For sure, Papua is no place for people with a tight budget. It’s true that it has unspoiled-incredible nature, but in general we have to pay double, triple, even more compare to the general prices that we pay in west part of Indonesia.
There is almost no tour operator. No lodge provider. No fixed price. No reliable information. However if you have to stay in Serui for a year than you’ll be like me, you’ll try to explore, you’ll try to get out, no matter cost it would be.
A friend who stays in Jayapura suggested me to go to Ambai Island. He said the place looks amazing from the plane. He heard that it has a white sandy beach.
One day, when it was a bright sunny day, the sea was blue and beautiful; I decided that I have to find a way to go to Ambai Island. So I went to the harbor and asked the people of which boat to go to Ambai, People explained that no public transportation to go there. I could only go by the chartered boat. Most of the people have their own boat. People/ fishermen are traveling with their own boat. Some boat owners offered to take me to that Island. They asked for 500,000 IDR to go and comeback (about 2 hours). Other boat owner offered 300,000 and the lowest price that being offered was IDR 200,000.
Later, a woman offered me to go with her boat (together with her family). She said that she lived in Ambai Island. She said that I have to stay overnight since she would only travel back to the Serui city on the next day. She was trying really hard to convince me to go with her. It gave the impression that she really wants me to go and stay with her family. Stupidly I thought it was just a generous of her. I thought she’s just happy to have a visitor. But guess what? I was wrong. As soon as I sat at her boat, she started to ask for money.
Of course I don’t mind. I don’t want to be her burden. From what I heard, the local people in Ambai Island who travel with other people boat will pay around 30,000 IDR one way. I expect to pay at the same price. But she asked for 100,000 IDR. I thought that price is a little bit expensive as she’s on the way back home anyway.
To go to Ambai Island it will take only about 35-40 minutes. The gasoline needed by the boat is about 5 liters even less, which is less than 50.000 IDR. Another 10 minutes, as the boat was still waiting for her father that will travel with us, again she asked for more money, this time she said the money for food/ dinner. I gave her another 40,000 IDR.
She and her family were kept talking along the way. And when we arrived at her house, her mother in law told me that she is sick and she ask me for money. Then many other conversation that end up asking for money. I tried politely to refuse. The next day, her husband come to me and asks me to buy this and that for him in the city. For short, in total I spent about 300,000 IDR.
In fact, when we first met, I said I could not afford the chartered boat. I honestly said that I don’t have money. I dressed simple, speak modest, and yet still they saw me as the source of money. To make it worse, they said that the God has led me to their family. God blessed me. They speak highly about God, praised God, but by the end of the conversation they asked “could you help me with this, could you buy me that, blah blah….”
However regarding the Ambai Island itself, it’s incredible. It’s beautiful. I did have a good time.