Since Husna accompanied her group to Sorong today, Kathrin and I were allowed to use Husna's scooter. We decided to drive along the coast to Sapokreng, a tiny local village along the coast.
At first Kathrin wanted to show me the turtle church of Waisai. Because Kathrin was not sure where the church is, we asked the neighbors boys. These showed us the church on the village map. So we drove to the pointed out location - unfortunately there was nothing there 🤷🏼♀️ Although a church, but it looked quite normal. So we drove further back and forth through the town on the search. Actually, we had already given up, when I wanted to drive another road to the end. And suddenly there was a giant turtle in front of us 😃 The church looks really great. A roof in the shape of a turtle shell, on the side of the fins and the entrance serves as a head. Unfortunately, we could not go in. I guess we would have to attend the service for that 😅
We went further with the scooter always west, along the coast. There is nothing along the the road to Sapokreng. Only a few dive homestays here and there. Otherwise, the region consists of dense jungle. Seeing the forests here is very impressive. The trees are huge, the leaves of the various ferns and plants too. Often, the leaves are as big as I 🍃
After about 45min. We arrived at a beach and a boardwalk, which leads along the coast to the village of Sapokreng. The scene was very cheesy. White beach, turquoise blue water, wooden houses built on stilts in the lagoon, the horizon lined with lush green hilly islands and native children in the lagoon at play 🤩 The children ran to us and wanted to take photos with us.
Slowly we were strolling through the village. Watching the children playing on the beach and enjoying the serenity and tranquility. These people really live in another world. The problems of the earth are very far away here and not of concern. Also, it is generally interesting to observe the difference between the two main races. Although West Papua belongs to Indonesia, it wants to be independent from Indonesia. You can see Indonesians here, but of course also Papuans which remind more of Africans. Really interesting. Sapokreng consists only of Papuan.
Approximately 1 hour later it was time to say goodbye to the picturesque village. At home, Husna was already waiting for us with the groceries. We cooked all three together and then pretty soon got tired and kissed our pillow.
Heres stunning impressions of Sapokreng 📸
Finding a flight was anything but easy. Sorong is only served by domestic flights. There are no direct flights from Bali to Sorong, in order to avoid that Raja Ampat is overrun by a flood of tourists (such as Bali ...). My flight took me from Bali to Jakarta and from there to Sorong. The whole journey from Bali to Waisai in Raja Ampat took me 20 hours 🙈 But step by step....
At 20:00hrs I ordered another go-jek in Bali. My flight with BatikAir took off on time at 22:00hrs in the direction of Jakarta. In Jakarta I was looking forward to a coffee. I quickly had to realize though, that the shops and restaurants are closed or the coffee was so expensive that I lost the desire for it. But fortunately, I only had 1h30min stopover. With another 4-hour flight I reached Sorong in West Papua.
My first mission was to find the immigration office in Sorong. Since my visa expires during my dive trip, I was forced to apply for a new Visa. Fortunately, I already had the address saved on my phone, because WIFI is not available at Sorong airport. I quickly realized that everything is a little different here.
Next I had to organize a taxi. The taxi drivers, however, wanted me to pay $7.00 for a ride of 1.5km, which is more than overpriced. I've approached some locals who have confirmed to me that I should not pay more than $1.50.
Nearby was another Bule (westerner) who invited me to share a taxi with him. Turned out that he has been living in Indonesia for 5 years and is fluent in Indonesian. He kindly dropped me off at the immigration office.
There I was the only Bule and was able to apply for my documents immediately. This went faster than I had thought. The whole procedure only took 10min. After completing the papers, I was asked to pay the visa fee at the bank. Then I should come back after 5 days to pick up my visa. WoopWoop- it was that simple. I was worried for nothing😅
The next few hours I spent in a café with air conditioning. On the way to the cafe I passed a small food cart (as they are everywhere in Indonesia) on the roadside. The two women waved at me and laughed. Grinning, they greeted me and offered me snacks. Accepting the invitation I sat down with the two for a little chat and some delicious Indonesian snacks. We did not understand each other very well. It was all the funnier though.
Later, after 4 hours in the café, I grabbed a taxi at 13:15hrs to drive me to the port. With my luggage I stood at the roadside and waved one of the yellow little busses. Immediately one has topped. After all, you do not see a Bule often standing on the side of the road 😅 With my pseudo-Indonesian I explained to the driver that I wanted to go to the Waisai ferry. He first unloaded all other passengers at their destination and then drove me to the ferry. As I followed our path on my phone, I noticed that we drove farther and farther away from the harbor. Now I was creeped out. The ferry was scheduled to depart in 20min. And I had no idea how big the area was and how long it would take me to reach the ferry. Also, this was the last ferry of the day to Waisai. Somewhat angry, I explained to the driver that I wanted to go to the WAISAI FERRY. He paused to ask other locals along the road, who seemingly explained him the way 😰 Well, we reached the harbor in time. The ship was still there.
The ship was huge, very comfortable for Indonesia and even air conditioned, on 4 floors and can accommodate hundreds of passengers. After 1h45min. we finally reached Waisai Island. In the harbor I was received by Husna. I found Husna via Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a platform on which hosts can provide free accommodation in the form of a sofa, a room or otherwise, to travelers. Couchsurfing focuses on cultural exchange. I opted for couchsurfing on Raja Ampat because 1. there are no hostels on Raja Ampat and 2. room prices are exorbitantly high compared to Bali or Lombok. I'm not ready to spend more than $ 10 for a room. In addition, I really want to learn more about life here and so Couchsurfing is the best option.
Husna received me incredibly warmly. With her scooter we drove from the harbor to her house. This consists of her small but fine 1 bedroom apartment, her office and 3 other guest rooms, which she leases to tourists. Husna works at the tourist office of Raja Ampat and had to look after a group of young men from Jakarta. In the evening she took me to the hotel of the boys. I was allowed to join the dinner and had fun conversations with the group. Fortunately, everyone was able to speak English quite well so we could talk.
After the meal we said goodbye to the boys and went to Husna's office to pick up Kathrin. Kathrin is a marine biologist from .... Bern 😁 She has been living in Raja Ampat for 6 months and is a very good friend of Husna and lives with her when in Waisai.
Dead tired I fell into bed or rather the couch 😴 I'm in Raja Ampat. I can’t really believe it yet.
Pictures of Sorong & Waisai are here📸
For the first time I heard of Raja Ampat in a marine documentary. I have seen the pictures and could not believe that there is a place of such beauty. I wanted to know where exactly this place is and so learned that it is the magical Raja Ampat in West Papua Indonesia.
A mysterious island archipelago off the west coast of Papua New Guinea, this is Raja Ampat. Home to a few natives, rare tree kangaroos and colorful birds of paradise. In the midst of the so-called "Coral Triangle", the South Sea holds a newly discovered treasure. Nowhere else in the expanse of oceans, it seems, do so many species live as in the depths of Raja Ampat. Many of them are still completely unknown.
It was only in 2001 that researchers invaded the coral reefs of the archipelago and made sensational discoveries. In Raja Ampat fish species have evolved that cannot be found anywhere else, so-called endemic species such as the "Walking Shark" - a small shark that runs on its fins over the seabed. After its discovery in 2006, this shark, for the first time, brought the "kingdom of the four kings" - as Raja Ampat translates - into the light of the international media. Renowned marine biologists from Conservation International describe the species-rich ecosystem as a scientific sensation. Nourished is the incredible variety of big currents from the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean. They carry everything from the tiny larva to the giant manta.
The seas in Raja Ampat contain 80% of all coral species in the world. On an area as big as two football fields, scientists found more coral species in 2006 than in the entire Caribbean! Raja Ampat is home to around 1,427 different fish species, six of seven species of sea turtles and 27 marine mammals are native to these waters.
This biodiversity is absolutely unique and incomparable on our blue planet. Unfortunately, this paradise is in great danger. Climate change, bleaching corals, mass tourism and the increasing pollution of the seas are threatening this sensitive ecosystem. What happens in Raja-Ampat has direct effects on all oceans and thus on the entire earth.
The more I read about Raja Ampat, the bigger the dream came to visit the archipelago once in a lifetime. When I was on Penida at Nomads Diving, Lauren (the dive school owner) recommended that I book a scuba diving liveaboard trip with Pirates Bay Cruises. She did the safari herself and was thrilled. And since I am already in Indonesia, the journey was not tooooo long. So I decided to visit Raja Ampat 🤙🏽