Three days after Christmas we set off on a big bike tour around Timor. From Dili we rode south to Same, along the south coast to Viqueque and back up to Baucau, covering approximately 450 kilometres over 3 days. Some roads were great and others more rough, but 450 kilometres was enough to leave us heavily sunburnt and sore, requiring 2 solid days of recovery upon return (before any attempt to remove ourselves from the couch).
We left for Same on the Monday morning, a little apprehensive about the roads and what the wet season had in store for us once we were in the mountains. To our luck it was a smooth ride and the weather held up well until the final 10 kilometres or so.
The initial climb to Aileu was fairly steep and made me wish I had eaten less the day before. The road thereon was quite decent with the occasional ditch or puddle to circumvent. We passed numerous trucks overloaded with passengers and took their staring and pointing when roads were too narrow to overtake. The scenery along the way was spectacular and the landscape significantly greener than our previous ride.
The further we travelled, the louder the chorus of “hey mister” from each village. As we climbed higher and higher, the temperature dropped and the mist grew. Dark clouds loomed over the mountains ahead and there was a beautiful mystical feel. Soon it started pouring and I was forced to put my phone away and Instagram at a later time.
We reached our hotel in Same around 4pm just as the clouds cleared and the rain took a brief timeout. Hotel Uma Liurai is situated a little out of Same and proved a little tricky to locate with the directions we were given – “continue to Betano” and “2 storey yellow building”. The minute we were directed down the wrong road, the second clue became futile.
The hotel was lovely and the owner very friendly. The outdoor pool had just been completed and looked fantastic, however our trip back in town for beers had us completely drenched by the time we returned and and left no need for a dip. For $75 USD/night we took the luxurious room with a balcony facing the main street, watching life go by in the quiet little town with the occasional vehicle roaring past.
On Day 2 we set off around midday to give Joris time to recover from a headache he attributed to dengue fever. Thankfully it wasn’t dengue and just a case of overdramaticness. The ride down to the coast was beautiful and gave us a good feeling about the road ahead. Sadly it was short lived and the rest of the way was bumpy with only a small hint of a previously sealed road.
It was a relief finally arriving in Viqueque but the road from there went from bad to worse and we chugged on over rough and rocky for another 10 kilometres till our eco-lodge in Liuhuno. With sore backs and tender bottoms, we arrived at our accommodation oblivious (at first) to the beautiful surroundings it was set.
The next morning we left relatively early and prayed the road would improve for the sake of our bottoms. Our prayers were partially answered and every now and then we received a 20 metre strip of sealed road. But the route to and beyond Ossu was incredibly scenic and the sky a photogenic blue, so it kept us well distracted.
We reached Baucau around midday, observed the gloom weather and made a quick decision to continue on rather than stay the night.