Hotel Timor

For reasons out of our control, our house will not be ready for a couple of months, so we are booked into the Hotel Timor.

The Hotel Timor is (I believe) the only hotel that one could call a hotel in the modern western sense. It is fairly spartan but is functional and operates reasonably well. I am no genius in this area. but I guess it might be a 3.5 stars on a good day. It has air-con, satellite TV (BBC, CNN, ABC Australia, Portuguese & Indonesian channels and HBO), showers that work, toilets that work, even tea and coffee making facilities.

There is also a shop (mostly closed as far as I can tell), a business centre which is really just an internet bar (256kbps connection with 6 pcs USD8 per hour), a coffee shop/bar (with Portuguese pastries) and a restaurant, which does a full western breakfast (USD7-50 each) and Portuguese menu (typical main USD10) in the evening.

One feature that is noticably missing is paper. There are no newspapers or magazines to be found. No hotel service directory in the room, no writing paper, no maps of Dili, no advertising of any local services and no tourist information to be found in the building.

There are alternatives to the Hotel Timor. If one wants some ability to prepare food in your room, there are very few options. Vasco Da Gamas has a kitchen area but very limited utensils. The usual alternative has small rooms in motel style, with direct access to outside and a pool. We had the choice of moving to Vascos or to the Esplanade Hotel, but after more than 3 months of living in close quarters and facing another couple of months in even closer quarters, we decided to opt for the big room option and forgo the cooking facilities. Yes, we will get sick of it, but 2 months in a shoe box with barely enough room to store our luggage was our non-preferred option. It is clear that most accommodation is geared for solo guests.

The most annoying part is the room service people. They are keen as mustard to get their work done and one is left no opportunity to sleep-in as they are waiting outside the door at 8:30am, ready to pounce. Then a fleet of about half a dozen come in and change and clean everything. Floors are swabbed, surfaces dusted and stuff moved so we can move it back to where we want it (again).

Arrival Day

There are 2 main ways to get to Dili from OZ. One is via Bali and the second is via AirNorth from Darwin, which was our chosen option.

AirNorth operate a ~25 seater Embrauer twin-prop plane. Cabin space is much tighter than your typical jet so cabin baggage is also limited. Clearly there had been some sort of dispute at the check-in over cabin baggage and one argumentative sod had clearly defied instruction not to take his huge sports bag into the cabin. He spent 15 minutes removing stuff from his bag in the aisle while overlooked by 2 unhappy hostesses.

I attempted to alleviate the tension (and delay) by listening to my portable music player. I didn’t notice the hostess come over and start giving instructions to those sitting near the wing emergency exit. She castigated me for not listening and went on to ask if we were prepared to remain sitting here and if necessary, unlatch and eject the emergency door. As I was sitting next to the emergency door, I think she meant me. However, I missed the bit about doing it “on her instruction”.

The flight was uneventful. Cabin service included free noise, a beer, peanuts, crisps, a piece of cake and a Mars Bar. Nothing much for the health freak, I’m afraid.

It was clear blue skies all the way until we actually reached the island of Timor. It was encased in dark brooding clouds and we wended our way through gaps over pretty rugged terrain to Comorro Airport on the other side. It had been raining and was still raining lightly, but it was surprisingly cool.

The customs and immigration procedure was near non-existent and no specific security procedures were evident (compared to the usual high security rig-ma-role elsewhere). A vehicle was waiting on arrival to take us to the Hotel Timor.

The 10 minute drive took us through a very rural scene but in the urban area of Dili. The rain didn’t actually make it look that comfortable out there.