After spending the last day in Sorong (or “so wrong” to some).
- It’s a poverty-stricken, polluted town that sits like an island between a sea of jungle and the ocean.
- There is a palpable underlying racial/religious tension between the native (Christian) Papuans and the (Muslim) Javanese migrants who have settled here for work.
- However, I felt quite safe when venturing about.
- Most foreign tourists never go beyond the gates of the 2-3 enclave hotels that cater to them. The locals seemed genuinely shocked to see me walking about. It probably helped that I’m a big, blonde sunburned white dude.
- The people are incredibly warm and friendly.
- When I ventured out, I felt like a cross between a rock star and circus freak. “Meester..meester..hallo!” was called out to me by children, adults, passing motorcyclists, groups of workmen in the back of trucks, etc. I would instantly become the center of attention, wherever I went. Several men randomly walked up to me and shook my hand and asked me where I was from. The kids were fun. Very proud of the six or seven english words in their vocabulary.
- Last night I went to dinner (and a show) with Rudie, who will be my driver/interpreter/guide for my birdwatching trip into the jungle. I usually don’t have the guts to try street food when traveling, but Rudie knew the place, so what the hell…3 bucks for a grilled fish and some rice isn’t bad.
- After dinner, we went to see a practice for a choral/dance group (60 people strong) that will be coming to the United States for the World Choir Games this summer. They were fantastic and it was a special treat to meet them.
- Rudie hadn’t rented the truck yet, so last night I did one of the scariest things I’ll experience on this trip…ride on the back of a small motorcycle through Sorong. No..we did not pop a wheelie the whole way (ala Cannonball Run)! Those of you who have been in Asian (or Latin American, or African) cities know what I mean. Its like being part of a giant swarm of smog-spewing bees.
I’m off to the jungle for a 2 days. Hopefully I come back with some cool bird/wildlife shots. I've set some more diving posts to upload automatically over the next couple of days.