Two crazy girls went backpacking to Raja Ampat

  • Two crazy girls went backpacking to Raja Ampat
    [Dua cewe nekad backpackingan ke Raja Ampat ]

    i still remember, my hands were literally shaking when i was going to push the enter button. i just couldnt believe that i finally going to Raja Ampat. Bought 4 flights via online: Jakarta – Makassar – Sorong – Makassar – Jakarta and all of that only Rp 680k (USD 65). Bloody cheap isn’t it?! i actually jumped out of my chair and start to do a winning dance. ahaha. a friend of mine always said to me that there are two things that Mariza (me!) are very lucky with, finding a parking space, and cheap flights. well i couldn’t argue with that. i do get those things easily. *knock on wood*.

    Not just me, i also bought the tickets for a friend of mine, Anne. So we both are going! woohoo.
    11 Sept 2012 Jakarta [CGK] – Makassar (South Sulawesi) [UPG]
    17 Sept 2012 Makassar – Sorong (West Papua)
    24 Sept 2012 Sorong [SOQ] – Makassar
    25 Sept 2012 Makassar – Jakarta
    Maybe the route looks odd for you. well this because almost all airlines in Indonesia are not on time! seriously! Since the gap between flights are too close by, i decided to do this way.

    We bought the tickets mid August 2012. It was the Independence day promo. So we only had a few weeks left to prepare our trip. When we bought the tickets, we actually were in a really tight budget. I remember i didn’t really have a big budget considering i have been traveling a bit before this trip. But since when i have a big budget?!, i always travel cheap. haha. anyways, considering that Raja Ampat is famously known for expensive travel destination, we just winged it. We don’t care, we have to go to Raja Ampat, West Papua!

    We both kept thinking, how do we do this? 1 week in Makassar and 1 week in Raja Ampat. With our luck, turns out our good friend, Tiara is going to organize a big event in Makassar on 14-16 Sept 2012. So she offered us if we would like to work at the event. With no doubt we said YES! haha. Not only that, we actually stayed in a fancy hotel for 5D4N during the event and oh free food too! The fee for the gig is actually almost half of what i spent for the trip. Haha! AWESOME RIGHT!

    With lack of sleep, we arrived at the airport. Well actually i only took a nap for about 90 minutes. It was a really early morning flight. I had to leave my house at 2:45am. Was so happy that there were free massage sofa around at Terminal 2F. Truly a life-saver! Departure time had come, Anne fell asleep right away after the plane took off. I was goin to sleep but then i couldnt stop staring at the beautiful sunrise. Then i just couldnt bear my sleepy head and teary eyes. I think i passed out right after we pass the Java island, somewhere above the East Java. LOL

    Finally we step on the land of Sulawesi. the last time i went to Sulawesi is when my family and i went to Manado – Tomohon year 2000. *blushing* Hell, that was 12 years ago. LOL. Much less the same with Anne. We both are so excited that we have arrived in Makassar. The verdict about the international airport, it’s actually pretty decent! Nicer than Surabaya airport but smaller in size.

    Anne had done quite extensive research on how to get to Tana Toraja, our first destination. Basically we took the Damri Bus heading to the bus station, the Damri bus stopped about 300 meters aways from the station, so we have to walked. oh did i mention we brought a tent? it was a big tent, good for 4 pax, so that was quite heavy. Not to mention our snorkeling gear (googles, snorkels, fins). it was a looong walk. something funny happened on the way to station, when we walked, the ojek (motorbike taxi) drivers were actually think that we are not indonesians. They kept calling us: mister mister!. [Yeah when you are in Indonesia, youre pretty much a Mr. no matter you are a girl or a guy]. I think it was because our big backpacks/carriers so they thought that we are tourist from abroad. another fact is that not a lot of Indonesians travels as backpackers.

    Never trusted a guy who approach your first! especially when you’re in a bus station. Mostly like there will be some guy would pretend to be friendly, asking where are you going, and then telling you the last bus just left, and then offering you his service or you’re lucky that he works for the bus company that is the last bus of the day to your destination. telling it’s the best bus around. blah blah blah. I’m not saying all people are like that, just a lot of times it’s Totally a scam! we would call them Calo. Basically, they “represents” one or a few bus company, selling their tickets with a higher rate. My best suggestion to handle this hassle, is just to say a hard NO with a smile. We asked around and finally met the official officers of the bus station, We were directed to the official ticket counter. Bought our tickets, checked the time. turns out that we still have time to buy some food to take away.

    The drive will be about 8 hours. oh yess it was a long way! but we were so tired, that we sleep almost all the way to Tana Toraja. At our first stop for lunch i actually thought Anne was dead. She didnt respond at all when i tried to wake her up. our second stop, we stopped at a small village located in a hill. the view was amazing!!! like AMAZING!!! The long bus ride was definitely worth it!

    Did i mention that Anne managed to get us a nice villa that belongs to a friend in Jakarta? Another of our luck. Turns out that his family is pretty well-known in Tana Toraja. We got off right in front of a small restaurant that sells pork meatballs. we both were so happy, we have just realized we are in the pork capital! *exaggerating*. but yeah compared to Jakarta, the food are pretty much the opposite, we can EASILY find PORK! woohoo. Anne is a mixed of Manado – North Sulawesi and Maluku – The Mollucas. While my dad is a mixed of Chinese and Javanese, while  my mom is from Tomohon – North Sulawesi. So yeah we LOVE pork! The villa is located about 10 minutes from the town center. that’s pretty much like a suburbs of a big city. The rice paddy field is next to the main entrance of the driveway to the villa. LOVELY!

    The breezy morning woke us up. it was a bit cold for a Jakartan’s standard okay! It was almost like in Dago Atas of Bandung. We had to wake up early because we are taking the night bus later on that day. you probably thinking; WTF, What what … leaving on the next day you just arrived?!. Yeah sadly enough, because of the gig in Makassar, we have to be back in Makassar on 13 Sept before noon to attend the briefing of the event. we have no regret at all taking the gig, because it’s good money, free accommodation, free food. What else can we ask for! haha. Going to Tana Toraja is just a bonus since our main destination is Raja Ampat. To keep the budget tight, we have decided to do hitchhike as much as possible. we stopped the first car we saw. they give us a lift to the nearest market. well, actually it turns out that a lot of  the private cars are used as a public transportation. so the car we thought was giving us a ride, it was actually a public transportation. *embarrased*. We paid Rp2k each.

    We walked around to see the local market, the people are very friendly. There were no moments where they made us felling uncomfortable as a visitor in their town. We decided to rent an ojek to explore Tana Toraja. So we walked around trying to find an ojek who will do Rp 70k/person (USD 8) or maybe less for one day tour. we managed to get a deal at Rp 80,000 from a Rp 120,000 they’d offer us. yeah we are not really good at bargain but still it’s cheap for us. The ojek guys came really handy, they took us to the places we would like to go, also we got to visit of the other cool places and insights of the local culture in a non-touristy way. We actually paid Rp 100,000 because we were so happy that they were so nice and informative during our trip. They drop us off at our villa, and it turns out that one of the ojek guy is actually family related to our friend. No surprise there! it’s a small town! haha.

    Unlike the places i’ve been to in Java-Bali, Where people “illegally” ask you for money or where we basically have to pay an “entrance fee” when we enter a village or place of interest that are supposed to be open for public for free , the places we visited are actually had no entrance fee at all. The only time we got charged for an entrance fee is at this burial venue where basically you can spot some tourist. The entrance fee was actually sort kind of a donation, so that was fine. The whole day at Tana Toraja was very nice, with little time we got to see a glance of the nature, people, art, culture of Tana Toraja which were AMAZING!

    We took taxi when we arrived Makassar because it was really early in the morning. We had the google map and estimated the cost to go to the hotel. We sort of panicked to see how the meters change every 3 seconds. that was intense. LOL. We right away thought; shit we took the “wrong” taxi. After spending a few days in Makassar we finally realized, the taxis rate are actually slightly higher than the ones in Jakarta. Anyway, we spent our weekend in Makassar working at the event. Which was a cool event!

    Another friend of ours, Indra who lives in Palu went to Makassar to join our trip in Raja Ampat. Since we are taking a different flight, we decided to meet again at the airport in Sorong. Arriving at Sorong Airport sort of remind me the movies where they have the scenes of the small airports in South america. it’s pretty much like that. The landing was definitely a moment to remember. it was so intense, i thought we almost going to crashed because of running out of the runway. lol. They also only have one arrival gate with a small luggage belt/carousel. I heard they didn’t even a luggage belt till a few month ago. We almost missed our boat because of we waited too long for our backpacks at the airport. Luckily the harbor is not that far, only about 15 minutes away. The speed boat leaves at 2pm or ealier when it’s already full. Only two boats leave each day.

    I have a friend who has a friend who just moved to Waisai in Waigeo Island a few months ago. Lucky us, they gave us a place to stay at their place! WOOHOO!. The newly married Indonesian- British couple, Max and Tess just moved to Waisai a few months ago, Max is supervising a project building another harbor in Waisai. We got to visit his project site and some other cool places for fishing and snorkeling. That was exactly what i’m looking for when i travel. Just chilling around, without having a rush to visit some touristy places.

    After a few days, Indra finally got bored staying in Waisai. Haha. While anne and i are pretty much okay with what we are doing right at that time. Just enjoying the slow-paced local life. Getting around to do sightseeing, or island hopping cost a lot of money more than our budget can handle. But at the end we decided to go to Wayag island, the icon of Raja Ampat. Since we need more people to share the cost of the boat ride, we have decided to go around the town trying to find other travelers. Found some but they already had booked some thing else. we finally decided to go to the harbor the next day. Since there are only two arrivals each day from Sorong. a big speedboat and a bigger slow boat arriving at 2pm and 3:30pm. Lucky us, from the first boat we finally have three new travelmates who are willing to share the cost of the boat to Wayag. Please introduce our new travelmates: Olivier the Switzerland guy and his korean girlfriend JJ, also Nick from Australia.

    The next day we left Waisai in the morning. stopped by and hung out at the Raja Ampat Dive Resort because the boat crew had to prepare some things before leaving to Wayag. The boat ride going there was okay, i mean the waves werent small but werent big also. we did a long 2,5 hours boat ride. Please note that we are using 2 x 40hp machines. So Wayag is definitely really far! But it was really worth we arrived there, it was HEAVEN!!! There are no words to describe it! We had to hike, well it was more like climbing up, to go up to see the whole Wayag from above. The hike was hell!!! like hell hell!!! the base of the ground where we climb up was so sharp it ruined my most favorite havaianas sandals!!! But then again, i probably gonna regret all my life if i hadn’t climbed up. Best view I’ve seen so far, ever in my life! The way back to Waisai is probably once the most challenging boat ride I’ve ever taken so far. It took us about 4 hours because of the waves were bigger. a nightmare!

    The four of us decided to stay at Raja Ampat Dive Resort for a night, while the couple decided to go back to Waisai and then go to this eco resort the next day. The stay at the resort was lovely! It was just opened early this year, so everything is still new. Even thou it still have on going construction at the other side of the resort,  it doesn’t really bother us. I slept really well. The bed was comfy, and i LOVE the open-air shower room! After breakfast we spent the whole day exploring the underwater world right in front of the resort. There are small villages near the resort. We met local kids that don’t really often meet visitors like us, they were so cute and friendly.

    We stayed one night, did a late check out, we got back in Waisai right after sunset. Nick borrowed Indra’s tent and set it up right next to Max & Tess house. The day after we decided to go to this eco-resort where the couple have been staying. it’s about 45 minutes away by a small one engine speed boat. When we arrive there, i feel like i could stay there forever. It’s SO beautiful! I don’t know where to begin to expressed the place. The underwater world was even crazier than other places we have visited in Raja Ampat. it was MADNESS!!! i kept forgetting to close my mouth when my brain say WOAAH underwater. You can find jungle of corals, at the drop off, you can find schools fishes, big small huge, you name it! sharks and turtles are also there! once again, it was MADNESS!!!

    The day after we went to the Manta-rays spot. It wasn’t the season yet, but there were some spotted. After lunch at the eco-resort, we went back to Waisai to catch the speedboat to Sorong. When we arrive at the harbor, we actually had to go back to Max’s place to get the rest of our stuff. But since it was raining, the ojek guys didnt feel like to take us to Max place which was about 10 minutes drive. So they gave us the key to the car, oops i mean the ambulance van. yes ambulance! Never crossed in my mind someone would handed a key to an ambulance car to us. INSANE!

    Ooh did i mention that we saw a whale half way to Waisai from Sorong?! On the way back to Sorong from Waisai i purposely stayed outside hoping to see the whale again. Didn’t see any whale, but managed to see the dolphins thou. Still happy because of it. We decided to close our trip in West Papua by having a a seafood dinner. We set our separate ways from here to our new friends after the dinner. Although i’ve been having seafood for the last 7 days, i never get bored. The fishes taste so good!!! The most fresh fishes from the sea you could ever get!

    Anne and i have another night in Makassar, so we stayed at Anne’s cousin’ place. She showed us so many places with good local food. a-must-try-before-you-die kind of food. All day eating, eat and eat. OMG! Makassar is definitely a culinary destination in South Sulawesi! I would go here again just to eat if i could!

    Flights Rp 680k. Normal costs would be around Rp 3500k-4000k
    Airport tax: Jakarta & Makassar Rp 40k. Sorong Rp 11k.
    Damri Jakarta Rp 25k, Damri Makassar Rp 15k
    Bus to Tana Toraja Rp 110k/way
    Speed Boat Sorong – Waisai Rp 120k/way
    Private Rental Speedboat to Wayag Rp 8000k/boat. Boat big enough for 6 + 3 crews.
    Entrance fee (PIN) to Wayag Rp 250k/person, for local tourist Rp 500k for international tourist.
    Resort # 1 Normal rate Euro 65/person. 3 meals included.
    Resort #2 Normal rate Rp 400k/person. 3 meals included.

    I cant really give you the detail, but i think i only spent about USD 250 for the whole 2 weeks trip. With the money we get from the gig, that means… *censored* HAHA. Are you jealous?!!! Dont be! well maybe be a bit is okay. haha! Okay maybe you would like to know how we managed to do that? You can go see the How To Keep You Trip Low Budget post 😉

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  • 9 thoughts on “Two crazy girls went backpacking to Raja Ampat

    1. F**K ! Iya, bener, iriiiiiiii *tapi tidak dengki*. Kalian kerennnnn! Oh how much I wish to be able to travel, without thinking and worrying “apakah boss gue akan approve cuti gue?”. Awesome! Thanks for sharing, nengdut!

      • woahhh one of the most popular indonesian travel writer just left her comment on my blog?! COOL!!! Thank you deedut. So can’t wait for your next travel book to be published! 😀 *akyu juga iri tp tak dengki kepada mu*

      • Hi Deedee,
        I was told that you are a famous travel writer. Any books on Sumatra or Riau. Being single, I intend to travel solo in Jun/July but got no idea where to go. I have been a couple of times to Java, so tot of change of view. I love the sun, sand and the sea and dont minds staying a in cool breeze high mountain. Any recommendations.

        • Hi Zack, I’d been to Sumatera (Padang, Lampung, Riau, Aceh etc etc), but don’t have time to write about it yet. You need to know where do you want to go in Sumatera as there are so much to see. I also need to know how much budget and time you have, as different budget would lead to different way to travel. My recommendation is Bali, in Tulamben, Amed & Menjangan Island. For detail, email me at as I check email from time to time

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