The first thing you notice is the broad smiles on their faces.
Travelling through the north-eastern side of Timor-Leste, the country is steadily recovering from years of oppression and violence. Yet remnants of 1999 anti-independence militia attacks and the 2006 coup are visible only in the shadows of the spirit of the Timorese people.
There is palpable joy on the streets at this time of year; a genuine warmth among the locals. The Tour de Timor mountain bike race is making its way through the country. The gruelling five-day race is known as one of the toughest in South East Asia. Riders navigate tough terrain in a harsh and humid climate. And the Timorese crowd loves it.
Passing through villages, locals greet visitors with a genuine smile that only widens when returned.
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