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“06.00,” He wrote it on the whiteboard that was hung in the dining area and turned his head looking at us who were eagerly waiting for him to say something while pointing at his own writing.
“Breakfast”Then he looked at the white board again and continued writing.
“07.00” He stopped for a while and then he looked at us again.
“Set off” He said as he put the cap back on the marker he used for writing.
“That’s all?” I asked
“Yes, that’s all.” he said.
The shortest briefing ever. We were excitedly waiting for a more comprehensive briefing about what we need to prepare for our first-day excursion tomorrow but that is it. We were silent for seconds looking at each other before bursting into a laugh. That was our first night in Daroyen Village in Raja Ampat.
Herman Mayor, we called him Pak Herman, was the one who accompanied us throughout our Raja Ampat trip. He is also the owner of Daroyen Village. He may look tough and serious but trust me, he is not. He knows how to make a joke with laughing. He loves ocean that much until each time when our boat approaching our homestay, he would prefer to jump into the water and swim to the shore than get down from the boat normally – like the rest of us.
• • •
That morning, all of us reached Sorong at about the same time. I and another girl flew from Manado, while the majority came from Jakarta. We were then transferred to the harbour for our fast boat ride crossing to Waisai – the entrance to Raja Ampat Islands. It took us about two hours to get there. Then from Waisai, we took another 45 minutes speed boat ride to reach Daroyen Village. It seemed far that morning because we were a little bit tired from the journey. We stayed there for four nights and one night in Sorong. The initial plan was to spend the new year in Daroyen Village, however, we were advised not to because the public fast boat might not be running on public holiday. Daroyen Village is near to Sawing Rey Village – one of the birdwatching spots for the Bird of Paradise.
Our last meal that day was the in-flight meal in the odd time as most of us took the early morning flight. So, we were all as hungry as you can imagine when we reached the homestay in the noontime. Fortunately, our lunch was ready and set on the table at the dining area not long after that. We enjoyed our lunch together with another three European guests that have stayed for days before us.
Two of them which is a couple, have travelled around Asia for eight months. They would leave to Manado after Raja Ampat. While I admired and excited for their courage to leave everything and go for a long holiday, I was no less excited to get prepared for our first snorkelling session in front of our homestay. There is a small house reef dropoff to explore – warming up before exploring more tomorrow.
Raja Ampat in West Papua
Raja Ampat means four kings which referring to the four islands in West Papua – Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. When I was doing research and planning for this trip, I realized that even a week will not be sufficient to explore the whole area. There are many snorkelling and dive spots and also islands to visit. Raja Ampat is one of the places in Indonesia that has gained popularity not only locally but also globally.
The beauty of its underwater world has become the main reason for people all around the world to travel so far only to come to this place. So we are. We are there to witness the beauty with our own eyes. We saw a beautiful landscape of Raja Ampat, the colorful corals, fish and also a group of Manta Ray that Pak Herman said they are having a party. They were in such a big group until I couldn’t believe that they are real. I was so excited – we were all excited.
There are plenty of choices of accommodation on the main island, Waisai, as well as on other surrounding islands. From a simple lodging like homestays to resorts are now available. I remember during my first trip to Raja Ampat in 2015, there was one night that we had to stay on Kri Island and in a homestay like Daroyen Village because of the unexpected weather condition that not allowing us to go back to Waisai. It turned out that most of us love the place and the atmosphere.
Because of that and also in order to keep the cost for each pax at a minimum, I chose to stay at homestay over resorts. My choice fell on Daroyen Village – the local homestay which I felt good about after I did much research and contacted them back and forth. Besides that, I would prefer to get in touch more with the locals, whenever possible. The local experiences make differences in one journey. My previous trip to Papua – Wamena and Baliem Valley, was awesome. The experience is unlike other places in Indonesia.
Daroyen Village is run by a local Papuan family. Previously, the homestay was located on Kri Island which I remember is a very beautiful island, too. However, as it is getting more popular with visitors every year, the number of homestays is also increased. For better management and stay quality, Daroyen Village moved to a small island that attached to Gam Island. The entrance to the homestay is a little bit covered by the mangrove. At night we could see walking sharks right in front of the homestay.
There are only 6 cottages on the island, one kitchen and one house for the host family. No other homestays. Only two VIP cottages that have an en-suite bathroom and floor tiling. There are two shared bathrooms for guests who stay in non-VIP cottages. Each cottage comes with a mattress, mosquito net and a small table. There is a small terrace in each cottage as well. Most of the cottages are built from woods, bamboos and dried palm leaf. Electricity is only available from 6 pm to 12 midnight, but fret not, it is sufficient for us to recharge our gadgets and electronic devices.
Our meals are simple home-cooked foods such as rice with a few dishes and definitely, there would be fish, not always. It could be the environment or our holiday mood plays a part, but the dishes always taste good. When we went out for island hopping, they would bring along the food in a container for each dish and set it on the places that are comfortable for us to tuck in. They also brought along the drinking water in a container so we could refill our water bottle or tumbler, too. And then around 5 pm, we usually have already got back to the homestay, wash up, rest for a while then get ready for our dinner at 7 pm.
There is a network reception in Daroyen Village but I don’t remember I touch my phone much. We interact more with people – had a chat over the dinner table, did activities together and turned in early (of course unless you don’t want to.) I think that is how one trip should be – building back the real communication between humans.
To our surprise, I and my roommate not only interact with humans – we got a special guest (read: mouse) on the first day that munched my roommate’s snacks which she kept in her bag. But after we kept the food more securely and brought the opened package out of our cottage, everything was alright. Remember, they are also part of the environment! 🙂
And orh, in case you wonder what “Daroyen” means. It means diver or swimmer in Papua language. It simply explains the essence of the people and the place itself. Although we can also find a cute and playful white cockatoo named Daroyen in the village which likes to scream “lapar..lapar” (hungry) most of the times.
I will definitely be back one day. How about you? Have you been to Raja Ampat?