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!
In May 2012 CNNGo included Redang Island (or Pulau Redang as it is known locally) in Malaysia’ top 10 islands. And it entirely lived up to its reputation when I got a chance to visit it in September 2012!
When I stepped out to the beach adjacent to my hotel, this was the view that greeted me. It was right in the afternoon and I clicked the picture without much thought as I knew I would be coming back to it in the evening and the light would be better then. I was in a hurry because we were heading to the Marine Park of the island and then we would go snorkeling. So the beach could wait!
The lady at the center gave us an excellent presentation about the concept of Marine Parks and the simple dos and don’ts while snorkeling. The first rule was not to step on the corals as they might break (in a flash) whereas they take a long long long time to grow. The second was not to touch any wildlife. The third was not to take any corals away and final one was not to go outside the area marked for snorkeling. All of it made sense.
I have snorkeled before but the marine life here was simply out of the movie Avatar! My deepest regret is that I don’t have a casing to take my camera underwater and my words would never be adequate to describe my experience. However, I have to try.
This is the exact piece of paradise where I went snorkeling. I collected my snorkeling mask and the life jacket right off the jetty you see above. I liked the fact that I was left alone to explore the ocean after donning the life jacket. The safe area to snorkel was quite big and I felt no need to venture beyond it. All the dark patches on water are collections of corals and the light blue patches clear water.
I swam for an hour and got out only when I felt I would puke (literally) if I continued any more, I was that greedy. What did I see? I am not an expert on marine life. As I can’t click pictures I can’t even ask friends to identify it for me once I post the pictures online. But what I saw was a riot of colors, red, green, yellow, purple, blue, florescent, grey, black and a cocktail of all this. Sometimes it were the corals and sometimes the fish but what an amazing world is out there under the sea! It has to be seen to be believed.
On one particular swim I passed through table corals after table corals and an amazing display of fish. There was a small, really small variety that would roam around in colonies and sting whenever you would pass them. The sting would last only for a fraction of second but I learned to fold my hands quickly when I saw them. Then they would bite me on my face wherever it was exposed outside the mask! But nothing would deter me from exploring save the tiredness and the feeling of nausea in the end! I tried hard to repeat my table coral swim but I could not. But in the quest I discovered other amazing spots!
When we finally got out the weather was threatening to storm. And once we reached the bus stop at the next jetty the skies opened up. With that went the light and plans to click the sunset at the beach! But I was content for the day with the underwater magical world that I was lucky enough to explore and savor.
This post is part of Alive is Awesome Bathing Experience for Cinthol.
I don’t know where to start about my trip to the Redang Island! I had a short stay (I am sure a stay of any length will feel short) at the island and I have left behind a piece of my heart there! It was so captivating.
Our hotel the Taaras Beach and Spa Resort was on the more secluded part of the island. However we took a ferry and went to the Pulau Redang Marine Park where one of the employees gave us an excellent introduction to the concept of a Marine Park. The Malaysian government in its effort to conserve marine life has created zones in a radius of 2km as conservation area on many of the islands. And it shows when you snorkel! The snorkeling at Redang was out of this world.
I wish I had camera casing to take it underwater but some corals are visible right through the water. They have cordoned off an area for snorkeling and I got out only when I thought if I did it any more I would literally puke because of the effort! It is very difficult to put in words what I saw. For the Malaysia Tourism Hunt we were traveling in a large group. And a lot of us were snorkeling. But all I had to do was to move a little away and put my head inside the water and get immersed into a world of red, yellow, purple and green and every other hue in between. Sometimes it would be a fish, sometimes a coral. On one particular swim I thought the scenes were similar to the movie Avatar! There were table corals after table corals and fish of every hue, sometimes in single colors like orange or purple and sometimes one fish displaying a cocktail of colors! However hard I tried later I could not repeat that route again!
I could have remained there forever but for that feeling of head ache and nausea that the effort induced. There was a group of tiny fish that would sting whenever I passed though their colony but the itching would last just for a few seconds. I have only snorkeled once before in the Andaman Islands but I found this experience much more colorful!
It is a pity that I can show you only above the water pictures but even that was fascinating. When we got out after snorkeling and releasing turtles to the sea the weather was turning stormish!
And that gave such a beautiful hue to sky. One of our boats actually got delayed due to the strong winds at the sea. But I had reached the jetty by the time the skies opened up.
The jetty at the Redang island has shelter and we stood under it when it poured. The bus from the resort didn’t take much time in coming and soon I was inside my beautiful suite at the Taaras. It rained till it became dark so my plans to walk by the beach at the sunset went down the drain with the rainwater!
So I walked by the beach at the sunrise the next day! There were many clouds at the sunrise too so there was not much of a sunrise. Still I had the beach almost to myself which is always a special feeling.
It was a beautiful beautiful time that I got to spend at Redang Island. And to think of it that Malaysia has so many islands and I have seen just one!
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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