Oirata, Favorite Tourist Village In Maluku

Jakarta,  (ANTARA News) - Oirata village on Kisar Island in Maluku Barat Daya (MBD) district, Maluku Province, has in the past several years been a favorite and idyllic destination for foreign tourists.

In its spice island adventure voyage of discovery from Darwin, Australia, MV Orion cruise ship, with hundreds of Australian, New Zealand, and even Dutch tourists, was again fortunate to come alongside the wharf of Nama beach port on the west coast of Kisar island on Saturday, July 16, 2011.

MV Orion from Australia with tourists from various countries has during the past four years made Nama beach part of its regular ports of call to visit the village of Oirata.

After berthing at Nama beach and completing formalities on Saturday, the tourists eventually got off the ship and made their way to a convoy of local cars, waiting to take them to Wonreli town for a welcome ceremony.

In small groups with local guides the tourists were invited to explore Kisar`s history including the remnant architecture from the Dutch period over 400 years, and then ushered to Oirata village.

Arriving at Oirata village, the tourists were entertained with colorful local traditional Cakalele war dance, led by Lonwerwara Tilukay.

Besides, they also had the opportunity to see a number of activities including "sopi" alcoholic drink distilling, brown sugar making from Koli palm trees, and Ikat weaving for sale.

"Magnificent!. We want to stay longer here in Oirata, Kisar, but unfortunately we have very limited time," Marieke Egan, a Holland tourist, said as quoted by Musa Wedilen.

Over his cellular phone from Oirata, Musa Wedilen told Antara in Jakarta that the tourists enjoyed their visit so much in Oirata village in specific, and Kisar island in general.

Musa said one of the tourists from Australia, Max mcGuire, admitted that he was deeply impressed with the way how the local people make brown sugar and sopi from Koli palm trees that grow well in the island of Kisar.

Meanwhile, Joseph (Oce) Kamanasa, a local youth figure, said Kisar island where Wonreli, Maluku Barat Daya district capital is located, was once forgotten and out of reach for years.

As part of Maluku`s southwestern islands, Kamanasa said Kisar was in the past one of the remotest and least accessible in all Indonesia, but now it was no longer isolated.

To date it has basically a few facilities such as accommodations and restaurants for visitors, but some fine beaches and snorkeling spots of course can still be found there.

It might be the reason why Kisar has since the past four years been a regular port of call for the Australian cruise ship.

Geographically, Kisar is closer to Australian continent and culturally nearer to Timor Leste and has a real Timorese feel to it, with villages scattered in the dry, scrubby interior rather than along the coast.

Sights are limited to a very few colonial buildings such as a ruined old church at Leklor village, Fort Vollenhove at Nama beach, and Fort Delftshaven at Kaisama village which are the most impressive for foreign visitors.

Some of the finest "Ikat Weavings" are found in Kisar, and the best of these are made by the people of Oirata village with some of unique traditional-style houses left.

Kamanasa said that from Oirata, the tourists them made their way to traditional market in Wonreli, the old Dutch church in Leklor, and the old Delfshaven Fort in Kaisama village.
Under its expedition calendar in its website: www.orionexpeditions.com/, the Australian cruise ship revisited Kisar as part of its eleven-night Spice island adventure from July 14-25, 2011.

Previously known as "the Moluccas", the Maluku region is truly a collection of forgotten islands located just north of Australia.

Sitting between New Guinea and Timor Leste, it is part of Wallacea, the legendary deep water area that separates the Australian and Asian continent plates.

The southwest corner of Maluku is virtually inaccessible but is home to numerous stunning islands with fringing reefs and ancient culture.

Very few outsiders have ever set foot on these islands and a unique experience is guaranteed as the MV Orion`s crew members and guests discover the "Forgotten Islands" of Maluku.

Their visit in July this year was the tiny island of Kisar which serves as their official entry point into the archipelago.

Kisar has over 400 years of European history and despite being only a few hundred miles off the coast of Australia, its European history is virtually unknown.

From Kisar, the MV Orion will then set sail to the island of Alor, identified by the East Nusa Tenggara Provincial authorities as having the most potential for tourism development in the future.

But today apart from some eco-resorts catering for SCUBA divers there is no infrastructure to support such a development.

MV Orion in Alor will anchor close to the small but bustling town of Kalabahi in order to access both the town and the interior of the island to visit a traditional village in the mountains to witness some of its lifestyle first hand.

The voyage of the Australian cruise ship to Kisar, Alor, and some of the most wonderful but rarely seen places on earth will include Maumere, Komodo Island, Waingapu in Sumba Island, Savu, and Nusa Manuk in the Indonesia`s southernmost island of Rote, and then back to Darwin. (*)