The flight was long. To be exact, it was 20 hours of flying, twice changing planes, and an overnight stay in Singapore. There were benefits… like enjoying a nice meal in front of a flat screen TV in business class. Approximately two days after taking off from Vancouver, I arrived in Dili, the capital of Timor Leste.
Being one of the newest countries in the world (Timor achieved independence from 30 years of Indonesian rule and 400 years of Portuguese colonialization in 2004), you can say a lot is changing in the country, but there’s still plenty of work to be done and it shows in Dili where it seems like one out of every 4 cars has a UN sign. The UN is in force in the city working on programs to rebuild the country and the social system. 4 hours southeast of Singapore or 1.5 hours north of Darwin, Australia, Timor Leste (aka East Timor, Timor Lorosae) is worlds away from its neighbors… whether that’s a positive or negative, I can’t answer that until I’ve spent more time here.
The photo above taken from the balcony of my USD$50 a night hotel shows signs of the wear and tear of growing urbanization in Dili and the destruction left behind under the previous government. But all the normal amenities you find in most cities can be found in the Dili – internet cafes, satellite television, good food, mobile phones, etc. Don’t let the physical environment fool you… there’s a lot of potential for the city and the country. They just need a bit of sustained effort by locals and the government to make “things happen” and get “things going”.