Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mountain Biking Down the Manggoapi Slope of Manokwari

Mountain biking is healthy lifestyle. This time I want to share a little of my mountain bike tour story around the hills of Table Moutain down to Manggoapi slope. Mountain biking up the steep slope leading to the Table Mountain of Manokwari city is really hard. Only experienced mountain biker who can keep sitting on the saddle while cranking up his or her bike to the top of the mountain. Entering the gate of the Table Mountain, we will feel significant changes in our surrounding environment. From the smooth streets of the city crowded with cars and motorcycles, now we will begin our journey through the green trees of the tropical rainforest. Some parts of the road inside the jungle was rough due to the lack of regular maintenance from the department of public works and forestry whereas others near the campus of Papua university had been repaired last year (2010). The air temperature inside the forest is cool. I like it very much. Although it is quite hard to reach the top with my mountain bike, I still feel that it is one of the best route for mountain biking.
The sounds of birds and insects on the branches of the tropical trees fill the atmosphere of the forest. When I ride my bicycle through this forest, I often stop at the Japanese World War II Memorial Monument to take rest for a few minutes on one of the concrete benches. When I feel that my breath has returned to normal pace again, I stand up and begin picking up some plastic wastes and bottles thrown by visitors. I collect the plastic wastes at a certain spot to inform other people to also put their wastes in that spot too. If they follow my way of collecting the wastes in one place only, the area around the monument will be cleaner.I took another ten to fifteen minutes to reach the main street of Amban. From that point the street is smooth again covered with high quality asphalt pavement. 
This time the route is going down the slope of Manggoapi. It is a zig-zag slope. I always test my front and rear brakes to make sure that they work properly before I ride my mountain bike down the Manggoapi slope. Near an unfinished church, the scenery of the city looks very beautiful. It stretches along the coastal area of the Doreh bay with two islands (actually there are three but the smallest one which is the Raimuti island cannot be seen) in the middle of the sea. They are Mansinam and Lemon islands. Tourists like to stop in this place for a while to take some pictures of them standing near the tip of the slope with the view of Manokwari city at the background. After that I countinue cycling down the slope until I arrive at the cross road in Fanindi area. It's not far from my house. Then I need to go up a small slope in Jati area and continue riding along the Brawijaya street (formerly called Panorama weg) for another ten minutes to return to my home again. by Charles Roring

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oasis of the Seas and Titanic Cruise ships size comparison

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Today the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas undoubtedly are the biggest cruise ships in the world yet many people cannot easily imagine how big it is compared to other ships, particularly, the Titanic. While doing some research on the internet, I came across a nice photograph of the vessel which has been placed in overlapping position with the Titanic passenger ship. Because most of us have watched Titanic movie, it will be easier for us to compare the two of them. From Wikipedia, I got the principal dimensions of the RMS Titanic as follows: LOA: 882 feet; Breadth: 92 feet. RMS stands for Royal Mail Steamer. As for the Oasis of the Seas, her principal dimensions are as follows; LOA: 1,181 ft; Breadth (moulded): 154 ft.  LOA stands for Length over all. It is the length of a ship measured from the extreme forward point to the most afterward point. However, the above dimensions are not enough for ordinary people or even naval architects to compare accurately the physical appearance of these luxurious cruise and passenger ships.
Size comparison of Titanic versus Oasis of the Seas

So far, I haven't got any information related to the maximum passenger carrying capacity and gross tonnage (GT) a cruise ship can be constructed. In the case of oil tanker ships, there are some national and international regulations which limit the maximum displacement of the ship to prevent disastrous marine pollution caused by oil spill if such ship gets accident at sea. Perhaps, IMO should consider of applying similar regulation to limit the maximum number of passengers a cruise ship can carry in order to prevent disastrous loss of lives in case - a cruise ship faces an accident in the middle of the sea.
Although we are now equipped with mobile telecommunication, GPS and echo-sounding technologies, inflatable boats and rafts as well as lifejackets, the potential risk of accidents at sea still exists. Recent accidents such as the capsize of Costa Concordia, engine room fire accident in Carnival Triump and an accidental fall of a lifeboat from Thomson Majesty cruise ship are some of the examples of such accidents.
With the limitation of the maximum number of passengers that a cruise ship can carry, we will not see a lot of causalities at sea should an accident similar to the sinking of Titanic in the Atlantic ocean happen again now or in the future. The limitation is also important to reduce extensive marine pollution caused by sewage, gray water and oily bilge water that comes out of a cruise ship during her operation at sea. written by Charles Roring
Also read:
Oasis of the Seas Damaged Stability Test

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wooden house in mountains of Arfak

The traditional wooden house in Arfak mountains is called rumah kaki seribu or a thousand feet house. It is not a modern wooden house whose interior is well varnished and insulated to create a comfortable dwelling place for its owner. The house has a lot of small pillars below to support it some 1 to 2 meters off the ground. Timber, bamboo, and tree bark are used as the main construction materials for the house. They are all renewable resources in tropical rainforest of West Papua. At the present time the exploitation of wood has destroyed vast areas of tropical rainforest in the region. This timber industry is not expanded to meet the demand of the one-thousand feet house but modern timber-framed house construction and furniture industry that are growing exponentially in Manokwari city, the capital of West Papua province. The traditional wooden house in the mountains of Arfak does not consume a lot of logs. However, improvements in the designs need to be done to make them more comfortable to the indigenous Arfak tribes who develop them.

When most of the villages in Arfak mountains were still isolated, modern home building materials could not be supplied into those villages. Now with the construction of new roads between the Manokwari city and the Arfak mountains, villagers can easily go to the city to buy nails, corrugated metal roofs and portland cement to build their houses. Unfortunately, what I see is not improvements in the design of the Arfakkers wooden house but the adoption of new style house which the indigenous people see in the coastal region of the city. Manokwari city is located along area of Doreh bay. The traditional "kaki seribu" wooden houses with a lot of supporting pillars are now being abandoned with the construction of timber framed concrete houses that are built directly on the ground. Portland cement is used to make foundation and floor. Because the air temperature in Arfak mountains is quite cool, such houses are actually not suitable for the moutainous tribes.
In my opinion, people from Arfak tribes can still make their kaki-seribu wooden houses more comfortable to them by making some improvements in the designs. The the addition of windows the allow sunlight to enter the rooms and adjustable ventilation holes to allow air to circulate into and out of the rooms, and finally chimney as an exhaust pipe to direct the smoke  out of the wooden houses are needed to make them a good comfortable living place. Lastly, corrugated metal roofs have widely replaced the palm leaves that were not resistant to water. The palm leaves could easily burn and endanger the villagers who live inside the such house.
I hope that the traditional wooden house in the mountains of Arfak can still be preserved as one of the most important cultural heritages that the Papuan people can give to their future generations. by Charles Roring
Also read: Old wooden house of Minahasa

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wooden House Air Conditioning System

Wooden house in tropical region needs an energy efficient air conditioning system. Most of the energy used in buildings is for air conditioning. In other words, the half of the green house gases that cause global warming come from the CO2 emissions that modern buildings produce every day. An environmentally friendly house needs to tackle this problem. Because the temperature of the tropical islands are high, between 29 to 32 degrees Celsius, wooden houses that are built in this region must have good ventilation holes that can let air to circulate naturally.  The following photograph shows how the owner of wooden house of Minahasa use green plants and flowers as natural air conditioning system to cool the air temperature that circulates into and out of the house.
People usually plant trees around their houses to filter dirty air and at the same time lower the temperature of the air before it enters the house through ventilation holes that are made above the windows and doors of the wooden houses. Besides planting trees that provide shades to the roof of the house, home owners can grow plants as fence for their houses. Live plants will significantly reduce the amount of ash that fly together with the air when cars or motorcycles pass in front of their houses. Another natural air conditioning system that can be done to substitute the man-made AC machine is by constructing fish pond at the front yard of the house. Besides the pond can be considered as decoration, its water vapor greatly reduces the temperature of air that circulates into and out of the house.
With this natural AC system, home owners can reduce the electrical bill that they will likely to pay if they install man-made AC machines in their wooden houses. This kind of arrangement may not be applicable to wooden houses in the United States and Europe where insulation is very important to keep the indoor rooms warm during winter season. The natural air conditioning system for such houses can be done by the application of passive solar system to warm up the air that circulates inside the house without the need of a lot of electrical energy.
In a book entitled, Ecohouse: A Design Guide by  Sue Roaf, it says that architects in Oxford of the UK have done extensive research in developing an energy efficient house that only emits 140 kg of CO2 per year. Houses in Oxford whose sizes are similar to the Oxford Eco-house emit 6500 kilograms of CO2 per year. So, it is still possible to develop an energy efficient or eco-friendly house in Europen countries where energy consumption during winter is relatively high.
We all know that most of the architects in the past 30 years have shut-off the indoor climate from the outdoor one. Such decision has systematically stopped the use of natural air circulation and heating system with man-made heating and AC machines. In eco-friendly wooden house design approach, the indoor and outdoor climate still connects to each other and carefully adjusted to create ideal temperature to people who will live inside it. The use of natural material such as timber and clay will reduce energy consumption. by Charles Roring

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wooden house an eco-friendly home

Wooden house should be part of an eco-friendly living habitat. We cannot see buildings which are made of wood only as "work of art" or as "products" that appear on colorful pages of glossy architectural magazines. In big cities, modern houses are constructed using steel frames, ceramic tiles, and expensive bricks and  pre-fabricated wall panels. The production of such materials consumes a lot of energy. The maintenance of the houses is also expensive due to the use of air conditioning equipment in every room. Although these concrete houses look luxurious and comfortable, they are not environmentally friendly. I remember watching a program in NHK which describes how the wooden houses in Japanese cultural city of Kyoto attract a lot of tourists (please, read: Wooden House and Alleyway of Kyoto)
An eco-friendly house, as a matter of fact, should be a dwelling place that closely connected to its surrounding environment - a house that is united with the society and the climate where it is built.  It does not need a lot of heating or cooling equipment to make itself as a comfortable home.
Last December 2010, I traveled with some Dutch tourists by car from Arfak mountains to Manokwari city. Along the way, I saw various types of houses. Many are made of concrete whereas some are constructed of timber. Timber framed or wooden houses in this city is now becoming more and more popular following several big earthquakes that hit Manokwari city in the last 5 years. The indigenous Papuan people have already built their own wooden houses known as rumah kaki seribu meaning "home with one thousand feet." This traditional wood house from Arfak mountains has a lot of pillars that supports it around 1-2 meters above the ground. Because the type of this house is a stage house, it is cool during the day due to free circulation of air that passes through the pillars under the floor of the house.
Although these kaki seribu wooden houses are more resistant to earthquake, they do not have good ventilation. I can understand why the kaki seribu house does not have adequate number of windows. This type of house is mostly built in Arfak mountains at the heights between 1,500 to 2,000 meters above the sea level. The air temperature in such heights is very cool. Perhaps that is the reason why people in Manokwari city prefer to have houses that are different in design from the Kaki Seribu house. When such house is built near the coastal region whose climate is hot, the indoor air quality is bad due to the lack of windows and other ventilation holes.
 Wooden houses with Minahasan design are more popular now because they have been modified to hot climate of tropical region. In addition, the workmanship of the interior has been adapted to modern lifestyle. Some carpenters from Woloan and Leilem in Minahasa regency have moved to Papua to work as home builders in a number of cities and towns in Papua. With the experience and building skills that, as well as the wood working tools, that they have, they can easily sell Minahasan wooden houses in Manokwari city. It is my personal concern that the kaki seribu house is gradually being forgotten by Papuan people in Manokwari city of West Papua province.
But I still believe that the Kaki Seribu house can still be modified to adapt with the warm temperature of the coastal region. The addition of windows, the improvements in the building methods and the rearrangements of living room and bedrooms will make this kaki seribu house regain its position again as an eco-friendly dwelling place in Manokwari city and its surrounding areas. by Charles Roring