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Bali - Timor Leste

View South East Asia Grand Tour 2023 on Grete Howard's travel map.


David asks for two fried eggs for breakfast at the Harris Tuban Hotel in Bali this morning, but when they arrive, it seems that the chef thought he meant for two people, so he is carrying four eggs. I feel bad sending them back, but I really don't fancy eggs this morning. I stick with my favourite fried bananas.

The lobby at Harriis Tuban Hotel

I hate hanging around in hotels waiting to move on, so I am grateful for the early departure to the airport this morning (07:00). As always, we are early for the pick-up, but we haven’t been there long before the driver – also early – turns up.


I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport

One good thing to come out of mass tourism is that the airport is very well organised. The driver drops us off right by the Assistance kiosk, where I can sort out a wheelchair to take me to the check-in area. The girl locks up the kiosk and pushes me there – thankfully there is only a very short queue, and she can call another assistant, who brings another wheelchair in order for the girl to be able to return to her kiosk ready to assist further disabled passengers.

The check-in is smooth and easy, and the size and weight of the hand luggage is not even mentioned – which as a photographer is always a worry for me (the usual 7kg carry-on allowance is not enough for my camera equipment).


At the gate

The porter asks if I am able to travel down an escalator, which I will do if necessary, but I find my balance – or rather the lack of – rather worrying. At the time of boarding, however, I am informed that the escalator is broken, so the porter pushes me to the nearest lift, which takes us down into a huge, and completely deserted, transfer area, through an unmanned X=ray machine and back to the gate. Here we have to enter another lift, which is too small to fit the wheelchair in, so it has to be folded up, with me and the porter standing next to it. There is no room for David, so he takes the nearby stairs. We eventually get to the entrance to the plane and are able to board.

Citilink flight Bali – Dili

The plane is not even half full, so we are able to claim three seats for the two of us, giving us plenty of legroom. The in-flight meal is a pleasant surprise for a budget airline, and very tasty.

Nasi Ayam Betutu – Balinese dish of white rice with betutu (a local spice mix) flavoured chicken that comes with boiled egg, sautéed long beans, and peanuts with spiced toasted coconut.

Soon after the meal is finished, I fall into a deep sleep, and awake with a jolt as we land in Dili.

President Nicolau Lobato International Airport

With no wheelchair waiting for me at the bottom of the steps when I exit the plane, I decide to walk the short distance across the tarmac to the small terminal building. The first stage in the process is to join the queue of visitors waiting to purchase the Visa on Arrival.

I get pulled aside by an official, who looks at my passport and declares: “Norway. You’re free, you don’t have to pay”, and ushers me through to the next queue, for immigration. It is very slow moving, and at this stage, I wish I had that wheelchair, as it is generally not the walking that bothers me, but the standing still for any period of time.

David is still in the line for the VOA, but manages to join me just as I reach the front of my queue. The immigration officer doesn’t seem to believe that Norway is exempt from having to get a visa. He checks the list on the wall, which to be fair, does not mention Norway. After conferring with a colleague, he double-checks the aforementioned list. Norway still hasn’t appeared. Eventually, he just shrugs and stamps my passport anyway. I’m in.

There is thankfully a bench in the luggage hall where I can sit and rest my painful back as I wait for David to complete the immigration formalities.


We pick up our bags and head for the exit. At the customs inspection we are asked for a form. What form? We are shown a QR code posted on a pillar. QR codes are great, and work really well, providing you have internet access. We don’t. Neither of us even have a phone signal – not that I am willing to pay to use data on my phone to access the code. An official takes David across to a PC and helps him complete the necessary documents. And so we’ve arrived at country number 144.

Beachside Hotel

Danny, our drive-guide here in Timor Leste, is waiting for us just outside the exit., and takes us straight to our hotel. We drive through the sleepy capital, Dili, and out the other side to a delightful hotel where we have a large room with a seating area, a kitchen, and a balcony looking across the road to the beach beyond.


Room Service

After sorting ourselves out, David pops down to the bar to get some drinks, and a very sweet girl brings two glasses of wine and some lemon drizzle cake to the room for our afternoon tea. She is adamant that she doesn’t want to accept a tip for providing room service.


After a lovely little snooze, we wake up just as the sun is setting, and pop down into the bar for another drink.


The drinks arrive quickly – mine’s a Bacardi and Coke, while David is amused at draft beer – in a bottle.



There is a limited menu with mostly Western food, and the hotel’s café stops serving food at 19:00, so we promptly order a couple of dishes to keep us going.

My felafer burger with hummous

David's beef lasagne

Beach Cinema

Every Friday and Saturday the hotel shows a couple of films on a huge screen on the beach. This is certainly a first for us, but we feel too tired to stay and watch, and soon retire to bed. While at home we rarely sleep before midnight, when we travel, we usually end up in bed some time between 21:00 and 22:00.


Thank you to Undiscovered Destinations for putting together this amazing Grand Tour of South East Asia.


Posted by Grete Howard 10:19 Archived in East Timor Tagged bali indonesia flight airport cake visa cinema escalator immigration wheelchair customs south_east_asia dili east_timor citilink undiscovered_destinations visa_on_arrival check_in room_service qr_code in_flight_meal harris_tuban_hotel timor_leste i_gustii_ngurah_rai_airport president_nicolau_lobato_airpor beachside_hotel bacardi_and_coke draft_beer_in_a_bottle beach_cinema

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My gosh, 144 countries! That's amazing and really impressive! You are an inspiration. I only visited 67 countries hope to reach 100 one day, so your number is pretty awesome!! 🤩🤩🤩

by Ils1976

Thank you Ils. I am planning on 150 before I die. :)

by Grete Howard

Haha, good on you. I will be satisfied with 100, when I reach 150, I am certainly going to be thrilled! 😜😎😜

by Ils1976

♥♥♥ Ils

by Grete Howard

I'm impressed with your country count too :) I'm currently on 79 and like Ils am aiming for 100! Your room here looks good, especially that balcony, and I had to smile at David's beer :) I like the idea of the cinema on the beach too, even though like you we usually go to bed earlier when travelling than at home.

by ToonSarah

I started off aiming for 80, then when I reached that, 100, then 120. All being well, I should reach my 150 goal in January next year. Not sure if I will move the goal posts this time, it gets harder and harder, as I am now into the more obscure countries, and travel gets less easy as we get older.

by Grete Howard

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