Biak Island Papua, The Silent Witness of the Second World War Gloom
It is a small island near the northern coast of Papua (it was known as Irian or Irian Jaya), an island with remarkable white sand beaches on the eastern part of Indonesia, Biak Island. The atolls, reefs and corals make the island as a popular diving destination. Aside from the fascinating beaches, there are lots of other things you can visit such as waterfalls, blue lagoons, historical memorial or monument, or caverns and caves which are the relics of the World War II.
Once upon a time, Biak Island was a furious World War II (WW II) battle field in the Pacific, a silent witness of the tremendous awful dim history that human being have ever done. There are many relics abandoned and left on the island as well as under the sea, such as wrecks, guns, bombs, planes, etc. The war was between the Allies and the Empire of Japan, lots of local people got involved on the war which left them with frightening memories. The stories are still told from generation to generation until nowadays.
Biak has some destinations that you could visit, from the classical tropics destination such as white sand beach with coconut tree aside and crystal blue sea water, to those historical places full of stories that will chill you out. Those are places from my 2 day trip in Biak Papua where I saw the war relics.
- Japan Cave (Goa Jepang)
There are some caverns and caves in Biak that were used as an army post during the war, this one is the most popular historical site and travel destination among them. It’s located in Sumberker, Samofa, Biak Numfor District, click here for the map. Near by the information room is a yard where you can see the outdoor exhibition, it’s kind of like a small WW II museum. The picture up here is a Used Bottle and Cans Gallery (Galeri Botol Bekas dan Kaleng) which shows off varieties of bottles, cans, water bottles or cans used by the soldiers during the war, and also ceramic fragments from plates or tea cups. The other is named Bombs and Weapons Gallery (Galeri Senjata dan Bom) which displays varieties of weaponry, bullets, missiles, and bombs that survived the war. There was even a small plane wreck at the yard of the destination.
Weapons used on World War II
Along the path, I saw several giant holes which are connected to the bottom of the cave. It is reported that the Allies bombed the cavern and as a result these giant holes were formed, but I can’t assure the truth. There was a bit mystical atmosphere left there, or maybe it was just me making it up inside my mind 😀 . Couple stories about the cavern had been told to me by the local people, at night it is said that people were hearing some kind of lining in march sound or even weeping, mourning and screaming.
Farther, at the end of the path, you will see stairs going down made by the local government to make the visit easier. I saw the mouth of the cave and chilled a bit, maybe because of the imaginations I had formed before (just inside my head 😀 for sure). Formerly, the cavern was made by the Japanese soldier as a shelter, a place to rest and to heal those who injured during the war. The Japanese then succeeded on bombing The Pearl Harbor at the Pacific in the beginning of the World War II. The Americans then fought back and beat them at some Pacific front, one of them was this cavern in Biak. It is said that the Allies burned the cavern down with all the soldiers inside and singed almost all the troops. For many young Japanese the hot and humid darkness of the cavern became their grave.
The cavern has around 2km underground lane connecting it to the other cave near by the beach. The cave by the beach located near by a memorial monument of the World War II which is actually our next destination. Well, the air inside the cavern was humid and kinda of felt like sticky to breath in. It was really quite and desolate, the only sound there was the water drops falling down from the cave ceiling. There wasn’t enough light inside the cavern, you could only see the light on the other side of it. Vines were hanging all around the cavern, adding up the eeriness inside.
- The Second World War Monument
Another historical site you could visit is The Second World War Monument, it is not so far from the cavern I told you before. Just aside the road and near by the beach. The monument has the shape of stone courtyard with stone cubes in Japanese style. I saw the remains or relics and also the belongings of the Japanese in such small room like an alley. There were lots of Japanese paper art (origami) left by the soldiers family, photos, incense sticks (agarbatti), helmet, even their bones which placed inside a special box. To see inside the room, you have to ask for the guide there to open the door for you and for sure you have to pay the fee as well (if I remember well it was for 50.000IDR).
The keeper of this monument told us some mystical events happening at this place, mostly happened at night when it’s quite and dark. They heard some voices like weeping, cries of pain from the soldiers and also they’ve seen things like soldiers walking back and forth. There is a story about the flags here which is moving at night, I mean up and down like somebody is moving it. If the movement was horizontally for sure it would be wind, isn’t it? 😀 Well, it is just stories I heard, the matter of believing it or not is up on you the readers. Or you could come and experience the atmosphere yourself 😉