Raja Ampat: a week at Marandan Weser, Batanta

Marandan Weser was the only village we stayed at in Raja Ampat. We ended up having a fantastic week, perhaps our favorite of the six places we stayed. We got to meet some villagers and get a feel for the pace of life in a Raja Ampat village.

Bauni Merk was smiling on the beach when we arrived, smiling a week later when he dropped us at our next homestay, and always seemed genuinely happy to see us.

IMG_20230108_092031 by bryandkeith on flickr
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Raja Ampat: a week at Dayan, western Batanta

Of our six weeks in Raja Ampat, Dayan had the best snorkeling. It was the only time we snorkeled with manta rays, I had my best cuttlefish encounter at Dayan, and we saw more bumphead parrotfish here than anywhere else. The sun came out a couple times making the coral glow and sparkle like a psychedelic kaleidoscope.

20230102_091858A by bryandkeith on flickr
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Raja Ampat: a week at Batu Rufas, Pam Islands

I am way behind on writing about Raja Ampat. However, now I have the benefit of perspective. In my notes from this week I am still amazed by the big species and crazy colors, and my energy still has the excited novice edge. In hindsight I can now say that we saw more sharks at Batu Rufas than we did anywhere else and had also reached the pinnacle of the colorful plankton-feeding, current-loving, somewhat stationary stuff like crinoids, fans, ascidians, tunicates and sponges.

20221226_135700A by bryandkeith on flickr

Batu Rufas is near Piaynemo in the northern Pam Islands, the most remote that we got in Raja Ampat. It is a good deal west of our last stop, Yenros Homestay on Gam. Along the way we stopped at the very western tip of Gam to snorkel at Citrus Ridge.

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Raja Ampat: a week at Yenros Homestay, eastern Gam

Raja Ampat, a well-known bucket-list destination, and oh so worth it! Previously I had been intimidated by the complicated logistics and high costs. Well, stayrajaampat makes it pretty darn easy to organize your trip, and you can get a very good idea of just how much everything costs. That’s important because you need to bring all your cash with you, and, yes, it’s expensive.

It took us 26 hours and three fights to get from Antalya to Bali. You might think then that we’d be practically in Raja Ampat, right? Nope, another three flights and another 22 hours.

For Raja Ampat we flew in and out of Sorong like most tourists do. We were in Papua less an hour when Ferda was learning how to chew betel nut from the salak seller where the ferry departed for Waisai.

Welcome to Papua.  Ferda learns how to chew bettle nut. by bryandkeith on flickr

Melki met us on time as planned at Waisai,

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A week in Bali — just Ubud really

I’m behind on this blog but certainly not for lack of material. I have 1000s of photos that I am slowly going through. However, for about six weeks Ferda and I had rather limited electricity and internet access. But that’s getting ahead of myself. First we went to Bali!

IMG_20221214_162344 by bryandkeith on flickr

Back in 1994 Bali was the first place that I ever visited in Asia, and I was rather disappointed. I flew halfway around the world to an Australian spring break style party scene? Yikes. I wasn’t excited to go back. For Ferda, however, Bali was a dream. It seems to be the only place in Indonesia that Turks have heard of. Sulawhat? they asked when Ferda talked about our trip to Sulawesi.

Bali, it turns out, can be heaven, and it’s also a fairly easy place to extend the 30-day visa on arrival (Indonesia seems to make staying in their country harder and harder — no more 60 days on arrival (my first trip) and no more 60-day visas in Ankara (like we did last time)).

We spent the first night in Kuta only because it was between the airport and the office where we needed to drop our passports in the morning. We did find this temple before leaving Kuta:

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