A Travellerspoint blog

December 2018

TIMOR-LESTE – Country Less Travelled


View 2017 Asia on ToddP's travel map.

I found so little information around when preparing for the trip to East-Timor, which was challenging when trying to plan as much as possible for a short trip. I would like to share some basics here…

Getting there

We flew to the capital of East-Timor Díli from Bali in Indonesia. It wasn’t cheap in comparison to the LCC options in Asia, but at the same time it was affordable (flight was less than 2hr).
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Díli Airport

On arrival before entering the airport it is required to pass through immigration (no surprise here!) We missed something though… At the side of the immigration booth they display a list of countries whose passport holders can enter visa free. If you are one of them just hand in your passport, collect your stamp and you're free to enter the baggage carousel area for your luggage. We clearly missed this and paid for the visa on arrival. The immigration officer neglected to mention anything! So be it…

After collecting your luggage, you have to send them through another scanner and then have to open all your bags for a search to be completed by an immigration officer. No exceptions for anyone so follow the rules. The queuing is slightly disorganised as everyone is trying to leave at the same time so push yourself forward and try not to allow anyone get in front of you.
The facilities are extremely limited.
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From the Airport to the City

There are very few flights from/to Díli airport, however a lot of people gather around when meeting and greeting people outside.
We booked a hotel in Díli city itself that organised a complementary pick-up from the airport. The driver waited for us outside and we were transferred straight to the city. I don’t think there would be an issue getting a ‘lift’ to your desired location as long as you have US$ in cash and are not shy to approach people to talk.

Díli City

The city is in a nice location along the coast. There are a few well worth visiting sites, however everything is well spread out, and some areas are too far to walk. The public transport (minibus type) are exceptionally cheap and easy to use. East Timorese are small people and the transport reflects this so bear this in mind when entering and exiting if you are average height by western standards. Alternatively, there are a few taxis and the fare is fixed for the city. Ask at the hotel reception for the going rates and this will make your life so much easier.
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Money

Not surprisingly this is a cash society and you do need to have US$ in small denominations. Our hotel did accept credit card however. We found another cafe/ restaurant in town that did also accept credit cards.

Safety

The streets are poorly lit, and the paths can be hazardous during the night, but we never felt unsafe, uncomfortable or in any danger while visiting Díli. Strangely everyone (and I do mean everyone) was greeting us with ‘Hi’ or even a smile everywhere we went. On the first day this felt bizarre, but you can get used to the friendliness very quickly.
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Trips and Excursions

The lack of infrastructure in the country and lack of tourists makes any ‘touristy’ trips and excursions very expensive as it is tailored to an individual person or group. As an example car hire costs US$ 100 per day, car hire with a driver US$ 150 per day and so on. Be ready for this…
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We did an afternoon trip to Cristo Rei (just outside Díli) on public transport. Great views from the top of the hill. Be warned that the sun goes down very fast ie one minute it's still bright and next it's pitch black. By the time we got back down to the car park it was dark and everyone was gone. We felt slightly stranded with no way of getting back. Somehow we managed to get a taxi (I think we were just extremely lucky) and got back in to town. The public transport is unreliable and very limited so plan carefully.
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Diving/ Snorkelling

We did a snorkelling day trip to Atauro Island. This was truly great day and we enjoyed the company of other fellow travelers (from Japan, Bulgaria and the Netherlands). By international standards this wasn’t too bad money wise.
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WIFI

We had free WIFI in the hotel but it was very slow with a sporadic connection. Also, another café/ restaurant in town had complimentary WIFI.

Final

Would I recommend making a trip to Timor-Leste? Absolutely without a doubt. The people were extremely nice and polite, and we felt safe. They are undergoing massive transformation and every foreign dollar that can be brought from outside and spent in the country is well needed. They do need that bit of an extra boost with cash and I think tourism definitely can help with that.
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Posted by ToddP 06:44 Archived in East Timor Comments (3)

FREE IN GENEVA (Switzerland)


View 2018-2019 HKG_OZ_NZ & 2018 Switzerland_GVA on ToddP's travel map.

I know I am stating the obvious but Switzerland is expensive and it's been like this for some time now. I have visited various places in Switzerland, but honestly can say that I found Geneva the most expensive of them all. But there are few things that are completely FREE!!!

1) Transport from Geneva airport to the city - FREE

Before leaving the baggage area there is this little machine that says 'Free Ticket'. Just press the button and the machine will issue you a free ticket valid for the next 80 minutes for all public transport in Geneva (train from the airport to the city is covered also). DO NOT LEAVE the baggage area until you find the machine and print your tickets as re-entry is not allowed.

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2) Public transport - FREE

All of the city hotels (I believe) issue a 'visitor pass' that allows you to travel for free on all forms of public transport for the whole duration of your stay in the city. This will cover all city trams and buses and...(please see below #3).

3) Yellow lake boat - FREE

Technically this is part of the public transport system. By having the 'visitor pass' from your hotel you are allowed to use any of the lines of the boat system absolutely for free.

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4) City beach - Plage Enfant (Baby Beach) - FREE

To get here you either get the free boat ride across the lake or a free bus or tram with your 'visitor pass'. The entrance is completely free and it's a nice sandy area to lounge around and go for a swim. The water is warm during the summer season and it's a great way of relaxing after touring the city. There are stalls, bars and a few eateries if you get hungry after the swim.

5) Botanic Gardens - FREE

Nice layout makes a pleasant stroll through different areas of the garden when admiring the plants. Grab one of the benches to enjoy some shade and watch people passing by. It's a very nice area to relax.

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Posted by ToddP 07:15 Archived in Switzerland Comments (2)

DAY TRIPS FROM DUBLIN (Ireland)

There are a good few options for a short day trip out of the city of Dublin. Especially if you are over for a few days only please give yourself some time for at least one of them as it will give you a different vibe of Ireland.

This is blog is being updated on a regular basis

#1 Dalkey and Bray

Public Transport: the easiest way is on DART (Light Railway System) from various locations in the city centre.

What to expect:

Dalkey: pretty little town with a lot of small cafes and artisan shops. Simple stroll from the train station. Picturesque main street. Dalkey Castle (FREE) and the Heritage Centre.
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Bray: seaside town with a long promenade heading towards Bray Head. Get that energy going and climb up as the views are amazing (simply done even by a novice walker, no special shoes required). A lot of bars and restaurants. Can get very busy on the weekends and especially in summer.
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#2 Dun Laoghaire

Public Transport: the easiest way is on DART (Light Railway System) from various locations in the city centre.

What to expect:

Dun Laoghaire: nice seaside town with plenty of cafes and restaurants to spend a half day. Long pier next to the marina that makes for a wonderful walk. Can get very busy on the weekends and especially in summer.

#3 Howth

Public Transport: the easiest way is on DART (Light Railway System) from various locations in the city centre.

What to expect:

Howth: picturesque experience once you climb up Howth Head (simply done even by a novice walker, no special shoes required). Can get very busy on the weekends and especially in summer.
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#4 Malahide

Public Transport: the easiest way is on DART (Light Railway System) from various locations in the city centre.

What to expect:

Malahide: seaside town with a lot of restaurants and cafes. Visits to Malahide Castle and the Transport Museum are a must. Can get very busy on the weekends and especially in summer.
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#5 Walk from Greystones to Bray

Public Transport: the easiest way is on DART (Light Railway System) from various locations in the city centre to the furthest point- Greystones Dart Station.

What to expect:

from Greystones Dart Station stick to the coastal route, an easily recognised path as it is a well walked area. Easy and leisurely enough walk for around 1hr30min-2hr and can be accomplished even by novice walkers. Recommend having better footwear than your regular street shoes (runners will do) as it is rocky and some parts are uneven. You will meet a lot of walkers in both directions. The end goal is to arrive at Bray Head for the spectacular views. From here down the hill to Bray town and/ or Bray Dart Station is another 30min or so. Plenty of bars and restaurants here for food or drink. The town can get very busy on the weekends and especially in summer.
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Posted by ToddP 04:03 Archived in Ireland Tagged dublin Comments (2)

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