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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.”
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.
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!