Oct 302014

Hotel arranged a taxi to the airport for me for $10, and it was a quick and uneventful trip. Got there about 2 hours before flight time, and check-in wasn’t open yet. Chilled..well not really chilled since it was hot and humid…in the arrivals area for about 30 minutes until they announced check-in was open.

I was steered to a check-in counter, and my bags tagged to…Bali. Wait, what? I’m going to Darwin, not Bali! Oh, that’s the other check-in counter. Yes, they issued me bag tags and boarding passes without even verifying I was on the flight. Well done Sriwijaya Air, well done. Checked in with Air North, and paid up $30 for being overweight by 6kg on baggage…26kg when 20kg was the allowance. Yuck. I’m not used to flying like this!

Immigration was easy, except for the detour to another counter to pay the departure tax. Then it was through to the departure hall, where it was still an hour before the flight. Oh well, lesson learnt…no need to arrive the least bit early. Boarding was called about 15 minutes before the flight, and we walked out to the plane>



Once on board, a couple shots out the window. Welcome to Timor Leste posters:


Air North flight 519
Dili, Timor-Leste (DIL) to Darwin, Australia (DRW)
Depart 17:00, Arrive 18:45, Flight Time 1:15
Embraer ERJ-170, Registration VH-ANV, Manufactured 2009, Seat 15F
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Oct 292014

My ride was waiting for me when I exited immigration, and we were off to dive! Volker, one of the owners of Dive Timor was there to pick me up, and took me straight back to their dive shop / guesthouse / restaurant. I was staying at their guesthouse, which consisted of around ten different rooms/apartments/etc. It seemed the convenient option given my limited time, plus would help me to maximize diving time. In addition, one of the most popular restaurants in town was listed on TripAdvisor as being above their apartments, so seemed a win win.

Got to their location, and quick lodging check-in. They weren’t too full, so I ended up on a two bedroom apartment. Unfortunately, the air conditioner in the common area didn’t work, but the two in the bedrooms were quite strong so kept the whole place reasonably cool. For the price, it was a fantastic choice!

After about 30 minutes waiting for everyone to arrive, we packed up the scuba gear in the van and headed to the first dive site, Dili Rock West.


I hadn’t been diving since St Kitts back in July, but really wasn’t nervous. I had my gear, etc, and the only nervousness was that this would be my first short dive. I’d never gone into the water from the shore before. Plus, being on the other side of the world was kinda cool. I guess after diving in Seychelles it shouldn’t have been a huge deal, but hey.

Plan was to walk about 10-20 meters into the water, and then try and get the fins on and head further out. Unfortunately, the waves kept crashing down on us, and I panicked a slight bit. Eventually managed to get things sorted well enough that we could descend, and once underwater things were zen and peaceful. Unfortunately, I’d wasted quite a bit of air at this point. Fortunately, I’d decided not to take my camera on the first dive, so I could really just focus on getting used to the water again and enjoying the coral.

I’d used a full 1/3 of my air at this point, and we were only 6 minutes in. I was kind of nervous I was going to be the reason we had to come up early (especially since I often am the first one out of air) but once I calmed down I started using the rest of it really slowly. There were only four of us diving, and two divemasters. Two beginners with one, and me and a guy doing his advanced certification with the other.

It was a good 45 minute dive, and I was excited for the second. We walked about 1/2 mile down the beach to “Dili Rock East” and got ready for the second dive. This one was much easier, because I knew what I was doing a bit better and how to fight the waves when getting into deeper water.

Almost right after descent was a cool lionfish hanging out:


The reef dropped down to about 60 feet pretty quickly, and it was a cool view:


Cool coral:


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Oct 282014

Woke up super early the next morning due to the whole time zone thing, and managed to catch a bit of the sunrise over the hotel pool. Few cups of coffee and it was time to head to the airport where I hoped to avail myself of some Starbucks. No such luck, the Starbucks was located in the domestic terminal, and my flight was in the international terminal. Sad panda.


Check-in was nice and smooth, and soon it was time to pay the airport tax of 200,000 Rupiah (around $18) and wait in line for immigration. They had 6 desks open, but still took nearly 30 minutes to clear immigration. Sriwijaya had invited us to the “Premier Lounge” which was an adequate place to wait. There was caffeine and little raisin rolls, so life could be a whole lot worse!


The lounge was nice and spacious, however, it was rather warm inside:


Soon they called boarding, and I rushed over to the gate…which was right next to the lounge. Boarding was just starting, and I got some dirty looks for walking to the front of the queue, but that’s part of what you pay for with business class.

Sriwijaya Airlines flight 270
Bali, Indonesia (DPS) to Dili, Timor-Leste (DIL)
Depart 9:55, Arrive 12:50, Flight Time 1:55
Boeing 737-500, Registration PK-CMC, Manufactured 1995, Seat 2F


These seats look awfully familiar….wait…this used to be a United Airlines plane, and they’re the exact same seats! A quick check of the registration number, and check against my spreadsheet, and I’ve been on this plane before back in 2006! Matter of fact, I was in the exact same seat…as I doubt they’d changed them since then!

Oh, look what’s in the loo! Now THAT is just terrifying. They got this plane from United over a year ago, but still haven’t changed the soap dispenser?!


My seatmate was a very cranky Timorese guy, who kept complaining about everything. He was trying to seem worldly and important by speaking English with the flight attendants, but they were having none of it and kept speaking back to him in Bahasa, lol. He was a little Napoleon who just liked complaining and feeling important.

Pre-departure beverage choice was apple juice…so there was no choice. Take it or leave it. Not many drink choices once we were underway either…no diet coke, so I settled for water. The “chicken rice” was pretty decent at least. The desert was some super gelatinous thing that tasted better than it looked, but was still rather scary.


About 90 minutes later, we were on approach to Dili:





No jetbridges at Dili, and this is the walkway to the terminal:


View of our plane parked at Dili:


Overall, Sriwijaya Air was a perfectly pleasant experience. Decent small meal, relatively clean plane. It was clearly showing its age, but that’s not necessarily the most important thing as long as it’s well-maintained. I survived it, so I’ll just leave it at that. Overall, I’d fly them again if they were convenient on a route I needed to go on.

Visa on arrival counter was quick and efficient – pay your $30, stamp in your passport, receipt, and you’re on your way in 5 seconds. Immigration was also quick and it was time to get exploring my 160th country visited…Timor-Leste!