Sunday, February 10, 2008

Existential Wewak and Irian Jaya

10 – 11 Feb, Wewak and Irian Jaya:

Wewak, Papua New Guinea

Wewak is much smaller and less developed town than Madang but with the appeal of being untouched. Kids smiled and hid behind their moms, and the high point of the half day “Wewak Environs” tour was, uh, the high point of Wewak’s environs. We looked at the hill from where the tender let us off, went up to the hill, Japanese memorial by the way, and took pictures of the ship, then walked down to a lovely beach via a rain forest path, then back to the ship via a museum full of obscene native wood carvings and the local produce market. My kind of tour, actually my most favorite and what got be first in love with cruises. We were the only cruise ship to call at Wewak in a year. A native dance troupe was brought on the ship to perform by the pool. They had never been on a large ship nor had experienced air conditioning, but they shook hands with me—all of them—and thanked me in good English for welcoming them. Fantastic experience despite the heat and humidity.

Papua State, Indonesia

Irian Jaya was split in 1999 into Papua and West Papua but all the signs still called it by the old name of Irian Jaya. Jayapura is the capital of Papua, Indonesia and is much more developed. Although a former Dutch colony rather than English and Australian Wewak and now part of the largest Muslin country, the folks we met were just as friendly and the art work in the tourist stalls just as obscene. I tried to get my fellow passengers to buy native penis sheaths for the formal night tomorrow. (There were three sizes, but few of the guys seemed to be interested in designs on those in the small or medium sections.) At the tender pier—a military landing craft actually—I asked to be photographed with some new friends. I was immediately accosted by two reporters and a photographer from the local newspaper who interviewed me. I was asked why I wanted to visit Jayapura, what was my best experience of the tour, and if I was concerned about “security issues”. I said, “What security issues?”, and we all had a good laugh. Well, they actually did.

It’s kind of warm here.

We sail out of the anchorage this evening for 3 days “at sea” until arriving at Cebu City, Philippines on Friday. I’m eyeing a Barbados to Rio cruise for November 2009 via Manaus up the Amazon. It’s only money.

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