I had wanted to go to Papua ever since I was in high school. When the ferry arrived in Weda, I was so excited. Inside the ferry, I realized there were not just other people on board – it was like a market, with so many different animals. There were around twenty cows, ten goats, lobsters, birds, chickens, and I don’t know what else. I chose to sit next to the cows because I cannot handle goat smells. It took a long time to get to Sorong because the ferry made many stops at other islands along the way. So, for two nights, I slept next to the cows.
Every time the ferry stopped and new passengers came on board, they covered their noses to protect them from the animal smells. They were usually surprised that I could sleep next to the cows for two days. I think my nose got used to the smell. This was one of ferry rides that I will never forget for the rest of my life. But this ferry not as bad as the chicken bus that I took when I was in high school. It was big Holiday in Indonesia and at that time airplane tickets were so expensive and suring holiday the price goes up. And the only options were economy bus because all the executive bust tickets are sold. My only option were economy bus, I just bought this ticket and never knew how the bus going to be, it was my first and one time to take economy bus from Bandung, west java to Sumatera. Soon I got to the bus, there they are all the chickens and rabbits and I stuck with them for four days because the bus stops everywhere and also the roads were so bad. I remember my family almost reports me to the police because they lost contact with me for four days. I found this experience amusing and fun. I felt sorry for the animals on the ferry and I was worried that they were stressed, but there was nothing that I could do about it.
One interesting and long stop that this ferry made was at Gebe Island. We stopped for 8 hours, so I decided I would disembark and drive around the island. One local followed me off the ferry, brought me to his house and introduced me to his friends. They then accompanied me on my drive around the Island. From them, I learned that Gebe used to be a mining island, but that the mining stopped a long time ago. I also learned that the government is trying to build new nickel smelter here. And guess what? The iconic island of Wayag in Raja Ampat, which I’d always wanted to go to, is a lot closer to this island than it is to West Papua. From Gebe Island, it only takes 50 liters of petrol while, from Waisai, it takes 200 liters of petrol. But because my ferry only stopped for 8 hours I don’t think I have enough time to go there.
Gebe was really pretty and I saw lots of beaches with white sand. Unfortunately, the roads are still very bad and it is difficult to travel around the island. I enjoyed my tour around the island with these locals. They were interesting guys and all they wanted was to develop their island and help the local economy. I really hope they can make their dreams come true.
I found out that after going to Sorong, my ferry will continue to Raja Ampat. So I decided to spend only one night in Sorong and then get back on the same ferry before it left again. First time arrived in Sorong I cant believe I finally came to the land that I’ve been dreaming for since long ago. In my head I was thinking exited to see the tribes and how they live and ect. Off from the ferry I started to noticed that most people look different than the rest of Indonesian people. And I also noticed that most people chewing betel nut and spat it everywhere. That grossed me out because iam not used to it but I also noticed they might look different, but they are also smile a lot. I kept on driving with excitement hoping to find tribes but I got disappointed because most people in Sorong are not Papuan, they are Javanese or Sundanese or other races. Some people came to Papuan through government transmigration program, and a lot of Javaneses followed these programs. I was so disappointed in Sorong because it wasn’t as I thought it would be,but I kept on driving but still did not find much to do in Sorong, so I just drove around the town. The next morning, I re-boarded the ferry and we left for Waisai, Raja Ampat. From Sorong to Waisai takes about two hours by speedboat. By ferry, it was much longer.
In Raja Ampat, I didn’t go to the famous icon of Raja Ampat, Wayag. Because to get there is very expensive – I would have to rent a boat, which would cost about RP 15,000,000 (USD $1,100). So instead, I drove around Waisai, the main island. I was enjoying the view until I found tons of rubbish that had been dumped next to the road. I felt so sad seeing a tropical paradise being ruined.
In Waisai, I camped inside the WTC (Waisai Torang Cinta) beach which means Waisai we all loved. There were a few families living there in the empty lots. They built this beach and make it pretty five months before I came, because there was an event called “Sail Raja Ampat” where the President of Indonesia came to Waisai. Unfortunately, five months after that… just five month after that, the beach is destroyed because no one took care of it. Most of the toilets here are broken. It is such a shame that the government spent so much money to build it but did not care about it afterward. They wasted so much money.
On the beach, at night, a lot of people get drunk and soon start fighting. The family who live at the shop lot there were worried about my safety so stayed up all night long, guarding me until morning. I didn’t know this until I talked to them in the morning. This family was so kind to me.
I planned to stay few days in Raja Ampat, but ended up only spending two days there. I went back to Sorong on a small wooden boat, where my bike had to be manually lifted onboard. Inside the boat, it was surprisingly comfortable and I slept the whole way to Sorong.