Arborek is a small tourist village in Raja Ampat.
Where is Raja Ampat? Well, if you have not heard of it, believe me, it is the hidden heaven in the islands of East Indonesia. Before I introduce you to the beauty of Raja Ampat, let me acclimatize you by showing a glimpse of it.
Now, think of traveling through big and small islands sprinkled on the emerald green waters. Your boat stops at a jetty and when you land all you see is the corals on the bed of the ocean, swaying on the pristine white sands.
You walk down the pier and the painted faces of local kids greet you. They sing and dance to entertain you. They carry basic bow and arrow in their hands. Holding your hand, they fondly walk you to their village.
This is how I entered the Arborek tourism village in Raja Ampat. In a while, we were all singing and dancing with the villagers. We all sat on the white beach under the shade of trees that sheltered us from the shark-like sun.
Music of Raja Ampat
A small group of villagers in their tribal gear sat down under the tree and started playing music and singing along. I was tempted to join them. After a while, I jumped in, took their drum, and played it for a song. I could not have been happier.
Video of Tribal Music from Arborek, Raja Ampat, East Indonesia
Watch the video I managed to capture during my recent travel.
After drinking full coconut water to beat the heat I started walking around the village.
Walking around Arborek Tourism Village
A small church but probably the biggest structure on the island stood quietly in the middle of the village.
A tourist map announced the geography of the village. I wish all towns and cities in the world had a tourist map like this one. A small board pointed to the dive shop for the tourists who primarily come here for diving.
The straight-line roads seem odd, but very orderly. No sooner did I start walking, I reached the other edge of the village. Small mangrove saplings were floating on the beach.
These mangroves will grow and become bio-diversity hotspots nurturing not just marine life but also inviting many birds.
Meeting the Dead
Next to this beach was the village graveyard. I walked around a bit and saw that all the graves were like small huts. Each had a roof on top of it even if there were no walls. The graves were clean as if they have been vacuum cleaned minutes ago. Most of them had flowers on them. It was as if the corner of the island belonged to the dead of the island.
What surprised me was that, unlike graveyards we see in the urban civilized world, the graveyard at the village did not appear deserted. There are clear signs of living interacting with the dead on a regular basis. Well, the dead could be interacting among themselves, we have no way to know.
Green Room of performers
While walking back, I saw the younger performers retouching their makeup. The father or the head performer was helping kids paint their faces. Slightly older girls were helping each other paint their bodies. One girl was busy painting her face using her mobile phone as a mirror. I stood there admiring their passion for their performance. Their make-up must compliment their music and dance. This was also a perfect photography moment for me – I clicked them in various poses. My favorite is this portrait of two girls in their kitchen window.
My next stop was a small grocery store where you can buy small munching stuff or water.
Sustainable tourism at Arborek
I loved the small tourism infrastructure that the village has created. Bamboo sit-outs around trees – that are like open-air dining tables.
The food served at the village was tempting. For me as a vegetarian, there was rice and Tempe with some green to go along. What I would remember most about the food in the village is the pink fruit salad for dessert. Served in a plastic glass it had a certain rustic appeal.
I tried striking a conversation with the village women. The wife of the village head came forth and answered my queries, of course, our lovely Indonesian bloggers played interpreters. I learned that the village has only 37 families and roughly 197 people. They all belong to the Betue tribe. There is a community kitchen to cater to the few homes stays that the village offers to tourists. Check out more about them on the Indonesia Tourism website.
The main occupation of this village is hosting tourists and helping them explore the Raja Ampat region. Apart from homestays, they also offer boat rides to other islands or other popular places in the region. Going by the number of tourists in the village, it seems they do good business. I appreciated the fact that right at the pier they have a notice that says two things:
- You are entering the village, please dress politely.
- No fishing allowed.
Soaking in the beauty
After getting a feel of the village, I sat on the beach watching the children play in the sand. Tourists were busy stepping in and out of the sea. It was a perfect location to take pictures. The people have learned to pose with panache. Some tourists were snorkeling near the pier. Everyone had picked up their own way to enjoy this slice of heaven in Raja Ampat.
The visuals of what I saw from that white sand beach will remain etched in my memory for a long time to come!
How to reach Arborek in Raja Ampat?
- Take a flight to Sorong from Jakarta or Makassar.
- From Sorong, take a speedboat to Waisai – the capital of Raja Ampat. From Waisai take another boat to Arborek.
- Your homestay can help you arrange a boat to the island. Check the homestays.
- You can do day trips to the Pianemo islands, Pasir Timbul, Kabui Bay, and Swangirrai Village. I will soon write about these places, right here on IndiTales.
Recommend you read the following travel blog on my visit to wonderful Indonesia.