My time in Sorong has finally come to an end. I leave for Waisai, Raja Ampat today after receiving my permit. I really wish the officials wouldn’t set meetings for Friday morning. They ask me to confirm my 10 am Friday appointment on multiple occasions – yet here I am again witnessing the staff during their aerobic stamina exercises.

This last week I had the chance to meet the head of tourism for Raja Ampat and the head Chief of Raja Ampat.  I attended a conference where many homestay owners were present, as well as people from the Tourism Board. The permit to enter Raja Ampat as a visitor was doubled from $50-$100 USD.

I met Doug, the creator of the  Stay Raja Ampat website, at a hotel a few days after the conference. His website was the first of its kind for the area. It gives tourists a platform where questions can be answered. Please check it out if you have a moment. Doug was actually the person who gave me the idea of reviewing the homestays. It was great to finally meet him. He has a wealth of knowledge on the area and really understands how the community works. Doug has been an excellent resource to every tourist I’ve met during my travels throughout Raja Ampat.

I met a lovely family while staying in Sorong. They invited me for dinner twice. The food was exceptional and consisted of local favorites. Their son and daughter are studying English in school so it was a good opportunity for them to practice. Both children have great ambitions. The boy wants to be an airline pilot, and the girl wants to be a doctor. Both are very capable of living their dreams.

I went with Ranny and a friend to a karaoke establishment recently. Karaoke here isn’t someone singing in front of large crowds. Instead each group is given a small room which has a screen, music system and couch. After every song the software scores your performance. My first song was, What It’s Like by Everlast. For those of you who don’t know it, the song isn’t vocally challenging, the words can basically be spoken. Somehow my best score of the night wasn’t for this song, but instead for a local romantic Indonesian song. I’m not too sure what to think of that. Perhaps my voice is well suited to the Indonesian ear.

I went to a night club in Sorong on Wednesday night where Ranny’s friend introduced me to her group of friends. I was very well taken care of. We had a couple drinks on a seawall, a favorite spot for the locals to begin the night. Cars park closely to share music being played from their stereos.

We headed to the club around 11 pm. The music consisted of 3 local vocalists singing for 30 mins with a DJ playing during their breaks. The singers were very good, mixing local pop songs with some western classics. During their breaks they would sit with us. As the night wore on, I slipped on my dancing shoes. The group I was with sneaked some sort of alcohol concoction into the club. Shots were coming at me left and right, with people giving me high fives in between drinks. I think I now know what it’s like to be the hottest girl in the club.

Later that evening, the conversations became less appealing. It was time to sneak out undetected. It was around 2 am when I left. I hopped on the back of a motorcycle and off we went. Flying down the empty streets deep in mist and smoke; it was a cool experience. I smiled the whole way home. My night ended by jumping a gate to get back into my room; the hotel was all locked up.

Ranny and I are beginning our first beach clean up on Saturday. We are doing this to show locals we are serious about our concerns. We want to act instead of just talk about the issue. We also want to have some good pictures for a new Friendly Drifter website.  The new site will be dedicated to clearing the beaches of garbage, in this, the most bio-diverse place on the planet. If we can’t succeed here, we can’t succeed anywhere!

Please share this blog with friends and family. It is the starting point for our volunteer organization. Allowing volunteers to witness a beautiful part of the world while giving back to the community.

Programs will be 10 days long. Everything will be taken care of. Part of the program, will include visiting local villages, and donating school supplies such as books and pens. Text books are also very important. Many schools here have teachers, but they don’t know what to teach or how to teach it. The opportunities are endless. We will be expanding our aspirations in time. Cleaning the beaches while educating the children on the effects of garbage on the environment.  It is a great starting point.

Subsequent original blog posts listed below:

Click to read – Imagination

Click to read – Clean Raja Ampat

Click to read – Success

Click to read – Farewell Raja Ampat

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