A Visit to Arborek Tourism Village Raja Ampat Papua Indonesia
Every travel blogger worth his Sodium chloride has at some time or other said or wanted to say
“How I Quit My Job To Travel The World “
and those peddling the halofied universe of Solo Travel have said it with a shovel of Iodized Sodium Chloride. (Ok so halofied is not a word, ever heard of desi Jugaad? And what about Selfie? When did you first heard about Selfie? Oh when you read that people die taking Selfies I guess)
Fikar not, I am writing a post about “How I quit my job to travel”, instead I want this post to be about “How I quit my travels to settle in a tropical island, well almost. Even if I did not settle in Arborek Tourism Village in Raja Ampat Islands, I was overjoyed to be there among the 197 odd residents of the tropical paradise spread over 7 acres and just an hour and half of speed boat ride from Waisai the capital of Raja Ampat in West Papua Wonderful Indonesia.
But the first impressions were not so welcome when our boat anchored on the Arborek pier a bunch of fierce looking locals emerge with bow and arrows and we were told to wait till they give us permission to enter their village.
Don’t get me wrong the place looked like heaven and I was humming
“Gar Firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin asto “
( Translated from Persian it means > If there is a heaven on earth it is here it is here, it is here ).
But like most lesser mortals, while I liked the idea of entering heaven I had no plans to do it by dying at the hand of bow and arrow wielding warriors from Papua. So while I was contemplating to prefer to jump into the sea and go to heaven by drowning or prefer the archery route, suddenly the welcome party burst into an impromptu song and dance sequence.
As the naturally tanned bodies moved in rhythm, drum beats floated over tropical breeze, mixed with rustling sound palm leaves and the strumming guitars playing a tribal welcome song.
“ Ah, this is a welcome gesture, desi, so I smiled and joined the Papua version of
“ Dhol Bajne lagey” ( ढोल बजने लगे )
As we walked on the pier marveling at the crystal clear water below that had more marine life than 007 encountered in his rendezvous with Stromberg in “ The Spy Who Loved Me”
Array where are you going? Please Google about the James Bond 007 later please read rest of the post.
Thank you for coming back. Readers like you make my day and are the fuel ( that too highest octane wala jee ) of this blog.
So let us continue to the song and dance welcome that the Papuan Warriors accorded us and welcomed us in their slice of green paradise in the middle of azure waters.
The first thing you notice in Arborek is that how neat and clean the village is (actually that is true of most places in Indonesia I visited). The streets are lined with trees; houses have colorful Bougainvillea hugging the walls right next to neatly hanging clothes, some kind of color coordination competition going on between the gardeners and launderers of the village?
As most folks in our group settle for playing with the waves on the beach and listening to the folk songs played by the village head, I decide to explore the Arborek Village. Soon I am a bit lost ( I mean how could you get lost Mr. desi Traveler in a village that ends in 10 minutes ?), and lost I was. For no matter which direction I go, the village ends and the sea begin within 5 minutes. I feel like Captain Jack Sparrow on trying to find a way out of the abandoned island. Only I am not on an abandoned Island but on a slice of tropical paradise. As I move around a little girl looks at me and ask me “What is your name, where are you from “
I tell her that I am from India and my name is Prasad. She likes the idea of India and says I know India, I have a friend in India, I am totally puzzled this girl in remote Arborek Tourism Village Raja Ampat Islands West Papua, Indonesia has a friend in India? But before I could ask anything her sister also join and they decide to adopt this lost Indian and volunteer to show me around.
“Where are you from? You want to see our village?”
“Sure, but tell me your names “, the only answer I get is a big chuckle as if I have cracked a joke. But they continue to show me around and we are soon seeing a playground, school, water tank, there home and many other places to see in the tiny Arborek Village.
Just as they have appeared from nowhere the girls vanish as I was clicking pictures. I continue to explore the Arborek tourism village and soon reach another beach (apparently the whole village is one continuous beach check this drone picture clicked by Will Cho)
Can you identify some of the places I found? Well, you can clearly see the 3 piers leading to the village, I think 2 are for visitors and one for locals. There are no vehicles on the village as it is so small you don’t need to go anywhere on a car or scooter. The clean green patch you see is the football ground of the village, the big blue roof in the front of the western beach is the Church on the opposite beach you can see mangroves and the homestays of Arborek village.
Near the mangrove patches a boatman is busy painting his boat with colors of tropics – Blue and green, he is puzzled to see me there but continues his work. I stumble on a few under construction huts that will be used as home stays to encourage sustainable rural tourism in the village. A few mangrove saplings are braving the assault of naughty waves, knowing very well that their persistence will overcome the waves and soon they will form an impregnable barrier for the waves to enter the village.
All the exploration has made me a bit hungry and I decide to go back where the group of travel bloggers in Indonesia is settled. Suddenly the sisters appear again and grin “ We found you, where you went ?? “ Only had they known I had the exactly same question for them.
We walk back towards the main beach of the village and the sisters resume their role of my tour guide of the Arborek Village. They show me the Village Church and ask me to take pictures. I am welcomed at the beach with loud cheers and a table set up with a sumptuous meal that has rice, fish, vegetables, fruit salad, eggs etc. I carefully chose the vegetable dishes but not before I have clicked the catch of the day that is spread over the dining table under a shady tree.
The sisters introduce me to other kids, “ He is our friend from India”
“ India? Another boy utters, I have a friend in India, his name is Rajesh, do you know him ?”
I am now totally puzzled how come everybody in this little Indonesian tropical island village has a friend in India. Soon the mystery is resolved by Dr. Mridula Dwivedi, the most seasoned traveler among us.
It seems an Indian named Rajesh has visited the Arborek village some time back and he had made some friends among the kids. So these innocent kids coming from a village of 197 souls assumed India must be another village like their and everybody knows everybody else in India. Hence they assumed I will know their friend Rajesh in India.
So dear reader if you visit Arborek Tourism Village in West Papua Indonesia, do say my hi to my friends there and please, please do tell them that desi Traveler misses them very much. The friendly kids of the village seem to have taken fancy for one or the other visitor and were talking, singing, playing with our group as if we have known each other since birth. But is that not the joy of visiting these remote places where people still trust each other, life is simple and strangers are considered as lifelong friends you are meeting for the first time in your life.
I click more pictures around the village, of kids, women, performers, the beach the tourists and travelers like me enjoying the pristine waters and pious friendship that they have developed with the people of Arborek village.
Alas like all good things, this visit has to end. I seriously think of hiding in the church and let the group know, I mean how will they even know I stayed back in the Arborek village I try to reason out with myself? But NO jee, these guys at Indonesia tourism are really good at their job and soon I am traced back and advised to join the group back on the boat to the next slice of paradise in Raja Ampat. I tell Gio, my friend from Kerala Blog Express days,
“ But Toufan I don’t want to leave, this place is paradise “
He gives me a big smile and says
“ Don’t worry Prasad, we go to another paradise, then you can choose which one you want to stay “
Man, this guy sure knows how to convince a traveler to travel, I tell myself and bid a goodbye to Arborek Tourism Village in Raja Ampat.
So as I said in the beginning, I may have never written “ How I quit my job to travel” kind of post, I almost wrote a post titled “ How I quit travel to settle in a Tropical Paradise in Raja Ampat Indonesia “
To know how to reach Raja Ampat check this earlier post about: Review of Raja Ampat Dive Lodge.
There are some homestays at Arborek Tourism Village, where you can stay, if you are staying somewhere else your homestay or resort should be able to arrange for a speedboat to travel to Arborek Tourism Village. When you are there say my hello to my friends there, and please please tell them desi Traveler misses there pretty beaches and prettier smiles. So long Arborek Village stay pure, stay pristine and may the impact of global warming and rising seas never reach you. Amen.
Thanks a lot, Ministry of Tourism Indonesia for inviting me to Trip of Wonders Indonesia. ( BTW if you ever plan to hire somebody testing hammocks in Arborek Tourism Village, you know whom to contact 🙂
I promise that I will not sell, rent, or donate your email to anybody
🙂 🙂 🙂