Indonesia never fails to deliver a hectic, colorful, chaotic experience from start to end. In this case, that journey was from Borneo to West Papua before we set off across the great blue sea for Palau. I will let a few photos do the talking and trace the ship’s journey moving from west to east across the Indonesian archipelago…
Granted the imae above was actually taken in Malaysia Borneo, but still, the sunlight catches a mother and her young orangutan on the world’s third largest island.
A pied hornbill is one of the characteristic species of the Bornean rainforests. The male works hard to encase his mate inside a hollow tree so she can lay, hatch and feed her chick in safety.
Above, a juvenile silver leaf monkey in Borneo. These little guys go through a bright orange color faze when first born and then mature into a handsome silver coat.
Colorful hand-painted boats line up in front of the Bitung fish market in northern Sulawesi. The region is known as the skipjack tuna capital of Indonesia.
A flying fish skips away from the ship on a flat calm morning at sea.
From our berth in Ternate in Halmahera, Indonesia, I watched in dismay as unregulated contruction practices dump tons of thick volcanic soil into crystal clear water that is loaded with corals and reef fish. The sediments will no doubt smother the corals and eventually change the ecology in this harbor.Outside of Kokas, West Papua we set out in Zodiacs to look for ancient rock art on the limestone formations of the region. Amongst delicate orchids, verdant pitcher plants and ratan palms we discovered graffiti from many thousands of years ago. A similar type of rock art in Sulawesi was just discovered to be 40,000 years old.
A water taxi was taking some local people to the town of Kokas, and they happily obliged us with a few photos as we crossed paths near the rock art islands. The young man above knew some English and answered a few questions for us. It was a nice exchange in an unlikely spot.
Heading deeper into Western Papua we visited the small village of Yenwaupnor which has attracted a lot of visitors thanks to its resident population of red birds of paradise. I woke up at 4:30 am to trek through the forest in the pitch dark. As the forest came alive with noises of birds, insects and rustling lizards I reached a tree where these birds are known to congregate in the early morning light, displaying and calling in flashes of brillant red and long streaming feathers. After watching the stunning birds came the walk back to the village and a wander through the sandy, broom-swept streets with steaming pots of breakfast precariously perched over open fires.
With a few words of Indonesian I was able to get these three little girls in Yenwaupnor to pose for a picture. I love the peeping eyes of the one in back. A yard dog sleeps in the bright morning sun on the front door step.
Being in Raja Ampat we were in the heart of the Coral Triangle for four days and exposed to some of the most biodiverse coral reefs in the world. One of the most astounding things I saw was dense mangrove forest reaching into crystal clear water below and that water was loaded with brillant colorful reef. In the shot above you can see some of the corals that were growing up to the prop and drop roots of mangroves. It is highly unusual for corals and mangroves to thrive besides one another. I like the abstract look of this photo and the muted reef colors.
And I have to part with a sunset shot as our churning wake now puts many hundreds of miles between the ship and the islands of Indonesia. Next stop…Micronesia and a brand new destination for me.