Minibus adventures in Timor Leste
I changed accommodations to Hotel Dili where I met some Australians and learned about their electronics smuggling business. Then I scouted out my transportation options while exploring the city via it’s buses. Their convenient use of Arabic numerals (0-9) made it easier to comprehend the routes, though it was not clear exactly how far each traveled, but the flat rate per ride made for very cost effective exploration. I saw a city rebuilding from decades of war with signs of a transparent and fair government inspiring it’s citizens to rebuild and I met people disenchanted by the war’s devastation who tried to discourage my curiosity. Signs for $.50 ice cream brought to mind images of post WW2 America and Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. I also stopped by the Peace Corps office briefly for a tour and to understand their mission in Timor Leste. Then I headed to Becora Bus Station, a major transit hub to learn about the routes out of town, but decided to head back. After some more wandering, I found a travel agency near the Sakura Tower Hotel which sold bus tickets to Kupang, Indonesia, then resumed the Minibus adventure to Se Catedral de Dili, where I walked to Tai’s Market, the Presidential Palace and the National Monument while observing people leaving work for the day. Finally, I managed to hop on a westbound bus before it overflowed with people hanging off the side and made it near the Pope Statue on the far west side of the city where I caught the sunset and bought cheap kebabs at the local market. Unfortunately, the buses stopped running and I almost had to charter an entire bus just to get back, but people helped me find a taxi driver.
Be careful with bus schedules. When people tell you that the buses run until a certain time, be sure to ask when the last bus leaves for a certain direction. Often the last bus departs a city center at a certain time and parks at the driver’s house near the final destination by the bus stop time, so they won’t head back to the city where you are likely to be staying. This may not be the case with a professional bus system where buses park in a depot, but minibuses tend to be private drivers running government approved routes on their own schedules.