Thursday, 4 June 2015

5th June - Sorong (Raja Ampat, PNG)

Friday 5th June 2015

Sorong, we had heard, was full of garbage.

And yes indeed rubbish is a big feature.

But it also has its charms…

There are some grand houses 

right next to not-so-grand constructions.  

The sky looks very black because we had big storms.  Thunderbolts, lightning, heavy rain.  Wonderful!  The 2XS watertanks are filling fast and I am very happily washing everything in sight.  Watch out John - I might plunge him into a bucket of soapy water too!

The people are delightful, wreathed in smiles, thrilled to see us.  We walked up from a laneway leading to the (horrid slimy slippery rocky) “jetty” where we had left the dinghy and an entire family leapt out, wanting to be photographed with Pete.

I have done some copies on my Selphy printer (best toy on the boat, says Pete,)  and Pete can get even more smiles and shrieks of joy when he delivers them this morning.  He has to go back to the Jabatan Laut (Harbour Master) to fill in more forms…The eight or so hours we put in yesterday were not enough…We have the impression that maybe not many yachts come here to clear in – they all do it in Sangihe.  (We did try but were sent along here.)  The officials are all very nice and obliging but…they don’t really seem to know what they are doing.  We just have to assume that we are now officially cleared in!

Sorong is on the mainland of PNG,  so it actually does feel more Papuan than Indonesian.  (Obviously it would…)  And everyone wants me to take their photo.  Happy to oblige!

We are anchored in a fairly busy harbor next to an impressive looking liveaboard dive boat.  These boats look very luxurious and beautiful.  But it is very expensive to spend time on them!  We looked them up on Lonely Planet and it is around $4,500 per person for a seven day trip.  This includes all food, unlimited dives, and comfy accommodation but…nearly $10,000 for two people for a week…And as Pete says, you would be EXHAUSTED after seven days diving three times a day…(well we would be…)

John arrives at lunchtime and then we are OFF, to Batanta, where I hope the hornbills will do their spectacular evening fly-past.  The next day we will probably head towards Mansuar and Kri islands – they look just beautiful and inviting… Maybe internet connection, maybe not…

Just a bit more re the birds in this region… We have never heard such a lot of bird song.  It is extraordinary!  Many different trilling conversations coming out of the jungle.  But we very rarely see the singers, hard though we try.  On our one and only afternoon in Batanta, eagle-eyed Pete saw a flash of white, so we carefully searched through the undergrowth with camera and binoculars.  I managed, finally, to zoom in and found…(oh dear but the damn boat would NOT stay still and it is out of focus but never mind…)

A cockatooo!!

Apparently PNG was joined to the Australian mainland only 10,000 years ago and there are many shared animal and birds.  For example – or so Wikipedia and Lonely Planet tell me – there are bandicoots, wallabies and – echidnas in Papua!  Who knew??

Today’s BirthdayBoy

James Headlam!  Seen here with his father and with his brother popping his head up in the middle distance.

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