Papua is Different (So What?)

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Buzzing Morning

Before heading to Jayapura, Papua, I imagine that I am going to visit a very different city compared to most cities I had ever visited in Java.

It took five-hour flight from Jakarta to Jayapura, just for keeping my big curiosity answered about what I find in Papua and how the Papuans interact with the non Papuans or the new comers.

I arrived in Jayapura at around 7 AM (Eastern Indonesia Time) and surprisingly I saw a huge airport with its busy activities insuch early morning. An air porter told me that the first flight at Sentani airport starts at 06:15 AM serving from Jayapura to Wamena by Trigana Air. 6.15 Wow!!

Leaving Sentani airport, we then headed to Jayapura that took nearly 30 minutes. I wasstunned with the beautiful scenery of Lake Sentani. The hilly roads and mountains are widely spread during our way to the hotel, showed us the richness of Jayapura. Jayapura could be a very fascinating tourist destination if it is well developed by the government, I thought.

Infrastructures in Jayapura are well established, the roads are flawless and it is hard to find holes in the roads. The quality of the main streets here in Jayapuraprobably are better than most of the main road back in Jakarta. Public infrastructures are all complete. We could find hospitals, banks, restaurants, supermarkets, as well as afamous aesthetic center that is bigger than the one I found in Jakarta.

Hamadi Traditional Market

Melting Pot of Diversity

The following day, I visited Hamadi Market, a traditional market which is situated in Jayapura. It is famous with the fresh fishes and vegetables and it supplies daily needs of the locals.

There is something exciting and different in Hamadi market namely, most vegetables sellers are dominated by the non Papuans such as people from Makassar (Sulawesi) and Java and the buyers are mostly Papuans. This shows that those non Papuans are not only meant to be buyers but also sellers. The bargaining takes place there, just like many other traditional markets in Indonesia. Can you imagine someone who looks so “Javanese” but talks like a Papuan? Exciting!!

The Market of Mamas

Then, where are the locals? Do they be shoved aside by the non Papuans? I would say NO.

Going out a little bit far, we found the Papuans were selling betel nut, sago, and many kinds of fruits. Based on the information we got from our driver who comes from Pati, Central Java but already spent 15 years living in Jayapura, most vegetables sellers are non Papuans since it needs skills to do bargaining and selling strategies, while the most locals commonly sell their own crops from the fields and gardens or fishes. That is why, when I visited fish market, I could clearly see that the Papuans dominated the market.

Agate, agate, agate

Batu Kakak, batu dari Cyclops, ada batu asli Wamena, ayo kakak mari lihat saja dulu”, shouted a woman. When I saw it was really agate stone. Akik? It is…The popularity of agate spreads onto Jayapura. We could buy the stone or the shaped/sharpened stone of agate. A shaped Cyclops agate costs IDR 250,000 – 1,5 million per stone and 25,000 to 100,000 per unshaped stone depending on how large the stone is.

Besides, I also met a Noken seller who carried the Nokens in the city for sale (Noken is traditional plaited bag from Papua). Each original Noken costs IDR 250,000. And I think the price is reasonable.

Religion Sensitivity

It is quite difficult to picture what happened in Tolikara (as what the several media published) happen here in Jayapura. A mosque, stood firm in front of Hamadi market. As I stand there, I could clearly hear the a chant of holy Quran from the mosque loudspeaker, as I can also hear the voice of Christians’ sermon played from a loudspeaker somewhere inside the market.

Both of them goes strangely well together, seem to “call and answer” each other. The Moslems listen to the Quranin front of the mosque while the Christians listen to their sermons in the sides of Hamadi market. Only some people listen, many others are busy with their activities, selling their things. It really completes the uniqueness and the diversity in the market.

Papua is different (So what?)

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