Remote Colonial outpost in Southeast Asia
Island-hopping eastwards by ferry away from the heaving cities of Java, skirting the thronged beaches of Bali and onwards past Flores, brings you to the island of Timor. The eastern half of this island, once the final redoubt of Portuguese colonists in Southeast Asia and later annexed by neighboring Indonesia is, since 2002, home to the newly created Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Although also accessible by a short flight from Darwin, Australia (itself a remote corner of the world), East Timor feels every inch the far-flung destination. A blend of Catholicism and old-world Portuguese colonialism, East Timor is home to coffee plantations, lush forests, arid highlands, and reputedly some of the best diving in the world. The capital, Dili, is a relaxed seaside town flanked by deserted beaches and serves as an excellent base for travel throughout the country. East Timor is woefully underdeveloped, lacking both tourists and flashy destinations. Roaring up into the highlands behind Dili on a rented motorcycle or exploring the remote eastern coastline are just two options for adventure. The 'East Timor' Guidebook very much remains to be written, and this is one of its most refreshing, and appealing features.
Sadly, East Timor is currently experiencing a period of significant political and economic instability. As a result, the security situation is highly unstable, and the majority of governments advise against visiting the country until the situation improves.