Sights from the city center : Dili, Timor Leste

The beach had finally taken its toll on us. So, we delved deeper into the main roads of Dili, in the enchanting Timor Leste, searching for the offbeat, away from the touristy parts of the young country.


Click here for images from the beachfront in Dili.


One must-see item which miraculously (or stupidly) fell off my list, was the Immaculate conception Cathedral, which is supposedly the largest catholic cathedral in South East Asia. And how did it fall off my list? Because I saw the Motael church – pictured below – and assumed this was it. Well, I have made stupid travel mistakes before, and I just added another to the list.

motel church dili timor leste
I mistook the Motael church of Dili, to be the Immaculate conception Cathedral. Travel woes.


What is your stupidest reason to miss a flight? Read mine!


The good part (there is always a good part!) about this was that there was a school behind the Motael church, and it was lunchbreak when we visited it. The Timorese school kids watched in astonishment to see the rare sight of 3 foreigners taking pictures of a church they see everyday.

I am an Indian, so the kids found me too “similar” to be of any interest. But my 2 friends were clearly distinct. One was a Singaporean girl with Chinese ancestry, and another was a Brazilian guy. And in a matter of minutes, I was the official photographer for a bunch of pictures for the kids with the ‘actual foreigners’. This was a recurring theme through South East Asia, so I am not taken back. You did not hear me crib!!

Timor leste school children
A selfie is inescapable, even if in Dili.
Telkomsel dili timor leste
And Telkomsel is everywhere.

A short walk from the Motael church, will bring you to the Palacio de governo, which is now the office of the Prime Minister. Well, it’s still called Palacio De Governo, signifying that it was previously used by the Portuguese Governor, and by the Indonesian governer. And even by the UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor). The palace compound also housed the National parliament and the ministry of Finance.

Palacio de governo
Palacio de governo

What was a little surprising was that there was no restriction for me to enter the compound of the Prime Minister’s office of the country! I took the opportunity to take some pictures, so wasn’t really complaining about it.

Palacio de governo
You can still see this small monument outside the palace, signifying the role played by European oil and steel companies in rebuilding Timor.
Dili tribunal protest
This man was protesting alone, in front of the Dili tribunal. All slogans are in Portuguese, so not idea what he was actually protesting about.

After the Palace and the Dili Tribunal, we spent the next 2 hours watching a volleyball match. Yep, a volleyball match!

But this was not any ordinary match. We were lucky to pass by a volleyball court, and saw this community event for HIV awareness. So, the theme was that some of the local players would play another team that was made up of HIV positive people, in an effort to build integration. That was noble!

There was not a single foreigner in the court, so imagine the joy of the community when they saw this bunch of lost travellers stumble into their court? They gave us the centre-seats, right below the net, to watch the game! I was dying to talk to some of the players, but soon figured out that they did not talk much English. I watched the game and cheered on for a while.

dili timor leste volleyball match
A volleyball match held for HIV awareness. We watched for a while, and the crowd was super-cool with us.

It’s only been one day, but there is so much more to see in Timor Leste!


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