Timor-Leste – Travelogue

My trip began much how it ended, with a half-serious enquiry as to whether I was going to die. “I’m not sure yet” was the less-than-welcome response from the attendant aboard my terribly turbulent Garuda Airlines flight. I was en route to Timor-Leste (located here), having encountered what the Germans might call a ‘luxury problem’ in that I’d seen just about everywhere else in Asia. This was the continent’s newest and poorest nation, the world’s most oil-dependent economy and home to the largest UN peacekeeping mission on Earth. Emerging from decades of bloodshed and occupation with barely any infrastructure intact, war-ravaged Timor attracts just 1,500 tourists per year. Roads are amongst the world’s worst (where they exist) the postal service is rumoured to take one-and-a-half years, the humidity is oppressive, healthcare minimal, poverty rampant and the dinky shot-up capital, Dili, would make even the most modest of British towns look like a megalopolis. It is isolated and inaccessible with just 3 ports of entry (Bali, Singapore and Darwin, Australia), so why would anyone care to visit?