Jungle Golf

jungle rules
Enter a caption

Hover mouse to see captions

We’ve been here nearly a month, and have heard there is a means of getting off this mountain to see more of the world’s second largest island of New Guinea. So what if it’s simply an overnight trip down to the Rimba golf club and Rimba Papua Hotel? No, they are not connected as I wrongly assumed, but there are reliable drivers to get us from here to there.

There are two remarkable things to write about in a post about the golf trip to the
“lowlands”. One is the transportation there and the golf itself. The other is the stay at the Rimba Hotel, a monstrous and beautiful tribute to the art and culture of Papua and the exotic landscape. Except for once, when we had stayed there, the place was practically vacant
, so it reminded me of being in the hotel in “The Shining.”

ht_shining_hotel_er_160420_4x3_608          Every Saturday the golf bus takes a couple dozen serious golfers to the club in Kuala Kencana (koo-a-lah ken-chah-nah), a company town purpose-built for PT Freeport. Last weekend it also transported Todd and me, occasional golfers. One can identify the serious golfers by the way they spring out of their seats seconds before the bus has stopped and grab their gear. Much like when an airplane lands and everyone (except me) does the “Hurry up and wait” routine. Hurry-up, grab your carry-ons and wait in the aisle. By the time they were on the practice range enthusiastically whacking balls, I was perspiring just getting from the locker room to the pro shop. It was going to be a long, nine holes.

We rented equipment and the two required caddies and headed first for the practice, and then to the links. The course was beautiful, difficult, dotted with curves, ponds, sand traps, and jungle on either side of the fairway. Exotic birds cheered us on along the way, though we only actually saw one of them. A white cockatoo flew over us! By the end of the seventh hole I had hit too many balls into the jungle and my back ached, so I let Todd finish without me. It was here I made to decision to get an instructor the next time.

The locker rooms at the club house are nearly as luxurious as the Rimba Hotel. I’d only been to a golf club in England for “dinnah”, so felt über pampered. Showers, a cold tub outside, the works. We spent the afternoon dining and sipping exotic drinks off the 18th hole.

The next morning we made with ease to the airport in time to catch the chopper, feeling quite smart. The weather was good, so all signs pointed to a 20-minute flight up the mountain instead of a torturous bus ride. Alas, when we went to check our baggage we were reminded that Todd would not be allowed on the helicopter in his shorts! I looked around desperately for anyone who might have an extra pair of long pants in their suitcase to lend Todd. We were the only ex-pats in the airport, so that was out of the question. I was, however, wearing jeans that would certainly fit Todd. After two fashion shows for the gate attendant, we landed on the appropriate outfits (Todd rocking it in skinny jeans) and climbed on the chopper, all the while giggling at the irony of it all.

skinny jeans

A weekend later we returned to the lowlands for two days where we attempted to golf again, basked in the paradisal pool at the Rimba and had our bones jostled on the bus. Our friend Brad was along, so it was fun times in the lowlands!







Beetlejuice, Betelgeuse, Betel Juice!

The betel nut, aka the areca nut and its many uses is the topic for today’s lecture. Other common names for the seed of the feathery areca palm tree are paan, pinlang and supari. Mouth-sized red fibrous wads lying on the sidewalk in your path reveal evidence that the betel nut has recently been consumed in your proximity.

Some of these specimens are dry, indicating the user had retained the contents in his/her mouth long enough to glean as many of the central nervous system stimulating effects as possible (hover mouse for figure 1). Other specimens indicating a fresh pull manifest themselves in the red deck stain-colored juice expelled while chewing the seed contents (hover mouse for figure 2). The third is the fibrous wad along with the red juice together in a colorful and textured display, showing the process at mid-stage (hover mouse for figure 3).

Just some lighthearted cultural trivia. It is indeed true that it’s difficult to walk along a sidewalk without encountering red spit and expelled betel nut. It’s also difficult to look at any group of native men and women without gaping gobs smiling from the euphoric effects, which are reportedly much like tobacco. It kind of reminds me of a rodeo, except the color is different, and here there is no attempt to conceal it. Next time I venture out, I’ll try to capture a gob in action, though it’s awkward asking for photos of people with their mouths full.