It is hard to believe this is the capital of the new nation. There is hardly anything, and this was before a lot was destroyed by the Indonesian army which was controlling the territory it had annexed forcefully.
When we were driving up the road from Dili to Aileu and Maubisse our driver stopped at a vantage point to show us the official residence of Timor Leste's president. Used mainly for representative purposes, because Ramos Horta has a private home which he prefers.
What our driver did not say, was that this same mansion was once the residence of "the most hated man in East Timor", viz. the Indonesian administrator. And that it was throughly destroyed on the eve of Timor-Leste's independence.
A petrol tanker and a wooden pinisi were pretty much all there was to see weeks before the referendum. The passage of our PELNI boat and the presence of UN cars was pretty much the only animation - calm before the unleashed violence following the vote for independence.
The president's official residence is only for representative purposes. President Ramos-Horta lives in a private home built in traditional style. This reminded us of Ho Chi-Minh who also had a traditional house built for himself, which is now a pilgrimage site in Hanoi.
The house lies on a turnoff from the road to Christo Rei. The turnoff is guarded by both Timor-Leste and UN military. When they have convinced themselves that you are innocent tourists, they let you through. When we were talking to the guards at the house, the president's brother came out and invited us for a cup of coffee!