Friday, April 4, 2014

Welcome to PNG!

Driving around Cairns and the Tablelands already felt like being on a tropical island so I thought I was prepared to head up Port Moresby (POM). In an attempt to describe it to me, Bryce had told me that POM was just like Honiara but 10x bigger. So I was picturing Honiara and its handful of paved roads with just a few more buildings and people…. Let me tell you – with some small exceptions they are nothing alike. POM is really the big smoke of the South Pacific. I realized as I was waiting to board the plane that I could've just looked it up, but the thought honestly never occurred to me!
There is a stilt village back there...
As we flew from Australia on our tiny DASH-8 we were treated to some lovely views of the reef. It was raining on the approach to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and so all of a sudden the coastline appeared out of nowhere and then with a sharp 90-degree turn (this was pre-missing plane) we flew the rest of the way along the coast and got to see so much – reefs, islands, mountains, farms, stilt villages over water, rubbish heaps, animals, regular villages and then Port Moresby came into view. It is an actual city! There were more than 10 large aeroplanes at the airport already a step up from Honiara where flights are one at a time. 
Moresby in the Morning!
My first impression was that everyone was so friendly and welcoming. The Customs and Immigration officers were all smiles and ready to laugh. When the hotel shuttle wasn’t there to meet me, I was taken under the watch of some of the staff of the other hotels until the shuttle showed up. Bryce had warned me that there would be a large menacing crowd outside and that I shouldn't be alarmed as they were no real threat – just hanging out! So it was nice to be taken care of as I hadn’t wanted to go outside and look around. When I did finally go outside with my escort, there was thankfully no crowd!
My beautiful, tropical welcome flowers!
The most fun conversations I had was when people discovered that it was my first time in PNG. We would have normal introductions and chatter and then they would find out that it was my first time in PNG. Full of disbelief and excitement I got something like this accompanied by vigorous handshaking: "Well, oh my goodness, I can't believe it! It's your first time? Welcome! WELCOME!" This happened a few times at the airport and by the time I got to the hotel, I thought I’d consciously try it out and I wasn’t let down. :)  

Bryce sailing in Fairfax Harbour

Driving from the airport, we ran into traffic jams and construction as we drove through this large city with endless large buildings (including large malls) and crowds of people … all on paved roads with traffic lights! Nothing like Honiara. In general, I found Papua New Guinean society to be very confident and productive. People seemed to be moving with purpose and getting things done.

Sunrise over Moresby

PNG is pretty much synonymous with danger. People ask "What are you going there for? You couldn't pay me!" Well right off the bat I will state that I never once felt endangered. This could be due to the fact that Bryce is super vigilant and careful. The overwhelming presence of guards, gates and wire everywhere you go is a constant reminder that it can be a dangerous place and to stay on guard. Car-jackings do happen. Everyone either knows someone who has had it happen, has witnessed it happening or has had it happen to themselves. I guess it's just accepted as a part of life there and you take proper precautions to ensure that it doesn't happen to you. Avoid known hot spots and times, stay connected and take advantage of protective services where available. The dangerous reality of life in Moresby definitely could be considered a negative but it shouldn't impact your visit unless you let (or heaven forbid something actually does happen). The kindness I experienced and fun that I had far outweighed the negatives. Unfortunately driving or walking around with a camera is considered making yourself a target so even though I was just using my phone all of the photos were taken on a boat, in the marina or at the hotel!
Downtown Moresby from the water
We did a bunch of sailing which was a beautiful way to see POM. We even anchored off an island one day and went swimming. It was really lovely to be out on the water. We spent the better part of one day servicing the jib furler on one of Bryce’s mate’s boats. Conveniently, it was the same type of furler we have and servicing it is on our to-do list... Score! Hopefully it will be a bit easier now with one under our belt. If anyone is planning on or thinking about sailing there, the marina, which is located in downtown Moresby, has great facilities and is right next door to a grocery store. 
Sunset over the Marina
All this talk makes it sound like I was there for ages but unfortunately, I was only there for a few days before I cut myself pretty badly in the kitchen.   I needed to come back to Australia for surgery and I am back together and rehabilitating now.  You may say, "Alissa, how did you manage to cut yourself that badly?" And I will say, "...with a blender." And if you are at all queasy, you would probably want to stop reading. 

I am slightly embarrassed to say as it was really a stupid mistake, one moment of not thinking and not something I normally do so I'm just gonna put it out there in the hopes that it can be a good reminder for everyone who reads this. I had just bought a new immersion blender that I had brought with me to POM. It was really exciting! I was making lunch with it, picked it up to look inside, popped my finger in to get something out and as the angle that I was holding the blender changed, my other hand accidentally turned it on, with my finger still inside the blade cavity. Oops!

Accidents happen and I am now a >>very<< strong advocate for unplugging blenders when not in use. I have already pounced on multiple people who I have seen using their fingers in blenders since I have been back in Australia --> For the record, it has always been unplugged! More details to come...


  1. Is immersion blender the correct term? Or is it an American thing? I'd only ever heard them called a stick blender before.

    1. I looked it up and think the terms are interchangeable and can be called a hand mixer as well. I also found this while I was looking it up... Nice to know I'm not the only one!

  2. Ahh, chills went through me reading about your blender blade accident. Heal up well!

    1. Thanks Peggy! It still makes me a bit squeamish to think about it!

  3. Well, I've done it also Alissa, cleaned my stick blender while it was still plugged in & on. Fortunately for me i had a tea towel not a dish cloth in the blades when it switched on. now I will a Health & safety blog on Nonna's Apron ;)

  4. By the way Alissa, Thanks for all your help setting my blog up.

  5. ouch ! a great reminder as I am just about to buy a blender! We always remind each other of dangers on the boat - 'you can fix a boat but not your fingers, leg, body, etc...' - Great stuff, keep sending reminders - (but don't keep damaging yourself in the process! lol!