I’m having an amazing time here in Sorong. The people are super friendly and eager to talk with me or offer help. I’ve even been offered free motorcycle rides. I traveled to the city’s main market a couple of days ago. There was a guitarist selling homemade amplifiers. He pressured me into playing. This obviously stirred up quite a crowd. I was very nervous and the guitar wasn’t what I was used to. I think we had 30 spectators by the end of it. I think that was the end of my rock’n roll career.

Later I ran into someone with a shop who spoke English very well. He showed me around the markets and introduced me to his 10 sisters, all selling from carts or shops located in the market.

The arrested Vietnamese fishing vessel

It was Chinese New Year on Thursday, a stat holiday celebrated here. The day was spent visiting two Chinese homes. Stuffed myself with unknown food and candies. A soup was offered at one house, the broth had a peanut flavor, and included chunks of cow tongue, intestine and liver. It wasn’t the favorite dish had today, but well worth the experience.

These experiences were in stark contrast to my very first impressions. I was called a f’ing “C” word (the one that rhymes with punt) for helping an older lady with her overhead luggage on my last flight. The only other white person on the plane freaked out at me because he thought I was putting my luggage above his seat. I was really caught off guard and wasn’t sure how to respond, so I didn’t. I had a few chuckles about it afterwards.

When I landed at the airport in Sorong, the person who was supposed to pick me up wasn’t there. We had the dates mixed up. So I ended up sitting on the curb for 2 hours.

As I waited a young boy came up to me and handed me the local paper. On the cover was a young white woman who was hanged. The boy said “white person murdered!” At that point I was really questioning my decision to come here. I had set aside all the warning signs by the Indonesian embassy when applying for my visa; thinking governments often overreact to situations. At this point I was wondering if they were right.

Later, one of the guides explained that the young white person actually committed suicide. She was from Poland, and her parents gave her a plane ticket here thinking it would help with her depression.

Former WWII prison turned elementary school

It took a while to apply for a visa extension – about 3 hours. After waiting for the staff to finish their fitness class at the immigration office, I was offered two payment options for my visa application. Pay $85 to get it completed same day, or opt for the more “expensive” option (as he put it) of waiting a week and it costing $35. I opted for the more expensive option…because it was cheaper.

The group of 10 Indonesians canceled their plans. So I have used this time in Sorong to extend my visa and eat ice cream. I’ll be going back to Raja Ampat once my visa application gets approved (it should take 3 business days). Then I’ll grab a kayak again for a week. Ranny is in the process of helping me narrow down a dugout canoe. I can’t wait to see the Papuans expressions while I paddle past them.

Subsequent original blog posts listed below:

Click to read – Important Contacts

Click to read – Imagination

Click to read – Clean Raja Ampat

Click to read – Success

Click to read – Farewell Raja Ampat

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