Saturday, May 7, 2016

Off to East Timor (Timor-Leste) !!


Timor Lest or East Timor was one of the few Asians nations that I hadn't visited and I've always been intrigued by these former Portuguese colony in Asia.

I'd originally planned to fly there via Darwin (DRW) in Australia from Kuala Lumpur, but airfare were obscenely high so booked myself via Bali (DPS).

After several attempts on Google Flights/Skyscanner I found a combo on NAM Air and Sriwijawa Air. Both Airlines are part of the same group and flight this route and various domestic routes in Indonesia using some former Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 (which surprisingly were equipped with Winglets!)

NAM Air IN 9280 
DPS (Bali) to DIL (Dili)
Boeing 737-500 Economy Class



  




In theory online check-in exists but in practice, it doesn't, so I showed up in Bali shortly before my flight and was able to snag 10B an exit row window seat. On their Boeing 737-500 row 10 is the exit row with just four seats and Row 11 has extra room with 11A/F having unlimited legroom.





Shortly after takeoff a hot snack was served, beverages are limited to Regular Coca Cola, Apple/Guava/Orange juice and water. Sadly no diet beverages nor beer options insight.


Getting closer to East Timor




I had booked myself for a night at a hotel on the beach, somewhat expecting to be able to use the beach. Sadly, the beaches in Dili are rocky and a bit dirty at times, so don't book a hotel in Dili based upon that factor, there are beautiful beaches a short hop from Dili, the key factors for city hotels are do they have a pool and good AC. Reviews on TripAdvisor are generally a good starting point. I stayed at Ariburu Beach Resort since they offered free breakfast and free airport transfers.

My room was in fact an apartment with a full kitchenette, large bed and full bathroom. AC was pumping when I entered the room and it served as a decent base for exploration.

I had a light snack at the Oceanview Restaurant, which while having great views had lackluster service and a bit overpriced. (I asked two employees for the Wi-Fi code only to be told we don't know it, nor was the code provided at anytime).




Next morning I woke up early around 7 AM, showered and ventured into town, passed several embassies and some of the other major hotels in town as well as the Presidential palace.
Around Dili





It's a small town and after walking some 5km I decided to hail a cab to go to the major site, after some quick haggling I agreed upon a rate of 15USD for the 15 min ride to the Cristo Rei monument, waiting time of about an hour and the longer drive to my hotel. This was a rate I found acceptable but YMMV.

After climbing the close to 500 steps and sweating off a kilo hehe
I was treated to some great views of the city and of the monument itself , a gift from Indonesia to commemorate the twenty anniversary of its occupation of East Timor.









After a few photos I found my driver (best to keep your taxi as there are almost no taxi drivers hanging around the monument) and headed back to my hotel to enjoy some sun and pool time.

The return to Bali was uneventful except for the fact that I arrived close to 1:20 prior to my flight, it can be a messy experience with hundreds of locals congregating around the airport entrance to say good bye to relatives,etc.

After paying my USD $10 departure tax!


Immigration was a breeze (they charge 10USD departure tax, then "security" and finally the most miserable airport lounge I've been to so far in my travels, there was a duty free shop selling liquor and wines but that's it, no stores selling water , soda or snacks!
There were a few large AC machines but you had to stand in front of them to get some air. Boarding was called early (I assumed everyone had checked in) and we departed 15 minutes early.

 





This flight was operates by the mother airline but configuration was exactly the same.

Sriwijaya Air - SJ 271 
DIL (Dili) to DPS (Bali)
Boeing 737-500 Economy Class


Business Class has two rows of 2-2 seating , still the old Continental seats.









Food was served, nothing special and still the limited beverage choices and then one of the weirdest things happened.. the duty free purchases started but all the items seemed to be low-cost quality items, sunglasses random perfumes even snorkeling masks! It seems like a grand bazaar almost and the crew spent a decent amount of the flight hawking these items. I found it interesting as many items seemed similar to those found in any large metropolis street market in Asia and at higher prices, but hey if the customer wants it, they can have it!
  


Shortly after we landed at a bus gate in DPS and it was off to transfer to my AirAsia flight to KUL.

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