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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Raja Ampat, The Best of The Best!

Raja Ampat exists in the center of coral triangle, that is the center of the richest natural tropical marine diversity in the world, today.

With 456 coral species (this number is more half of the total global coral species) and around 828 coral fish species, and also dusted with the beautiful coral islands, make this area has a high value as the natural conservation and tourism interest.

Not to mention, many unique floras in the islands and the existence of many endemic animals (like, spotted couscous, the yellow-crested cockatoos, parakeets, frogs and snakes) have enriched conservational value of this area as an extremely interesting ecotourisme destination area.

Dive sites in Raja Ampat Island are mostly situated near Waiwo, about 10 minutes away by speedboat from Waisai, The Raja Ampat Regency City, which consists of:

  • Kri Island: Kri has several sites and Cape Kri is one of the area with most fishes. The fish numbers and variety are truly amazing. The site is current dependent. Generally it's a steep slope with beautiful coral growth, lots of reef and schooling fishes, including the giant Queensland Grouper.
  • Sardine Reef: Sardine Reef has really giant clams at 10m (33ft) but it's all about non-stop fishes here. There's a resident school of bumphead parrotfish in the shallows, colorful soft corals and plenty of critters.
  • The Passage: This is a drift dive through a narrow channel near Waigeo. Look for archerfish among the mangroves, orange cup corals, seahorses, and percula clownfish.
  • Fam Island: Several sites near Fam have stunning coral growth. Sponges and soft corals add color and fishes keep it going. Sites include walls, sloping reefs, and muddy bays.
  • Misool: Misool is awash in fish life and huge sea fans. Caverns and boulders mark several sites. The schooling fishes seem endless and pygmy seahorses live in less than 10m (33ft). Some sites are current dependent.
  • Kaboei Bay Rock Islands: The bay is a labyrinth of rock islands. Visibility isn't great but this is a great place for macro and finding odd nudibranches, mollusks and the pictured dragonet. Bat caves and skeletons are found on some of the islands.

Dive Site's Glances provide information, such as:

  • Reef type: Vertical walls, Lagoon channels, caves, platform reefs, etc.
  • Access: By boat from base camps.
  • Visibility: Very good, 20-45 meters.
  • Current: Moderate, excellent for drift diving.
  • Coral: Excellent, abundant and diverse.
  • Fish: Variety & abundance guaranteed.
  • Highlights: Snorkeling with dolphins near the Wai base camp (5m); White-tip sharks under P47B wing;
  • Finding new wrecks untouched/complete.

Coral reef ecosystems is the potential for coastal and marine resources which are prominent in the Raja Ampat Archipelago, especially around the small group of islands.

The Archipelago is located in the 'Coral Triangle' which in the 'heart' of diversity of coral reefs of the world with all the associated biota within, such as various types of reef fish, mollusks and crustaceans.

There are about 540 species of hard coral, including 13 endemic species (about 75% of coral species in the world), and more than 1070 species of reef fish and 60 species of crayfish.

Plus 699 softbone species of animal (species of mollusks) which consists of 530 snails (Gastropoda), 159 shellfish (Bivalva), 2 Ccaphoda, 5 squid (Cephalopoda), and 3 Chiton, made Raja Ampat archipelago as small island region with tremendous marine biodiversity and the high productivity of fisheries of a high economic value.

Beside the flora, the lands of small of islands of Raja Ampat that have oceanic characteristics are inhabited by diverse endemic fauna species that's not found in othe area, including the Red Paradise (paradise rubra), Paradise Bald (paradise republica) and Maleo Waigeo (Aepypod brujimi), which became very valuable asset to the conservation area of Raja Ampat.

Generally, Raja Ampat Islands are topographically dominated by a variety of hills with a height reaches 100-300 m above sea level and covered with natural forests with a variety of endemic flora and fauna. The Northern Raja Ampat region, namely Waigeo islands and part of Batanta islands, is dominated by mountains, while the middle region, especially Salawati islands, has a relatively vast plain. In the south, which is Misool island, mountains are largely dominating, but in the meiddle there is a plateau region.

Coastal area of the Raja Ampat archipelago are generally white and shores and rocky reefs, with coral reef waters spread and covered with the interspersed stands of mangrove and seagrass. In the Raja Ampat islands there is found a lowland in the forest and karst limestone which has a beautiful and great diversity, characterized by a palm plant (Bulubia costata) of 700 meters in karst areas (mountain Batanta) which are dominated by ferns.

Raja Ampat islands have a very diverse topography with steep mountain shores and deserted white sand beaches. Explore the land on foot. Use a boat to move from one dive site to another dive site.

You can visit gorgeous waterfalls, ancient burial sites, bat caves and stunning waterways breathtaking limestone landscapes and Manta ray spotting and bird watching or as current frenzy of photography communities, you have ample of spots, sceneries and objects to be shot on land, above water and even underwater.

Raja Ampat Islands in the western part of the island of Papua, a lot of things that can be found while visiting there, well known as for its natural beauty, it is also famous because of ancient relics in relation to the history of the origins and existence of the Raja Ampat society. Based on the story circulated in public life there are two versions of the story about the origin of the name of Raja Ampat, as for one of its versions is as follows:

At some point in the Gulf of Kabui Village Wawiyai, there was a husband and wife went to the woods (the forest pioneer) to search for food. When they arrived on the River Waikeo (Wai meaning water, kew means bay), they found six dragon eggs. The eggs were stored in noken (bag) and brought home, when they got home the eggs were stored in the room. At night they heard the whispers, how shocked they were when they saw in the room turned out to five eggs were hatched intangible four sons and one daughter, all dressed in fine clothing which showed that they are descendants of kings.

Till now not yet clear who gave names to these children but later it was discovered that each child's name:

  • War became king in Waigeo
  • Bethany became king in Salawati
  • Dohar became king in Lilinta
  • Mohamad became king in Waigama

While the female child (named Pintolee), at one time known that the girl was pregnant and by her brothers, Pintolee was placed in a large Bia Shell (shellfish) and then let go till stranded on the island of Numfor. The one egg that did not hatch and has become stone was Kapatnai and treated as a king, even give room as dwelling place completed with two stones that served as a guard on either side of the entrance then each year even bathe and its bath water sprayed to the public as if baptism to the Kawe tribe. Not every time the stone can be seen except once a year while bathe.

Because people have great respect for the existence of these eggs then a house was built on the edge Waikeo River as a place of abode, and until now still be the object of public veneration.

BINTAKI traditional dance originating from a region that today is Kabare District, North Waigeo.

This dance started when a gentleman named Jober Maray, heard a group of people singing in the forest, exactly at the edge of the Kali (River) Kui. On a day the dry season, Mr Jober with bow and arrows to walk along the Kali (River) Kui looking for fish, that's when he heard the singing of Bintaki songs, the rhythmic voice Biya Shell (shellfish) and the cheers of a group of people.

Mr. Jober then continue its efforts to catch fish with root mash Bore (a kind of poisonous plant roots) while enjoying the sounds he heard and joined the dance to the rhythm until the foam out of the root Bore used to poison fish in the Kali (River) Kui. Currently Kali (River) Kui has become a nickel mine operated by PT. Karunia Alam Waigeo.

As in other villages in the Raja Ampat Islands, as well as in Kampung Mumes, Mayalibit Bay District, also found ancient objects as evidence that even at the old times the village has had a system of government.

In the village there is a seat made of stone buildings and a few remaining walls that have been damaged but the local people believed those as the former seat and the former residence of the Raja (King) Arifin who was the ancient time rule on the island Waigeo. Raja (King) Arifin was the king who will not acknowledge the Sultan Tidore (Sultan Jamaludin) and was believed by the public that Raja Arifin ultimately disappeared with the waves in the ocean and not known of his existence after that.

The seat is tube shaped with height about 1 meter and diameter about 30 cm. The existence of the seat and the wall as the former home of the king is still well maintained by the community.

In addition to the seats and the remaining walls of the King Arifin's residence, in Kampung Mumes also found a Gong which according to legend is used by King Arifin as a tool to signal the coming of the enemy and to call for people to be on the alert and to fight, Gong was given a name Korois which means not indiscriminately.

It is agreed to say that the Raja Ampat is a miniature of Indonesia, because of the Raja Ampat social plurality appear in various aspects, from religion to culture brought by the emigrants from the outside as the Raja Ampat Biak did several centuries ago. In Lopinto Villagel, we can find a historical relic of an old cemetery. This cemetery is believed to be the first settlers tribal cemetery in Raja Ampat, originating from Ternate tribes and Moslems, and also believed as the first tribe who inhabited the Lopintol Village. This cemetery was estimated at more than 100 years old.

It is told that the grave is the grave of Danu Syaifuddin Arif and her daughter. This cemetery is located about 100 meters from the beach. Arif Danu Syaifuddin when first came to Lopintol other than to trade, also aims to broadcast the Islamic religion to the society.

Until now, people still have great respect for the existence of this cemetery because it was considered as sacred tombs, and almost every once in a month, the community clean it because it has a religious value which the community believes that without the presence of Arif Syaifuddin Danu, Lopintol population will still live in darkness.

As other areas in Indonesia, before Christianity entered the Raja Ampat, especially in villages Wawiyai, people of that era has its own way to bury their dead families.

In this area (Wawiyai) was found many objects that are considered sacred and historic, although a lot of these objects have lost but some are still found up to now, such as human bones, beds (tomb), dishes and other household utensils which are trusted by the community of Wawiyai village as bones of their ancestors.

Based stories of parents in Kampung Wawiyai, at that time if there is Wawiyai community members who died, the body was not buried in the ground but the body was inserted in a tree trunk that had been formed into a shape like a boat and put it in a cave with all the belongings of those who have died.

Wala dance reveals about the importance of maintaining ancestral heritage. This dance originated from the tribe of Matbat Me Batan Islands (Misool).

Narrated thus:

The Children Wala, before you start singing and dancing her Wala, first rubbed oil all over their bodies. Next, they prepare to climb the high places like the slope of the mountain with a view to facing their ancestors. After meeting with the ancestor, they then traveled to several other places such as large rocks, islands and mountains.

Once they arrived at the Cape Kasim and continues to Eunuch Kofiau Islands, arriving at Kofiau one child asked his Son Wala Wala the other, 'What do you see / find?' Then they said, 'We saw a big cloud up high in front of us.'

Apparently they meant by that cloud is Mount Nokh. Mount is now known to management with natural wealth such as Coal, Gold and ancestral remnant in the form of the Stone Plate.

Wala Song in the dance also tells of how rich the Raja Ampat, long before many researchers came to this region present moment.

One type of Wala Dance tells the story thus:

There is a bird that tells of a mother who was fishing and getting a lot of fish that fill her noken (noken: a kind of knitted bags commonly used indigenous papua). The next day she was back fishing, but she was not getting a fish and she finally went home. Arriving at home, hse lay down in front of his house, protecting her face from the sun by putting her hand on her forehead and sang the Wala song as an expression of grief to his ancestors for not getting the fish.

Suba ...!!!

As a source of cultural understanding about Betew Community as part of Biak tribe communities, the Reverend FC Karma said, 'When talking about the issues or cultural aspects concerning the Biak tribe at Cendrawasih Bay or Numfor and Manokwari, it can not be separated from the subject of community groups Saireri Cenderawasih Bay who had emigrated and took their places to live / settle in the area of thewest part of bird's head, the Raja Ampat Islands.

Bunmkum Island and surrounding areas (South Waigeo) is a place of their initial settlement in the Raja Ampat Islands (Meos in Korano Vyak, according to the Biak language - Numfor; Kolano Fat, by language Worem Amber, Syria, the Gulf Langganyam Manyal / Mayalibit).

As a group of emigrants, they occupied new areas in which the gardens where they seek food were very far away. So whether consciously or not, there is a bond between community groups and indigenous Betew especially the Amber Worem, Langganyam, and Sham at the Gulf Manyalibit / Mayalibit which is the Kamon / Kabila or food storage for the people Betew, while people are Betew 'batih' ( relatives) who earned the nickname 'Mambri' (bold / knights) had became the patron saint against the pirate attacks or Wairak / Raek (Hongi boats) Manyalibit / Mayalibit on the lands that were rampant at the time and always be a dangerous threat to the survival native life.

This is proven by the gardens/small villages of Betew community on the land had been acquired by way of barter or also by way of 'batih' (kinship) and the settlement of the Betew community outside Manyalibit Bay / Mayalibit that seems to be the enterance keeper (Sorswarek Ma Smamarek Ma Swawur Warek Kedwai) that will dispel the evil people who will come.

WOR dance and song is one of the traditional dances that are in Raja Ampat. The dance and song came from the ancestors who came from Biak Island.

WOR dance and song was first presented by Beser Biak tribe as one of the dances in the traditional party to welcome kings or lords who visited the villages in the Raja Ampat Islands.

For those who enjoy diving, in Raja Ampat you can find convenient resorts at Batbitim, Misool (Misool Eco Resort), and excellent bungalows and charming traditional huts at Cape Kri, Manswar Island (Papua Diving).

Others choice available to you are inns at Saonek and Wailebet, Batanta, and, currently being developed by the local government, cottages in Waisai, Waiwo and Yenwauwpnor. Namely ACROPORA Cottage and Restaurant which does not only provide accommodation but also decent home style meal with reasonable economic prize.

From many of these accommodation, it's only a 5 to 15 minutes boat ride to your chosen dive or snorkel site where you can indulge in the fantastic underwater biodiversity; or hang out on the beach and enjoy the sea view and inspiring tropical sunset. Some of the accommodation also provide rental service on diving and snorkeling equipments, if you don't want the hassle of bringing your own equipment from faraway places.

Currently the Raja Ampat Tourism are also preparing 5 major Tourism Villages that will be introduced as part of its efforts to preserve the nature and local cultural life which also can be used as the choices of on land excursions for non divers or in between the dives itself. Each Tourism villages will be designed according to its unique and will be equipped by accommodation. It is also hoped that by these Tourism Villages, the society can be self reliance in earning their living while preserving their ancestors inheritance.

The original people of West Papua (or more famous as Raja Ampat) works usually as fishermen and traditional farmers. Most of them still lead the traditional life, eat traditional food which is prepared in the traditional way. The staple foods in Papua are rice, sago, taro roots and kau kau which are generally prepared with seafood, Chicken, game, Pork and a large variety of greens. Coconut is used in cooking, for example, taro leaves cooked in coconut cream. Fish and other seafood supplement the diet and chickens are kept. A whole pig is roasted for traditional feasts. The few dishes are such Mumu, Chicken Barapen and Papeda.

Mumu is a traditional dish, named after the oven where they cook their dishes; combining pork, sweet potatoes, rice and greens. It is cooked in the ground over hot rocks. Chicken Barapen ala Walesi is one of the most famous Papuan foods. Walesi is a name of tribe in Wamena Papua. They change pork with chicken because many Wamena people are Moslem. The method of cooking is using burnt stone beforehand putting into a drum that is buried in the land. Afterwards, put sweet potatoes, and vegetables on it one by one. Then put chicken with spice, pour oil on chicken, vegetables, and sweet potatoes evenly. After that, close the drum by thick plastic heat-resistant. Another traditional food is Papeda, made from sago flour base. This food is very popular for coastal communities or low-lying areas. To make it relatively easy, simply by pouring hot water into the sago flour, stirring it repeatedly until thickened and has a glue-like appearance. Enjoying papeda with yellow spice or sour fish dishes or the other (optional) plus the hot chili will taste very good. There is also traditional drink such as Saguer, a kind of 'MILO' (local drink) alcohol that is processed from virgin coconut. Beverages that can make the drinker's head dizzy, is relatively easy to make. But if you are visiting there, make sure you enjoy the abundant varieties of fresh seafood.

Are you interested to go there? For further information, click here.

Source: http://www.gorajaampat.com/

1 comment:

Seat Vacations said...

So, it's mean, Raja Ampat got everything! Food, view, culture, everything! 2 thumbs up!

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