Friday, December 31, 2010

Bicycle and Sustainable Development Policy of Cuban Government

Cycling is an activity that I recommend to everybody who wants to live in harmony with nature. In my previous post, I said that I ride my mountain bike in the afternoons as my way of maintaining my body in good health condition. The route that I choose is Kampung Ambon, Kwawi, Pasir Putih, Arowi, Bakaro. Actually this route is not suitable for my dirt jump bike - the Polygon Cozmic DX 2.0 whose gears are Shimano Alivio for mountain biking. The street along these places is smooth. After Pasir Putih beach, the number of motorized vehicles is fewer. The road between the Pasir Putih beach and Cape Bakaro is very good for cyclists who want to ride their bicycles, and at the same time enjoy cleaner air produced by trees that grow along the beach and the tropical rainforest of the region. Standing on the Pasir Putih beach, I can see the beautiful blue color of the sea in front of me and also the blue color of the Arfak mountains on the other side of the Dorey bay. Homes to various species of rainforest animals including the paradise birds. When I was still in elementary school, some cruise ships like to visit this small town. The ships brought tourists from Europe and the United States. But I've never seen Oasis of the Seas coming to this bay. It will be nice to see the largest and the most luxurious cruise ship in the world in this Dorey bay.  Oh, I was day dreaming, ha...ha.. ha....
Well, although bicycle is not considered as renewable energy resource, riding it is a way of reducing consumption of fossil fuel and at the same time fighting global warming through the reduction of CO2 gases emission.
Lesson Learned from Cuba
Several years a go I wrote an article about how Cuban government turned to renewable energy and urged people to ride bicycles when their country was suddenly entering economic crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union. My article was published by Intisari - a national magazine in Indonesia. Cheap and subsidized fuel imported from Russia could not be enjoyed anymore.
To anticipate the energy crisis, Cuban government imported 1.5 million bicycles and tricycles from China. Domestic production of bicycles was increased to 100,000 units per year. At the same time, solar photovoltaic panels were introduced to provide electricity to homes, schools and health clinics throughout the country. In addition to solar power, Cuba built wind farms and installed hundreds of micro-hydro power and biogas plants that greatly reduced Cuba's dependency on fossil fuel. The policy of the Cuban government to tackle the economic crisis by relying on renewable energy attracted the attention of the UN. In 2001 Cuba received the UN's Global 500 award. Now Cuba is seen as a model for many countries around the world that want to develop their renewable energies. Engineers from Cuba help Bolivia, Honduras, Lesotho, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa and Venezuela in developing their renewable energy sectors.
Dutch Cycling Culture
Besides learning from Cuba, we - Indonesian people - can look at the Netherlands as a good example for renewable energy application. Dutch people ride bicycles to work. Install photovoltaic panels at the roofs of their homes and build wind farms at sea.  Cycling is not only a hobby but has been part of their lifestyle or culture. Dutch were the ones who introduced cycling to Indonesian people during the colonial period. Therefore, we can learn from them if we are serious in developing our country through sustainable methods.  
Also read:

Cycling to Pasir Putih Beach

After writing a number of articles about Oasis of the Seas, the largest and most modern cruise ship in the world, now I am writing about my hobby again which is mountain biking. Although the keyword of Oasis of the Seas is now getting higher impression in my blog, I feel that I should write something that really reflects my daily activities. I have been riding bicycle since I was in elementary school. I didn't know why I was very fond of cycling around my neighborhood with my BMX at that time but I really enjoyed the surrounding view of the Manokwari town and the Arfak mountains while riding along the hills of Panorama street. Now my bicycle is not a BMX anymore but a Dirt Jump Mountain Bike Polygon Cosmic DX 2.0. I started riding this bike on the first week of December 2010.
I usually ride my bicycle in the afternoons along the Brawijaya street (formerly known as Panoramaweg during the Dutch time) to Kwawi, Pasir Putih beach - the most favorite white sandy beach both for town dwellers and finally tourists, Pasirido, and finally Bakaro beach. It takes around two hours for me to enjoy the beautiful coastal region of Manokwari city that is now developing very fast. I am often accompanied by my friend Peddy Tangguni. He was my classmate when we were in high school. He rides his United mountain bike.
When I began riding my mountain bike again early this month, I was not familiar with shifting gears from 8 to 1 for the rear ones and from 3 to 1 for the front gears particularly when climbing a slope. After using the bicycle for several times now I know that I need to use gear 1 (front and rear) while on a steep slope; and Gear 3 (front) and Gear 8 (rear) on a flat road or going down a slope. The gears of my mountain bike are Shimano Alivio. Shimano is a leading manufacturer of bicycle components from Japan.  The brake is manufactured by Tektro - I think its a Taiwanese company. The bike frame is made of aluminum. Polygon calls it Alx 6061. It is a light metal compound that is strong enough for mountain bike application. It's interesting to see that the front suspension fork of the bike is Suntour Duro DJD.
I start riding the bike at 4.30 p.m and return home at 6.30. It is nearly dark when I get back home. Along the road, I often see children riding their BMX bicycles. The second picture above shows how Peddy - my friend, and some Papuan children were riding bicycles near Pasirido.
Cycling is good for our environment. People who ride bicycles to their workplaces have helped reduce the CO2 emission. CO2 gases are the cause of acid rains that are harmful to the green leaves and trees of the tropical rainforest. By riding bicycle we reduce the air pollution of our city.
Cycling is also good for our health but I hardly ever see adults in Manokwari city ride bicycles in the afternoons. I hope that through my regular exercise riding this mountain bike, more and more people will be interested in joining me and my friend in the coming months of 2011. Lets's ride bicycles, let's save energy, let's protect our tropical rainforest and let's fight global warming.
Also read:
Health benefits of cycling
Cycling can increase productivity
Bike to work following Dutch habit and Cuban Experience

Monday, December 27, 2010

Oasis of the Seas - Cruise Ship or Passenger Ship?

The Oasis of the Seas, together with her sister the Allure of the Seas, is the largest cruise ship in the world at the moment. This motor vessel can carry around 6,000 passengers. She travels to the Caribbean islands.
Passenger Ship
As a traveler, I used to go by passenger ships around a number of islands in Indonesia - the largest tropical archipelago in the world. Ships of any kinds or types play very important roles in transporting people and goods throughout the country that consist of more than 17,000 islands.
The big ships that I used to travel around with were the ones operated by PELNI - a state owned passenger liner in Indonesia. The first group of passenger ships that were imported from Germany were MV Rinjani, MV Kerinci, MV. Kambuna and MV Umsini. MV stands for Motor Ship. The carrying capacity of each of these ships is around 2,000 passengers. So, they are several times smaller than the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas. During holiday seasons, PELNI allowed the ships to carry up to 2,500 people on board. The main propulsion unit is diesel engine. The diesel engine is used to turn the marine screw propeller, most often, the controllable pitch propeller (CPP). Electrical power for supplying the electricity needs of the ship is obtained from a number of auxiliary engines both installed in the engine room near the main engine or on the upper deck of the ship.
Passenger ship MV Bukit Siguntang operated by PELNI line in Indonesia 

The difference between Cruise Ships and Passenger Ships
Passenger ships and cruise ships are similar but not the same. Both of them carry passengers but their purpose are different. Passenger ships like MV. Dobonsolo, KM Dorolonda and KM Nggapulu in Indonesia go from one port to another tranporting people mostly on one trip. But for cruise ships such as the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas. The cruise ships themselves have become tourist attractions. The passengers usually buy round trip tickets meaning that they will finally return to the port where they first begin the ocean tour. Most of the passengers of cruise ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas who go to the Caribbean islands will return to, for example Miami, after they finish their tour. Oasis of the Seas Rooms are bigger and more luxurious than most of the rooms in passenger ships operated by PELNI.
Purpose of Sea Voyage and Facilities Inside
Because the purpose of traveling is different from cruising, the facilities that we will find in MV Nggapulu will be different from MV Oasis of the Seas. The Carribean sea may have been saturated with cruise ships but the Indonesian sea is not. In addition, cruise ships may be too expensive for the working class Indonesian people to travel around. There are bedrooms in both of the ships but Oasis of the Seas has more space for recreation. This cruise ship has swimming pools, game center, park, shopping center that we cannot find in most of the passenger ships that operate in Indonesian waters. The purpose of the trip determines how naval architects design the ship.
Design Approach 
Ship design is the product of art and science. Architects who design modern cruise and passenger ships now have a lot of software which they can use. Different from home architects who usually use BIM software such as Archicad and Revit, Naval Architects usually use Maxsurf, Delftship, Rhino Marine or Foran to visualize design concepts in their theoretical calculations on papers into a beautiful cruise ship. They may use Archicad but it is only limited to the interior design projects of the ship. BIM modeling software such as Archicad does not have stability, propulsion, and strength calculation capabilities that most naval architects need to design a ship or other floating structures.
So, if you are planning to take a spring vacation in tropical islands in Indonesia by visiting islands of this largest achipelago by ship, don't expect to experience luxurious sea voyage in PELNI ships. The facilities of the PELNI passenger ships are quite good but not luxurious. The price is much cheaper mostly less than 100 US dollars for economy class per trip. If you plan to cross the islands from Sabang to Merauke by buying first class ticket, you will spend less than 1,000 US dollars (including meals which are served by the ship). The cross country sea voyage in Indonesia will take your time around 2 weeks.
Safety Regulations
Both the cruise ships and the passenger ships must be built in accordance with the safety regulations from the classification societies which the ships are classed, governments' regulations issued by the department of transportation, and rules from IMO.

Also read:
Oasis of the Seas Rooms
Oasis of the Seas Interior
Oasis of the Seas Propeller

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Paradise bird Cincinnurus magnificus

The bird that you see in the photograph below in English is called the Magnificent Bird of Paradise. Its Latin name is Cincinnurus magnificus. This is one of the species of BOP that you can watch in Vogelkop region of West Papua including Arfak mountains and Tambrauw Mountains. Besides this species, birders can also see western parotia, black sickle bill and most importantly the bower bird. This photograph was made by Gerard Berkhof in the morning of 5 December 2010. Mr. Berkhof was with 8 other tourists at that time. Pandanus Conoideus is in fruiting season between November and January. 
Red fruits are abundant in the tropical rainforest of the Arfak mountains. Magnificent birds of paradise like to eat red fruit whose seeds look like rice grains. To attract this bird, Hans Mandacan - my friend who owns a tourist house in the village put the fruit in front of the bird watching hut (also called blind) just around 5 meters from the watching window.
To watch the paradise bird, all tourists had to be inside the hut before sunrise. So, I asked them to wake up early in the morning. They woke up at 5 a.m. and left the guesthouse at 5.30 after drinking some coffee or tea. Because the number of tourists who did the bird watching that morning was six, and the hut could only accommodate 4 people, I decided to devide them into two groups and placed them in two bird watching huts located at different places. When all of the tourists had been in the huts, I; Hans Mandacan and Hami Mandacan left them. We came back to pick them up again at around 9.30 a.m. One group was able to take a lot of pictures of the magnificent birds of paradise and spotted cat birds whereas the other was not. Hami explained to me that members of the other group were talking staying in the hut. This was the cause why the birds did not come. They were afraid of the noisy sounds from men's voice.
Birds of paradise and all other birds species in the tropical rainforest of New Guinea island are facing extinction due to continues hunting, deforestation. The size of the rainforest is shrinking rapidly day by day.
The bird watching tour package that I offer to tourists is an alternative income generation that I introduce in Papua to help the indigenous people earn money from the natural resources that they have without destroying the environment. Other bird watching sites that I recommend to tourists are Senopi village, Syioubri village, Numfor island, and the Table Mountain.
In addition to hiking and watching the paradise bird, other ecotourism activities that tourists can do in Arfak mountains are watching butterfly, and learning herbal medicine. by Charles Roring
Also read:
Birding Tour in Manokwari Highland and Lowland
Paradise bird from vogelkop region

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Earthquake resistant houses

Most home builders in Manokwari city of West Papua must take into account earthquake resistant structures when constructing houses. The use of steel profiles or steel rods for pillars for multi-story buildings is highly recommended. Although metal buildings are strong and suitable for earthquake region, they are not fully popular due to aesthetics consideration. Home owners in Indonesia still prefer wooden framed houses with concrete walls as the most affordable and beautiful constructions.  The department of public works (called DPU or Departement Pekerjaan Umum) stipulate that all houses with two floors and above must have structural strength calculations done by architects and civil engineers who design the buildings when submitting their works to the department for obtaining their approval.
For small one floor homes, the use of hard wood for house frames is a common practice in this city. To hold the concrete walls, the construction workers hammer big nails along the wooden pillars and girders along the sides where the bricks of the concrete walls will be built. When earthquake hits the city, these nails will hold the walls from falling onto the ground and hit the occupants of the houses. The distance of the pillars has also been reduced to a maximum of 4 meters for family homes with two or three bedrooms.
Building materials for the foundation of the houses are granite stones or hard corals that are mined from the mountains. The mining of corals from the coastal area has been banned due to its destructive impact on the marine environment.
Although Papua is rich of timber, some home buyers in Manokwari still orders prefab building or wooden houses from Woloan village in North Sulawesi. These earthquake resistant wooden house of Minahasa, after being dismantled and shipped to Papua, will be reassembled and constructed on sites that have been cleared for them.
For Papua and Indonesian islands in general, wooden houses or concrete houses whose pillars are made of wood are the most recommended constructions. The use of wood is cheaper than steel frames. To prevent the wooden blocks and planks from deteriorating or decaying due to the changing weather, anti termite and base paints have to be applied on their surfaces. These kind of coatings will protect the wood for tens or even hundreds of years to come.
I used to study Archicad, a BIM modeling software for architects and home designers. This is a very powerful software for designing homes and big buildings. Although it has the ability of calculating the number of materials needed by the designed houses, it lacks features for strength calculation that is very important for houses that will be built in earthquake region such as Indonesia. Architects still need other software such as SAP 2000 to do the structural strength analysis. by Charles Roring
Also read:
Tropical wooden houses
Archicad and Home Design
Houses in earthquake zone
How to design roof with Archicad

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wooden houses near the beach of the Dorey bay

While I was traveling to Numfor island with a ferry boat, from the sea, I saw rows of wooden houses constructed along the beach up to a slope in the Dorey bay of Manokwari city. These type of wood construction is common in this region because wood is more durable in withstanding strong earthquake. Wooden houses of the Papuan tribes in coastal region are different from the ones that I usually see in the mountainous region of West Papua. Houses that are built near the sea often have pillars that stand from the bottom of the beach to two meters above the sea surface to allow for space for high tide. The wood that are used for the house pillars have been chosen from the species that will not easily rot when soaked in the salty water for longer time.
In recent years, some Minahasan people from Woloan village migrated to Papua and introduced prefabricated wooden houses that can be dismantled from the place where it was first constructed and displayed and reassembled in a new place for the new owner of the house. Although timber as the construction material of the house is abundant in this city, the Minahasan type of the wooden houses cannot easily penetrate the local market that has already had its own indigenous model which is Rumah Kaki Seribu or "a thousand leg house" which is the typical wooden house from Arfak mountains
The wooden houses made by carpenters from Woloan who have now lived in Manokwari are more modern and fine in their fabrication. The carpenters use modern machine to make blocks and panels of wood that will form the house.
The big earthquake that hit Manokwari city in 2008 had reminded the city dwellers that having houses with wooden frames is more safe that building houses only with concrete materials. I personally believe that wooden houses whether they are traditional or modern in design will always be attractive in Papua because of the frequent earthquakes that hit the island.
Corrugated Metal Roof for Wooden House Construction
Most of the wooden houses in West Papua are now using corrugated metal roof called "seng" or zinc (Zn) This type of roof is very popular not only in West Papua but also in Indonesian and even all over the world. In the past, Papuan people usually use sago palm leaves as the roof cover for their houses. These leaves can only be used for 2 years. They have to be replaced  Although the corrugated metal roof is called zinc, actually it is made of layers of iron, aluminum and zinc. The zinc metal roof has a range of thicknesses from 0.2 to 3.8 milimeters. There are some possible combination that we can find in corrugated metal roof that we usually find in the housing materials shop in Indonesia:
Fe coated by seng = 1.50%
Pb coated with seng = 0.90%
Al coated with seng = 97,25%
Zn coated with seng = 97.25%
I got the chemical compositions of the corrugated metal roof from this website:
Another material that is now getting more attention from home builders is Zincalume G-550. It is alloyed steel plate protected with metal layers whose composition is 55% aluminum and 45% seng. This is Zincalume layer is twice up to six times more resistant to corrosion that other galvanic steel plate for similar application as roof deck. When there is a fire in a wooden house, the chemical composition of the metal roof plates change significantly due to overheating. As a result they cannot be used for rebuilding the house anymore.
Tens of years ago, the roofs of the wooden houses in Indonesia were from palm leaves. These materials had to be replaced every two years. In addition, they were not fully watertight. With the improvement in the home building technology in Indonesia and the availability of more durable materials, now most of the wooden houses have been protected by corrugated metal roofs that can withstand rain and sunlight for tens of years. by Charles Roring
Also read: 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Passenger Ship Yap Wairon

Last October I traveled by passenger ship MV Yap Wairon to Numfor island. It is a small tropical island located in the Geelvink bay of New Guinea island of Indonesia. The Motor Vessel YAP Wairon is a cargo passenger ship that routinely travels around the bay to bring cargoes and people from one town to another.
I went to Numfor island to do a little survey on ecotourism potentials that can bring economic benefits to the local people and at the same time preserve the tropical rainforest and the coral reef of the island. Passenger ship Yap Wairon has the capacity of around two hundred people. Its service speed is about 15 knots. Compared to big passenger ships that are operated by PELNI lines, YAP Wairon is a slow and small passenger boat perhaps operated by the local government in cooperation with PELNI lines.
The boat is powered by diesel engine as the main propulsion unit. Because this is only a small passenger boat, the propelling device is of course a four blade propeller. I personally did not check whether the propelling unit is a controllable pitch propeller or not. But from the way she approached the Numfor harbor, I could easily tell that the boat is only equipped with fixed pitch propeller. Marine diesel engine has been the main power plant of most ships operating in the Indonesian islands. Besides its fuel is cheap, it can easily be operated by crews without high technical experience.
There are two passenger compartments located below the main deck. All of them are for economy class. There are only two classes in the boat, economy and VIP. The ticket price for the economy class is Rp. 30,000/person whereas the price for VIP is Rp. 90,000/person. Only the VIP class that is Air Conditioned. I tried both of them. The seats of the VIP class were similar to the seats that we usually found in a jet plane. They were quite comfortable. For the economy class compartments, I felt that the air ventilation system did not work properly. Or because they were a modified version of a cargo ship then the indoor ventilation system has not been optimally calculated. It was too hot and not comfortable for passengers especially foreign tourists. It was not surprising to see that more passengers prefer to stay at the main deck which was only covered with tarpaulin sheet.
The main deck is more windy. One thing that I like from the economy class compartments is their stability. Because the economy class decks were located below the main deck, their center of gravity was lower. When the ship rolled, the passengers did not really feel much movement. The transversal movement of the boat could significantly be felt on the main deck and inside the VIP room. Passenger boat MV Yap Wairon is definitely not a luxurious passenger or cruise ship like Oasis of the Seas. It is only a simple and functional passenger ship that is important for the economic development of small islands in the Geelvink bay. It took 6 hours from Manokwari to Numfor island. I used the time to talk with the passengers about interesting and beautiful places which the local people like to visit in their leisure time. If you are fine with the description about the boat, then I encourage you to take your spring or summer holiday in Numfor island.
From the overnight conversation with the Papuan people who live in the Numfor island, I know that Asaibori beach is the most favorite place to visit. Yes, it is really beautiful to be in that beach. In addition to Asaibori, another white sandy beach that I recommend to tourists is Samido beach which is located not far from Kornasoren village.
Numfor island and other islands in the Geelvink bay have been considered as important destinations for birders who want to watch the tropical birds. From an article about Numfoor island that I read in Wikipedia, it says that the density of birds in the island is higher than its main New Guinea island.
I have also brought Western tourists to Numfoor island to enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving over pristine coral reef that thrive around the island. This is an alternative cheaper place for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the under water marine environment in the tropical region of Indonesia. by Charles Roring

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Passenger Boat and Ferry Boat in Manokwari Harbor

When I was traveling to Numfor island last November 2010, I saw a small passenger boat at Manokwari harbor. I was standing on board of the ferry boat Kasuari Pasifik IV when I took the picture of the passenger boat. Her name was Gracelia. She has a long superstructure with three decks are allocated for passengers. The deck below the main deck is constructed for economy class. From the general arrangement of the boat, I can easily tell that the capacity of the boat is around 200 people (sometimes more during the high season or holidays such as school holiday in July and Christmas holiday in December). Please, do not be confused with the banana boat that is usually promoted by certain resort in their travel brochure. The passenger boat that I am talking about in this article is big and able to travel across open seas.
Indonesian islands which consist of more than 13,000 islands need around 50 big passenger ships (each with a carrying capacity of 3,000 passengers) and hundreds of passenger boats to transport people and goods. As the largest maritime state in the world, Indonesia constantly needs all kinds of marine vehicles to support its economic development.
In West Papua province, passenger boat and ferry is now seen as an alternative public transport vehicles to bring tourits from Manokwari - the capital city - to Numfor island, a potential tourist destination in the Geelvink baai. Speed boats are also used to bring tourists from Sorong to Waisai, the capital of Raja Ampat regency. West Papua is a famous destination for tourists who want to enjoy bird watching in Arfak mountains, snorkeling or scuba diving over the pristine coral reefs that thrive around the tropical islands in the region. With more tourists are coming from all corners of the world to West Papua, boat owners and ferry operators should pay attention to waste handling and treatment inside their boats.
When people travel by boat or ship they bring food that is usually wrapped in plastic packagings. These plastic wastes are thrown into the sea by passengers and crew of the boats. Such bad attitude has to be stopped because throwing plastic wastes into the sea will bring marine pollution that is harmful to the coral reef and marine environment as a whole. Not only the tourists are effected but also the ecosystem will be destroyed by that. The sewage water treatment systems in most of the boats that operate in Indonesia need to be improved or upgraded.
In the coming years, more tourists will come to Manokwari, Numfor island, Raja Ampat and other places in West Papua. This is the result of our efforts in promoting ecotourism for this region. Therefore, everybody who is involved in the land and sea transportation industry must work together to improve their services so that this increasing number of tourists will continue to occur and bring positive economic benefits to all of us.
Also read:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oasis of the Seas Propeller

The propulsion system of Oasis of the Seas really attracts my attention. Please, look at the photograph of the stern area of this cruise ship below when she is still on the dry dock. If we look closer to the propellers, we can tell that they can be rotated 360 degrees to propel the ship to any directions. This kind of propellers is usually called azimuth propeller or azimuth thruster. The blades are installed into a boss that is connected to a pod that can be rotated in any horizontal direction. Because of the characteristics of this azimuth propeller, the vessel does not require ship rudder.
From the technical specifications which I read from ship technology website, it says that Oasis of the Seas is powered with three 20 MW azimuthing Asea Brown Boveri Azipods. These propellers can thrust the ship to a cruising speed of 20.2 knots.
Azimuth propellers are usually installed in vessels that require high maneuverability such as tug boats. Ship designers do not choose such propellers for ships that do not require high maneuverability such as tanker and cargo vessel. These ships might be installed with controllable pitch propellers to help them moving around restricted waters or harbor area. Although azimuth thruster is very good for ship maneuvers, its propulsion efficiency is usually lower than the conventional marine screw propeller whose horizontal shaft is fixed and runs from the stern area to the main engine. The additional mechanisms that are installed inside the hub and boss of propeller cause the efficiency of the azimuth thrusters to be lower than the conventional fixed pitch propeller. Also read: Controllable Pitch and Fixed Pitch Propeller
The earliest propulsion in mankind
I remember rowing canoes with two Dutch girls in Numfor island last week. The canoes were not equipped with outboard engines. Instead, we had to propel the boats manually using oars. This is the earliest form of propeller that is still being used by the indigenous people of Papua of the island. We went by the outrigger canoes to enjoy snorkeling over the beautiful coral reef near Numpuri island. It is interesting to see that in this modern age, we can still see that even the latest technology in propulsion system such as azimuth thruster cannot totally replaced the earliest form of propulsion of a simple canoe which is oar or paddle.
Also read:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oasis of the Seas Rooms

"Have you ever traveled by a cruise ship?" If never, I think you should try it someday. I personally like to travel by boat, ferry and passenger ship. If you haven't decided where to go this spring, why don't you try taking one week holiday traveling around the Caribbean islands by cruise ship the Oasis of the Seas or her sister the Allure of the Seas? Oasis of the Seas is the name of a luxurious cruise ship. It is even said to be the largest cruise ship in the world. Both of them are operated by Royal Caribbean International. 
The rooms of the ship have been installed with luxurious materials that are safe for sea travel. Usually the chosen materials for ship interior are fire resistant. The suite rooms may look similar to the ones which we see in 5 star hotels on land but the quality is higher, I think. For example the lamps of the ships will have thicker filaments to make them more durable to vibrations from the propelling engine and shocks created by sea waves. The cables or wire in the ship have been manufactured to meet the requirements of classification societies such as ABS or LR for marine application.  They have to be well insulated to protect them from wet and moisture environment of the sea.

Oasis of the Seas is not only a floating hotel but a floating town. With a capacity of over 6,000 passenger, the ship must provide various kinds of facilities that people will need normally while living on land. From eating places to movie theaters and from internet cafe to health clinic or hospital, this cruise ship must provide such facilities. If one day you are planning of traveling with your family or loved one, buying cruise tickets of this ship is a nice attempt. Whether you travel on land or at sea, you will definitely need travel bags. I recommend that you buy the following high quality bags. Click the image of the bags below to find more information about their price and to order them directly from Target store's website. They are suitable for individual or family travelers. Uniform color of the bags will help you in recognizing them when you are at a crowded carousel of an airport or at passenger terminal of a harbor waiting for a sea journey to the Caribbean islands.
This blog does not discuss anything related to Oasis of the Seas Cruise Deals and Reservations rather it gives explanation or reviews about the cruise ship from naval architecture point of view. If you land on this page after typing cruise deals and ticket pricing of the ship, I recommend you to visit the official website of the cruise ship which is There you'll find information that you need especially her itinerary, tickets and also cruise deals about her sister which is the Allure of the Seas.
Also read:
  • Oasis of the Seas 
  • Oasis of the Seas Interior
  • Oasis of the Seas CTR
  • Interior of passenger ship and cruise ship

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wooden house design of Losmen Amberimasi

The wooden house that you see below is located in Amberimasi village of Numfor island, the Republic of Indonesia. This small house has three bedrooms, with one kitchen at the back of the house. I stayed in this losmen (or you might call hostel) from 23 to 24 November 2010. I really like its surrounding area which is still covered with green vegetation. The house is supported by wood pillars to protect the whole construction from wet ground. Because it is just a stone throw away from the beach, the ground where the house is built will always be wet from the intrusion of sea water. I don't know who designed the house but the architect or the home designer of this losmen probably did not use sophisticated BIM software such as Archicad and Revit.
I think he designed this house manually by drawing some sketches of the floor plans and then drafting one of the best floor plans into a final blue print. The house builder in Numfor island did not use teak wood which are mostly used by contractors in Java. Here in Papua, the most famous wood or timber for home construction is merbau. House made of wood such as what you see in the photograph is quite cool during a hot sunny day. Wooden house is the most recommended home construction in tropical island of Papua whose climate is hot and whose land is regularly hit by strong earthquakes.
Although today's architects have used Archicad and home design solution in modeling their design ideas into a 3D model, architects living in a small island such as Numfor still manually use pencil and sketch pad to visualize the house which they have imagined into a 2D concept house on a piece of paper.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stop Throwing Plastic Wastes Into the Sea!

The sea occupies two thirds of our earth's surface. It is a home to tens of thousands of marine animals. It is also the source of food for millions of people. In recent months, I have been traveling by boats and ships to the islands in the Cendrawasih bay. Formerly this bay was called Geelvink baai during the Dutch colonial period. I go to the nearby Mansinam, Lemon, Raimuti and Kaki islands of Manokwari regency by outrigger canoes that are usually powered by Yamaha outboards. Sometimes, I go to Numfor island by ferry boat which is much bigger than the outrigger canoes.
One thing that really attracts my concerns is the marine pollution. As a nature lover, I am really sad when I see people throw garbage into the sea especially the plastic wastes. Plastic cannot be decomposed in a few days by marine bacteria. This material needs hundreds of years to be decomposed. Sometimes fish eat the wastes because they think that these plastic materials are their foods. I know that we cannot change people's behavior in one day. But continuous efforts in informing the people around us about the importance of keeping the sea clean must be done to fight marine pollution. When our sea has been badly polluted by industrial and domestic wastes, it will not be able to produce good food for us. Coral reef will die and the fish will go away.
A few days ago, I was traveling with two Dutch girls (Jettie and Monique) to Numfor island. We went there by Motor Vessel Kasuari Pasifik IV. It was a RoRo (Roll On/ Roll Off) boat that regularly visits the island from Manokwari city twice a week. When the boat was entering the harbor, a crew of the boat, pick up the bins full of plastic and organic rubbish and threw them into the sea. We were really shocked by that because we had been informing the children not to throw the plastic wrappings of their biscuits to the sea. Instead, they had to throw them into the bins.
The crews of the ferry boat really know that it is not allowed to throw plastic rubbish into the sea. But they keep on doing it. They violate the regulation of the state which has been printed and attached on the walls of the boat. Jettie told the crew of the boat not to throw the wastes into the sea but he did not care. He threw all of the wastes from the bins onto the sea. All of the wastes which the passengers had put into the bins were now scattered on the surface of the beautiful blue sea water near Numfor island of West Papua. What a stupid idea!
Also read:
Preserving the coral reef in Indonesia
What city dwellers can do to protect coral reef
Environmental impact of marine tourism

Ferry Boat Service Between Manokwari city and Numfor island

Ferry boat services that connect towns and islands in the Cendrawasih bay play very important role in the economic development of Papuan people living in the region. In recent months, I have been promoting Numfor as another tourist destination in West Papua. Numfor is a beautiful tropical island located in the bay which was called Geelvink baai during the Dutch colonial period. 
Motor Vessels
Ferry boat Kasuari Pasifik IV sails from Manokwari to Numfor twice a week. It also goes to Biak island and returns to Manokwari again. I expect the number of tourists visiting Numfor island to rise significantly in the next few months. Besides Kasuari Pasific, other boats that go to Numfor are Motor Vessel or MV Yap Wairon and MV Papua 5. Because they are not equipped with ramp door, they cannot be loaded with cars. For Kasuari Pasifik, because its type is a roro vessel, it can carry several cars or trucks in it. Its capacity is five hundred economic class passengers.
Economy Class
Most passengers buy economy class tickets (Rp. 30,000/person). It takes around 5 hours to reach Numfor island for Manokwari city. The General Arrangement of the motor vessels are not the same. For Yap Wairon, passengers can sleep on the beds in the compartments of two decks below the main deck. For Kasuari Pasifik, there is no bed available for economy class travelers. But it has a TATAMI Class where passengers can have sleep on the bunks located at the back room of the second deck. I personally do not recommend the Tatami Class for foreign tourists because of its high vibration which is not comfortable for people who want to sleep.
VIP Class
Every steel boat has VIP class on one of the compartments of its second deck. For KM Yap Wairon, the price of the ticket is Rp. 90,000/passenger and for KM Kasuari Pasifik IV, it is Rp. 40,000. The seats are similar to the seats which we usually see on board of a jet airplane. It is fully air conditioned.
Sun Deck
This is the best place for tourists who want to take pictures of the surrounding scenery. It is only available at KM Kasuari Pasifik. Sometimes, dolphins can be seen clearly migrating in the Cendrawasih bay from this deck. You need to request a permission from the crews of the boat if you want to be allowed to have access to the sun deck.
Concerns among tourists over the plastic wastes problem
When tourists go to Numfor island by Kasuari Pasifik, they often see passengers and crew of the boat throw plastic wastes into the sea. They have expressed their disappointment about this practice to the boat crew several times. They said that if people in Geelvink baai want to get more tourists coming to the region, they have to keep the sea clean. I think it takes time to raise awareness among the people in Papua to stop throwing their plastic and other harmful wastes into the sea.
Also read:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Green Frog

When I was hiking through a rainforest, I saw various kinds of animals. Some of them were frogs or toads. Frog usually come out from their hiding at night. Frogs are amphibious animals meaning that they live in the water and dry ground. When the frogs are still in the form of eggs, they are called spawn. It takes 2 weeks for these eggs to grow into tadpoles and hatch from their eggs. With their feathery gills, they can breath in the water. When they reach 12 weeks old, they become frogs. At this age, frogs breath with lungs. That is the time when they come out of water. Some species of frogs or toads are eaten by people in Asian countries especially Indonesia, and China. Frogs are delicous meat when they are fried. Below is the picture of green frog at the foot of the Table Mountain of Manokwari city.
The next picture is the green frog that I shot using my Sony Cybershot in the tropical rainforest near Senopi village of West Papua. When I saw this frog, I remembered the story of "the Princess and the Frog." Well, he looked handsome, I think. : )
Frogs are sensitive to climate change. Global warming caused by the increasing amount of CO2 gases influences the survivability of frogs. When the land becomes drier, frogs will be lack of water. Rapid deforestation of tropical rainforest really threatens the frog population. Therefore we need to preserve the rainforest to protect frogs and other animals for future generations of human being. by Charles Roring

Also read: 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paradise bird

Birds of paradise in the rainforest of West Papua are being threatened from their habitat due to hunting, logging and conversion of the forest into monoculture plantation. From 41 known species of Birds of Paradise known to science, there are 37 of them that inhabit New Guinea island. The most famous species among the indigenous Papuan people in the bird's head or vogelkop region is the Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor). The indigenous people use its feather during traditional ceremonies and dances.

The lesser birds of paradise usually come out of their nests to perform courtship dance early in the mornings and in the afternoons before the sunsets. Several male birds gather in a tree whose branches have been cleared from small twigs to enable them compete from one to another in performing the best courtship dance. The surrounding dusk area of the forest that is not too bright meets the bright colors from the birds of paradise. This creates a contrast impression to those who were watching the birds. 
The above photograph shows how a male Lesser Birds of Paradise attracts the female birds (that were sitting above him) for mating. Klasow valley of Sorong regency is one of the most favorite site among birdwatchers who want to go hiking in the jungle and watching wild animals.
Paradise birds, besides being the best natural dancers in the avian world, are also effective seed dispersers. A lot of plants in the tropical rainforest of New Guinea rely on these birds to spread their seeds to far away places. Without the role of the paradise bird, the forest of Papua would not be able to expand effectively. So, the hunting of these birds should be stopped to ensure that paradise birds will survive and continue to carry out their duties in the next century.
Also read: 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Paradise bird from Vogelkop region of New Guinea

Birds of paradise are important species in New Guinea island particularly in the Vogelkop region. As seed disperser a paradise bird can travel several kilometers away with some seeds of a plant in its bill or beak, and stomach and drop them off at a place where the plant has not grown before. In other words, birds of paradise and other species of birds help preserve and expand the forest. Without the existence of paradise birds and other birds in the jungle of New Guinea island, the expansion of the tropical rainforest would be limited.
Personally, during my tour in Sorong regency and Tambrauw mountains, I saw and heard several species of birds of paradise. The first one was the magnificent birds of paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus). They can be watched in high elevation forest of Tambrauw mountains. The second species was the Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor). I saw them while doing a birdwatching tour in Klasow valley of Sorong and at the bank of Syuan river of Tambrauw.
When the first time I saw these magnificent birds of paradise, I was totally amazed by the behavior of the male birds. They had to perform courtship dance in order to attract the female birds. I believe that everybody who has seen these birds would recommend that this species be protected.
I am sad to see that paradise birds are facing extinction due to high hunting rate. They are being caught alive or dead. Hunters will sell them to buyers in big cities in very high prices. This very profitable business threatens all species of paradise birds and other tropical birds in Papua's tropical rainforest.
Alternative income creation for the villagers that we can generate in New Guinea includes the introduction of intensive but small scale vegetable and poultry farming, the controllable exploitation of non-wood products from the forest such as rottan for furniture, and herbs that can be processed into medicine and the promotion of ecotourism. The conversation of large area of tropical rainforest into monoculture plantations is not a wise solution. The negative environmental impact of such plantations is higher than the positive benefits which the villagers might get.
I hope that with these alternative small businesses more people will be able to improve their economic livelihood without having to destroy their surrounding nature.
Please, contact me by e-mail: if you plan to visit Sorong town of West Papua for trekking, camping, and watching wild animals in the jungle.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Coral reef fish in Mansinam island

I have written many articles about the importance of coral reef preservation around the world particularly in the Dorey bay of Manokwari. But I still feel that they are not enough. This time, I want to show you the beauty of the underwater world of the corals and the fish that I recorded during my snorkeling trip in Mansinam island last October. I went there with the Schepers who came to Manokwari city on a one month holiday tour from the Netherlands. I could not identify the name of the coral reef fish because I haven't got any books about the coral fish. Through this video, I want to ask all of you to stop throwing your garbage or plastic wastes irresponsibly. Let's save the coral reef and the marine environment by living more friendly with our surrounding nature.

Interested in taking a winter or summer vacation in the tropical island of Mansinam? It's easy. Book a flight to one of major cities in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, Makassar and Manado. Then, take a domestic flight to Manokwari city. The city stretches along the Dorey bay and in the middle of the bay you'll find three tropical islands, i.e. Mansinam, Lemon and Raimuti. You can go to Mansinam by water taxi. It's not expensive to go there, you only need pay three thousand rupiahs (around 30 cents US dollars) for the boat ride.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Coral reef in Manem islet

I went to Manem islet on 28 October 2010. I was with the Schepers (three Dutch tourists from the Netherlands). It took around one hour from Numfor island to Manem by boat. The coral reef that I saw when snorkeling was very beautiful. As I am not a marine biologist, I couldn't identify each coral reef fish species. Some dolphins were playing near me while I was taking pictures of the ornamental fish that live among the corals. When I was talking with the boat driver, I asked him, "Do people still catch fish using explosives?" He answered, "No, not anymore, people are now afraid of the police. Catching fish using bombs will destroy the coral reef."
I hope that people will not destroy the pristine coral reef in Manem islet through destructive fishing practices. The best time to snorkel in Manem islet is during the low tide. According to the local fisherman, the coral fish will gather in corals that are still below the sea surface. They will not move away. Coral reefs are their homes that provide food and protection from being the prey of big fish. 
From my reference book, The Coral Reef written by Pam Walker and Elaine Wood, I know that these "rocks" are actually animals. They play very important role in absorbing CO2 gases during the photosynthesis.
Manem islet and Numfor island are not famous among scuba divers not because there are no coral reefs but mainly because this region is lack of promotion. When I was traveling around the islands I could easily conclude that they are very potential destination for scuba divers. In addition, the tropical rainforest the covers the islands have high density of birds species. 
To make underwater pictures, you need to use camera that is protected by a water case. But you can also buy waterproof cameras that are now available on the market such as the Nikon Coolpix AW100 which powered by CMOS image sensor and is able to withstand water pressure of up to  10 meters. Another underwater camera that I recommend is Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3. Both cameras have built in GPS that are useful to record position information while shooting.
If you are interested in visiting the island, you can contact me, Charles Roring, via my e-mail: I would be happy to be your guide. If your budget is tight, I suggest that you bring bicycle so that you can save a lot of money while traveling around. Recommended beaches in the Numfor island that you should visit are Samido and Asaibori.
Also read:
Coral reef preservation and eco-tourism in Kaki island
Coral reef preservation in Dorey bay of Manokwari
Underwater photographs of coral reef in Mansinam island
Snorkeling trip to Manem islet

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wasior Before the Flood

Wasior is the capital of Wondama Bay Regency. This was a small transit town for foreign travelers who want to enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving in the coral reef of the National Park of Cendrawasih Bay. Well, during the Dutch colonial period, the bay had been called Geelvink bay. The recent flood that hit Wasior greatly changed the town and affect the whole population in the regency.
Two weeks before the disaster, two Dutch tourists visited the islands around the Wondama regency by boat. They were Pieter Wieringa and his wife. They took a lot of photographs of the tropical islands in the Cendrawasih bay. Before leaving for the Netherlands, they gave me the pictures and asked me to promote Wasior for eco-tourism scheme that is related to marine recreational activities. They gave me the photographs before leaving for the Netherlands. Today it is impossible to arrange boat for snorkeling or diving trip from the harbor of Wasior. PELNI ferry boats or passenger ships still visit Wasior after the flood but I am not sure whether they will continue to serve the town that is now almost empty.
Mud still covers much of the town with hundreds of people have become victims of the flood. If you still plan to visit the bay, you can change your flight plan to Manokwari, the capital city of West Papua province in Indonesia. I know that Susi Air, a domestic airline company in Indonesia provides daily flights from Manokwari to Wasior. I think today they still provide such service due to the increasing demand from the people and the government to distribute supplies to and rescue refugees from the town.  From Manokwari, everything can be arrange for your diving trip in the marine park of Cendrawasih bay. You might not be able to visit Wasior at the moment because the whole town has been crippled by the flood.
As a tourist guide, I suggest that you go to Manokwari or Nabire if you still want to snorkel or scuba dive in the region. Other alternative places for you are Mansinam, Lemon, Raimuti and Kaki islands. They still have beautiful underwater world that is worth exploring.
Through this post I want to express my condolences to all the victims of the October 2010 flood and their relatives. I pray that God will strengthen and bless them through this difficult times. by Charles Roring