In my quest to explore as many corners of the world as possible, I’ve found that some of my favorite destinations have been those that, for one reason or another, aren’t really on the tourism map yet. A couple of years ago, for example, I visited Brunei: a tiny, oil-rich sultanate that has hardly any tourism. The untouched rainforest, gleaming mosques, and incredible water villages were a joy to explore, and the people couldn’t have been friendlier. Even better, I didn’t see a single person that was recognizably a tourist the entire time I was there. It reminded me of how great travel can be, and the entire experience lay in stark contrast to navigating through hordes of people while exploring temples in Bangkok.
I really miss that feeling of being on my own in an unfamiliar place.
To that end, I’ve decided what my next adventure here in Asia will be, and it promises to be exciting.
Pretty soon, I’ll be headed out to explore East Timor!
“Where?”, I can hear you saying. It’s understandable. Not only is East Timor one of the world’s newest nations, but it’s also one of the least-visited. East Timor is located on the eastern half of the island of Timor (the other half is part of Indonesia), and it has a checkered political history.
For years it was part of the Portuguese empire, before being annexed by Indonesia in 1976. After decades of rising nationalist sentiments, East Timor finally declared independence from Indonesia in 2002, after several years of bloody violence between separatist forces and the Indonesian military.
These days, things are more settled in East Timor, but the undercurrent of political tension continues to course through everyday life. A new prime minister was recently elected, and most seem hopeful that he will help diversify the economy beyond just oil and coffee.
Oh yeah, the coffee in East Timor is really good. So good, in fact, that a significant amount of its GDP is actually derived from selling coffee to Starbucks. For a coffee-lover like myself, this was actually a huge draw.
Other than learning about East Timor’s history and trying its coffee, the other thing I’m really looking forward to doing is scuba diving. Thanks to a scarcity of tourists and a lack of commercial fishing, East Timor has some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world, and this makes for some truly world-class diving. I’m so excited to see all of the marine life there – it’s going to be incredible.
I originally intended on visiting East Timor back in 2015, but it never quite worked out. This time though, I’ll be meeting family in Bali, so it was easy to tag on East Timor as a side trip – it’s just a short, 2-hour flight from Bali to Dili, East Timor’s capital.
While I’m in Dili, I’ll be posting daily updates as I explore around the country. It seems that there’s actually not that much quality content about East Timor online, so I’m looking to change that. Expect lots of video content from around the country, underwater shots of the marine life, and maybe even an interview or two.
It’s going to be good – stay tuned!