Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eco-tourism and Forest Preservation in Manokwari

Ecotourism is one of the ways that I try to promote to improve the standard of living of Papuan people and at the same time protect the rainforest or the marine environment in Manokwari city. The money which tourists spend to buy fruits, souvenirs and pay local guides will propagate the local economy and attract the local people to develop alternative businesses that are not related to timber extraction from the rainforest. Instead of hunting animals and cutting trees, the Papuan – after escorting foreign tourists and getting the payment for being travel guides, or selling environmentally friendly souvenirs will feel that their forest is highly valuable for tourism and will preserve it voluntarily to attract more visitors.
View of the Mountain Range of Arfak in Manokwari regency
Arfak Mountains in Manokwari
Papua is very rich of natural resources. Everybody who knows Papua agrees about it. Yet, the living quality of many indigenous Papuan is still low. Many in remote mountainous region are lack of education, and health services. They live in very simple houses which most of them without electricity and clean water. In contrast, Papuans who work as government workers have much better standard of living than their fellow brothers and sisters who are not state employees.
It is not surprising to see that most Papuan youth particularly fresh graduate are dreaming of becoming Pegawai Negeri (state employees). They believe that by being state employees, they will be able to make a lot of money through “cooperation with contractors and businessman as well as investors in various projects and provisioning works (read: collusion, corruption and nepotism).” If we see from the Indonesia’s corruption index, the provinces of Papua and West Papua are among the worst in Indonesia.
At the same time, the number of migrants, coming from other parts of Indonesian islands, is rising rapidly. Transmigration program has destroyed huge areas of Papua’s tropical rainforest. Although a lot of “farmers” have been imported from outside Papua, this region is still far from self sufficient in rice. Every month thousands of tons of rice is still imported from outside Papua. It is clear that the main reason behind the transmigration program is not purely agriculture but something else.
The irresponsible extraction of Papua’s natural resources threatens the existence of rainforest and harms the coral reef environment.
The promotion of eco-tourism, that I am talking about here, must address public education about the importance of preserving the environment through schools and mass media. The education about the responsible extraction of natural resources and the promotion of responsible tourism is not aimed at foreign tourists alone but also the whole population of Papua and Indonesia.
Reading REDD-Monitor’s website, I am shocked to find out that Indonesia has entered the Guinness Book of Records 2009 for clearing 1.8 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2005.
To eliminate Indonesia’s name from the book, and regain our “honor” and most importantly restore our “forest”, all the people in this country must participate. Those who do not live near the forest can reduce their CO2 emission by reducing the consumption of fossil fuel, by riding bicycles, by not using plastic tote bags and by participating in beach clean up activities, and etc. Those who live near the forest must stop cutting the trees and begin conducting reboisation that is important for restoring the already destructed forest.
As the citizen of Manokwari city, I have seen directly how the businesses and the citizens abuse the rainforest around our regency. When logging companies cut the trees, city dwellers dump their domestic wastes into the nearby forest. Tens of thousands of Papuan pristine tropical rainforest is being cleared to make way for palm oil plantation. Hunters go into the forest at night to shoot bats and kuskus not for their meat but more as a hobby. They are not starving! They have good house, and they ride hardtops or expensive motorcyles. It is sad to see that little has been done to stop the killing of wild animals in the protected forest in Table Mountain and Arfak Mountain that are located close to Manokwari city.
I hope that by writing stories about my activities in promoting responsible tourism and forest preservation in my website and blogs, more and more people will participate in fighting deforestation and preserving our environment. This was written by Charles Roring

View of Manokwari city in West Papua

The following photograph was taken by Mikhail Trokhimenko, a Russian tourist who came to Manokwari city, the capital of Papua Barat province in January 2010. The photograph was shot from Jati Area
The view of Manokwari city
The view of Manokwari city as seen from Panoramaweg (Brawijaya street)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Arfak tribe from Manokwari carried a house miniature

The following pictures are the miniature of Papuan traditional wooden house which they usually called "Rumah Kaki Seribu". This house miniature was being carried by the Arfak tribe from Manokwari of Papua during the Cultural Carnival on 6 February 2010

A tribe from Arfak mountains in traditional costume were participating in Karnaval Budaya
A Street Parade in Manokwari by a tribe from Arfak mountains wearing traditional clothing

Also read: The Traditional House Competition in Manokwari Papua

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Traditional House Competition in Manokwari Papua

There is Papuan traditional house competition which is carried out in Manokwari town every year. The houses that the local Papuan build are called Rumah Kaki Seribu (meaning A Thousand Feet Houses). The city dwellers build these Papuan wooden houses at empty yards in front of their houses all over the town. The competition is carried out to celebrate the Gospel Landing Day on 5 February. The construction materials which are used for building such houses are from the nearby forest, mostly in the Table Mountain. 
Rumah Kaki Seribu di Manokwari
Rumah Kaki Seribu (A Thousand Fee House)
Recently, some nature lovers have expressed their concerns over the exploitation of woods from the forest for the competition. Every year hundreds of cubic meters of woods, tree barks, and plants, leaves are taken from the forest for the traditional home building competition. Until now, local authorities are not aware that such competition has caused more damage to the tropical rainforest in the Table Mountain and the Afrak Mountain of Manokwari regency. Unless they stop such competition, more woods will continue to be cut from surrounding forest of the Manokwari town every year. 
Arfak mountains - A Popular Hiking Destination
Arfak mountains of Manokwari is a world class hiking and trekking destination which attract backpackers from all around the world every month. The tropical rainforest that covers the mountains is the natural habitat of various species of animals that are endemic to New Guinea island such as the magnificent birds of paradise, the vogelkop bower bird, cuscus possum, tree kangaroo and giant lizards called soa-soa. To watch the birds of paradise, travelers can go hiking in Kwau village (high elevation forest) and Warkapi village (low elevation forest). 
For those who are more interested in meeting the indigenous Papuan people who live in the Arfak mountains can take a hiking trip from Mokwam to Anggi. It takes around 2 days to complete the walk and hikers need to bring their several backpacking tools such as Swiss knife and machete with them. These tools are needed to cut twigs of woods, make fire and cook food. In addition to bringing the above tools, hikers also need to have a water resistant tent with them as a comfortable shelter at night. Because heavy rain frequently occurs in the tropical rainforest of Arfak, a special water resistant tent should be carried while hiking in the mountains. If possible, buy a tent that will keep you dry from the muddy soil and safe from snakes and bugs while sleeping at night.
The above tent has been specially designed and manufactured for those who want to go hiking in the tropical region. It is light and more resistant to moisture, mildew and rain. by Charles Roring
Also read: 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Any cruise ship sailing to Manokwari Papua?

There were cruise ships sailing to Manokwari in 1980s from abroad. Now I haven't seen any. As cruise ships routes change according to the tour packages that they offer to tourists, Manokwari will not be in a fixed port of calls for them. If you prefer traveling to Manokwari by ship instead of by airplane, there are passenger ships that serve sailing route from Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar, Sorong to Manokwari and finally Jayapura operated by PELNI, an Indonesian state owned sea liner. These passenger ships cost much cheaper for economy class compared to the rates offered by most airline companies that provide flight to Manokwari from Jakarta. For first class ticket of passenger ships, its price is not too different from the airplane ticket, in fact, it sometimes more expensive.
KM NGGAPULU di Manokwari
PELNI's Passenger Ship Motor Vessel Nggapulu

Sailing to Manokwari on passenger ships may take several days up to one week depending on which port you embark from. PELNI ships provide cheap or affordable sea transportation in regular schedule.     

Two Norwegian Students Suffer from Malaria Tropica

Despite Suffering from Tropical Malaria, two Norwegian researchers continue working on gathering data in the villages of Manokwari regency related to their thesis works. Linda and Tan have to face hot weather (up to 30 degrees celcius) during the day and tropical mosquitoes at night. Both are now suffering from malaria, a deadly disease in Papua. It is amazing to see how these Norwegian students are not worried about their health condition. It is clear that their physical condition is not well enough to do such field work but malaria cannot stop them. This morning, I and Iva escorted Linda to Poliklinik Santa Monica, which is run by Catholic sisters, to meet dr. Peter. The doctor gave her three Sundox (malaria pills) which are meant to eliminate the malaria from her. He said that Linda must take a rest but she insisted on continuing her field research before flying to Jakarta ten days from now. Linda also suffers from stomach pain. Sudden change in weather and food make these Norwegian students fall ill during their field research. Well, I hope that they will get better before flying back to their country, Norwegia.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Raimuti Island of Manokwari Papua

There are three islands in the Dorey bay of Manokwari Papua. They are Mansinam (the largest), Lemon, and Raimuti (the smallest). There are not any people living in the island. Some fishermen make the island as their resting place after catching fish at sea. This island is only several hundred meters from the Arfai beach of the main Papua island. There is an Indonesian army garrison on Arfai hill. Some mangrove trees live in the island. These vegetations prevent the island from rapid erosion due to sea current and waves. Coral reef that can be found thriving around the island is a great home for fish and other marine animals.
A Russian traveler in Raimuti island of Manokwari

Raimuti can be a great place for scuba divers due to the existence of planewrecks that sunk around the island. It is also a great place for tourists who want to enjoy sunbathing without being disturb by other town dwellers of Manokwari. Raimuti is not a favorite recreational beach for them. They prefer to swim at Pasir Putih beach on Sundays. To reach Raimuti island, tourists can hire an outrigger canoe for Rp. 100,000/day.(around 10 US dollars). Pay 50,000 rupiahs if you only use the boat from around 12.00 p.m to 18.00 p.m. Bring your  own gear, if you want to scuba dive in Raimuti or other islands in the Dorey bay of Manokwari regency of Papua island.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Manokwari Street Parade Commemorating Gospel Landing Day

Street parade has been an annual agenda for GKI di tanah Papua (Evangelical Christian Church in Papua Land). It is usually held on 3 and 4 February before the celebration of Gospel Landing Day on 5 February. Today is the 4 fourth of February and I just returned from Jalan Merdeka to watch the street parade or in the local term here we called Karnaval Budaya (meaning Cultural Carnival). 
During the parade, the participants sang songs gospel and traditional songs, performed dances, and wore traditional costumes. Tens of thousands of Christians come from various towns and villages in Papua and other provinces in Indonesia to Manokwari town the participate in this parade creating several kilometers of traffic congestions along the main streets.
Set in the Dorey bay under the Arfak mountain facing the Manokwari town, Mansinam island became the first place where two German missionaries settled to preach Christianity to Papuan people. Otto and Geisler landed on Mansinam island to preach Christianity to, what Alfred Russel Wallace in his book entitle the Malay archipelago called, "the savage people."  Now majority of the Papuan population are Christians. 
Besides being famous for religious tourism, its beautiful scenery and underwater shipwrecks continue to attract foreign tourists from around the world. Just tens of meters away off the Cross monument of the island, lies the Pillbox shipwreck which has usually become the starting point for divers. Another bigger shipwreck, the Shinwa Maru - a Japanese ship and coral reef can be explored at the south east off the island.
Private Guided Tour
Manokwari is your gate to Arfak mountains - a very beautiful hiking trip destination. Travelers who want to go to Numfor island also need to go to Manokwari first before continuing their trip by airplane or by ferry boat to Numfor. As a tour guide, I provide a private guided tour services for you if you want to go hiking in the mountains or enjoy snorkeling over the coral reef of Mansinam and Numfor island. I can also escort you to see the Mount Botak in Momi Waren of in the southern region of Manokwari regency. If you are interested, please, contact me via email:, I will be happy to arrange your trip and escort you around Manokwari or Numfor island.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Bats Have Left Mansinam Island of Manokwari Forever

This week Mansinam island will become the center of attention for all Christians in Papua. On 5 February thousands of Christians will gather on this island to celebrate the Gospel Landing Day. On 5 February 1855 two European evangelists landed on Mansinam island to preach Christianity to the indigenous Papuan. Well, I am not going to talk about this event. In today's post, I just want to remind us about bats of Mansinam - night flying animals that used to live at the south eastern region of the island.
When I was a high school student some twenty years ago, I visited Manggewa beach that was located at the back of the island. I and my friends swam and had a barbecue there. Behind us were tropical rainforest where bats hanged during the day. There were lots of them. When we were there, I saw some people were shooting the bats. I was sad but I could not do anything.
Now more and more people have come to the island and settled there. More of these animals were hunted. And more trees have to be cut to make way for new housings. Being threatened by huntings and rapid clearing of Mansinam forest, these bats had to move to the main Papua island. Before I left for Maluku to study naval architecture, I saw thousands of bats flying over Manokwari town to the west area, i.e. to the forest area that is still in pristine condition. I thought they flew there to find food as usual.
Last January 2010, three Russian eco-tourists Mikhail, Inga, and Dima landed on Manggewa beach of Mansinam island in order to find the bats. They were sad because those bats were not there anymore. The trees were empty. It is not surprising to find out that wild bats have gone. Bats were not the only animals that onced lived in Mansinam island. When I was a child, local Papuan used to say that deers and kuskus were living in Mansinam. Now it seems that no wild animals can be found living on the island.
Just two or three days ago, I watched a good program on CNA about a protected forest in the middle of Singapore island. CNA or Channel News Asia is a Singaporean based satellite TV. The local government and the citizens there really understand how important the hill in the middle of the island is as the sanctuary for the endemic wildlife that have been living on the island. Although Singapore is now a big city with millions of dwellers, the government still provide and protect a large area of tropical rainforest on the island. I am not sure if the local government of Manokwari regency and West Papua Province here will do the same.  Also read: Traveling to Mansinam Island

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Trip to A Cave in the Table Mountain of Manokwari

I went with three Russian tourists last January 2010 to explore the beauty of the tropical rainforest in the Table Mountain. It was an interesting trip because besides we could see some Goliath Cockatoo birds singing on tall trees, beautiful mushrooms blooming on the wet ground; the most exciting experience was when we explored a cave where bats and lizards living in it. Cave might not be an interesting destination for tourists due to its scary appearance but if we have been walking inside and taking pictures of the unique walls and the living animals inside them, then cave exploration will be one of the most wonderful experience for anybody. I wrote a good story about it with some pictures which you can see at my other article Cave Exploration in Table Mountain of Manokwari.

Gospel Landing Day in Manokwari

It is 2 February 2010 right now. In three days to come, town dwellers in Manokwari will celebrate the Gospel Landing Day in Mansinam island. On 5 February 1855, two European evangelists (Ottow and Geissler) landed on this island to preach Gospel or Christianity to the indigenous Papuan. According to a book entitled The Malay Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace, Mr. Otto had a wife who helped him during his works in Mansinam island.
Thousands of people from every corner of Papua land will gather in Mansinam island of Manokwari regency to pray for this island. There are many celebrations held by the committe such as choir competition, street parade, boat rowing competition and traditional dances. Now the event has been put by various travel books in a chapter about West Papua.