(Meta description: Papua and West Papua have won many hearts of nature lovers from around the world. How are they like through the eyes of a foreigner named Muhammet Ali Guler?)
Through the eyes of Muhammet Ali Guler from Daily Sabah, what does he think of West Papua? Working together with Indonesian researcher Rini Indyastuti, he wrote an opinion editorial on DS. The duo worked together on focusing on the beauties, challenges, and recommendations regarding these young provinces in Indonesia.
A Little About Rini Indyastuti
Rini Indyastuti is a researcher on Indonesia’s Papua. She is also the director of PT.Matahari Energi Rajawali and the Flying Hawk Institute. PT. Matahari Energi Rajawali is a limited liability company based in Indonesia.
Rini is also a guide for professional climbers here. She takes them to the top of Mount Carstensz and the Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia. Another activity that she does includes organizing social activities where tourists can interact with the people of Papua, including the indigenous Papuans.
According to Rini, all that she does contributes to the developmental process of local culture and economy. The interaction between the locals and the tourists (including foreigners) greatly benefits both parties.
For starters, the visits may boost the local economy while visitors stay in villages. The locals (especially the students) can also broaden their perspectives. The visitors get to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience bonding with the Papuans.
Papua, Through The Eyes of Rini Indyastuti
As a rich land, Papua welcomes travelers to witness its marine biodiversity. Its sublime landscapes present dense wilderness, covering the majority of the island. This is also the reason Papua and West Papua keep attracting nature lovers.
Ali Guler also could see many local plants and about 100 species of animals on this island. These endemic animals and plants share a border with Papua New Guinea on the island. There are also other natural resources, such as copper, gold, minerals, and many more. Ali Guler could also see that there are about 500 indigenous tribes. Each tribe has its own culture and more than 400 different languages.
Ali Guler found that some destinations in Papua were wonderful. Carstensz Pyramids, one of the highest peaks of the seven continents, was just one of many. There are also fantastic lakes in towns like Sentani and Enarotali.
There is also the annual Lembah Baliem Festival that celebrates diversity in Lembah Baliem. Ali Guler was also introduced to ancient wood carvings. Other interesting tourist sites include the Raja Ampat Islands and beautiful beaches in the regions of Padaido and Kaimana.
In short, there is a remarkable collision between culture and nature on this island. This is why Ali Guler agrees that tourism in this region is a possibly tremendous contribution to the community’s wellbeing. Another bonus point for travelers is that they get to have a sense of inner peace throughout their journey in Papua.
Papua In The Jokowi Era
With Rini, Ali Guler compared the situations in Papua back then with how it is now. In the past, this island had very limited public access, whether to transportation, health, and even education. It was a very isolated region, which was hard to reach.
Because of that, many people back then had to walk for hours and days through rough terrains. Imagine walking through dense tropical rain forests and crossing dangerous rivers with no bridges. Imagine doing all that while you are sick and in search of proper medication.
That is why it was no surprise that death by infection is very common in rural areas here. If only they had more access to proper healthcare, education, and transportation, the number of deaths because of that would be reduced significantly.
President Joko Widodo has brought plenty of changes to Indonesia. One of the changes included allocating some investment in the development of Papua and West Papua. Land transportation has been built to improve all access to the basic needs of the locals. Not only has it improved access to health and educational institutions, but it has also helped save time and cost.
Gradually, the improvement of the land transportation on this island has done wonders in other areas too. It has improved social and economic prosperity in a variety of areas. It also leads to the construction of traditional markets that engage the community in business.
Despite the progress so far, Papua and West Papua still have a long way to improve educational institutions and proper healthcare facilities. This island still needs to have more of both of them. Not only that, this region still needs to improve the quality of the educational institutions and healthcare facilities that it has already got.
Muhammet Ali Guler has shared his insight on Papua as a foreign visitor on Daily Sabah. Thanks to Rini Indyastuti, the beauty of Papua tourism has become more well-known to visitors, including foreign ones. Hopefully, the knowledge and experiences they have after their visit will benefit both parties significantly.