As some of you guys know, I left Sulawesi for Papua a little over a month ago. However, I’ve been slightly lazy to tell you guys about it until now I guess. But that’s not the whole story because not once in my month long stay did I have access to wifi or real internet. It really wasn’t usable on my phone, considering it sometimes took an entire afternoon just to open one email–and that’s if I’m lucky (about 25% of the time) and my battery still lasted. It’s hard to explain this whole “Papua” concept because it really isn’t like the rest of Indonesia or anything I’ve experienced to compare to. There’s about 270 different languages spoken there and many of the tribes have not seen the “white man” until the 1950s or 60s. Certain sections of Papua might just be the last place on the planet to get developed. Hope this background check doesn’t bore you guys…
Anyhow, I flew into Papua via Sorong, which is perhaps the dirtiest place I’ve been to. As my plane approached Sorong, my face was pressed against the window watching all the kids and dogs clearing their soccer court that also happened to be the airstrip. There was just one other plane in the airport. In less than 24 hours upon my arrive in Papua, I’ve had close to a dozen people (mostly girls:) come up to me shyly and ask for a photo together. I might’ve made it into either a coffee promotion commercial or many facebook profile pictures, but I couldn’t understand what these girls were saying/explaining. The concept that I’m from America while looking like Chinese seemed to be mind blowing for many Papuans.
I almost hitched a free ride to Raja Ampat, my ultimate destination in Papua, with my new Columbian friend in Sorong. Unfortunately that didn’t work out so we had to pay for a ferry that departed an hour late because the crew forgot to that they needed to refuel the boat everyday before it was scheduled to depart. Before long, I arrived in the largest town in Raja Ampat: Waisai. I explored a few areas around the town by either walking or hitching rides on the back of trucks. In all honestly, it was definitely not the most pleasant place due to the amount of trash around, but that’s the real Indonesia/Papua.
We could all write books on how ridiculous the prices the other locals boat drivers wanted to charge for a 3 hr boat ride to Wayag, said to be one of the most beautiful places in Raja Ampat. Let’s just say the cost of the boat minus the cost the petrol was equivalent to between one-third to half a year’s wage for many Indonesians. And then after a stressful morning of waiting and complaining and talking with some of the organizers of the festival going on in Waisai, my friends and I managed to get onto a boat to visit Wayag for free. These pics just don’t do it justice:
It only gets better when you circle around these small domes jutting out of the ocean.