Friday, July 23, 2010

The Visit of the Labree Family to Wasior and Manokwari

Articles about Wasior can be seen on the following links:
  • Wasior town before the October 2010 flood video
  • Wasior town before the October 2010 Flood article and photographs
  • Tropical rainforest in mountains and islands around Wasior
This October, Wasior in Papua island attracts the attention of the world due to a massive flood that hit the town. Hundreds of people lost their lives and thousands became refugees. This flood reminds us the importance of preserving the environment especially the tropical rainforest in New Guinea island that is shrinking rapidly due to illegal logging for timber exploitation and palm oil plantation.

Through this blog post, I want to express my condolences to all the victims of Wasior flood. I hope that God will strengthen them through this difficult times. We must see this disaster as a very expensive lesson so that we will be more aware of the preservation of nature both in the mountains and at sea.
Wasior town - the capital of Cendrawasih bay regency, had just received special guests from the Netherlands on 20 - 21 July 2010.  The Cendrawasih or Geelvink bay is the largest National Marine Park in Indonesia occupying 1.45 million hectares of lands and sea areas. The waters of the park has pristine coral reefs whereas the islands of park is still covered with dark green tropical rainforest.  These guests were the Labrees from the Netherlands- a beautiful country in Europe that is famous for its Tulip flowers and windmills. They were accompanied by Paul Gasper, a local Papuan tourist guide who can speak Dutch. The Labree family visited Wasior because this town was the birthplace of Mr. (Jan) Labree. While in Wasior, they tried to find a house where he used to live. As a matter of fact, it was not easy to find the house. Fortunately, Mr. Labree still had the video or photograph of his old house. When it was shown to a local Papuan who live in Wasior, he could recognize it and helped them find it. It was a happy and emotional day for the Labree family when finally they saw the house.
After staying for one and a half days in Wasior, the Labrees flew back to Manokwari. Here, they have a 4-day tour around Manokwari city.
Yesterday, I accompanied the Labree family traveling around the Mansinam and Lemon islands. We went snorkeling to see the beautiful coral reef and ornamental fish in the surrounding waters and the cross monument of Ottow and Geissler. While snorkeling, we could see urchin, blue fish and various kinds of colourful corals. Corals need at least twenty years to reach a size similar to a human head. In addition, We were also very lucky because we could see a rare baby tridachna gigas or giant clamp. It was located at the slope of the sea bed, some 6 meters under the surface. I wish I could show you the picture of the baby giant clamp. I do not have underwater camera.
On the afternoon, after swimming and snorkeling, we continued our trip to Mansinam village where we met the villagers and Peter Rumbruren, a Papuan artist who makes artworks mostly from wood. We were very thirsty and hungry. Peter was very kind to us. He provided us some coconuts and bananas. Peter has a small hut which he built in front of his house as an art gallery. He puts all of his artworks inside this "gallery" that is a replica of a traditional Papuan house. Mr. Labree bought a wooden Korwar statue from this artist as a souvenir for his relatives. All tourists who bought souvenirs from Papuan artists have directly support our efforts in developing eco-tourism project that is aimed at improving the living condition of the local Papuan people without destroying their natural environment. The Labrees will still be in Manokwari until 25 July 2010 and I still have some more stories about their travel experience and beauty of Papua's nature and the friendliness of the indigenous people. by Charles Roring

Friday, July 16, 2010

Children playing at the beach of Aipiri village of Manokwari West Papua

Here is the video of children playing at the beach of Aipiri village. The children looked happy when I was interviewing them. In this village, tourists can see sun rise in the morning.
Aipiri village is located at the east of Manokwari facing the Pacific Ocean. It is an ideal place for watching sunrise early in the morning. It was the second time for me visiting the village. The first one was around 10 years ago. Lobsters and various species of coral fish live along the northern coast of Manokwari regency. Fishermen catch and sell them at the traditional market in Manokwari. Airpiri is not far from Susweni - the place where Catholic Priest Pater Anton Tromp OSA is currently building SMA Villanova. by Charles Roring

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lobster from Manokwari of West Papua

I like guiding tourists around the Northern Coast of Manokwari where tourists can enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches and eat lobster freshly caught from the sea. The following is the video which I recorded last Sunday, 11 July 2010, as a way to promote eco-tourism in Manokwari and part of my project in empowering the local Papuan people develop their economy more sustainably.
When I was at Pantura beach, I remembered some Russian tourists who came to Manokwari in January 2010. They also visited the Pantura region to enjoy the beautiful beaches in Manokwari especially in Yonsoribo area. Yesterday, I tried to upload the above video whose size was 119 MB, through a dial-up connection, to my account in Youtube. It was a nerve wracking experience. It took around five and a half hours uploading the file and I still failed. Now, it is Thursday 15 July 2010, 2.51 A.M. I am happy because I have just successfully uploaded this file to I had to cut some scenes from my videos to reduce the size of the above lobster video into 106 MB.
I used Windows Movie Maker to edit and combine my videos recorded from Pantura area of Manokwari into a 4:13 minute video that you can watch above or at Youtube. I hope that you can enjoy the beautiful paradise of the tropical island of Papua (formerly known as the Netherlands New Guinea) and become interested in visiting Manokwari. If you want to visit Manokwari and need more information about this city and its surrounding eco-tourism attractions, please, contact me - Manokwari Tourist Guide: Charles Roring by email to 

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Visit to Pantura of Manokwari West Papua

The natural scenery of the northern coast region of Manokwari is very beautiful. I went there two days ago on a survey to identify potential places along the Pantura areas (that's the name of the northern coast in bahasa Indonesia) which can be developed for eco-tourism project. Pantura stands for Pantai Utara or meaning literally Beach North.
Nuni village - the place where you can eat lobster
Some of the beaches have black sand and white sand. For me, the area near Pulau Kaki or Kaki island is potential for marine sport activities. In addition, tourists can enjoy eating lobster in Nuni village, a small village right across from Kaki island. When I was in Nuni, I had a chance of recording some videos of a boy going to the sea to catch lobsters. Actually the lobsters had been caught before.

The fisherman collected them inside a large  net bag and put them under water. In a set date when a public car from Manokwari city comes to the village, the fisherman would go to the sea to take the lobsters again and return to the village. He would go to Manokwari city by the public transportation and sell the lobsters. The current price of one kilogram of lobster is 105 thousand rupiahs or 9.63 Euros.  These lobsters are usually sold alive and fresh from the sea. The villagers looked happy when we talked with them.
Watching Eagle in Asai
After taking pictures of the beautiful Nuni village and its Kaki island, I continued my trip to Asai. Here the beach stretches along a small bay. Some Dutch families built their houses in Asai overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They have been living here since early 2000. There is a tall tree near the beach of Asai where eagles use it to build their nest. When visiting one of the Dutch families, I was able to see the eagle's nest clearly. I managed to spot a nest using binoculars and took some pictures of it using my digital camera. Here in Asai, I had a chance of swimming in cool fresh water of a small river not far from a house that belonged to a Dutch family.

During my visit to the Dutch families, I was able to take some pictures of beautiful flowers. They grow orchid, hibiscus (Indonesian name is kembang sepatu), and various other species of tropical  flowers.
I still have a lot of pictures, videos and stories about the Northern coast of Manokwari city of Papua. I will share them later in my other posts. If you are interested in visiting Manokwari city of West Papua and need more information, you can contact me - Charles Roring - by email to
Also read my other travel journal: Arfak Mountains

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Buying Tickets of Susi Air and My "New Discovery" of Lake Rendani

I went to Rendani airport this afternoon. I went there on a purpose of buying some tickets for the Labrees who want to go to Wasior, a beautiful small town which is now the capital of Cendrawasih Bay Regency. Mr. Labree, the head of the family, was born in Wasior. I went to the airport with my friend, Paul Gasper, who will fly and accompany them to the town for a 2-day tour in Wasior and its surrounding. The Labress will fly by Susi air, a national commercial and chartered airlines in Indonesia. Susi is the name of a famous woman entrepreneur in Indonesia. For Manokwari city - Wasior flights, Susi Air provides an aircraft that is powered by single turbo prop engine. Its capacity is twelve seats capable of performing short take off and landing on unprepared runway. 
It looks similar to Pilatus Porter a small but robust aircraft operated by AMA - Associated Mission Aviation, an airline in West Papua that is operated by Catholic missionaries. Tens of years ago it was a non-profit airline but now it is a profit oriented company. When we arrived at the airport where the office of Susi Air was, the door and windows of the ticket counter were closed. The staffs of the airline were taking lunch break. While we were waiting for them to open their office again, a young man came and asked what our purpose was for waiting in front of their office. I said that we wanted to buy some tickets. He asked us to wait for a while. Well, I and Paul took a chance of walking to the airplanes parking lot and shot some photographs of the airplanes parking on the airport. I took a picture of an airplane that belongs to the Susi Air and then after that walking back to the office again. Now it was open. I gave a piece of paper containing the names of the family members of the Labree.
The staff of Susi Air thought that we only wanted to buy tickets for Manokwari Wasior but we said that we had informed the Susi Air in June that we wanted to buy round trip tickets (Manokwari-Wasior and Wasior-Manokwari). Staff of Susi Air asked us to wait for a while for them to contact their friends in Wasior town.
While sitting outside of the Susi Air ticket counter, I told Paul that, based on my personal observation on satellite photographs of Rendani airport, there is a lake near the beach across from the airport. Paul was suprised to hear that. He never knows such a thing.
It took around fifteen minutes to get confirmation from Susi Air's representative office in Wasior that the tickets for the Labrees for flying back from Wasior to Manokwari are readily booked. When all the ticketing matters have been settled, we walked into the waiting room of the airport and headed to its restroom.
We walked back to the parking lot and after having a short conversation with his friend, Paul kicked start his motorcycle and off we went back to the city. We were some three hundred meters away from the airport when Paul reminded me about the lake. I said, "ah, sudah, katong trus saja." (Ugh, it's over, we just go on." He replied, "Oh, no, we could still return, we were not too far from the airport."

Lake Rendani
Paul turned his motorcycle and now we were riding back to find where the lake was. On the left side of the street, there were a number of houses which are the residence of the employees of the airport or air transportation agency. While searching for the footpath leading to the lake, I told him that according to the satellite image of Manokwari city, the lake was located near the end of the runway of the airport towards the sea.
Exactly across from the parking lot of the airport, among the houses, we found a pathway leading to the beach. It was near a large banner showing the picture of the Governor of West Papua. Paul slowed down his motorcycle, a Supra Fit type manufactured by Honda, and turned left. He rode his motorcycle slowly to avoid colliding with trees and slipped on muddy footpath. We ended up on other people's house. Fortunately the footpath had another branch to the right. We followed the pathway and stopped by an unfinished house foundation. We got off the motorcycle and walked for around 25 meters towards the sea. And yes, what I had seen in the Google Earth Satellite images about Manokwari city was right. The lake was right behind the mangrove trees that grow around the lake. Some birds were singing inside the trees.
We passed by a small concrete house whose walls were not plastered. I greeted a woman inside the house and told her that we were passing by to see the lake. There were some pigpens near the lake. Pigs are raised by the Papuans for their meat that is quite expensive in Manokwari city. While walking along the bank of the lake we met three children. They were fishing. I said, "Hello" and began asking some questions to them such as: "is the lake big? Are there crocodile in it? Do people from the city like to come here for weekend recreation? Could you show us the way to the front of the lake facing the sea?"
These little Papuan children were happy to answer all our questions. They guided us to a place where stream of sea water enters the lake to provide refreshment to fish already living inside the lake. I managed to take some photographs of the lake using my camera feature of my Nokia 5630 XpressMusic. I had set the photo quality to 3M to get the highest pixel quality that the cell phone can capture. Unfortunately, I forgot to set the video feature to high quality. I did make a few video recordings but their quality was standard for playing on the cell phone's screen. I am not satisfied with the results because I intend to upload the videos captured from this Lake Rendani to Youtube.
I asked them whether there are a lot of fish in the lake and whether they are big. They said yes. Big fish are in the middle of the lake. One of their friends came. He brought a string of fish which he had caught. "Hey, come here. Show me your fish in front of my camera." I asked him to come closer so that I could capture a short video of him show some fish that he caught from this lake. His name was Harpenas. From that name I knew that it stood for Hari Pendidikan Nasional or The National Education Day. So I asked him again, "were you born on 2nd May?" The boy answered, "Yes." The National Education Day is celebrated every year  in Indonesia on 2 May.
Most of the city dwellers do not know about the existence of this lake. Only a few people living around the lake or near the airport who know about it. I think it is good to leave it that way to prevent it from being polluted with plastic garbage thrown by the visitors or holiday makers should it become famous.
Before leaving the lake, I told the children to collect the plastic wastes that were scattered around the lake and burn them. I and Paul told them that we would bring "orang barat" (west people) to the lake one day when they had cleaned the lake and give them some money for that. They answered they would cleaned but asked when the tourists would come. I could only say, "Later, when the lake has been cleaned."  A fake promise? I don't think so. I might bring tourists to see this little beauty of Manokwari city hidden behind the mangrove trees of Rendani airport.
It's nice to find this lake, and it will be nice if I had a chance to bring tourist to this lake to fulfill my promise to these little children. by Charles Roring

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Arfak Mountains

Two days ago (Sunday, 4 July 2010) I and my friend Paul Gasper went to Syiou. It was a village located in the slope of Arfak Mountains of Manokwari regency of West Papua - the Republic of Indonesia surrounded by dense tropical rainforest. If you don't know how these mountains look like, you could see them on the following photographs.
Arfak mountains in Manokwari
Arfak mountains
Tropical rainforest of Arfak Mountains was home to hundreds of species of beautiful birds. Some were the well known Vogelkop Bowerbirds, and paradise birds. Because it was Sunday, I had to wait for Paul to attend morning mass in the Catholic church of Saint Agustinus before we could start the three hours journey to Prafi and then to the Arfak mountains.
At 10:13 a.m. I received his text message, "Are you ready to go, friend?" I replied, "Yes." Half an hour later we left Manokwari for Arfak Mountains by motorcycle. Honestly I was a little doubtful with the motorcycle whether it could bring us to the mountains. It was a Supra Fit type, manufactured by Honda.
The streets of Manokwari city were not too crowded with cars and motorcycles. Shops were still closed. Flags, representing the countries that are participants of 2010 World Cup final in South Africa, were decorating every corner of the city. I could see the flags of Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands. The Netherlands' flag is the most popular one in the city. It means majority of the town dwellers in Manokwari are supporters of the Netherlands football team.
Dutch flag on top of a house of a football fan
Dutch flag on top of a house during World Cup season
The road leading from Manokwari to Prafi was quite smooth. Paul rode his motorcycle fast, above 60 km/hour. After passing by Lake Kabori and Maruni beach, the motorcycle had to climb the Warmare hill whose slope was around 45 to 50 degrees.  I knew that Paul's motorcycle could overcome this hill easily. After the Warmare hill, we were entering the Prafi valley. A fertile land which was given by the central government of Indonesia to migrants from Java to develop agriculture and sawit  palm and cocoa plantations. We rode along kilometers of palm oil and cocoa plantations. This palm oil was not productive anymore and is considered by the local government as a failed enterprise. It does not give any significant profit both to the local government and local Papuan people who previously owned the land.
Sawit palm oil in Manokwari
Sawit Palm Plantation
We then turned left at a road junction that would lead us to villages that are scattered along the ridges of Arfak Mountains. Here the road was not smooth anymore. We had to face steep slopes where some of them are not paved. We were lucky that we went there when the weather was clear and the road was dry.  Rain often comes to this tropical rainforest. Some of the slopes are very dangerous for inexperienced riders or drivers. Besides they are steep, they are covered with sands that could cause cars or motorcycles to slip. Everywhere around us was green and quiet. The sounds of water streaming below us and birds singing among the trees were beautiful natural music that I really enjoyed hearing. 
When I saw a Papuan man was walking with his daughters, I asked Paul to stop for a while. I greeted the man, "Selamat siang, Bapak" meaning good afternoon. He replied, "siang." We asked whether this was the road to Syiou village. He said, "yes." From our short conversation, I got information that they were catching butterflies. They would sell the butterflies to a Chinese vendor in the city. Before continuing our trip, Paul gave the little girl a pack of snack. I did not count the number of hills that this Japanese motorcycle had to overcome but after more than two hours riding it through the hills with their unfavorable road condition, I could conclude that Honda Supra Fit was a reliable and efficient vehicle. Of course I had to also give credit to my friend Paul Gasper who was an experienced rider.
We were now at one of the summits of Arfak Mountains. The Arfak tribes build their houses along the ridges of the mountains. I was amazed by the scenery that I saw. It was cool and fresh. I stood at the edge facing rows of mountains and troughs where streams of clear mineral waters flow through. Here the color of the plants does not look the same as the color of the plants along the coastal region. At the top of the mountains, the leaves were pale green, brown and even red. Musk covers the barks of the trees and the surface of the ground. The villages look simple. Many of the villagers have lived in concrete houses, or wooden cottages that were built from planks constructed by government for them under a program called free houses from social department but some people still retain their traditional house called rumah kaki seribu (a thousand-feet house). It's good to be here seeing the environment that is still in pristine condition.
The next trip to Syiou village was not ascending but descending. It took another 10 minutes descending the unpaved and bumpy road before we arrived at Syiou. We stopped and I asked a man who was talking with some other villagers. I said, I need to meet a man named Zeth. The man showed another young man standing not far from us saying that he was Zeth's son. Then I was introduced to him. He was standing with his motorcycle. He asked us to follow him from behind.
Zeth, Maria and Untu were talking in the veranda of a cottage when I, Zeth's son and Paul Gasper arrived. Maria said to them, "Mas Roring comes." I greeted them. I was happy that I could meet them. They welcomed us in the cottage or hut that is usually used by tourists when going to Arfak Mountains for bird watching. The cottage was not far from the village. It was on the pathway leading into the forest.
I like the quietness of the village, no roaring sounds of motorcycles or loud music. What I hear was the sounds of birds singing in the trees and the sounds of leaves and branches blown by the wind.
Actually I did not want to return home but I didn't bring enough equipment and food to stay there for a couple of days in the village or in the jungle.
I informed Zeth that I would bring tourist to this village at the end of this month. It was a nice conversation with them but I had to return to the city again at the same day. After saying good bye to them, I and Paul left Syiou village for Prafi before going back to Manokwari city. Prafi is a large valley located at the foot of the Arfak Mountains. Its soil is fertile suitable for agriculture. Between 1970s and 1990s, the Government of Indonesia sent thousands of migrants from outside Papua, mostly from Java island, under a controversial program called transmigrasi to Prafi valley and other parts of Papua, to settle there and develop agriculture. Here in this valley, they grow vegetable; edible tubers such as cassava and sweet potatoes; and rice. A state owned palm oil corporation called PT Perkebunan II from North Sumatera also opened thousands of hectares of sawit plantation in Prafi. It is a failed project. It does not give any profit to local government and particularly the local Papuan who previously owned the land. Pristine tropical rainforest that was high in biodiversity had gone foreever.
We arrived in Prafi at 6 p.m. and immediately eat "lunch" there. We ate fried chicken with chili sause, and raw vegetables. Because I was very hungry I finished them all in no time. I paid 42,000 rupiahs or 4.7 US dollars for two people for the delicious lunch.
After filling our stomach, it was now the time to fill the empty tank of the motorcycle with gasoline. We rode to a gas station but it was closed. Fortunately, there was a kiosk that sells gas. Along the way to the gas station, I passed by rice fields and vegetables patches. I really like the scenery of the rice fields that looked yellow contrast to the dark green leaves of sawit trees and cocoa plants. When the tank had been filled, we rode back to Manokwari city again. We arrived in Manokwari at 8 p.m. It's a tiring but pleasant trip. Arfak Mountains and Prafi valley are beautiful places worth visiting. I will go there again in the near future,
If after reading this article, you are interested in visiting Arfak Mountains and doing bird watching or studying herbal medicine in the tropical rainforest, and Prafi valley, and you still  have some questions, you can contact me (Charles Roring) for further information about them. This is my email address and my whatsapp: +6281332245180. I will be glad to answer your questions. Thanks Google Australia for indexing this post. Also read my other articles:
  • Tropical rainforest of Arfak Mountains 
  • Tropical rainforest preservation in District Senopi