10 things I wish I knew before going to Timor-Leste

Tural Abbasov22 October 20202235 views7 min. read
10 things I wish I knew before going to Timor-Leste
Asia's newest country, a place with hardly touched reefs to swim, dugongs to locate, mountains to ascend, and ancient spots that will take your breath away. If you still have not guessed the spot, we are going to Timor-Leste! But where is Timor-Leste? Timor-Leste is situated 400 km north of Australia in South-East Asia, across the Timor Sea, and in the Lesser Sunda Islands at the southeast corner of the Indonesian archipelago. It covers the eastern half of Timor Island, West Timor's independent enclave of Oecusse, and the tiny island nations of Atauro and Jaco. Rolling highland plains that are crucial for plant growth are the areas west of Baucau and around Lospalos and Maliana. The coastal flats are 20-30 km broad on the south side of Timor-Leste. Although they are much smaller to the north, with several stretches in which the mountains collapse straight into the ocean. Now that we have answered your question of where is Timor-Leste, I think it is perfect time to move on to 10 things I wish I knew before going to Timor-Leste where we will be talking about the things that will help you to get most out of your trip to Timor-Leste!

1. Timor-Leste population

timor-leste children  Timorese islands are quite densely populated with a population of about 1.3 million Timor-Leste people. One of the fascinating facts about the people of Timor-Leste is that the history of the nation consists of various ethnic communities, each with their language and cultural traditions. Among these, Tetun is the largest, accounting for about 25% of the population. Dili, Suai and Viqueque live with them. Among others, such groups include the Kemak, Bunak and Fataluku, each responsible for 5% or less. The Timor-Leste population is extremely friendly, especially towards the tourists and I can guarantee you that with some of them you will have the best time of your life. There are various and lively events held at national and regional levels. 

2. Timor-Leste language

alphabet There are several spoken languages in Timor-Leste (East Timor) which is a direct reflection of the colonial past of the islands. However, it is also worth mentioning that official status was granted to Tetum and the Portuguese languages. In contrast, the other two Timor-Leste languages are Indonesian and English, which are widely spoken in the country, by both locals and foreigners visiting the country.   Next of the facts about the population of Timor-Leste: many young people showed distrust or hatred to the reinstatement of Portuguese, which they perceived as a "colonial language". Nevertheless, the cultures of East Timorese and Portuguese became intertwined, primarily through intermarriage.

3. Spectacular Scenery in Dili

best view of dili Timor-Leste capital, Dili sits on the northern coast of East Timor, compressed between the central mountains along the narrow plains that stretch along the length of Timor and the Ombai Strait. Also, Dili is the headquarters of a district with the same name. As well as Atauro Island, the district covers the surrounding areas. Dili has a simple town centre based on the Government Palace and surroundings, which is easy to traverse on foot. However, Timor Plaza, 3 km west, and the restaurants of Maitiat to the east are two other places of attraction for the tourist and it is a long walk to each. And if you want to visit a historic religious spot in Timor-Leste capital, it also worth to mention that the Portuguese impact on religion is most visible. Saint Joseph's Church of Aimutin has an English mass on Sunday mornings, just down and across the road from the Leader Supermarket and Timor Plaza is a church.

4. Timor-Leste flag

timor leste flag East Timor had a flag not before it became part of the Portuguese Empire. In 1702, the earliest version of the Timor-Leste flag started to represent the land. In 1965, an understanding of the Portuguese flag was suggested to represent East Timor, but Portugal's government never accepted it.  The Timor-Leste flag represents a country that, though still seeking to step beyond it, recalls its colonial past. The concept incorporates symbols reflecting the history of the country while also adding others depicting hope for the future to create a flag representing East Timor's national character. Rather than being part of another government, it was used to portray it as a sovereign entity. 

5. Maubisse, The charming town in Timor-Leste

maubisse-island Timor-Leste people mostly grow coffee in the region of Maubisse, and if you are travelling between June and September to East Timor, you may just be in time for the coffee harvest. The charming village of Maubisse lies approximately 70 km south of Timor-Leste capital, owing to its mild climate and fertile soil. The Portuguese used it as a settlement; the remains of centuries-old Portuguese houses remain there till today.

6. Tropical Jaco Island

jaco island Jaco is an island on the easternmost tip of Timor-Leste, 240 km from the capital, Dili. Locals know Jaco Island as a holy spot, and overnight stays are not accepted. You can experience long hours there beneath the sun, though. Around Jaco Island, snorkelling and diving are widely recommended. In short, we can say that the place is a desolate islet, full of sparkling white beaches, thick tropical trees that guarantee to take your breath away!

7. Liquica, coastal city in East Timor

timor-leste The municipality of Liquica, located on the northern coast of the country, provides a treasure chest of attractions both on land and underwater. This region is part of the Coral Triangle, an incredibly complex aquatic ecosystem with coral reefs, numerous species of fish, and other types of marine life, much like the other waters of Timor Leste. The seas of Liquica island have beautiful underwater environment waiting for divers to experience it. The remains of Aipelo, a 19th-century colonial prison founded by the Portuguese, can be seen on dry ground. And there is a Dutch fort dated from the 17th century in the town of Maubara. Another place that you should visit is perhaps the residence of former Liquica Administrator in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Before 1910, the former home of the Liquica Administrator was designed in a neoclassical style. There is a spectacular staircase in front and a large garden with a pool behind it. It acted as the Indonesian administrator's residence during the Indonesian occupation. A tiny park with many pavilions was planned opposite the house. 

8. Freshwater Lake Ira Lalaro

lake ira lalaro Ira Lalaro is situated on the far east side of the island of Timor and is part of the Nino Konis Santana National Park, created by East Timor in August 2007. The lake is situated within the plateau of Lospalos, in a basin bordered by the Paitchau Mountains. Here, you can find karstic deposits of limestone, with several dolines, blind valleys, caves, and lakes. Ira Lalaro has a water reserve area of 1,900 hectares on average. On the other side, with its swamps and half-submerged vegetation, the southern shore creates a mystical sort of elegance. Visiting Ira Lalaro may be one of Timor Leste's top things to do.

9. Baucau, the second-largest city in East Timor

alone tree Baucau is the capital of the Baucau Roman Catholic Diocese, one of East Timor's two Bishoprics. It was established on 30 November 1996, when the bishopric in Dili broke. Basilio do Nascimento is its bishop. While travelling around in Timor-Leste you just have to visit this beautiful town! Why? Well, let's investigate! The stunning coastline is lined with white-sand beaches and coves, while inland, daunting peaks such as Mount Matebian and Mount Ramelau are spectacular sights. Baucau is home to the second-largest city in the world, also called Baucau. Here you'll find historic Portuguese houses, a vibrant market, and a sizeable civic swimming pool filled by pure spring water. Baucau has a population of approximately 16,000 and is the capital of Baucau island, situated in the eastern part of the country. Baucau was nothing more than an overgrown village in the days of Portuguese Timor, and for most of that time, it was named Vila Salazar.

10. Amazing Atauro Island

atauro island Thirty kilometres from the beaches of Dili there is Atauro Island, which can only be reached by ferry. You will discover world-class swimming there, walking tracks, and you're likely to catch a glimpse of the group of dolphins. In the local language, Atauro means "goat" however, it is not out of nowhere, so be prepared to see many goats there, too. Atauro Island served as the local prison during both the Portuguese and Indonesian occupations of what is currently known as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. You may also use crafted goggles and spear guns to try your hand at traditional fishing for a discount.

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