Backpacking Information on East Timor

Population: 857,000 (UN, 2005)
Capital: Dili
Area: 14,609 sq km (5,641 sq miles)
Major languages: Tetum and Portuguese (official), Indonesian and English (working languages)
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 56 years (women), 54 years (men) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 US dollar = 100 centsThe Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is one of a few countries who have not always had it easy, and to this moment still remains shaky. Overshadowed by the repute of neighbouring countries, Timor-Leste neither suffers nor benefits from the international media, and with a freshly self-determined nation and underdeveloped tourism industry, the new republic has a rocky but bright road ahead. East Timor is the first new sovereign state of the 21st century. After having been assaulted with violence and control by Indonesia for almost a quarter of a century, Timor-Leste has definitely seen better days.What remains hidden to the world’s eyes is East Timor’s rich cultural heritage from tens of thousands of years of civilizations and culture, enriched and given more depth and flavour by 4 centuries of Portuguese colonial occupation. The Land of Discovery, Timore-Leste just 400 miles to the north of Australia, is an inviting peace of secretive mystery with lots of treasures in store on land and sea. Instituted as a nation just of late in 2002, the people struggle with a lower than middle income economy with billions of oil dollars in the bank that have not been mostly utilized and disseminated to rebuild it.Within decades of resistance from Indonesian military, slaughter of a third of the population is one of the worst brutalities that nearly wiped out a nation the world has seen in the 20th century. True, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But the real story is how splendid and refreshing an escape Timor-Leste is now because it is a land too far out, too far gone.GEOGRAPHYTimor-Leste (8 50 S, 125 55 E) is the largest of the Lesser Sunda Islands with an area of 14,874 km2. The terrain is basically mountainous, especially to the north and east. The Paitchu Rnage and Iralalaro are easternmost, the latter being possibly the last of tropical dry forest within the country home to extraordinary flora and fauna and top priority for conservation. The north coast features abundant coral reef systems. The highest mountain is the Tatamailau with an altitude of 2,963 metres above sea level. The lowest point is the Timor Sea that separates Australia from the country. It is rich in petroleum, natural gas, and gold.CLIMATEThe climate in these parts is tropical with a mean temperature of a roasting 30 °C, quite like the countries nearby with 2 seasons of hot and wet, but the pattern is rather screwed up. The hot and dry season is through the months of June to October, what is to most SEA countries the rainy season, and the wet and rainy season is from November through May. The onslaught to nature of a slash and burn agriculture does very little comfort in the heat or the flooding.PEOPLEBut as a nation of a people with a deep sense of community, always helping each other one out in times such calamities strike, the Timorese are the country’s real treasures. It is that one place where you’ll enjoy more the company of locals than the place itself. And East Timor has a population of 1,131,612, that’s a million times the hospitality and smiles. Back then, journalists are not welcome in Timor-Leste, but the tiny nation is slowly but surely opening up to the world and tourism.RELIGIONEast Timor is also one of just two nations in the South East that are predominantly Christian (Roman Catholic, 97% and Protestant, 1%), the other being the Philippines. On the other hand, Muslims constitute 1% of the population, Hindus, 0.5%, and Buddhists, 0.1%. The Timorese are mostly Austronesians and Papuans, while a small enclave of Chinese form the minority. Christianity unfortunately is one of the main catalysts to violence of Indonesian Muslims toward the Timorese such as the mass murder of 1999 in Suhai and kidnapping of thousands of children in 2002 to indoctrinate Islam.LANGUAGETETUM, an Austronesian language, and PORTUGUESE are the two official languages of the state. At present, there are more than 25% of Timorese and growing proficient in Portuguese for purposes of communicating with the world outside. The form more widely used is Tetun-Dili, apparently the Tetum learned by Portuguese colonizers in DIli which has evolved to have immense Portuguese influence. ENGLISH and INDONESIAN are considered as trade languages, significant as vehicles to business, education, and foreign matters. As a sum, there are around 16 indigenous languages spoken all over the island.ATTRACTIONIndeed Timor-Leste is a small land with big offerings. With its sort of reversed climate, this country makes a great getaway when all else in Asia is cloudy and wet. Even with a backtracked but budding tourist infrastructure, there’s just enough magic and beauty to compensate for the butt-painful road travel especially for the adventurous, without undue travail. Timor-Leste is an underground paradise, an underwater surprise teeming with an eclectic range of marine life and pristine coral reefs.First off, there is Dili where the country’s best beaches are in holed up, much like the ghost pipe fish, leaf scorpion fish, and angler fish. In the North Coast, on the other hand, from Tutuala to Liquisa to the west, are superior shore-diving in the world with reefs plotted as near to the shore as possible 10 metres near like Bubble Beach where marine life is rare like barracudas, octopuses, and critters. Atauro Island, however, is a snorkelling hotspot, no doubt. Same and Ermera’s large coffee plantations are also worth the visit.To the east of the country is the Nino Konis National Park-one of the last surviving tropical lowland rainforests in the world where the traveller can go trekking, diving, and bird-watching (Timor Bush Warbler-distinct endemic bird species). The park has been well protected in part to the country’s ECOTOURISM agenda with its rich coastal environment. In Timor-Leste, a tenner a day is beyond a possibility.FOODTo most outsiders, Timorese cuisine is a blank page, and there is some truth to it. With an economy and agriculture that’s way far from developed to sustain and supply an entire nation, and almost half the population below the poverty line, food to the Timorese is mostly consumed to get by. Nonetheless, the most innovative creative cuisines come from the ingenuity of a group of people who have close to nothing. Rice is a staple but in the absence of, there are sweet potatoes, cassava, taro and corn. There isn’t much insight to a national dish as of yet, but the common Timorese meal is one with rice, meat, and spices, closely resembling Indonesian cuisines of “rice and spice”. There are Western foods served in restos and cafes in the urban Timor for the more affluent foreigners who live and work there.Timorese gastronome is an amazing fusion of Malay/Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese influences. Fish, specifically fried fish, is among the most popular dishes here the cuisine of fish termed as pepes, while curries, like chicken recipes, are a famed fave, but Indonesian food is very close to the Timorese’ heart and stomachs if not for proximity and influence. Fresh dessert is characteristically Timorese which could be anything from bananas, mangoes, papayas, and watermelons. Fruits can be eaten during or after the meal because dessert per se is not a culinary concept in Timor-Leste. Dessert can also mean snack like pudim de coco or the Portuguese custard tart creme caramel. And they eat dog too, sometimes. Nowhere has the saying “danger is what makes life worth living” been more true than Timor-Leste where people are not shy of optimism and forgiveness.

Backpackers Travel Insurance

If you are planning to travel the world as a backpacker, you will definitely want to look at getting backpackers travel insurance.Backpacking around the world can be an extraordinary experience, but it’s also risky. You never know what might happen you are travelling abroad. The last thing you want to do when traveling in end up in an emergency only to find out that you need some sort of help but can’t afford that help.Travelers insurance will ensure that you are adequately covered in the event of any emergency. Backpacking is particularly risky. You can’t just get regular travelers insurance because you may find some activities related to backpacking simply are not covered by your insurance plan. A backpacker traveler insurance plan is a special travel insurance plan that takes into account the extra risk you will encounter when backpacking.What will backpacking travel insurance cover exactly? You can rest assured that all medical expenses will be covered. Doctor fees, emergency medical transportation, hospital fees, even dental are all covered by backpacking travel insurance.It’s crucial that you have health insurance when you travel because health problems are the most common sort of emergency you may experience when backpacking. Most problems are relatively minor, but you could encounter some problem that’s a big issue. This is when you want the insurance to provide the cover you need. There are certainly plenty of real stories where backpackers experience some type of medical emergency but are not covered for that emergency. The costs can be astronomical.So before you go backpacking abroad, make sure you have look at an adequate backpackers travelers insurance plan first – it’s the most important thing you can do.

5 Ways to Avoid Culture Shock While Backpacking in Foreign Countries

There are a multitude of reasons to backpack – everyone has their own unique ideas as to why they want to sling a pack on their shoulders and take off to some foreign country for a few weeks or months. For some, it’s the freedom that comes with traveling on their own, or because it is an inexpensive way to see the world. Others just like the adventure that comes with it and the ability to get away from their normal everyday lives for a while.Anyone can backpack, but for most of us it can seem scary at first. It’s only natural that you feel a little intimidated at the idea of striking out on your own in a foreign country – after all, the people have different customs and speak a different language, so you’ll have to figure out how to get around, find food and accommodations, and keep yourself safe and healthy. The key is to introduce yourself to it slowly by learning and practicing – no one just shows up in a foreign country for the first time and is immediately at ease. When you’re learning how to backpack, being well prepared gives you confidence that you’ll know what to do no matter what happens. Here are a few suggestions:#1 – Educate yourselfBefore traveling to a country, study it. Learn something of the language and about the people, the way they live, and how they behave toward Americans. Look on government websites for travel warnings and overviews of any country in the world. Talk to others who have backpacked or traveled extensively and ask them for advice on what challenges you might face. Read travel journals from backpackers to see what they encountered.Take a First-Aid and/or CPR course. Learn what health risks exist in the country you want to visit. Learn how to keep your valuables safe when you travel and what to do if they are stolen or lost.#2 – PracticeIf you’re bad with directions or are intimidated by unfamiliar places, go somewhere you’ve never been before, without a map (or for safety’s sake, keep the map in your pocket and don’t look at it unless you are hopelessly lost). A small town that isn’t too spread out is ideal for this. Just start walking (don’t drive except to get yourself into the vicinity) and ask the people you meet some questions about the area, what there is to do there, and for directions to somewhere – it doesn’t matter where. Then follow the directions until you find the place they spoke of. Spend an afternoon exploring the place and mingling with the local people. This is a situation you may run into often while backpacking – why not see how you handle it while in your own country?Also, look into ways to practice speaking the language of the country you want to visit. If there is one thing that will make your backpacking trip easier, it is the ability to communicate with the locals. Just some basic phrases are usually enough, but the more you can speak the better. It is difficult to travel without the help of local people – you will need to order food, request hotel rooms, ask for directions, inquire about transportation, etc.To further prepare for uncomfortable situations, do something that intimidates you as often as you can – start with something small and go bigger. Try things like shouting out suddenly in the middle of a public place so that everyone looks at you.Do some new activity that you know you won’t be good at, like playing golf on a difficult course where the more skilled players go. Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes despite people who may be watching or even waiting on you to finish.As a traveler in a foreign country, you will stand out; learn to be comfortable with that. In all likelihood, you will make some mistakes and perhaps look like a fool a few times when backpacking, which is excellent because that is the best and perhaps the only way to learn. Just know this – whatever mistakes you make, another backpacker somewhere has made a worse one and looked like a bigger fool than you ever could. Learn to shake off your mistakes and do better next time. The fact that you are willing to face and overcome your fear in pursuit of a goal demands respect.#3 – Don’t do it aloneFind a good friend who’s interested in backpacking and do it together. Nothing adds to your confidence like the knowledge that there will always be someone with you whom you can rely on.#4 – Be Enthusiastic and OptimisticHave you always dreamed of going to a certain place? Maybe the Taj Mahal, Paris, the Great Barrier Reef, or the Andes Mountains? Wherever that dream place is for you, this is your opportunity to go there and to fulfill that dream. Let your enthusiasm give you the motivation as well as the confidence to learn how to backpack and how to get to that dream destination despite any fears or doubts that may hinder you. People from every walk of life are backpackers – high schoolers, retirees, married couples, single moms – all of them overcame their doubts and fears and went on to experience all the amazing things that backpacking has to offer. You can do it too.#5 – RelaxIf you take the time to learn and practice you will succeed at backpacking. It won’t always be easy, but challenging yourself is one of the main reasons to do it. Be calm, take on the challenges one at a time and you’ll have little to worry about.