Tasi Tolu: A touch of chaos at Dili’s western bus terminal
Less of a terminal and more of a congregation, Tasi Tolu is the transport gateway to all points west in Timor Leste.
In theory it’s simple: Indonesian-style bemos and mikrolets wait for passengers before heading to Liquiçá, Gleno, Ermera, Balibo, Maliana and beyond. A simple, straight-forward transaction.
The reality can be slightly different. Visitors can be forgiven if they find the terminal, on the outskirts of Dili, a touch overwhelming. It is, after all, controlled chaos; with transport whizzing around as touts jostle for passengers the whole experience can be unnerving.
It can be noisy, too. Indeed, it’s possible to feel a vehicle’s presence, such are the bassy vibrations emanating from their huge sound systems.
Getting in an empty vehicle can be a double-edged sword. There may be space to stretch out but then the drivers will demonstrate the art of keliling as they scour for custom. An hour or so of this can be a trying experience for even the most patient of passengers. Factor in the heavy humidity compounded by a lack of air conditioning and it’s no wonder tempers can fray.
However, this is not to say the process is a negative one. Far from it. As visitors learn a few hacks – be it tapping a coin on a mikrolet’s handrail when their stop appears or getting a feel for when transport is genuinely about to leave – they’ll feel the country opening up to them.
Our advice: enjoy the ride.
Some good(ish) things to remember about Tasi Tolu:
- Journeys from Tasi Tolu should cost $3-$10 depending on location. Make sure to check prices before departing.
- On a related topic, it’d be a wise move to know some basic Tetun, especially numbers. While there’s not much bargaining going on the terminal is a frenetic place and minor details like prices can get lost in the malestrom.