It is not so often that you come across an new nation (unless you are in the Balkans), so when my Indonesian visa expired I went to obscure little East Timor – which is the name of the country, though the locals calls it Timor-Leste – while Louise did some diving back in Indonesia (she had managed to get a two months visa).

My first impression from the taxi ride in to Dili, the capital, from the airport was the neglect. Burnt-out buildings, man big potholes in the middle of the road and bare-footed people caring cocks for cock fighting. Looked promising, but also a bit hardcore. Then a white Toyota passed by, and another one, and another. All with big black letters: UN. The streets of Dili were apparently swarming with UN and foreign NGOs.

Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili where Indonesian soldiers massacred locals in 1991.

So the history of the country goes something like this: The eastside of the island Timor was a Portugese colony, while all the other ”Indonesian” islands was under Dutch rule. The Portugese kept power in some way or another until mid 1970s when East Timorian independence movement took over. A short victory, for the Indonesians invaded the ”country” and suppressed it until the fall of Soharto in 1998. East Timor voted for independence in 1999, but it was not until 2002 after an astrocity made by the withdrawing Indonesian army, that the country really became a new nation. But maybe too soon, for in 2006 riots broke out and once again the little country was on television.

Homemade pool table on Atauro island.

So the UN and the NGOs were there for many reason: Truth Commity, peace, police, refugees and just general hanging out on white beaches and in shady expat cafes. So I kind of didn’t expect too much of the place in terms of safety and beauty. Luckily, I was wrong on both accounts.

Jesus Backside Beach… such a cool name!

Taking my first stroll in Dili, I heard locals saying something after me. I kind got use to just close my ears in Indonesia, so it took me a few minutes before I actually heard what they were whispering. ”helloooo missster…”. And that was it. They just want to say hello and give you a smile. Boy, what I looking forward to get around in the country.

Cool biker inside a very kitsch decorated guest house in Hatubuilico.

In the usual style I rented a crappy Chinese motorbike, with a totally worn-down rear tire (there were patches where there were no more rubber left) and went off to the hill country and along the coast.

The usual way to get around in East Timor.

I have no idea why these were dressed up like this… but it involved some dancing.

Hatubuilico village near Mt. Ramelau.

Another cutie.

There will, of course, be more East Timor stuff on Globe Spots.