Friday, April 18, 2014

A kind reminder to check your visas!

While I was waiting for the shuttle bus to the hotel from the airport in POM, two Australian men from my flight were brought over to join me in the special waiting area. They were understandably not in the best of moods as they were in the process of being deported.
I will explain. This was March 7th.  On March 1st, PNG had changed the visa laws for Australians requiring them to obtain a visa before arriving in PNG - no longer allowing them to purchase it on arrival like most other nationalities were and still are permitted to do. This was done in the hopes that Australia would revise its visa procedure for PNG Nationals arriving in Australia and grant them visa upon arrival privileges. Probably not going to happen! These guys had been to PNG before these changes and had no reason to suspect that anything was differenr. I did have a visa. The changes had been advertised in the local newspaper in POM and Bryce had received bulletins about it at work, otherwise we wouldn’t have known. When I got my visa, the website still said you could get it on arrival in PNG. I called to check – given we had good reason to believe otherwise, and they confirmed that I would need to get my visa in Australia before I left.
So these poor guys were getting deported. Their passports were not stamped, their baggage was not released and they were let out into the main terminal to wait for the next flight back to Cairns. (Kinda like the movie ‘The Terminal’!). They were trying to connect (unsuccessfully) to the internet to see if they could get their visa online. I told them it took the embassy 4 days to process my visa in person and being that it was Friday and there was no chance they would be able to apply before Monday, that kinda blew their week long surfing holiday. They were understandably angry, frustrated and disappointed.

So…the moral of that story is to please remember to check and double check visa requirements well in advance of your actual visit.
For an update on us... Bryce is back from PNG for the Easter holiday. Great to see him! His contract has been extended for another six weeks so he well be heading back up there on Tuesday. Given that we now have a bit of extra time, he has decided to finish off his masters degree for which he only has two subjects left to do. My rehab for my hand is going well. I am following a strict regime of weekly appointments, hourly exercises, thrice daily scar massages, different dressings for different times of the day and have just started weaning off my splint for small periods of time. Hopefully I will be able to follow Bryce up to PNG soon.

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