• East Timor
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East Timor

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile
Independent since 2002, East Timor is actually the Demoratic Republic of East Timor, located in Southeast Asia. This former Portuguese colony annexed by Indonesia in 1975, is made up of the Atauro and Jaco islands; half of eastern Timor island; and Oecussi-Ambeno, an enclaved area in the western part of Timor island. Security in Dili is uncertain and conflict between armed groups is rife, so tourists who wish to travel to East Timor's Dili and its surrounding areas should be extremely cautious.

Our Editorial team's advice

For further information on this destination, which is almost inaccessible at the moment, read the first Timorese book translated from Portuguese into English: it traces the path of a child faced with the political reality of his country, from the colonial era to the Indonesian invasion. The author played a role in the student resistance during the war against Indonesia and he is currently in exile in Lisbon.

pros

  • +Wonderful beaches.
  • +Rich traditions.

cons

  • -Difficult political situation.
  • -It is currently inadvisable to travel to East Timor.

Food

Indonesian cuisine, a mixture of Indian, European and Chinese cuisine, is specially flavoured and spicy according to the region. Rice is the staple food and the 'longtong' is vapour-cooked rice served in banana leaves. The people eat a lot of fish and shellfish, with the fish being mostly dried, smoked, or grilled ("L'ikan bakar"). There are also dishes like 'soto' (stew-like soup), 'bakso' (meat soup) and 'mie-goreng' (noodles fried with vegetables). 'Babi guling' is spit-roasted sucking pig and 'Rijsttafel' or 'rice table' is of Dutch origin and consists of sauce cooked with vegetables, meat, fish, egs and chicken served with a large quantity of rice and banana fritters ('krupuk'), peppers, marinated peanuts or cucumbers. Lastly, the Portuguese cuisine in East Timor mostly consists of beef (steak), stews and olive oil salads.

Souvenirs

The local specialty is "ikat", a fabric dyed with several colours before it is woven. Different motifs, patterns and embroideries decorate the fabric and it originates from a strong animistic tradition which endows it with sacred and magical powers; it is generally very expensive.
Basket making is equally common in the Sunda Islands, you will find a choice of baskets, mats, hats, fans, carpets and small boxes, as well as ancient silver jewels.
The people particularly enjoy working with pearls and shells.
Shops generally open from 8:00 am to 7:00 am nonstop from Monday to Saturday.

East Timor : Discover our cities

Dili