Indonesia is the 4th most populous country in the world. That is quite noticeable given the number of people about. It seems everyone drives either a motor or a mobil (motorbike or car). Considering the volume of vehicles, traffic moves quite well and there are very few traffic jams. During the night the vehicles are sparse but the drivers don’t muffle down just because most of the world is sleeping.
At 4 this morning I heard a sound that 30 years ago, on my first trip to Indonesia, haunted me for months after I got home. The Imam was chanting the ‘call to prayer’ over a somewhat inadequate sound system. I got out of bed and opened the window so I could hear with more clarity. Even though I do not understand a word of what is being sung I totally enjoy the rhythm and cadence. It got into me so much on my last exposure I had to go find a CD so I could satisfy my aural itch.
The Manado airport is chaos. We are flying from Manado to Sorong, West Papua this morning. Long, loosely formed and loosely adhered to queues, annoying passengers taking far to long to settle their business at the airline check in desk, and shifting check in desks, (all of a sudden they try to move the whole line from desk 12 to desk 9). When we get our turn at the desk we are prepared and all is done in about a minute. I am not sure why but we are not even charged for the bags we check. Both of us kept our mouths shut take our passes and split. From there on the journey to our seats on the plane is smooth.
Our digs for the night seem to on a major thoroughfare. The traffic is heavy and constant. There seems to be a significant increase in the number of motors compared to Manado. The rules of the road as we know them in North America are more or less suggestions here. The lines are there to indicate one is still driving on an asphalt surface. The speed is not posted and is anywhere from 20km/hr to 80km/hr all on the same stretch of road at the same instant.
I was headed to the supermarket to buy water and I detoured into the local neighbourhood. The folks here are just as enamored with foreigners as they were yesterday in Manado. They catch my eye, smile with a wide grin, that gets even bigger when I say hello. We are somewhat of an anomaly here. Debbie and I spent well over an hour hanging around a small, local, reasonably busy mall while waiting for our room to be made up. Not one other white person entered. As we sat and watched the parade we again smiled and said hello a lot.
Tomorrow we board our scuba dive liveaboard. It is the Coralia and we will be puttering around Raja Ampat for 10 days. There is no WIFI on the boat, so you stay tuned for news of our adventures under the waves.