Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Unique Wooden House in Asai village of Manokwari

There is a unique wooden house in Asai - a small village that is located in the northern coast of Manokwari. It was built on a slope facing the Pacific Ocean with tropical rainforest as its background. It has got unique design that is not rectangular. From outside, we see it as a hexagonal structure but when we entered the house, it is just like any other homes that are composed of rectangular rooms. Asai is a nice destinations for tourists who want to go hiking in the jungle along Asai river or snorkeling over coral reef of Asai bay.

Almost all of the frames, and walls are made of iron wood. Only the roof that is made of corrugated metal sheet. The owner of the house designed the house by himself. He also constructed some parts of the house by himself. One thing that I really like about the house is its open space on the second floor. From this area, we can see the magnificent view of the Asai bay and the tropical seas of Pacific ocean. Visitors may stay in the house for a few nights. Mr. Munneke, intends to sell it to anybody who is interested in buying it.
The design of this house is totally different from the wooden houses in Minahasa. Mr. Munneke, as the owner of the house, put the living room as an open space. It was a smart decision because it would create a cool atmosphere for the tropical house. He and his wife grow flower plants around their house. To block or reduce direct sunlight, he placed rattan screen in the north and east parts of the house. by Charles Roring

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ships and Steam Engines

In the 19th century, reciprocating steam engines were used to replace sails. Today most of the ships and boats use marine diesel engines as their driving power. The introduction of the marine internal combustion engine in 20th century quickly replaced steam engines that consumed a lot of spaces but only produced less power. In addition to more efficient use of rooms, diesel engines give higher power with less fuel consumption compared to steam engines. As a result, ships whose steam engines had been replaced by diesel engines could carry more cargoes and passengers with higher speed. Reciprocating steam engines were popular during 19 century only. In 20th century, they were progressively replaced by steam turbines. The application of steam engines on marine vehicles may become attractive again if the price of conventional fossil fuel rises uncontrollably.
 As a matter of fact, steam engines were more flexible in terms of their fuel needs. Because the combustion is done externally i.e. separated from the working fluid, it could be operated with coal, wood or liquid fuel such as diesel fuel. I remember reading a book entitled The Malay Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace. On a chapter about Dorey bay in New Guinea island, he said that a Dutch patrol boat ran out of coal when she arrived in the bay. The coal that the crews were waiting from Ambon had not arrived. So, they went to shore and started cutting trees. Then they loaded her holds with wood. The ship would use it go sail back to Ambon. Unfortunately, the efficiency of steam engines are lower than diesel engines or steam turbines. However, some steam boats still operate as tourist vessels.
Another reason for the abandonment of steam engines application in maritime sector was the air pollution created from the burning of coal. During World War I and II, ships could easily be spotted by their enemies from the smoke that they released into the air. Modern fast patrol boats that are driven by diesel engines have got exhaust pipes below the water line. The hot gas released by main engine could not be detected by heat seeking missiles.
Nowadays a lot of traditional wooden boats still use sails as their driving power whereas steam engines have disappeared from marine application for nearly a century. Hobbyists are still studying the engines and constructing them for their boat. They do it for its application in marine tourism. Many people who still use steam engines that burn wood do so just because they do not want to depend on fossil fuel. by Charles Roring

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Coral Reef in Dorey bay of Manokwari

Coral reef in the Dorey bay is now facing more pressures than ever before from human activities due to the increase of human population in Manokwari city. In recent years, housings for city dwellers, buildings for markets and offices are being constructed along the coastal areas. Such development directly deteriorates water quality in Dorey bay. More sediments and plastic wastes are now formed in the bay which was once a pristine marine environment in the bird's head region of West Papua. Whales and dolphins used to live in the bay but now they are gone. The construction of office buildings, including the drainage tunnel to the beach, in Arfai hills for the Provincial Government of West Papua is now underway.

In recent years, liveaboard diving operators from Bali and the nearby Sorong town make Dorey bay as their port of embarkation for tourists who want to see shipwrecks in the bay or watch whale sharks in Cendrawasih bay. Underwater pictures of the shipwrecks and coral reef in the Dorey bay made by the tourists greatly help us tell the city dwellers and the local government of West Papua about how important the Dorey bay is for maintaining the fish stock of Manokwari. The Dorey bay is also one of the few coastal areas in the northern New Guinea that has got mangrove forest. Most of the mangrove ecosystems in this tropical island can be found in its southern coast.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Birds of Paradise in Tropical Island of New Guinea

Birds of paradise are the icon of New Guinea - the largest tropical island in the world. They live in the rainforests but now their natural habitats are being destroyed by massive deforestation. The rise of fuel prices has triggered the search for alternative fuel oil other than petroleum. When processed palm oil is believed to be the alternative fuel for diesel engine that drive cars and trucks, massive monoculture sawit palm plantations are now being opened in West Papua and Papua New Guinea. With the approval of local governments, hundreds of thousands of hectares rainforest are now being cut for the development of the sawit plantations. Tropical rainforests that are rich in bio-diversity are now shrinking every minute.
Birds of paradise have also been hunted since hundreds of years ago. They are traded life and dead to collectors who are happy to hang them on the walls of their houses or to put them in glass boxes.
Birdwatching is an alternative income generation scheme that I try to introduce to local people in Manokwari regency at the moment. Birdwathers from Europe, the United States have come to see the birds of paradise in their natural habitat. There are three locations in this regency where tourists can go to watch birds of paradise.
They are Camp Mawowi, Camp Dopi and Aiwatar hill. The nearest on to the town is Camp Dopi. Birdwatchers who want to see the birds of paradise in Camp Dopi need to hiking through the jungle for three hours to reach the birding site. I deliberately do not put the GPS coordinates of the site in website to prevent hunters from visiting the jungle and shooting the birds.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bali Tropical Lifestyle

Bali is perhaps the most famous tropical island in the world. It is a tourist hub of Indonesia. Every year millions of visitors come to Bali. They want to enjoy swimming and sunbathing at Kuta and Legian beach or explore the beauty of terraces of rice fields in the inland areas. Although agriculture still provides the the largest employment, tourism is the driving power of the economy. Bali is also the center of art. Art lovers will feel that Ubud town is more suitable for them. Art galleries and museums present the superior craftsmanship of Balinese woodcarvers and painters.
Some businessmen make Bali as their trading hub. They import carvings, furniture, or even wooden houses for their clients in Europe, South America or Australia. Balinese carpenters can build timber frame houses that are decorated with artistic reliefs on the walls and carvings on the pillars. For Balinese, art is an integral part of their daily life.
In Bali - the island of the gods, everyday is a holiday. There are plenty of attractions which travelers can see, and enjoy. From hiking the mount Batur to watching dolphins at Lovina, travelers may choose activities and adventure packages which they want to experience in this tropical island. Lovers come to Bali to enjoy their honeymoon too. Feeling stressed with office works? Don't worry, Bali has got endless rows of tropical beach resorts and spas where you can stay to book for massage service or taking some yoga classes.
I have visited Bali several times. My last visit this year lasted for 3 months. I stayed in a nice tropical house in Ubud on Jalan Sukma. I ate Balinese nasi campur, I rode a mountain bike to explore the slopes of Ubud. I visited Neka and Anthony Blanco art galleries and Museum Puri Lukisan to see traditional and modern paintings. Drawing is my hobby. When I was on the second floor or Neka art gallery, I saw pastel paintings of Gerard Hofker. Such fantastic artworks from Western painters depict the traditional Balinese lifestyle that are slowly being mixed with cultures from all corners of the world.
Balinese are a religious society. Hinduism is the main religion here. However, the Balinese are tolerant to other cultures and religions. Temples are every where even in business centers such as Ubud market or the shopping center at Kuta main street. Yet, the Balinese culture will not be eliminated. It continues to exist side by side with other cultures that have entered this beautiful tropical island. So, culturally Bali does not belong to Indonesia anymore. It belongs to the world. It is a cosmopolitan. Come to Bali and you will feel as if you are at home. by Charles Roring