Ladies and Gentlemen, Mermaids (and Mermen) do exist, and I found them in Raja Ampat, for real!!
In the previous post
, I've (stuffed) you with the
general stuff like the facts about Raja Ampat, and the activities that you could within the resort that you stay at. Now, it is time to explore the REAL Raja Ampat, the tourquoise clear water with coral reefs, the sandy islets that only appears at certain hours of the day, the unpredictable coastal weather, the beautiful and friendly locals and the rich diving sites. Curious where to find the mermaids? I'll tell you soon enough, so just keep reading =)
First of all, the coastal topography and its geographical location make the weather in Raja Ampat rather unpredictable. One moment, it could be dazzlingly hot, but another second, it could be pouring heavily like on the first afternoon, the day we arrived. Or curious still, is the local rain as you can see in the photo below. But lucky us, the weather after that heavy downpour just got better, so we were able to island-hop conveniently and safely. Although occasionally in the evening, it drizzled a bit.Teluk Kabui
So the first stop on our itinerary was Teluk Kabui, a small bay situated between Waigeo and Gam islands. Getting there from our resort was quite quick and we knew we were there when we started seeing boulder formation with trees growing from it, as The Lonely Planet puts it 'jungle-topped limestone islets'. The islets were of curious shapes, some like tops, balancing precariously on a thin base, which the salty sea water and weather erode over time.
|jungle-topped limestone islets|
|One of the most iconic limestone of Teluk Kabui, the sharp, pointed rock formation, Batu Pensil (literally means pencil rock)|
|Even trees can grow on the unlikeliest places...|
|Also another landmark of Teluk Kabui, the face-shaped rock (seen from the side) |
|It took us quite a lot of effort getting up to one of the islets, with steep and unsteady soil slopes and virtually nothing to hold on to. But the view from the top, this, was a worthy reward. |
The next day on our island hopping tour, our first stop was Sawinggrai Village. Apart from the clear shallow water with coral reefs-studded shore, what's more memorable about this place is the people and the kids! A bunch of enthusiastic little children, who were innocently curious with the toys (drone) that we brought for documentation. We also got to feed the fish here, which turns out to love dough (flour and water mixture)! There's a homestay here, so it could be one of your options if you wish to stay with the locals and experience how their easygoing daily lives go about.
|Left: feeding fish|
|Boy's name is Ariel|
Then something in the water got the children fixated..
There were mermaids underwater!!
|Marissa and Michelle as mermaids|
Well, they aren't real mermaids actually, they're our friends Marissa Nasution
and Michelle Worth
, who wore their own mermaid costume @Mermaid.Inc
. Secretly dreaming of becoming a mermaid yourself, get your fins from them now! ;)Pianemo
Next stop, Pianemo, an islet that provides one of the most tourist-captured sights. To get to the top, one has to climb up the 120-ish wooden stairs. Yep, again the effort was great, but the view and the heat at the top was unparalleled. Despite the heat, I didn't want to leave immediately, I just wanted to soak up as much of that view as possible!
|The pop up market at the bottom of the stairs in Pianemo where we bought our lobsters and fish for dinner|
|Just a glimpse of the 100+ stairs waiting for us|
|Fresh young coconut for IDR 15,000 after a tiring climb up and dehydrated from the intense heat? YES please! Photo by @Eatandtreats|
|I wasn't going to give up my spot despite the heat | Photo by @Yenita.lie|
|With this kind of view, would you even want to leave?|
Be careful when you're here because the danger of dehydration and even heat stroke is very real. So bring your sunnies all the time, apply the strongest sun screen that you can find with SPF 50 or even more, wear a hat if possible and have a water bottle ready in hand always!
Close to Pianemo, there's a Homestay, where we went to, to have lunch. The Homestay's location is ushered on one side by the by and the other side already open seas.Arborek Village
At Arborek Village, I took my very first dip in Raja Ampat's water and the experience was simply surreal. It was my very first snorkeling experience ever and I was quite gutless to swim without a life vest like most of the others in our group. Well although not as adept swimmer as our mermaids are, I managed to stay afloat and could breathe through the snorkel to soak up the surreal view underwater.
|One of the clearer shots I managed to get underwater. Aren't you intimidated by the sheer number of fish there?|
|Photo by @CakChris|
Yenbuba village was another spot that we visited. I remember it because it has a very long floating deck (see below photo), as well as a spot where I took a repeated jump off the deck just so I can get a video of myself jumping into water. I wish I could do somersault in the air like the local boys could. Ah, at least, I had the guts to jump LOL!
|Some of us who had diving ceritificate went down to dive|
This site is also another unique, must-visit natural attraction in Raja Ampat, which is located right smack in the middle of the sea. The sandbank is at its biggest during low tide, so it's actually quite difficult for our boat to reach. So we had to walk from the coral-studded shallow water towards the sandy bank. There was no vegetation at all, so if you intend to stay here for quite a while, it would be wise to bring an umbrella or anything to cower under. The sun, I can't emphasize more, is merciless! It's best to wear slippers when crossing the water to the sand bank, because the coral reefs are very sharp and will otherwise graze and cut your legs, if without.
|I know what you're thinking...LOL Mermaids 'stranded' on purpose|
Photo by @CakChris
This was our last beach / islet spot of #MannaEncounterRajaAmpat tour. As we were all tired from playing in the water at Yenbuba and Pasir Timbul earlier. It's a shaded shore with a large tree and there's even a swing hanging from one of the trunks. Lovely place to just chill under the shade and enjoy the breeze.
|Even a gentleman like Tommy Tjokro @Tomtjok couldn't help not to unleash his inner child at the sight of the swing|
Photo by @CakChris
Back to Sorong...
And that was the end of our journey in Raja Ampat! The next day, we took the boat back to Sorong and spent an evening there. The city is still a sleepy and developing coastal city, there are a few supermarkets, shophouses, canteens, schools, hotels, etc. But they were all pretty basic, we're lucky to have wi-fi connection in the hotel, although it's quite slow.
Craving for some coffee, I asked my friend who's living in Sorong to take me around to find some souvenir and a decent place for coffee. The only place selling Papuan souvenir is just like a small 'warung', and the goods are quite expensive, which I guess is fair, because they must have traveled far from the source to get to the city, and the materials are all real feather / claws / etc. Let's just say I'm not keen on collecting preserved animal parts *shudders and thus, I'd rather buy a coconut shell bowl that I found at Misool for IDR 50,000. Again, not cheap for coconut shell, but oh well, at least I have something to bring home as a souvenir for myself.
|Made the time to visit Misool Cafe, just across from the airport. It's a 'filling station' for public, and for Misool's guests waiting for the public ferry to depart in the afternoon|
|Archipelago Spiced French Press IDR 45,000|
In the evening, the Head of Sorong Regency, Drs. Stepanus Malak, M.Si hosted us over a delectable local seafood feast. Thank you Pak Malak for having us =)
|L-R: Me, Drs. Stepanus Malak, M.Si, Amrazing (Alex Thian) & Eatandtreats (Hans Danial)|
|Last minute gift we bought to bring back home. The Bolu Abon is a specialty from Manokwari, the capital city of West Papua. I bought the one from Hawai Bakery, which is said to taste better than the rest. After all, it's the original baker. of this bolu A box of a dozen (mini) costs IDR 90,000, while the normal size costs IDR 130,000|
Jl. K.H. Mas Mansyur Kav. 35