The history of Timor reads like ‘Lord of the Flies’ yet even more venomous and conflicted where Head Hunting used to be the islands pastime. Small Kingdoms were pitied against each other in eternal battles for land, resources and pride. Chieftains loyalties and alliances changed with fortunes and political tides. Then something happened that caused Timor to change forever, Portuguese explorers arrived and found riches and assets that could bring them great wealth on the European market. Opportunities were unlimited at this boundary of the known world and more European powers arrived on the shores. The two main elements to stay were the Dutch who colonized the West part of the island and the Portuguese who colonized the East. This act set the stage for different religious beliefs, different ideologies and different elegancies, and today it has resulted in the separation of West and East Timor.
West Timor remains part of Indonesia and typifies Indonesia’s diversity. Most arrive at the capital city of Kupang, which resembles most cities in the country, bustling, full of life, noise and horns trumpeting the sound of oncoming buses. To get here has become relatively easy with flights from Java, Bali and Australia. Boats also run frequently between the islands in Nusa Tenggara. Yet some famous people have arrived in Kupang in some very unceremonious circumstances, for example Captain William Bligh arrived in a life raft after his crew mutinied on the Bounty.
With peace in the land and a new sense of stability, tourism is on the rise and Timor has a lot to offer, from crystal clear waters to rugged and wild mountaintops. While travelling in this part of the country there is one thing that you will not escape and that is pure commercialized tradition. Here villages consist of families that have lived in the same honeycomb shaped home and cultivated the same land for untold generations. As you enter these remote villages you get a real appreciation of life that has remained untouched by many of todays modern conveniences. It is advised to take a local guide with you, as international languages are indeed foreign, even the national language Bahasa Indonesia is spoken reluctantly. Local is best, village chiefs are the law so show as much respect as possible, even to meet or eat with the Chief you are expected to give a gift. Some good villages to visit are Boti, Kefamenanu, Oelolok and Temkessi.
Religion is a blend of Christianity, Islam (to a lesser degree) and local beliefs that play roles in every part of daily life. If offered, we recommend that you try the Tuak, it is a quick alcohol made from fermented palm tree sap. It is not going to win any awards but it certainly makes you warm and fuzzy all over.
Most tourists find themselves not heading into the main island but actually heading South West to the island of Rote off the coast of Timor. The attraction is some of the most amazing, spectacular beaches and waves you can find. This once slave island is a growing tourist’s secret destination. It has Dutch and Portuguese influences and offers a wonderful insight into tradition and history. Yet what makes it different is its natural beauty with villages such as Nemberala and Boá and Oeseli providing virgin beaches and and thunderous swells that every surfer waits for their whole life.
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