I have to say that I was expecting the worst going through this border: I knew that there was no mean of transportation on the Timor Leste side (market day is Friday only) & that I could be refused entry to the country for whatever weird reason...
The Bemo from Kefamenanu (Indonesia) took me to the border in less than 45 minutes. I was the only one there at 10 am. To my surprise, the entire process was very straightforward. I had to show my passport three times before exiting Indonesia and twice to enter Timor-Leste.
My backpack was searched by two guys in a crumbling building dating from war times and I was rapidly let go. It was so easy! In less than 30 minutes, I was in Timor-Leste! Alone! No one around!
As good things (luck) always happened when traveling, a man showed up on his motorbike. He had to bring a paper to the quarantine building (I thought it was an abandonned building!). Within 15 minutes, I got a free ride to Pante Macassar. I began my trip to East Timor by drinking coffee at his house and meeting his wife and five children that were back from school! From his balcony, I could see rice fields with mountains at the back: it was amazing!
In the afternoon, I climbed a hill and saw the sunset from the old Portuguese prison. I could not believe that I was finally in East Timor! A trip I had carefully planned for almost 8 months!
The next morning, after having a sweet Timorese black coffee, I walked to the seaport taking pictures of the beautiful churches along the seafront. I took a motocyle ride to Lifau, where the Portuguese first arrived in 1515. Amazingly, I was there the day after the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the creation of ZEESM. (Official organization responsible for promoting tourism. See their website for details about maps, hiking possibilities and other sightseeings to do in Oecusse)
On June 19th, the day I arrived in Oecusse, was the official inauguration of the new International Airport of Pante Macassar. Both the Prime Minister and the former president were there to celebrate a new start in tourism in Oecusse, West Timor.
I took the Nagoma ferry from Pante Macassar to Dili. Little information was available, but the ferry leaves Pante Macassar at 5pm on Tuesday and Thursday arriving at 4:45am in Dili. 8$US. You need to be at the seaport by 3pm to buy your ticket. There is another ferry (I've been told...) that runs Wednesday and Saturday. There are no signs, no agencies, so you need to ask around.
Therefore, I arrived in Dili at 4:45am and took the same ferry that was leaving for Atauro at 8am.
I spent 5 days in Atauro exploring remote villages, where people live without electricity, phones and even drinkable water. The beaches were OK, but littered by too much plastic.
I only spent a night in Dili and decided to slowly go back to Kupang (Indonesia) using public transportation (when available). I did not want to take the 13hrs non-stop van from Timor-Leste tours (agency). Instead, I slowly moved my way West of Dili, visiting Liquiça, Maubara and Batugade.
A detailed description on how I did this can be read here.
Continue reading: Sri Lanka is next!