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I have been dreaming to go to Papua for long and finally it came true last year when I touched down at Dominique Edward Osok Airport, Sorong, for our oversea tour to Raja Ampat. And this year, I am glad that I have another chance to visit Papua again for their annual Baliem Valley Festival in Wamena. If Raja Ampat is more for its underwater discovery then Baliem Valley is for its hilly scenic view, cultures, and tribes.
We were a group of eight, two ladies and six guys, departing to Wamena. The journey to get to Wamena was quite long but because our flight was at night, it helped us to endure that long hour spent in the sky easier. So, we took flight from Jakarta to Jayapura then continue by taking ATR aircraft to Wamena. In total, it was about 6 hours.
The 27th Baliem Valley Festival was held from 7 to 9 August this year. We started seeing people coming to the venue at around 9 am and the festival usually ends at around 5 pm everyday. During that three days festival, we could see all about 40 plus tribes come to perform the local cultures such as traditional dances, musical equipment performances, pig races and also mock wars between districts.
We learned how the tribes live before they were first being discovered in year 1938 and then gradually being civilized when the first missionary, Loyd van Stone, parachuted to the Baliem Valley in year 1954. That was when the process of the civilization of the Baliem Valley, and Dani and Lani tribes, began.
I enjoyed seeing their costumes, how they paint their body and such. The worries that I heard from people about how disturbing it is to see people with so little or almost without clothing around, totally didn’t bother me much. This is their way of life before they were introduced to civilization.
Attending the festivals was like an eye-opener for me, knowing how people used to live in the past when all the technologies have not come in and changed people’s life. They may be looked scary but they are actually friendly.
If you are keen about going to Baliem Valley Festival, you may find out more here.