Paris, New York, London, Bali, Greece — I’m sure many of you keep a travel bucket list somewhere, be it on your computer, on a notes app on your phone, or even a mental list. And chances are, your list includes one of the “popular travel destinations” that everyone has heard of or been to. Well, how about spicing it up a little by adding a country that no one really knows exists — Timor-Leste. Here are 4 reasons why you should travel to Timor-Leste at least once in your life.
- Atauro Island
I confess: I could not save the best for last. This place is definitely my favorite getaway because of its breathtaking nature. The ocean is crystal clear, so much so that you can actually see the coral reefs from the boat. Oh, and the reefs – home to the most biodiverse species of marine creatures in the world – spread before your very eyes. And if you go hiking up a giant hill / mini mountain, you can take in the magnificent view and the never-ending horizon – something we don’t get an opportunity to appreciate in Tokyo. The bonus point for Atauro Island is that you get to be welcomed by a pod of dolphins if you’re lucky!
- Jaco Island
Here’s a warning: Do keep in mind that the journey to this little island will not be easy. Despite the fact that it is located only 250 km away from the capital of the country, Dili, it could take days to get there due to the lack of public transport and poor road conditions. So research and preparation are essential. Having said that, there’s no doubt that Jaco Island is the hidden gem of Timor-Leste. Forget about the world full of worries and troubles – simply lay down on the soft, white sand while basking in the rays of sunshine. Go snorkeling in the crystal blue oceans whenever you please. Dear beach lovers, this island is your dream come true.
Tais is a traditional piece of cloth woven solely by women in Timor-Leste for generations. In the past, it was used in exchange for livestock and other valuable items, and today, it is mostly worn in ceremonies or given to guests as a token of appreciation. Modern tais designs called “selendang” are becoming increasingly popular as scarves, and accessories such as bracelets and bags. You get to see tais weaving in action and even purchase one at Tais Market in Dili.
- Christo Rei
Everyone knows that the world’s highest statue of Jesus is in Rio de Janeiro. But what not many seem to know is the fact that the second-highest is in the country of Timor-Leste. It’s one of the well-known landmarks in the country: with a height of 27 metres tall, it overlooks and embraces the city of Dili. The path leading to the statue is perfect for morning walks!
Being a tropical island ringed by coral reefs, I can assure you that traveling to Timor-Leste will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially if you’re a nature lover like myself. But even if your usual itineraries consist of shopping sprees and visiting galleries, have no fear because, in no time, you’ll be in awe of the pristine nature and captivated by its rich culture. Viva Timor-Leste!