Friday, December 31, 2010

Bicycle and Sustainable Development Policy of Cuban Government

Cycling is an activity that I recommend to everybody who wants to live in harmony with nature. In my previous post, I said that I ride my mountain bike in the afternoons as my way of maintaining my body in good health condition. The route that I choose is Kampung Ambon, Kwawi, Pasir Putih, Arowi, Bakaro. Actually this route is not suitable for my dirt jump bike - the Polygon Cozmic DX 2.0 whose gears are Shimano Alivio for mountain biking. The street along these places is smooth. After Pasir Putih beach, the number of motorized vehicles is fewer. The road between the Pasir Putih beach and Cape Bakaro is very good for cyclists who want to ride their bicycles, and at the same time enjoy cleaner air produced by trees that grow along the beach and the tropical rainforest of the region. Standing on the Pasir Putih beach, I can see the beautiful blue color of the sea in front of me and also the blue color of the Arfak mountains on the other side of the Dorey bay. Homes to various species of rainforest animals including the paradise birds. When I was still in elementary school, some cruise ships like to visit this small town. The ships brought tourists from Europe and the United States. But I've never seen Oasis of the Seas coming to this bay. It will be nice to see the largest and the most luxurious cruise ship in the world in this Dorey bay.  Oh, I was day dreaming, ha...ha.. ha....
Well, although bicycle is not considered as renewable energy resource, riding it is a way of reducing consumption of fossil fuel and at the same time fighting global warming through the reduction of CO2 gases emission.
Lesson Learned from Cuba
Several years a go I wrote an article about how Cuban government turned to renewable energy and urged people to ride bicycles when their country was suddenly entering economic crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union. My article was published by Intisari - a national magazine in Indonesia. Cheap and subsidized fuel imported from Russia could not be enjoyed anymore.
To anticipate the energy crisis, Cuban government imported 1.5 million bicycles and tricycles from China. Domestic production of bicycles was increased to 100,000 units per year. At the same time, solar photovoltaic panels were introduced to provide electricity to homes, schools and health clinics throughout the country. In addition to solar power, Cuba built wind farms and installed hundreds of micro-hydro power and biogas plants that greatly reduced Cuba's dependency on fossil fuel. The policy of the Cuban government to tackle the economic crisis by relying on renewable energy attracted the attention of the UN. In 2001 Cuba received the UN's Global 500 award. Now Cuba is seen as a model for many countries around the world that want to develop their renewable energies. Engineers from Cuba help Bolivia, Honduras, Lesotho, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa and Venezuela in developing their renewable energy sectors.
Dutch Cycling Culture
Besides learning from Cuba, we - Indonesian people - can look at the Netherlands as a good example for renewable energy application. Dutch people ride bicycles to work. Install photovoltaic panels at the roofs of their homes and build wind farms at sea.  Cycling is not only a hobby but has been part of their lifestyle or culture. Dutch were the ones who introduced cycling to Indonesian people during the colonial period. Therefore, we can learn from them if we are serious in developing our country through sustainable methods.  
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Cycling to Pasir Putih Beach

After writing a number of articles about Oasis of the Seas, the largest and most modern cruise ship in the world, now I am writing about my hobby again which is mountain biking. Although the keyword of Oasis of the Seas is now getting higher impression in my blog, I feel that I should write something that really reflects my daily activities. I have been riding bicycle since I was in elementary school. I didn't know why I was very fond of cycling around my neighborhood with my BMX at that time but I really enjoyed the surrounding view of the Manokwari town and the Arfak mountains while riding along the hills of Panorama street. Now my bicycle is not a BMX anymore but a Dirt Jump Mountain Bike Polygon Cosmic DX 2.0. I started riding this bike on the first week of December 2010.
I usually ride my bicycle in the afternoons along the Brawijaya street (formerly known as Panoramaweg during the Dutch time) to Kwawi, Pasir Putih beach - the most favorite white sandy beach both for town dwellers and finally tourists, Pasirido, and finally Bakaro beach. It takes around two hours for me to enjoy the beautiful coastal region of Manokwari city that is now developing very fast. I am often accompanied by my friend Peddy Tangguni. He was my classmate when we were in high school. He rides his United mountain bike.
When I began riding my mountain bike again early this month, I was not familiar with shifting gears from 8 to 1 for the rear ones and from 3 to 1 for the front gears particularly when climbing a slope. After using the bicycle for several times now I know that I need to use gear 1 (front and rear) while on a steep slope; and Gear 3 (front) and Gear 8 (rear) on a flat road or going down a slope. The gears of my mountain bike are Shimano Alivio. Shimano is a leading manufacturer of bicycle components from Japan.  The brake is manufactured by Tektro - I think its a Taiwanese company. The bike frame is made of aluminum. Polygon calls it Alx 6061. It is a light metal compound that is strong enough for mountain bike application. It's interesting to see that the front suspension fork of the bike is Suntour Duro DJD.
I start riding the bike at 4.30 p.m and return home at 6.30. It is nearly dark when I get back home. Along the road, I often see children riding their BMX bicycles. The second picture above shows how Peddy - my friend, and some Papuan children were riding bicycles near Pasirido.
Cycling is good for our environment. People who ride bicycles to their workplaces have helped reduce the CO2 emission. CO2 gases are the cause of acid rains that are harmful to the green leaves and trees of the tropical rainforest. By riding bicycle we reduce the air pollution of our city.
Cycling is also good for our health but I hardly ever see adults in Manokwari city ride bicycles in the afternoons. I hope that through my regular exercise riding this mountain bike, more and more people will be interested in joining me and my friend in the coming months of 2011. Lets's ride bicycles, let's save energy, let's protect our tropical rainforest and let's fight global warming.
Also read:
Health benefits of cycling
Cycling can increase productivity
Bike to work following Dutch habit and Cuban Experience

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Paradise bird Cincinnurus Magnificus

The bird that you see in the photograph below in English is called the Magnificent Bird of Paradise. Its Latin name is Cincinnurus Magnificus. This is one of the species of BOP that you can watch in Kwau village of Arfak mountains in the vogelkop region of Manokwari regency. Besides this species, birders can also see western parotia, black sickle bill and most importantly the bower bird. This photograph was made by Gerard Berkhof in the morning of 5 December 2010. Mr. Berkhof was with 8 other tourists at that time. Pandanus Conoideus is in fruiting season between November and January. 
Red fruits are abundant in the tropical rainforest of the Arfak mountains. Magnificent birds of paradise like to eat red fruit whose seeds look like rice grains. To attract this bird, Hans Mandacan - my friend who owns a tourist house in the village put the fruit in front of the bird watching hut (also called blind) just around 5 meters from the watching window.
To watch the paradise bird, all tourists had to be inside the hut before sunrise. So, I asked them to wake up early in the morning. They woke up at 5 a.m. and left the guesthouse at 5.30 after drinking some coffee or tea. Because the number of tourists who did the bird watching that morning was six, and the hut could only accommodate 4 people, I decided to devide them into two groups and placed them in two bird watching huts located at different places. When all of the tourists had been in the huts, I; Hans Mandacan and Hami Mandacan left them. We came back to pick them up again at around 9.30 a.m. One group was able to take a lot of pictures of the magnificent birds of paradise and spotted cat birds whereas the other was not. Hami explained to me that members of the other group were talking staying in the hut. This was the cause why the birds did not come. They were afraid of the noisy sounds from men's voice.
Birds of paradise and all other birds species in the tropical rainforest of New Guinea island are facing extinction due to continues hunting, deforestation. The size of the rainforest is shrinking rapidly day by day.

The bird watching tour package that I offer to tourists is an alternative income generation that I introduce in Papua to help the indigenous people earn money from the natural resources that they have without destroying the environment. Other bird watching sites that I recommend to tourists are Senopi village, Syioubri village, Numfor island, and the Table Mountain.

In addition to hiking and watching the paradise bird, other ecotourism activities that tourists can do in Arfak mountains are watching butterfly, and learning herbal medicine. by Charles Roring
Also read:
Birds of paradise pictures
Rainforest pictures
Paradise bird from vogelkop region

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Earthquake resistant houses

Most home builders in Manokwari city of West Papua must take into account earthquake resistant structures when constructing houses. The use of steel profiles or steel rods for pillars for multi-story buildings is highly recommended. Although metal buildings are strong and suitable for earthquake region, they are not fully popular due to aesthetics consideration. Home owners in Indonesia still prefer wooden framed houses with concrete walls as the most affordable and beautiful constructions.  The department of public works (called DPU or Departement Pekerjaan Umum) stipulate that all houses with two floors and above must have structural strength calculations done by architects and civil engineers who design the buildings when submitting their works to the department for obtaining their approval.
For small one floor homes, the use of hard wood for house frames is a common practice in this city. To hold the concrete walls, the construction workers hammer big nails along the wooden pillars and girders along the sides where the bricks of the concrete walls will be built. When earthquake hits the city, these nails will hold the walls from falling onto the ground and hit the occupants of the houses. The distance of the pillars has also been reduced to a maximum of 4 meters for family homes with two or three bedrooms.
Building materials for the foundation of the houses are granite stones or hard corals that are mined from the mountains. The mining of corals from the coastal area has been banned due to its destructive impact on the marine environment.
Although Papua is rich of timber, some home buyers in Manokwari still orders prefab building or wooden houses from Woloan village in North Sulawesi. These earthquake resistant wooden house of Minahasa, after being dismantled and shipped to Papua, will be reassembled and constructed on sites that have been cleared for them.
For Papua and Indonesian islands in general, wooden houses or concrete houses whose pillars are made of wood are the most recommended constructions. The use of wood is cheaper than steel frames. To prevent the wooden blocks and planks from deteriorating or decaying due to the changing weather, anti termite and base paints have to be applied on their surfaces. These kind of coatings will protect the wood for tens or even hundreds of years to come.
I used to study Archicad, a BIM modeling software for architects and home designers. This is a very powerful software for designing homes and big buildings. Although it has the ability of calculating the number of materials needed by the designed houses, it lacks features for strength calculation that is very important for houses that will be built in earthquake region such as Indonesia. Architects still need other software such as SAP 2000 to do the structural strength analysis. by Charles Roring
Also read:
Tropical wooden houses
Archicad and Home Design
Houses in earthquake zone
How to design roof with Archicad

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wooden houses near the beach of the Dorey bay

While I was traveling to Numfor island with a ferry boat, from the sea, I saw rows of wooden houses constructed along the beach up to a slope in the Dorey bay of Manokwari city. These type of wood construction is common in this region because wood is more durable in withstanding strong earthquake. Wooden houses of the Papuan tribes in coastal region are different from the ones that I usually see in the mountainous region of West Papua. Houses that are built near the sea often have pillars that stand from the bottom of the beach to two meters above the sea surface to allow for space for high tide. The wood that are used for the house pillars have been chosen from the species that will not easily rot when soaked in the salty water for longer time.
In recent years, some Minahasan people from Woloan village migrated to Papua and introduced prefabricated wooden houses that can be dismantled from the place where it was first constructed and displayed and reassembled in a new place for the new owner of the house. Although timber as the construction material of the house is abundant in this city, the Minahasan type of the wooden houses cannot easily penetrate the local market that has already had its own indigenous model which is Rumah Kaki Seribu or "a thousand leg house" which is the typical wooden house from Arfak mountains
The wooden houses made by carpenters from Woloan who have now lived in Manokwari are more modern and fine in their fabrication. The carpenters use modern machine to make blocks and panels of wood that will form the house.
The big earthquake that hit Manokwari city in 2008 had reminded the city dwellers that having houses with wooden frames is more safe that building houses only with concrete materials. I personally believe that wooden houses whether they are traditional or modern in design will always be attractive in Papua because of the frequent earthquakes that hit the island.
Corrugated Metal Roof for Wooden House Construction
Most of the wooden houses in West Papua are now using corrugated metal roof called "seng" or zinc (Zn) This type of roof is very popular not only in West Papua but also in Indonesian and even all over the world. In the past, Papuan people usually use sago palm leaves as the roof cover for their houses. These leaves can only be used for 2 years. They have to be replaced  Although the corrugated metal roof is called zinc, actually it is made of layers of iron, aluminum and zinc. The zinc metal roof has a range of thicknesses from 0.2 to 3.8 milimeters. There are some possible combination that we can find in corrugated metal roof that we usually find in the housing materials shop in Indonesia:
Fe coated by seng = 1.50%
Pb coated with seng = 0.90%
Al coated with seng = 97,25%
Zn coated with seng = 97.25%
I got the chemical compositions of the corrugated metal roof from this website: http://www.adimas.co.id/ind/senggalvanis.htm
Another material that is now getting more attention from home builders is Zincalume G-550. It is alloyed steel plate protected with metal layers whose composition is 55% aluminum and 45% seng. This is Zincalume layer is twice up to six times more resistant to corrosion that other galvanic steel plate for similar application as roof deck. When there is a fire in a wooden house, the chemical composition of the metal roof plates change significantly due to overheating. As a result they cannot be used for rebuilding the house anymore.
Tens of years ago, the roofs of the wooden houses in Indonesia were from palm leaves. These materials had to be replaced every two years. In addition, they were not fully watertight. With the improvement in the home building technology in Indonesia and the availability of more durable materials, now most of the wooden houses have been protected by corrugated metal roofs that can withstand rain and sunlight for tens of years. by Charles Roring
Also read: 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Passenger Ship Yap Wairon

Last October I traveled by passenger ship MV Yap Wairon to Numfor island. It is a small tropical island located in the Geelvink bay of New Guinea island of Indonesia. The Motor Vessel YAP Wairon is a cargo passenger ship that routinely travels around the bay to bring cargoes and people from one town to another.
I went to Numfor island to do a little survey on ecotourism potentials that can bring economic benefits to the local people and at the same time preserve the tropical rainforest and the coral reef of the island. Passenger ship Yap Wairon has the capacity of around two hundred people. Its service speed is about 15 knots. Compared to big passenger ships that are operated by PELNI lines, YAP Wairon is a slow and small passenger boat perhaps operated by the local government in cooperation with PELNI lines.
The boat is powered by diesel engine as the main propulsion unit. Because this is only a small passenger boat, the propelling device is of course a four blade propeller. I personally did not check whether the propelling unit is a controllable pitch propeller or not. But from the way she approached the Numfor harbor, I could easily tell that the boat is only equipped with fixed pitch propeller. Marine diesel engine has been the main power plant of most ships operating in the Indonesian islands. Besides its fuel is cheap, it can easily be operated by crews without high technical experience.
There are two passenger compartments located below the main deck. All of them are for economy class. There are only two classes in the boat, economy and VIP. The ticket price for the economy class is Rp. 30,000/person whereas the price for VIP is Rp. 90,000/person. Only the VIP class that is Air Conditioned. I tried both of them. The seats of the VIP class were similar to the seats that we usually found in a jet plane. They were quite comfortable. For the economy class compartments, I felt that the air ventilation system did not work properly. Or because they were a modified version of a cargo ship then the indoor ventilation system has not been optimally calculated. It was too hot and not comfortable for passengers especially foreign tourists. It was not surprising to see that more passengers prefer to stay at the main deck which was only covered with tarpaulin sheet.
The main deck is more windy. One thing that I like from the economy class compartments is their stability. Because the economy class decks were located below the main deck, their center of gravity was lower. When the ship rolled, the passengers did not really feel much movement. The transversal movement of the boat could significantly be felt on the main deck and inside the VIP room. Passenger boat MV Yap Wairon is definitely not a luxurious passenger or cruise ship like Oasis of the Seas. It is only a simple and functional passenger ship that is important for the economic development of small islands in the Geelvink bay. It took 6 hours from Manokwari to Numfor island. I used the time to talk with the passengers about interesting and beautiful places which the local people like to visit in their leisure time. If you are fine with the description about the boat, then I encourage you to take your spring or summer holiday in Numfor island.
From the overnight conversation with the Papuan people who live in the Numfor island, I know that Asaibori beach is the most favorite place to visit. Yes, it is really beautiful to be in that beach. In addition to Asaibori, another white sandy beach that I recommend to tourists is Samido beach which is located not far from Kornasoren village.
Numfor island and other islands in the Geelvink bay have been considered as important destinations for birders who want to watch the tropical birds. From an article about Numfoor island that I read in Wikipedia, it says that the density of birds in the island is higher than its main New Guinea island.
I have also brought Western tourists to Numfoor island to enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving over pristine coral reef that thrive around the island. This is an alternative cheaper place for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the under water marine environment in the tropical region of Indonesia. by Charles Roring

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Passenger Boat and Ferry Boat in Manokwari Harbor

When I was traveling to Numfor island last November 2010, I saw a small passenger boat at Manokwari harbor. I was standing on board of the ferry boat Kasuari Pasifik IV when I took the picture of the passenger boat. Her name was Gracelia. She has a long superstructure with three decks are allocated for passengers. The deck below the main deck is constructed for economy class. From the general arrangement of the boat, I can easily tell that the capacity of the boat is around 200 people (sometimes more during the high season or holidays such as school holiday in July and Christmas holiday in December). Please, do not be confused with the banana boat that is usually promoted by certain resort in their travel brochure. The passenger boat that I am talking about in this article is big and able to travel across open seas.
Indonesian islands which consist of more than 13,000 islands need around 50 big passenger ships (each with a carrying capacity of 3,000 passengers) and hundreds of passenger boats to transport people and goods. As the largest maritime state in the world, Indonesia constantly needs all kinds of marine vehicles to support its economic development.
In West Papua province, passenger boat and ferry is now seen as an alternative public transport vehicles to bring tourits from Manokwari - the capital city - to Numfor island, a potential tourist destination in the Geelvink baai. Speed boats are also used to bring tourists from Sorong to Waisai, the capital of Raja Ampat regency. West Papua is a famous destination for tourists who want to enjoy bird watching in Arfak mountains, snorkeling or scuba diving over the pristine coral reefs that thrive around the tropical islands in the region. With more tourists are coming from all corners of the world to West Papua, boat owners and ferry operators should pay attention to waste handling and treatment inside their boats.
When people travel by boat or ship they bring food that is usually wrapped in plastic packagings. These plastic wastes are thrown into the sea by passengers and crew of the boats. Such bad attitude has to be stopped because throwing plastic wastes into the sea will bring marine pollution that is harmful to the coral reef and marine environment as a whole. Not only the tourists are effected but also the ecosystem will be destroyed by that. The sewage water treatment systems in most of the boats that operate in Indonesia need to be improved or upgraded.
In the coming years, more tourists will come to Manokwari, Numfor island, Raja Ampat and other places in West Papua. This is the result of our efforts in promoting ecotourism for this region. Therefore, everybody who is involved in the land and sea transportation industry must work together to improve their services so that this increasing number of tourists will continue to occur and bring positive economic benefits to all of us.
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