Day 421 Atambua – Dili (Timor Leste) / motorbike GS Dakar RTW overland adventure traveller

  • Left – 7.45am
  • 30th May 2015
  • Miles rode – 95 (152km)

The ride today was full of emotions, I was heading to Dili the capital of Timor Leste to ship my bike to Australia. I crossed the Bosphorus In Istanbul 13 months months ago which means I’ve been in Asia over 1 year and what an amazing year it has been. As I wound my way around the coastal road I reflected upon the past year, the diverse and wonderful people, places and cultures I’ve engaged with. I am both ready to move onto Australia and going to miss Asia.

I arrived at the Indonesian border at 8.15am. It was very relaxed, so relaxed that immigration was closed, it should have been open at 8am but the immigration officer was late – Ha Ha. Whilst waiting for immigration to open I found the customs office and completed my carnet in record time. It wasn’t a busy border but as the immigration office wasn’t open people started crowding around the passport office window. The immigration officer arrived at 9.10 and slowly wondered over without a care in the world, by now there were about 50 people all trying to get their passports through the small window so I decided to give the immigration officer 5 mins and then enter his office with a smile through the door next to the window. My plan worked and I was inside, a few locals saw my ‘masterly move’ and tried to emulate it but the immigration officer realised that if he let one in they would all flood in, I was allowed to stay inside. After a few minutes of inactivity I asked when my passport would be stamped out of Indonesia and was told the ‘stamp’ wasn’t here! So, the immigration officer is here without his stamp, it’s like a footballer without a ball or a pilot without a plane! Where was the stamp? As the time rolled on I was aware that I didn’t care how long it took, there was a food and drink nearby and time was on my side.

The stamp arrived at 9.30 and I was promptly stamped out of Indonesia.

I had spent 6 weeks in Indonesia and without doubt it has been the most wonderful travel experience in Southeast Asia, don’t mistake the word wonderful with easy.

I had assumed that the Timor Leste border would be very basic but to my astonishment the immigration and customs buildings were new and complete with the latest x-ray machines, this wasn’t Heathrow Airport but bearing in mind I had just traveled through dirt roads to get here seeing clean modern glass doors & windows, polished stone floors and x-ray machines was a surprise. Timor Leste was efficient and very friendly.

The border buildings were obviously an illusion because the road to Dili was awful, pot holes, dirt… The villages I passed looked very basic with houses that could have been around hundreds of years ago. The scenery was amazing and I stopped at a beach shack for lunch, fresh fish.

I arrived in Dili and headed for ‘East Timor Backpackers’, this is where most overlanders take time out to clean and prepare their bikes for shipping to Australia – “It is the importer’s responsibility to ensure each vehicle is clean and free of contamination of biosecurity concern, internally and externally, before it arrives in Australia” – basically this means days of taking my motorbike apart, cleaning, more cleaning and then reassembling before I take it to the shipping company and load it into a shipping container.