Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Asmat Tribe Trip

I have not long since returned from another trip (my fourth) to West Papua. I was there this time to photograph the Asmat tribe on the Southern coast and around the area of Agats, notorious for being the spot that Michael Rockerfeller went missing, presumed eaten, or possibly drowned. 
My own trip, although not nearly as bad as Mr Rockerfellers was not as succesful as I had hoped. The area is extremely difficult to get to and once there even harder to get around, especially on a budget, and I'm always on a budget. I arrived in Tamika and after two failed attempts to get to Agats by speed boat, the first attempt failed because the speed boat driver was drunk, the second attempt was slightly more succesful in that we actualy got out to sea but then had to turn back due to the weather. Then the speed boat driver did a bunk with some of my equipment and his fee for taking me to Agats, which I'd foolishly given him in advance. By this time I had spent four days in Timika, trying to get out. I wanted to make the most of my time there so I visited the prostitutes of Ten Kilo... 

Ten Kilo - Images by Grenville Charles

to photograph them. 
Ten Kilo resembles what I would imagine a wild west frontier town to have been like. It is basically a village of prostitutes, they were moved from the actual town of Timika because the workers from the Freeport copper and gold mine, the largest in the world, were spending too much time in the brothels and not returning to work. 
While photographing at Ten Kilo I received the news that a cargo boat captain had agreed to my hitching a ride to Agats  for a very modest sum. I returned to Tamika to collect my gear and then boarded the cargo boat, I found a spot between some crates, that turned out to contain some very smelly pigs, and tried to get some sleep. I was finally on my way albeit very slowly, the journey took two full days but it was good to finally arrive in Agats, I think the pigs thought so too.

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