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Information about Manokwari

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Safety and Security
Local Transportation
5th of February
The Linguistic Landscape
Where Is Manokwari These Days
Google Earth


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Manokwari is a small and compact town, situated around Teluk Doreri, a narrow bay facing south, and surrounded by hills covered with primary rainforest. The main government buildings and the deep-sea port are in Kota, on the east side of the bay, while the central market is in Sanggeng, on the west side of the bay. West of Teluk Doreri is another bay and the suburb of Wosi. Pasir Putih, a beautiful white-sand beach, is a 10-minute drive to the northwest, and the offshore island of Mansinam is accessible by a short ride on an outrigger.

The airport is a 10 minute drive past Wosi to the southwest of town, while the conference venue, Universitas Negeri Papua, is the hills to the north, in a suburb called Amban, about a 5-10 minutes drive from town.


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Rendani airport, situated a few kilometers southeast of town, is small and rustic.

On arrival, if you have checked-in luggage, you should be prepared for the local way of doing things. Some 20-30 minutes after you've entered the luggage claim area (by then your plane may have already left for its next destination), a cart stacked with luggage will be wheeled into the room, and parked behind the counter. But the fun is only just beginning. Like everywhere else in Indonesia, you need your luggage stub to retrieve your luggage; but here the stub serves an additional purpose. One by one, an airport worker picks up a piece of luggage, puts it on the counter, and then calls out the number on the stub. Check the number on your stub, and if it matches, and if you can push your way to the front of the crowd, you may retrieve your bag. As you can imagine, this procedure takes some time. Depending on how proactive you are, you can speed things up for yourself by elbowing your way to the front, and trying to grab hold of your bag for yourself. Or, if you've already been approached by a taxi driver and arranged for a ride into town, you can get him to be proactive on your behalf. Alternatively, just relax and enjoy your first exposure to the sounds and smells of Papua.

The pretty much fixed going rate for a hired car into town is an exorbitant (by local standards) 100,000 Rps. By ojek (motorcycle taxi) it is 20,000 Rps. True shoestringers can walk out to the road and catch a "taksi" (shared minibus) to the Wosi market for just Rps 3000, and catch another taksi or ojek from there.


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Safety and Security

For the visitor, Indonesia is one of the safest countries that there is, and Manokwari is one of the safest places in the archipelago.

One day I was on the beach with some friends, and they suggested that we go for a long walk up the coast. Just a minute, I said, let me fetch my bag. No need was their response, just leave it here, nobody will touch it. This is the kind of feeling that you get in Manokwari. The only problem is that you can grow accustomed to leaving your handphone behind and walking off and having some total stranger calling after you waving it at you, then you go back to the rest of the world where this doesn't always work as well.

Unfortunately, the western half of the island of New Guinea is a zone of political strife. Actual armed conflict, however, is localized and sporadic, and Manokwari has been totally peaceful for years. Moreover, foreign tourists and travelers are never targeted, as it is generally assumed that they are supportive of the local population. As visitors, though, we should remember that our presence in Manokwari is due to the gracious hospitality of the Indonesian authorities and the local population, which means that we must tread a fine line in order to meet the divergent sensitivities of our different hosts. In practical terms, though, Manokwari feels as though it's a million miles from any conflict, and in your short stay you are unlikely to see anything more threatening than a smiling traffic policeman.


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Like most of the region, Manokwari is in a malarial zone, so take your pills.

There are several pharmacies located around town. The following two, both near the hospital, have good supplies and are open 24 hours.

Apotik Wondama Farma
Jl. Bhayangkara, next door to the Mangga Hotel.

Apotik Sehat
Jl. Bhayangkara, opposite the hospital.


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There are three ATMs where you can withdraw Rupiah from a foreign bank account: (1) BNI, opposite Hadi Mall and the Swiss Belhotel; (2) Bank Danamon, in Sanggeng, on Jl. Yos Sudarso, about half way from the main market to Hadi shopping center, on the bay side of the street; and (3) Bank Mandiri, by the entrance to the Governor's Office, just past the harbour. Note: for those who have accounts with the Indonesian BCA, there is no BCA branch or ATM in Manokwari, but you can use your BCA ATM card to withdraw cash from the BNI ATM.


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Internet access has improved greatly in recent months, but is still spotty and unreliable, and as changeable as the weather and the flight schedules to Manokwari. Most of the larger hotels have, or had, or will have, or would like to have either wifi or their own terminals with internet access. The best internet cafe in town is PapuaNet, Jl. Yos Sudarso 7, a couple of blocks north of Hadi Mall opposite the big church, with lots of terminals with slow access in the front airconditioned room, a few more terminals with faster access in the back hot-and-sweaty room, and excellent wifi in both rooms. Another old faithful is Toko Biak, on Jl. Merdeka in Kota, across the side street fro the Mokwam Hotel.


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Local Transportation

There are no taxis other than the few airport taxis, and no busses or trains in Manokwari.

Minibuses ply the main routes, and the fare is a flat Rps 3000. The two most important routes for conference participants are:

  • route A: around the bay, from Sanggeng to Kota (and onwards to Kwawi)
  • route B: from Sanggeng to UNIPA (and onwards to Amban)

(If you want to get from Kota to UNIPA, you need to change at the corner where routes A and B meet.)

Ojeks (minibus taxis) are ubiquitous, and are easily identifiable by the drivers yellow helmets. For anywhere around town the fare is a flat Rps 4000, no bargaining needed. (And the driver will readily have change for a 50,000!) From town up to UNIPA the fare seems to range from 6000 to 8000.

Outrigger boats (perahu or jonson) make the trip to Pulau Lemon and Mansinam. Regular departures are available from Kwawi, about 1 km along the road from the harbour east towards Pasir Putih, but these are infrequent. For chartering, boats are available from just about anywhere along the waterfront: try the wooden bridge behind the Hadi shopping center, or the fish market in Sanggeng. Prices will vary from Rps 100,000 to 150,000 depending on where you're going, how long you want to stay there, and so on.

Transportation from the hotels to the UNIPA conference venue will be provided each morning, as will the return trip each afternoon.


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For a place of its size, Manokwari has a range of good eating possibilities.

Although there are wonderful sea views, there are few places where you can combine one of these views with a meal. (If only they had a row of waterfront warungs like in the next town, Sorong!) One excellent option is the recently opened Beach cafe (see below). Alternatively, there is a cluster of simple waterfront warungs in Kota, right where (coming from town) Jl. Merdeka meets the sea and bends east towards the port.

For those hoping to try indigenous Papuan food, there are relatively few options. Most of the restaurants and warungs in town are run by migrants from various provinces of Indonesia and offer different kinds of regional Indonesian cuisines.

There is no McDonalds, Wendy's, Pizza Hut or Starbucks, but KFC has finally arrived in Manokwari, so if you can't do without your fastfood fix, head to Hadi Mall for your Colonel Sanders.

But if you can't do without your nightcap, then you have more of a problem, as Manokwari is a dry city, and alcohol of any kind is unavailable and may not be brought in from elsewhere. Try chewing betelnut instead.


When Papuans go out to eat, they tend to want something different, which for them means rice or noodles. Apparently Papuan food is considered too "homely" to be appropriate for a restaurant setting.

Beach cafe
[Jl. Trikora Taman Ria, past Wosi, towards the airport]
This delightfully rustic joint right on the waterfront is the only place where you can enjoy a meal with a sea view. In addition, it is the only restaurant in town serving papeda, the local staple, a glutinous sago-based mush somewhat reminiscent in both colour and texture of jellyfish (which is why, in Papuan Malay, the word for jellyfish is papeda laut or 'sea papeda'). Recommended with a spicy yellow bowl of fish.

[no name]
[Just outside the Hotel Maluku, heading south]
At night, a row of women sell whole barbequed fish on skewers, 10,000 Rps will buy you more fish than your stomach has ever had to deal with before. Also available are tasty dishes with pork and other meat, together with large chunks of boiled singkong (manioc) root. But there's nowhere to sit and eat what you buy.

[no name]
[Inside the harbour]
Whenever a ship pulls in to port, a food market sets up inside the harbour, primarily for the benefit of passengers with just a couple of hours to spend ashore; but it's a fun time to wander around and watch the action. In addition to the Javanese-style warungs, there is also a row of women selling a variety of meat and fish dishes, with either ketupat or singkong. Plus lots of fruit and betel nut. But again, if you buy from the women, you'll have to take your food out to the end of the pier to find a nice place to sit.


Manado food, one of the most outstanding cuisines in Indonesia, or, for that matter just about anywhere, is probably the best food you'll find in Manokwari. If you haven't yet developed a taste for RW (dog) or paniki (bat) this is your chance. But for the less adventurous, there are also excellent pork and vegetable dishes, as well as good soups, and a wonderful bubur (congee).

Rumah Makan Kawanua
[On Jl Merdeka, couple of blocks north of the harbour, near the corner with Jl. Yogyakarta]
As good as it gets. Though the availability varies from day to day. Often you can even choose your dog regular or pedis ('hot'/'spicy'), though some might think that it should rather be called pedis and pedis-pedis. For those who believe that red-hot peppers are used to mask the absence of any other flavours, the unique tastes of the RW and paniki meat provide the ultimate refutation. And if you can get past their RW and paniki, their pork dishes are also excellent.

RM Minahasa
[From the Mutiara Hotel, south on Yos Sudarso to the traffic lights then right, about 100 meters on your right]
A more modest establishment, but useful if you're staying in Sanggeng and need a quick taste-bud titillation.

[no name]
[In Kota, where Jl. Merdeka meets the waterfront and makes a 90 degree turn, about 100 meters west from there, the last in the cluster of waterfront warungs]
Mostly just drinks, but a good place for a nighttime bubur Manado.


Makassarese food, on the other hand, is not one of the outstanding cuisines in Indonesia. But still it can be good. Coto is the basic soup, eaten with pieces of ketupat or buras (various kinds of cooked rice) broken into it. A little more substantial is sop konro, large chunks of meat on the bone in a dark brown broth: it's what German food would taste like if German food were good.

Coto Makassar, Ikan Bakar
[On the NE corner of Jl Sudirman and Jl. Yogyakarta]
Good coto.

Coto Makassar
[On the SW corner of Jl Merdeka and Jl. Yogyakarta]
Okay coto.

Coto Makassar Borarsi
[On Jl Sudirman, opposite the SW corner of the football pitch]
Okay coto, but they use coto broth for their konro, which is not the same thing.

Makassar Nikmat
[On Jl. Siliwangi, opposite the harbour]
Reasonable coto and konro.

[no name]
[just outside the Hotel Mutiara (on the right as you come out of the hotel)]
A simple warung offering an excellent konro, but only open lunch time.


Throughout town there are lots of simple restaurants and warungs serving generic Javanese food: nasi goreng, mi goreng, bakso, and so forth.

[various names]
[In Wosi, where the coastal road meets the road coming down from the hill from town, near the garish Suzuki dealer]
A row of 6 slightly upmarket warungs, mostly Javanese, but also offering a good choice of seafood.

[no name]
[opposite the Hotel Mutiara, to the left of the pasar tingkat market, down the side street]
A row of simple warungs, mostly Javanese, but also offering a good choice of fresh ikan bakar, or grilled fish. Especially active after dark.

[no name]
[Just outside the main gate of Universitas Negeri Papua and to the left (downhill towards town), in front of the big mosque]
Two reasonable restaurants serving rice with a variety of toppings.

Warung Sate Ketemu Lagi
[Across the street from Hotel Metro]
A simple place run by a very friendly ibu with good sate and an excellent gulai kambing


Wherever the Minangkabau people from West Sumatra go, they bring their cuisine with them. But as the distance from Padang increases, the quality decreases, so by the time it gets to Manokwari, it's deteriorated from spectacular to just very good.

Sari Bundo
[On Jl Merdeka, at the "big" intersection with the traffic lights at the apex of the bay]
A simple little place, but good enough for the Padang addict in need of a fix.

Rumah Makan Tamanria
[Out in Wosi, on Jl. Trikora, on the way to the airport]
Padang food plus generic Indonesian dishes


Batak cuisine is focused on pork, euphemistically known as B2, for the two b's in babi.

[Out in Wosi, on Jl. Trikora, on the way to the airport]
The friendly ibu tries to make you eat more and more.


Chinese and Seafood
There are no "real" Chinese restaurants of the kind you find elsewhere in Indonesia, with Teochew or other regional Chinese dishes. However, there are a handful of places offering Chinese/Indonesian style seafood and other generic Indonesian dishes. Not surprisingly, the fish is usually fresher here than in many other places, such as Jakarta.

Restaurant Royal
[On the corner of Jl. Yos Sudarso and Jl. Percetakan Negara, a couple of hundred meters south from the Mutiara Hotel]
Probably the fanciest restaurant in Manokwari: the place to go for shiny floors, modern decor, and the most extensive menu in town.

Rumah Makan 89
[On Jl Merdeka, half a block south from the Mokwam hotel, on the right]
Possibly the best restaurant in this category, with a good selection of Indonesian style Chinese food.

[On Jl Sudirman, half a block south from the Metro hotel, on the left]
Hidden behind the general store in front, more of the same.

Salam Manis
[On Jl Merdeka, north of the Billy Jaya hotel, opposite the garish Honda dealer]
A relatively upmarket establishment.


Hotel Food
Most of the larger hotels have their own restaurants, usually offering the usual Chinese/Indonesian style dishes. While some are relatively busy, and offer a convenient location for a meal, others look as though you're going to be their first customer this month, which means that you might experience a long wait before somebody musters the courage to tell you that they're out of food.


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Manokwari does not have much to offer for the serious shopper. The main market, called pasar tingkat, is in Sanggeng, opposite the Hotel Mutiara, and is worth a stroll. On the second floor, facing the street, there's an arts and crafts store which seems to be permanently shut. A couple of hundred meters behind the market (follow your nose) is the main fish market. There's also a good market in Wosi. For those who cannot survive without malls, well there's Hadi, situated right at the apex of the V shaped Doreri bay, which has a supermarket, a department store, and that's about it. Otherwise, there's a smattering of general stores along Jl Merdeka in Kota.

For those interested in local art and handicrafts, or just looking for souvenirs to take back home, we are hoping to be able to arrange for some items to be made available at the conference venue.


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Beaches don't get any better than the ones located in and around Manokwari. And what's more, there's an incredible variety: for sand you can choose between white powder, golden granular, or fine grey, and for sea you can take your pick of calm turquoise, rocky reef or crashing surf. Having said that, Doreri bay, around which Manokwari is situated, is a garbage-littered tidal flat: to get to the good beaches you have to go out of town. Except on Sundays, the beaches are generally deserted, which is wonderful, but don't forget to bring your own water and whatever other supplies you may need.

To get to the beaches on the mainland, you can take one of the infrequent taksis (shared minibuses), or hire an ojek. A group of people may consider chartering a taksi: for Rps 80,000 - 100,000, you can go out to any beach, and arrange for your driver to pick you up a few hours later. Alternatively, you might want to rent your own motorcycle and go exploring. To get to the beaches on the offshore islands, see under "Local Transportation".

Pasir Putih
This is the most easily accessible beach, just a few kilometers east of town, and it lives up to its name "white sand". Good swimming, generally calm water, and a picturesque village just up the coast. Gets relatively crowded on Sundays.

Past Pasir Putih beach and Arowi village, Bakaro is a tiny village situated in a beautiful cove facing north. Two patches of golden sand are separated by strange black rock formations, and backed by seemingly impenetrable jungle. Good swimming, with occasional surf. At a particular point on the beach, the villagers whistle to summon the fish and then feed them.

Heading north past UNIPA, the road goes down to the coast, and then continues west, hugging the northern coast of the bird's head. Miles and miles of deserted beach with grey sand and crashing surf. A good spot to stop is just past the bridge over the first major river, here you can go surfing and then paddle in the sweet-water lagoon. But beware, the sandflies can be vicious.

Pulau Lemon
This is the closest and the smallest of the offshore islands. The sand is so pristinely white, the water so stunningly turquoise, and the trees such a rich deep green that your pictures will look as though you've been playing around with Photoshop. (Though you might want to use Photoshop to get rid of all the trash lying around.) Facing Manokwari is the best beach, with calm water and a steep drop off.

Pulau Mansinam
This is the second closest of the islands, and is considerably larger. Similarly spectacular beaches, plus, on the side facing Manokwari, a small village with a church and a historical site: the location of the first missionary activity in Papua. (A big celebration takes place here every year on February 5th, attracting people from all over the province; this year was the 152nd anniversary of the missionaries' arrival.)

Or you can go exploring and find your own beach, either the old fashioned way, or, for techies, using GoogleEarth (see above). But if you do use GoogleEarth, remember that it may be great for locating white sand beaches, but it doesn't tell you what lies beneath the water: more white sand, or perhaps rocks and sea urchins and other nasty thingies. Just one thing: if you do find the perfect beach, keep it perfect by not telling anyone.


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5th of February

The 5th of February is celebrated each year in Manokwari as the anniversary of the first missionaries' arrival in Papua, in Mansinam Island just across from Manokwari. This is a great time to visit Manokwari, even if you're not a big fan of missionaries. On the 5th itself, the whole world seems to descend on Mansinam for a prayer, ceremony, and gigantic beach party, and the island metamorphoses from deserted tropical paradise to Coney Island -- but it's a spectacle well worth witnessing. On the day after, the 6th, there will be a colorful parade marching through town, with groups from all over Papua decked out in local garb singing and dancing their way down the street -- a great carnival atmosphere, with everybody joining in the celebrations. If you can come to Manokwari a few days early, this is an event that is well-worth experiencing.


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The Linguistic Landscape of Manokwari

The island of New Guinea contains about 20% of the world's languages, and although only a small proportion of them can actually be found in Manokwari, that's still quite a lot.

The official language in Manokwari is of course the national language, Indonesian. However, the language of everyday oral communication, the language that you'll hear all around you most of the time, is Papuan Malay. Like in many other parts of Indonesia, there is a continuum of registers from the acrolectal standard language to the basilectal Papuan Malay. Thus, the kind of Malay/Indonesian that a vendor in the market would use to an Indonesian-speaking visitor will be quite different from that he or she might use to another local person.

An example of Papuan Malay can be seen in the advertisement slogan above, for a mobile phone provider: Trada Yang Blok Tong Pu Kartu 'Nobody blocks our card'. In Standard Indonesian this might read Tak Ada Yang Memblok Kartu Kami. The above slogan thus exhibits a number of peculiarly Papuan Malay features: (a) a suppletive form trada for the combination of negative plus existential; (b) the absence of prenasalization marking an active verbal form; (c) the absence of a first person plural exclusive pronoun, the general first person plural pronoun tong being a reduced form of kita 'we' plus orang 'person'; (d) a prenominal genitive construction containing pu, a reduced form of punya. In general, Papuan Malay is seldom written; its use in advertisement slogans such as the above may thus be considered to be "emblematic", reflecting a conscious effort to sound folsky and authentic.

Like most cities in Indonesia, Manokwari is a magnet for migrants. In the central parts of town, around half of the population are from outside of Papua, from other islands to the west. One obvious measure of this diversity is in the foodstalls: if they advertise paniki they're probably from North Sulawesi, coto and they're Makassarese, soto and they're Javanese, nasi Padang and they speak Minangkabau. Of these languages, at least Javanese would seem to have already developed its own indigenous Papuan variety.

Most of the Papuan residents of Manokwari are also migrants from other regions. When asked, a large proportion of the population will identify themselves as either "orang Biak" or "orang Serui", however these are both labels covering a variety of ethnicties and linguistic groups. Biak is the name of one of the two major islands in the Cenderawasih bay; it is also the name of the Austronesian language spoken on the island, and in many other parts of the Cenderawasih bay region, where it functions as a lingua franca. Serui is the name of the major town on the other major island in the Cenderawasih bay, Yapen; but there is no Serui language. Rather, there are around a dozen Austronesian languages spoken on Yapen, plus the non-Austronesian language Yawa, and an "orang Serui" could speak any one of them. In addition, speakers of yet other languages, on the New Guinea mainland opposite Yapen, might also identify themselves as "orang Serui".

Speakers of different languages typically congregate in little "diaspora" villages, some located right in the middle of town. If you walk down to the waterfront behind the Hadi mall, you'll find that everybody there speaks Ansus, one of the Austronesian languages of Yapen. Keep walking along the shore towards Kota, and you'll pass through a settlement of Butonese migrants from Southeastern Sulawesi. Next, you'll reach a village where most of all of the inhabitants are from Roon (a small island in off the southwest shore of Cendrawasih bay), and whose language is closely related to Biak. All in a leisurely 10 minute stroll.

The two local Non-Austronesian languages of Manokwari are Hatam and Meyah, both belonging to the West Papuan family; although typologically similar, they have a low rate of shared vocabulary. However, these languages are spoken in villages that are not accessible to the casual visitor to Manokwari. Still, if you spend enough time in Manokwari, you'll probably come across speakers of dozens and dozens of the local languages of Papua.

External link to Ethnologue list of languages in Papua

External link to Ethnologue map of the Birds Head


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Where Is Manokwari These Days? A Note on Geographical Terminology

The Indonesian-controlled half of the island of New Guinea has recently undergone a number of official name changes. During the Suharto era it constituted a single province that went by the name of Irian Jaya. This name is still commonly understood. However, in the post-Suharto period, it was decided to split Irian Jaya into two provinces: a larger eastern one called Papua, and a smaller western one called Irian Jaya Barat. Then, in February of 2007, Irian Jaya Barat was renamed as Papua Barat. So Manokwari is now the provincial capital of Papua Barat.

Unfortunately, there is now no obvious way to refer to the geographical region that was once known as Irian Jaya.The Former Irian Jaya? The Western Half of the Island of New Guinea? Ex Dutch New Guinea? Indonesian-controlled New Guinea? Papua Plus Papua Barat? However, in everyday parlance, the region is usually referred to simply as Papua. If you need to refer to the somewhat smaller province of Papua you can specify Propinsi Papua, and if you're talking about the independent country to the east, well that's generally called PNG.)

But the dust has still not settled, and there are some people who would like to see additional provinces created, or alternatively the present two provinces reunited. Watch this space for further changes.


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Click here for a series of photos of Manokwari and its environs.


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GoogleEarth views of Manokwari

Note: If you have GoogleEarth installed, you can click the "GoogleEarth" links below. Otherwise, click the "web" links. GoogleEarth can be downloaded from

Region: GoogleEarth or web
Town: GoogleEarth or web
Universitas Negeri Papua: GoogleEarth or web

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Page last modified: 23 Jan 2010, Leipzig