I would have to start this post by explaining my destined fate with this young nation.
In 2010, I was honored to be selected by the school (NTU Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information) for an overseas reporting course named Going Overseas for Advanced Reporting (or Go-Far). For this special course, students who are chosen will get to go to different countries to practice journalism. Some of the countries that we have previously visited include Bangladesh and Bhutan. For my year, the decision was made for EAST TIMOR (OR TIMOR-LESTE).
Honestly speaking, I have definitely heard of this nation before but I totally had no idea where it is located at. However, I was bent on exploring this lesser heard of country. I did a search online and realized that it is located between Australia and Indonesia, which makes it really close to home. 🙂
And months later, there it was, I flew off with a group of seniors, to a country that many had never been to or even heard of in their lives.
The flight took around 4 hours and we flew via Silk Air. The experience was good. Albeit when we landed at Dili, the capital of East Timor, what we saw really gave us a shock. It was a really small airport and there was no passageways or whatsoever linked from the plane to the airport so we had to walk down the plane, carrying our own luggage. To make things worse, it was around 35 deg celsius that day. Nonetheless, it was a really cool experience.
Thereafter, we queued up at the custom to have our passports stamped. Then, our luggage checked. It was relatively fast and fuss free as we had already established contacts over there. (In the country, it is certainly very useful to hold contacts of the more respected locals who can help you in times of trouble. I will share more in my later posts on East Timor.)
After stepping out of the airport, we were greeted by a familiar scene in many countries around the world – aggressive cab drivers. As there were about 12 of us, we had to get a van and this was how they loaded our luggage! 🙂
Our first stop, wasn’t to the lodging but to Arte Moris, an arts school for the locals to develop their artistic talents – music and art work. Most the Timorese there are able to converse in basic english as they often meet with foreigners, especially Australians. I even heard that there are Australians who sponsor some of the talented artists over there to study in Australia!
And then, we headed down to Dili Supermaket and we bought our weeks of supply of mineral water and we had our phone cards done at Timor Telecom! It is definitely a good idea to have their local phone cards. If not, the roaming charges would have been heinous.
All you had to do is to key in the passwords to activate the phone card. To top up credits in the phone card, you can simply buy little strips sold by street vendors (they can be seen everywhere) and key in the passwords on these little strips and it will be done. 🙂