Saturday, April 01, 2006


Wamena v Malang

As a young Arsenal fan I always enjoyed away games more than home games. In those days there were terraces and you could always pay on the day, both missing today. Unfortunately I left before we entered the Champions League, in fact when I left British teams were still banned from European competition!

Much like this years Asian Champions' League which sees Indonesia's two representatives, Arema Malang and Jayapura, banned for being late in complying with AFC regulations. But watching the Wamena v Malang game the other day got me thinking about away days in my day and how would I have coped with this trip. Wamena is in the heart of Papua, miles from anywhere while Malang lies south of Surabaya so how would the hardy Malang fans, if they have any, get there for this daunting fixture?

The problem was finding out about flights from Jayapura, the Papuan provincial capital to Wamena because Merpati, the airline that flies this route, had no schedules on their web site! But forget taking the bus, there's no roads, flying is the only option.

Anyway we got off to another bad start. I couldn't find the times of trains from Malang to Surabaya on the Indonesian Railways website and my own old timetable had gone missing. There is though another option, a mini bus which takes you straight to the airport. With a flight leaving Juanda airport at 10.40 AM you'd need to leave Malang by one of the early buses, say 6 AM which should get you to the airport maybe 2 and a half hours later.

Flying Garuda you'd check in for the short hop to Denpaser on Bali. Once there you get a 4 hour transit before connecting to a flight to Makasser arriving in this Sulawesi city at 5.30 PM. Now it's time to find a hotel because you're stuck here for the night! Make it near the airport though because your flight to Jayapura leaves at 6.50 the following morning getting you into Jayapura at 12.20! Again, get a hotel...With the game kicking off at 3.30 pm you're still a long way from the ground so use your time in Jayapura to search for the holy grail, flight times to Wamena!

If you're lucky you could leave Monday morning, get to Wamena in time for the game but I haven't got a clue how or when you'd get back! Mind you, I can't even be arsed to go up the road to Tangerang City or to Jakarta, what chance have I of getting to the middle of deepest Papua for a game???

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