We had an Uber pick up at 645 am for the 30 km trip to the Perth airport, a 3 hour flight on Qantas to Darwin, a 2 hour layover, and then a 1 hr 1 5 min flight on Air North to Dili.
You change time forward and then back and so we arrived at just before 5 pm. The air was hot and humid and we walked down the stairs to the tarmac. They have an efficient Visa process here on arrival. It is 30 USD (the local currency) and they just put a visa sticker in your passport. It was then a s second line up for passport control, but this was also efficient and easy.
The taxi’s here are fixed rate and so no problem as well. It is 10$ to the city and most of the area around. Our accommodation is in a traditional Timorese home, that is actually the Mexican Consulate as well. We were greeted by the security guard who gave us a key and said that we could check in after 7. It is Timor Independence Day today and everyone is out at celebration events. We went for a walk in the neighborhood and had dinner at a local hotel on the beach. The people here are friendly and smile and wave. The driving is calm and courteous. YEAH! We returned to the Casa Sandalo to find the owners who warmly greeted us and told us we had been upgraded to an apartment with a kitchen! We were in bed and asleep by 10 and woke up 12 hours later!
We walked over to the ATM for some USD! Then around the corner to the grocery store frequented by the expats and NGO workers. Here you can get a decent coffee and croissant! There was a group of students who wanted to practice English with us.
Outside it is 34 and humid and the sun is a laser. Our mission first is SIM cards and data! We managed this easily just a few blocks away and got an email with the bills of lading and confirming the ship left Darwin 2 days ago at 430 pm. This means it should be in tonight.
The SDV office is actually 3 blocks from out Hotel, but when we stopped in today they are closed until tomorrow because of the holiday. Bad news for Orvar we got an email from SDV in Darwin with the way bills they also sent an email admitting that when they loaded the bikes in the container on the 15 th (its the 21 st) They dropped his bike and smashed the windscreen!!! Bit late to tell us now since we can not replace it here in Timor Leste.
Today we arrived at SDV at 10 and they drove us over to Customs to get the carnet signed and back to the office. The ship is being unloaded as we speak and our container will be off and available after 3. So we are to come back then, pay out port fees (120 USD each) and then we can go and get the bikes. To kill a few hours we walked into town for lunch and then toured the Museum of the resistance. This chronicles the history of their fight for independence, the genocide by the Indonesians, and the collusion of the USA and Australia with Indonesia to obtain sea oil rights.
At 3 pm we get our way bills payed and hop in a taxi to the port. Here we are met by a SDV agent and walked back to the container. They cut the seal and then unload the boxes in front. The 3 bikes are all upright at least and only OV’s is damaged. We unload them, get the batteries connected, and head off to get gas.
Since it is only 430 we are already hot and sweaty we rode the 8 km out to the end of the road to the Jesus Christos on the point.
At the advise of the consul we want to get to the Jaco national park, which is on an island off the eastern tip of this island.
Today rain is predicted, but it looks fine. The clouds are welcome shade for us. We left the hostel at 830 and at 30 degrees. We took the sea road along the coast that meets with the main road to the east. This road is half unpaved, but has some stunning views.
We had been told that the entire 150 km to BBB is under construction and it was true. The first section has very short intermittent sections of pavement with firm gravel between. It is also along the sea at times. The next is long stretches of very rocky bumpy dirt road. Luckily there is little traffic since it is very dusty.
The mountain section was a bit of a challenge with very poor and rough surface and often only 1 lane. Not too bad until you meet a bus or a truck. Then it was paved more often and at the sea again. We stopped in the first small village we can to and had some almost cold drinks.
The road is not too bad until the next village where it is closed and you are diverted onto the village beach road for several km.
Just before Baucau the scenery changes again to agricultural with lots of rice fields and water buffalo. We rode along with the guy and the goat for quite a while. The drivers here are very courteous. The trucks and buses will pull over onto the dirt verge to let you pass on the 1 lane paved sections. There was one section where they had just covered the road with huge chunk of rock making for quite a rodeo ride. We did finally make it to B at 1230 and had a pretty good lunch there.
Leaving town the road was paved and the view panoramic. We even got up to 70 km/h for small stretches. There is the odd road defect to keep you alert.
On the way you pass thru a number of small and mostly tidy villages. The road continues along the sea until Lautem where it veers inland.
We even had a few sprinkles of rain, which were nice and cooling. We have also had cooler temperatures as we have been at higher elevation and it has been cloudy. About 3 km before Fuiloro there is a modern gas station in the middle of nowhere.
The Bacua – Lospalos road turns off at Fuiloro and is paved, but very patchy. There are still fairly frequent small villages with lots of smiling kids waving.
At Mahera we stopped to read the map on the sign. The road is good for a while from a few km after Tatuala and then it was not!
At Tutuala the “ road” hair pins right onto a rough dirt/gravel track and then into a road construction zone with initially a good surface and then to a very rough a 4WD track/for the last 3 km of the 8 km.
There are very rough steep sections, rutted soft dirt and one 500 m section with deep thick sticky mud also in ruts followed by a muddy very steep descent. And that was the “good part”. It gets worse from here and is very steep down hill, narrow, and very loose. There was some praying and butt clenching, but no one came off (while did get bucked up off my seat and my rear wheel was well off the ground, but managed to hang on in a very rocky steep decent)! We all made it intact to the last km, which is a nice gravel lane way!
We finally arrived at Nino Konis Santana National Park at 530 pm. What you get when you arrive it a pristine beach and the national park. There is one place here with small cabanas. squat toilet, and bucket shower. They do have power and OV has 3G on his plan! We immediately stripped to our undies and went in for a swim in the glorious warm water as the sun was setting. They did prepare dinner for us that was just edible, but only 5 dollars for rice, veg, and fish (some sort of fatty mackerel like fish). Orvar just became a vegetarian. We opened all the windows and took down the mosquito net for max air flow (no bugs), but with the heat and the very loud waves crashing we were all up late.
We did wake at 3 am and needed a blanket as we were now freezing. I was up several times in the night to see if the predicted rain materialized. We were pretty worried about the 500 m of steep deep mud if it poured all night. The bike cover were totally dry in the morning. We decided to skip the offer of breakfast and ate a can of peaches from our ER rations and Orvar’s left over “Rose cream” cookies.
Setting out today we backtracked 1 km on the nice gravel track with the grass center and then hit the steep loose rises. The worst part are the large rock chunks. After 1 km of this we ran into a dump truck that was the source of said chunks. Once past him we rode another km of this to then hit the first of the mud sections.
At the first it is a steep gravel approach and then a long moderately steep wide rise of thick mud rutted by the trucks. Phew made it thru this… Next the long steep mud hill with the 100 meters of rutted muck at the top. Then we are home free.
The route now is good gravel to the village at Tutuala and the hairpin.
Here the road is pretty good again and we stopped at the gas station just past Fuiloro for some snacks. We had not left until 945 and it is now 11 and we have gone 38 km. The road gets better and better though there are a lot of rough patches especially in the villages until we got to the turn off at Fuiloro.
We arrived to Baucau at 230 and went back to the same place we had the great lunch (Victoria) and they also have rooms. We did check out a few others, but they were not nice or very nice (70 USD per person). Here we had a good room hot water air con and breakfast for 40$ all 3 of us. It was a bit hot in the room and we had a few annoying mosquitos and then the roosters started at 6am.
We set out at 930 and the road out of town is a single lane and paved for the first few km.
The construction zone of the next 120 km then starts. This varies from dirt sections to gravel. The section with the big rock chunks has now been grated and easy to ride over. The road is rough, but seems better than the way out. We stopped for gas in Manatuto where they have a new station.
The mountain section today was better as there was less traffic. It was only the occasional “do gooder” driving their white landrover like Mario Andreti that was an issue on the tight corners.
On the way into Dili we found a hardware “store” in order to replace the 4 bolts that we lost on the way to the end of the island…now that is a rough road. Dan lost both bolts from his headlights and Sara 2 bolts from the windscreen. I will say the YSS suspensions have performed very well during this beating.
It was 35 degrees and very humid when we got into the city and we were all too baked to keep going today. It is 1 pm and we stopped into OV’s hostel where they only had 1 bed and so we found a place near by. Then it was get the clothes to the laundry before it closes today! We had dinner at the hostel with OV as they have a communal dinner served family style for 5$.
Our place had a fairly decent breakfast and we headed out at 830 to the laundry and it was already 30! There was not a cloud in the sky either for protection. We picked up the Swede and then headed to the mountains.
The road is decent for about 5 km and corkscrews up. It then deteriorates but other than bumpy it is not too bad. There are a ton of groups of kids out on scooters this Saturday and lots have Timor Leste flags flying. The trucks and buses are nice and pull over on this 1 lane road for us to pass.
When you get 15 km fro Aileu suddenly the road is perfect new pavement with line markings.
We stopped here in A for a cold drink and to chat to some of the friendly locals. We had fun especially with the lady who ran the shop we parked infant of who was all smiles with her red stained betlenut teeth! The market across the road was crowded with weekend shoppers and the people watching was fantastic. The bikes again draw a lot of attention because of their size. It is amusing to see peoples heads all turn when Dan rides past them. We met quite a few locals with very good English as well.
From here is is just another 25 km of twisty road to Moubisse where we plan to stay tonight.
It is a pleasant 25 degrees here as well. The good road continues until about 3 km from the town where it is under construction.
We headed first to the Posada Moubisse up on the hill, but they were fully booked and was their guest house in the town.
Back at “the “ roundabout there is the guesthouse and restaurant Sara and so f course we went there! A very nice family runs it and the food is very good. A sprite, chicken, rice and soup was 3.50$!
Dan and OV went out for an afternoon ride and saw some spectacular views. They even came across a wedding celebration. Dan gave rides to 3 guys including one carrying a sac of rice down and grotty dirt road and a 14 your old the 7 km back to the village at 530 pm. The road construction extends past the town 3 km and so there is a constant stream of trucks from 630 am until its dark at 7. They are making amazing progress and you can tell even in the few hours that the guys went and returned.
In the morning we were up with the trucks at 630, but we had asked for breakfast at 830. It is Sunday and we walked into the village , which was packed with vendors. The street was mobbed, there are trucks trying to get both ways and animals all over. A bit of mayhem. Lots of great photo op!
We planned a loop of 168 km today from Moubisse to the coast and then west to the other main road. We had been told it was all paved and good road (haha).
Setting out from town at 9 there is the 3 km of road work with some muddy sections and then you hit perfect new road for the next 55 km.
There was one small village on the way with for some reason a road in pretty bad condition for a few km.
We stopped on the side of the road for a swim in the crystal clear water. We were taking photos at a view point and a car pulled up with the Indonesian Consul to Timor and his entourage .
The town of Same is 43 km away and we got some fuel here.
Arriving to the cut off we decided to go the 13 km to the coast. The road deteriorates from here, but it was no challenge. We passed thru another very clean and orderly Timorese village with lots of traditional houses.
At the beach there is a warning sign for alligators! The beach is grey course sand and the water warm, but we did not swim. There was a very small “restaurant” in a shack near by and we had rice and grilled small fish.
We left here at 130 and backtrack to the Y in the road. Here we are headed 25 km to Cassa and the road is in terrible condition.
It was paved once long ago. The worst is the sharp edges of the remaining pavement. There are some washed out area and some mud of course. The road heads west and up into the mountains and from the top there is a panoramic view. The down slope was steep loose gravel, but ended at perfect pavement.
This lasted a few km and then the road was intermittently paved and destroyed. About 15 km from the main road we hit road construction again for 5 km and it was quite muddy especially in one section where we had to wait 15 min for a truck to be loaded with dirt. From here the road bed was prepared and smooth for the last 12 km to the Y. Then we backtracked to Maubisse to arrive at 530. We were all tired an hungry.