Oekusi Travel Guide

  • Oekusi
    by theo1006
  • Oekusi
    by theo1006
  • The Lifau landing site
    The Lifau landing site
    by theo1006

Oekusi Things to Do

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    A legacy of destruction

    by theo1006 Updated Nov 24, 2010

    Unlike in Dili, the destruction wrought by the militias in 1999 is still visible everywhere in Oecusse.
    All buildings constructed during the Indonesian occupation from 1975 to 1999 have been throughly burnt, only the brick walls left standing. Some historic buildings were destroyed too for good measure.
    Schools and a medical clinic (puskesmas in Indonesian) have been rebuilt, but the ruins of the original buildings have been left standing.

    1. The sisters running a Boarding School for Girls were forced to leave in 1975. The picture shows the ruins of their school at the beachfront. But the sisters are back since 2005 and their school has been rebuilt behind the ruins. They now host 48 girls.
    2. The signboard says: Future branch office of the Banking and Payments Authority. Ruins of a bank office on the waterfront.
    3. Ruins of a highschool, on the road to Lifau. A new building has been erected behind it, farther from the road.
    4. Ruins of a clinic, on the road to Lifau. The dwellings for doctors and nurses were destroyed too, but new buildings are close by.
    5. Ruins of the palace of the traditional king (raja) Antonio da Costa, on the beach front. He now lives in the thatched house visible in the background. "The people built this for me" he said.

    1.  Ruins of a boarding school for girls 2.  Ruins of a bank office 3. Ruins of a school buidling, new one behind it 4. Ruins of a clinic 5.  Ruins of the Da Costa palace.
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    A relic of the occupation

    by theo1006 Written Nov 5, 2009

    Also on the road to Lifau we saw this Indonesian monument, which has outlasted its purpose.
    The gate commemorates: "50 years of Indonesian independence" and "19 years of East Timor integration".
    Four years after it was built the Timorese chose independence.

    Indonesian monument that outlasted its purpose
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    The grave on Lifau hill

    by theo1006 Written Nov 5, 2009

    Behind the crosses on Lifau hill, our riders pointed out this heap of rock said to be the grave of a priest killed by disgruntled Timorese.
    One has to take their word for it. And come to think of it, how many Timorese have been killed by their colonizer?

    Said to be a priest's burial site
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Oekusi Transportation

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    Overland to Oecusse

    by theo1006 Updated May 9, 2013

    If you have flown to Dili, you can take the ferry for a side-trip to the enclave Oecusse. But we started out in Indonesia, so we tried the route overland from Kupang via Kefamenanu to the border and Pante Makasar on the Oecusse coast.

    Once in Kefa - by bus or otherwise - one has to proceed to the pasar lama where one can get on a minibus or ojeg to the border at Napan. We chose ojegs, fare Rp 25,000 for a half our ride to the border.

    Crossing no man's land at the border one has to walk, but the Indonesian border guards allowed one ojeg boy to walk with us to help carrying our luggage. He had never been as far as the Timor Leste border post before!
    Along the half a km walk one has to report at five border posts. First a post of the Indonesian army where they enter your passport details in a book, then another one of the Indonesian police who do the same thing. The third stop is at Indonesian immigration, where they stamp the date of your departure in your passport. We had an exit/re-entry permit; if you have only a single entry tourist visa for Indonesia, you cannot return the same way! You have to take the ferry to Dili, from where you can fly home or get a new visa for Indonesia.

    From the Indonesian immigration office we saw a barrier with the Timor Leste flag in the distance. There in a simple shed our luggage was inspected. Another short walk to the Timor Leste immigration office, to reach it we had to climb a rocky slope. The officer here stamped a "Class I visa" in our passports for the price of USD 30.

    We reached Pante Makasar for USD 3 per person. One dollar for an ojeg who takes you one km to the minimus (here called microlet) station. The first microlet brought us half way to the market village Tono for one dollar. Here we were ushered to another microlet which took us to Hotel Rao in Pante Makasar for another dollar.

    All in all a smooth trip, with practically no waiting time. One detail: do not try it on a Sunday, then the border is closed. However, the crossing at Wini, more to the east, is open on Sundays, so the Indonesian immigration officer informed us.

    Indonesian army border post Indonesian police border office (looking back) Indonesian immigration office (looking back) Timor Leste customs barrier Timor Leste immigration office
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    Getting on the boat to Dili

    by theo1006 Written Nov 5, 2009

    The boat from Dili arrives before daybreak and leaves again in the afternoon. We were advised to buy tickets at the office which is at the beachfront west of town. But when we arrived there, a crowd was thronging at the one window and soon we learnt that the tickets were sold out. Don't worry, they said, just be at the harbour on time.
    This is how it works. The boat is due to leave at 4 pm, we arrived at 2 pm and were allowed to put our luggage on board in the VIP room after paying the VIP surcharge of USD 5. But then we had to wait at the quay.
    At 3 pm suddenly the crowd started moving along the jetty to the boat. But they were stopped by officials before they could board, and were patiently herded back behind the wood and barbed wire barrier. Only then they started to let people board who had tickets. It took quite some time for all people with tickets from behind the crowd to pass through the barrier.
    When no more passengers with tickets turned up, they started letting people in who paid the fare of USD 4 cash in hand. So did we, paying a bill of USD 10 for the two of us. They hurried us through without bothering to return the change. What the heck, we were on board!
    And the boat left at 4 pm sharp!

    The harbour is several km east of town, and seems to have been built for the UN peace keeping force. Their equipment has been left behind just like that, and some of the containers now house squatters.
    Our boat the "Satya Kencana" was run by an Indonesian company. It soon would be replaced by a new one "made in Germany", so we were told. The schedule was three overnight trips a week to Dili, leaving Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; but of course that may change.

    Crowding at the ticket office The ferry harbour of Oecusse Boys playing at the jetty Ticketless passengers behind the barrier We made it on board the SATYA KENCANA
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    Piggyback around town

    by theo1006 Written Nov 5, 2009

    The only public transport around town in Pante Makassar are the ojeg's, riding piggyback on a motorcycle. It is easy to find one, boys with motorcycles hang around near the beachfront and on street corners. Standard fare for a ride in town is USD 1,-, including a ride to the ferry harbour. We negotiated a trip to Tulaica hamlet (about 10 km to the west) and back for USD 5,-.

    Ojeg riders at Lifau monument Crossing a river near Tulaica
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Oekusi What to Pack

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    No ATM in Oecusse!

    by theo1006 Updated Mar 8, 2010

    Miscellaneous: Be sure to bring enough money to Oecusse, USD in small notes. There is no ATM and the one bank office serves local customers only. USD 50 p.p. a day will do: accommodation USD 15, food USD 15, transport USD 10 (an ojeg ride in town costs USD 1, the same for a microlet ride out of town), reserve USD 10.

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