It doesn't take much for West Timor to get under your skin. A smile in someone's direction will see their face erupt in one, too. It might reveal teeth stained red from chewing betel; one framed by wrinkles in the rugged countryside; a yelp and wave from a music-thumping bemo in Kupang – the coastal capital and East Nusa Tenggara’s metropolis – or the noticeable absence of them on deserted beaches.
Within its mountainous, lontar palm–studded land, animist traditions persist alongside tribal dialects and chiefs preserve adat (traditional law) in traditional beehive-hut villages. Hit up one of the many weekly markets and you’ll not only get a feel for rural Timor life, but be the star attraction as you eavesdrop on one of 14 different languages spoken on the island. Although West Timor is a relatively undiscovered gem, you'll still be welcomed wherever you go.