow at 6am. They won't let me in with shorts and as I have no long trousers with me, I'm going to have to cover them with something. I'm going to look like the Michelin man when I turn up to the Embassy with towels taped around my legs.
As for the scooter, the only hire place I could find no longer rented them.
It sure is difficult trying to communicate when most people don't speak English. I suppose this is what it will be like for most of my trip. I did download the Google translate app to my phone which will work well where I have cell phone coverage.
Day 47 Monday 20th October 2014.
Updated my blog today. The Wi-Fi is so slow it takes hours. I shouldn't complain as its free.
Day 48 Tuesday 21st October 2014
Today was a monumental day I finally have a scooter to cruise around on. I hate not having my own transport, it's like having your legs cut off.
I cruised around the waterfront and the coast. There were many ships in the harbour and I'm hoping one of them has Winston aboard.
I scootered around the coast and up into the hills. I went past fishing villages, herds of goats and Bullocks and white sandy beaches. Dili is picturesque but is spoiled with all types of rubbish being dumped everywhere. It's such a shame.
A day of chasing the whereabouts of my bike. The good news its on the ship and is in port.
I should be able to pick it up tomorrow.
Day 50 Thursday 23rd October
An early morning this morning. Up and out of bed at 5am so I can be at the Indonesian Embassy at 6am. To enter the Embassy, you must have your legs covered. As I don’t have my bike yet I have no long trousers. So, before I left the hotel it was time to electrical tape the hotel towels around my legs. I arrived at the Embassy at 5:45 and there were already a number of people queued up. As I stood in line, I received some strange looks…..has no one seen I white man wearing towels electrical taped around his legs before I thought? At 7:15 the security guard brought out application forms (which we had to take away and fill in) and a clip board with a form attached. We had to write our names and passport numbers on the clip board form. We were then told to come back tomorrow at 8am with the completed application forms.
For anyone who will be needing a Indonesian visa these are the things you require: An application letter stating your where abouts in Indonesia, the two completed application forms, photocopy of your passport, passport photo with RED background, passport and US$50.
After all this there was only one thing to do and that was to have breakfast. I cruised around the coast to a hotel owned by an Aussie and had bacon and eggs.
At 10 o’clock I got a call from Toll telling me the container my bike was on had just been put on the truck and would be in the depot in half an hour. The day was just getting better and better.
I then dropped the scooter off at the hotel and got a taxi to the Toll depot. After completing some paperwork and paying $40 for the privilege I was sent to customs office at the Toll depot to get my carnet stamped. When I entered his office, he was hard at work playing computer games. I sat in the seat opposite him and waited for some sort of acknowledgement. When he had finally finished his game, he began his job. The customs guy had no idea how to complete a carnet so after he had stamped both the in and out section, I had to show him what was required. He twinked out the stamp in the outgoing field and I had him write his name and phone number down in case I have any issues stamping the bike out at the Timor / Indonesian border.
It was now time to go to the container with one of the warehouse guys. With anticipation I watched him cut the seal and open the doors. There Winston was, as good as the day I dropped him off. By this time another warehouse guy came over and they both removed Winston from the container. The customs guy came across and had me remove the top of one of the panniers; he had a bit of a nose around and then gave me the ok.
So, it was now the usual routine of taking of my roll bag and seat, connecting the battery and then pushing the start button to make sure Winston’s all go and then putting the gear back on again.
After riding a 125cc scooter around for a couple of days the bike felt heavy and slow turning.
I spent the rest of the day with a couple of Aussie guys, Rob and Mark. Rob is part of the group I will ride with across Burma in February. Mark is a seasoned overseas bike traveller and ridden Indonesia many times. He has been a great help with what is required in this part of the world.
After my great breakfast yesterday, I thought I would have more of the same. It’s a lovely ride around the coast to get to the hotel. Today I decided to have breaky on the beach. I sat at a table under a tree looking out upon a glistening blue sea. I had the beach to myself. I wished I could have shared this moment with Alana and the kids.
In the evening I met up with Rob and we went for dinner. Mark had headed off in the morning to make his way to Kupang to catch the ferry.
Now I have my bike, it’s time to explore East Timor. I have to be back in Dili on Tuesday at 2pm to pick up my Indonesian Visa, so I have decided to do a ride to the east coast of the island and back.
Rob took over the hire of the scooter and we set off around the coast. The roads were steep, slow, winding and bumpy for the first hour. The first sizable town was Baucau. Baucau is situated on the side of a hill and has many Portuguese style buildings.
In one of the villages, I pulled over to wait for Rob. While I was waiting, I was overrun with children. They were fascinated with the bike and I was a bit of an oddity as well. One of the kids pointed to my eyes. He had never seen blue eyes before. The kids were so friendly and happy. I gave them all Steve rides the world stickers which they really liked. I waited for an hour and decided to carry on without Rob. We could catch up with each other later.
The sea around the coast is so blue and clear and laps the white sandy shore. There are many small fishing villages on the way most have stalls selling the catch of the day and other food and drinks.
I ended the day on the east side of the island in a placed called Com. There was a resort there so I stopped in and had a look. A single room with AC was US$25 per night, no breakfast included. I had a look at it and told the guy $, he would not budge on price so I carried on down the road to a guest house. It was right on the beach with a queen size bed. He wanted $20. With a bit of negotiation, I got it for $15 with breakfast thrown in. The room was clean and tidy with a fan. Most accommodation has shared ablution facilities. They normally consist of a squatting pan and a large barrel filled with water. In the barrel there is a pan to scoop the water and flush the toilet. You also use this to shower yourself.