How does one even start describing a place like Raja Ampat? Words, and particularly mine, feel so inadequate! Pictures might do some justice but ever since I have come back, I am plotting to go back, either to Raja Ampat or Komodo, which I hear is even more beautiful. However, I refuse to believe that anything can be more beautiful than Raja Ampat.
It is difficult to figure out, what captivated me more, the stunning vistas or the people. Raja Ampat is a group of islands in the Indonesia’s West Papua province. It is an amazing diving destination, known over the world for its stunning marine diversity.
The people of the island villages are gentle and used to visitors. They demonstrate immense grace and dignity, be it adults or children! Most of the kids would not speak English, like the ones I met at the Saundarek Village. But the girls of Sawinggrai were an exception.
We landed for the sunset at Sawinggrai, this was my second trip to the village. The girls met me at the jetty. I asked if they spoke English and they confidently said yes! We chatted for a while. They were not learning the language at school.
Two foreigners were staying at their village and they would teach English to the children after school hours! Now that is what I call impact! I am not too keen on speaking to strangers but I called out the couple, confirming if they were the English teachers? When they said yes, I clapped for them and shouted, “good job!”
My first trip to Sawinggrai was early in the morning, a day earlier, when we had a date with the Birds of Paradise. I only got a record keeping shot of the bird, but then I saw it with my eyes and heard them make their sweet calls. I am lucky!
We had the privilege to interact with the children of SDN 2 Waisai School at Raja Ampat. It was because Nila Tanzil has opened her Rainbow Reading Library in the school. She was with us on the trip, a fellow vegetarian! You should have seen the excitement, of both the kids and us while we interacted with each-other.
I promise you the library will be a full post in itself but for the moment I leave you with a Indonesian school girl singing a Bollywood song.
The sunsets at Raja Ampat would like to put on a grand show! Vast open spaces made sure there was drama in the sky! In the end, I left my camera and went into the water, or I would keep clicking the sky till we left for our accommodation at the Raja Ampat Dive Lodge.
Raja Ampat is know for its diving! There are plenty of snorkeling opportunities too. And now that I have a GoPro I can click underwater pictures too.
I visited the village of Arborek for half a day, maybe a little less. We were given a grand welcome by the people of the village complete with dance and music. I could not talk much to the kids as they did not speak English but, sign and body language conveyed the warmth, I hope on both the sides!
Once again it was difficult to decide what was more amazing, the people or the landscape! Actually both were great and it is such an awesome combination.!
As I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism on the Trip of Wonders to Indonesia I was traveling in a big group. We were an awesome group and our Indonesian bloggers were fabulous hosts. I always got vegetarian food. The egg you see on the plate is there because I eat eggs. You will have more choice if you eat seafood and meat but you will have enough as a vegetarian too!
I spent only one afternoon at Arborek so I do not understand the significance of the body art. I noticed a church at the village so I know the population at Arborek is largely Christian. The internet was weak at Arborek but it was significantly better at Sawinggrai! You can see, I am plotting to go back already!
I had a chat with the fabulous people of @Mountainculturemedia at Arborek. They are from Canada and they came with their kayak! They were kayaking from island to island at Raja Ampat, I sure do envy them!
Who could have thought that a piece of hollowed out wood could be so much fun? Other kids were playing with thermacol or life jackets but this kid was the king, he had a boat of his own! He would jump in after pushing it hard and then row using his hands! He flipped in the water so many times, but the fun he had! And the fun I had watching him play!
All good things come to an end, so did my trip to Raja Ampat Islands. I was heading to Bali next but I somehow knew that Raja Ampat in West Papua was truly special!
Raja Ampat was the highlight of my Trip of Wonders to Wonderful Indonesia for which I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia!
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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