The opportunity to go to East Timor with The Points Guy, Brian Kelly, was a total surprise and blessing. Timor Leste is an extremely small country near Bali. It gained its independence from Indonesia in 1999 so it a very new country, and also it is listed as the 6th poorest country in the world. It definitely was not high up on the ‘places in the world to visit’ list, as none of the four people on my crew had ever even heard of it. We were scheduled to arrive on Sunday, with Brian and his family arriving Monday, and were going to stay for a week filming various events, a Peace Jam conference for our documentary On Board, and some epic scuba diving on the island of Atauro.
The eruption of Mount Agung in Bali however, changed up our plans a bit. We were on one of the last flights out of Bali before the airport closed for over two days. It stranded the TPG team there and left our crew scrambling a bit as we had to navigate through the schedule without our key subject. Definitely a lesson in going with the flow. We were still able to film the amazing coffee forest, the Peace Jam conference, and hundreds of different scenic shots on the mainland. People were so nice and unassuming and didn’t mind that we had cameras pointed at them constantly. We filmed random soccer games along the side of the road, with both kids and adults. We definitely felt like we were on another planet, it was so different than the US.
On our second to last day we took a 45 minute boat ride to Atauro. It is a private island located off the coast of Timor Leste, although it is part of the country. There we stayed at a unique hotel called Below Beach Hotel. The hotel had only 8 rooms, and we were the only guests occupying 5 of the 8 rooms. There we were fed with buffet style meals, enjoyed the pool and took an amazing scuba diving trip in the morning to explore on of the most biodiverse diving reefs on earth (where I got to film with the A7s). We returned back to East Timor for one final night and then escaped to Singapore for one day because of the Bali airport closure. This was a truly amazing trip, we’ll never forget.