Southeast Asia Paparazzi


I’d recently read that Indonesians tweet the most and are among the top populations posting on Facebook. At the time, I could hardly believe this statistic, but after spending a few days in Sorong, I am not surprised at all. These people are crazy about their smartphones. Everyone has one. Many have two or three.

The first full day we were here, Mark had the privilege of navigating through the entrance procedures - Customs, Immigration, Quarantine, etc. (If you’re sailing this way and would like notes on this, check out his update on Noonsite.) Michael decided to tag along, and when they returned that evening, they had hilarious stories to tell. Turns out, on the bus, Mark had been accosted by a gaggle of high school girls who were more than elated to see a ‘mista’ on their bus! They promptly snapped selfies with him and then grabbed his phone and took a few selfies with it, too, giggling the whole time.

Later, when Michael was with him at the Quarantine office, the young female officer apparently could not get enough of this cute blonde American boy! He said she tried to be inconspicuous in her continuous videoing and photographing, but Michael wasn’t fooled. He was a good sport, trying to offer his best side and a dimpled smile, but when he noticed she was texting the photos to someone who replied with heart-eyed smiley faces, he was thoroughly embarrassed (and secretly feeling like quite the movie star)!
School girls taking photo with Mark

When the various government officials came on board to do paperwork, they would snap photos of random parts of the boat, and then sneak in a selfie to show their friends. They were thrilled when we suggested a group photo, and handed me their phone to ensure they got a shot, too. I imagined our images popping up on  Facebook pages, making us instant celebrities among Indonesian officialdom and all their Facebook friends. And just when we thought our fifteen minutes of fame was over, our walk to the Saga supermarket proved otherwise.

Along the sidewalks (yes, sidewalks - haven’t seen those for a while!) mothers with children would stop us to say hello and thrust their children towards us so that they could get a quick photo of them with us. Older children stopped us on the streets to pose with us for a picture. One family even pulled their motorcycle over in front of us, all four of them hopped off and rushed over to us for a photo. Seriously, Indonesia paparazzi is giving us all huge heads. Just now, as I type this, I am picturing a local family crowded around a smartphone flipping through photos of the foreigners and giggling at our floppy hats and tourist garb. Oh well, glad we can give them a good laugh!!
Photos in market with Michael
Quarantine agents onboard Field Trip

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