Tuesday, 13 Dec 2016. Terrible flight. Out of Melbourne on a 21:40 Jetstar domestic to Darwin. Luggage not able to be checked through so I pick up the bike from oversize. It fits on a trolley, but only sideways, and I weave past groggy looking faces to find a spare chair, with no wall behind it to lean on, to try and snooze for a couple of hours before the check in counter opens for the next leg. It’s effectively two budget ‘domestic’ flights as my connecting flight, while international is in a smaller, even more cramped aircraft for the shorter flight across the Timor Sea.
Wednesday, 14 Dec 2016. Despite the lack of sleep I’m bouncing down the aircraft stairs onto the tarmac, excited to be setting foot in a new country. Cruise through customs paying USD$30 for a 30 day visa on arrival and I’m in.
Get some ‘help’ putting the bike back together from the cabbies, not too upset to be missing a fare, happy enough to be practising some English and looking through the family photo album I’ll whip out at various points along my journey to show glimpses of Australian life.
I’ve got the whole day to find a place to stay the night and I consult the very useful, available offline, open source maps.me phone app which provides more details than Google maps. Casa Minha Backpackers was on the way into the city centre, so I swung on by. It proved to be the cheapest (USD$12) I could find, but also by far the grottiest. No thanks…
The couple of hotels I tried were USD$40-45 for a single bed, if I wanted a double it would be extra. Hmmmm, maybe….
I kept going and found what I was looking for at the Dili Central Backpackers, opened just a couple of months ago by Aussie Kym, who has been living and working in Timor for over 20 years. Clean, extremely helpful staff, and USD$15 for the top bunk bed in a room I had to myself for the night.
After dumping the panniers I took to the streets again to explore. Lots of folk relaxing in the shade on benches along the waterfront, which seemed a pretty good option with the day heating up. I instead chose to find some food, easy in Dili with most of the restaurants displaying what’s on offer in a bain-marie meaning all you have to do is point and smile.
After filling up I rode out to the Cristo Rei about seven kilometres east of Dili, past beaches and restaurants/bars each boasting the best sunsets in Dili with names like Little Pattaya, Caz Bar, Ocean View and Hotel California. It was too hot, and fatigue was becoming to kick in so I decided not to climb the 500 steps to the statue. I cycled back into town for a rest before heading out again early evening to watch the storm roll in and get some more food.