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Written by jorgejuan on 14 May, 2006
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is, in my opinion, one of the 10 most interesting countries in the world together with India, Mexico, Indonesia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Spain, and the three giants: China, Russia, and United States of America.BOUGAINVILLE ISLANDDuring the year 1992 I entered in Bougainville…Read More
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is, in my opinion, one of the 10 most interesting countries in the world together with India, Mexico, Indonesia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Spain, and the three giants: China, Russia, and United States of America.BOUGAINVILLE ISLANDDuring the year 1992 I entered in Bougainville Island from the Solomon’s, by motorboat, from the isle of Shortland to Koromira. The journey took me 4 hours.At the beginning I was not welcome in Bougainville. Some local people in Koromira, with rifles, sent me to Arawa to meet the leader of a revolutionary movement for the independence from Papua New Guinea, called BRA, or Bougainville Revolutionary Army.In Arawa I met the leader of BRA, Sam Kauona, who, after talking with me for about one hour, decided to let me stay in Bougainville for a few days, but not to continue further to the island of New Guinea, or even to the nearby island of Buka. I had to go back to the Solomon's.I stayed in a Catholic mission in Kieta, the main port, thanks to be invited by the German priest, since there were no hotels in Bougainville when I was there.Germans controlled Bougainville Island and some of the Solomon’s during part of the XIX and the XX centuries. Then Santa Isabel, Choiseul and Shortland were exchanged to the British for Western Samoa, but they did not give Bougainville, although culturally and ethnically is related to the Solomon, but not to Papua New Guinea. Bougainville was later Australian and when they gave independence to PNG, Bougainville remained within this country, instead of the more logical Solomon Islands.Today the main richest is the fabulous copper mine of Panguna, which was closed when I was in Bougainville.After five days I returned disappointed from Koromira to Shortland Island by motorboat, then to Gizo, Honiara, etc.Bougainville people practice cargo cultism.For your guidance, Bougainville is named in honour of the earl Louis Antoine de Bougainville (the first French to circumnavigate our planet, in the XVIII century), who explored the island.After that frustrating experience to visit one of the most exotic and original countries on Earth I felt the “duty” to try again in the future. The occasion arrived in 1997.SECOND TRY TO VISIT PNGI flew to Port Moresby from Honiara. The PNG visa can be obtained at the airport.No much to see in Moresby, as it is called by the locals. Perhaps the “palaffitos” are worth a visit. I had to spend two days there in order to get my visa to Indonesia. In fact in the days I was in PNG you needed not an Indonesian visa, but if you plan to enter this country from Vanimo, in the north of PNG, to Jayapura in Irian Jaya (Indonesia), as I did, then you need an Indonesian visa beforehand.Moresby is dangerous because of the so-called “rascals,” and there was a curfew when I was there. There were no roads up to the north of the country. There is a trekking called Kokoda from Moresby to Popondetta, but at the time I was in the country (June) the land was muddy and the trekking impracticable. I flew from Moresby to Tari, in the Highlands, the beginning of the mayor fantasy in Oceania.In the airport some local people offered me accommodation for a few kinas.Many people in Tari were dressed with grass, or hanging hair from their wives or children. And even saw some young boys with pencils around their noses and with spectacles without glasses, just the frames.Most tourists go to PNG during the Sing sing period, when thousands and thousands of local people join in Mount Hagen and Goroka dressed fantastically. That festival is as amazing as the Carnival of Rio, the Chinese New Year in Singapore, the Kumbha Mela’s in India or the Feria de Sevilla in Spain.In Lae I stayed one day in honour of Amelia Earhardt, the famous North American pilot who disappeared after leaving Lae with her airplane in her around the world journey. She was only 39.The hostels offered by the protestant missions are very useful and charge very little to spend the night. They even can arrange you flights in their airplanes (I flew with them from Vanima to Jayapura for less than $40), and they have ferries from Madang to Wewak.SEPIK RIVEROne of the wonders of PNG is the Sepik River and the tribes, where I spent one week. I got there from Wewak. I slept the first night in a hostel owned by a German ex-priest in Wewak. Then I hitchhiked until Angoram. From Angoram you can get up the river with local canoes. First you have to meet the chief of the village to ask permission to sleep. He will show you a local family where you can sleep and eat. I asked the chief to sleep in the House of the Spirits, called Haus Tambaram, but was refused. From Angoram I hired canoes and visited Kambaramba and Swagup and spent several nights with the exotic people who sold me masks made with beetles. And back to Wewak I continued my trip to Vanimo and then I flew to Jayapura, in Indonesia, to visit the Dani tribes in Baliem Valley, near Wamena, and navigate during 3 months along the islands until Sumatra. But that is another travel and another country. Close
Written by genghis1 on 05 Nov, 2000
As I said PGN (Papua New Guinea) is not for the all-inclusive hotel traveler or the faint at heart. I realized this one-day when we were in the highlands and we came upon a group of men going to a peace talk. Their village had…Read More
As I said PGN (Papua New Guinea) is not for the all-inclusive hotel traveler or the faint at heart. I realized this one-day when we were in the highlands and we came upon a group of men going to a peace talk. Their village had just finished a war with a neighboring village, 4 killed on each side. This was for real, not something staged for the tourists.
Saying this however I look forward to further travel there up in the highlands and farther back on the Sepik River. We are primitive art collectors and PNG is to me what a jewelry store is to most women. I want that, and that and that!
Add to this natural inclination for war the effect religion has had on the area. Many religions have come in to 'convert the natives'. Some have actually done some good putting up hospitals and schools. Many however are just worried about souls, and the worst have railed against birth control and such practices as infanticide, which helped limit the population. As a result couples no longer have one or two children but instead up to 11 or 13. Thus 80% of PNG's population is under the age of 18. The country can't afford to school these children and even when they do there are few jobs available. The young flock to the city where they turn to a life of crime, and then when that fails they return to upset village life.
In cities such as Port Moresby everyone lives behind bars. Even the restaurants have gates and doors that are only open if they like what you look like.
PGN due to geographic reasons and mosquitoes will always be a land of contrasts, part showing the worst of the 20th century and the other half literally back in the Stone Age. See where we came from and see unhappily where we could go.
Written by Masalai on 08 May, 2009
From Jayapura in West Papua, Indonesia, I easily hitched a lift past the border to Vanimo in Papua New Guinea. As I continued east, however, the road turned to 4-wheel drive only and bridges came up less and less while rivers didn't. The payoff was…Read More
From Jayapura in West Papua, Indonesia, I easily hitched a lift past the border to Vanimo in Papua New Guinea. As I continued east, however, the road turned to 4-wheel drive only and bridges came up less and less while rivers didn't. The payoff was stumbling on a remote bush camp where the conservation-minded owners are in the process of building comfortable eco-tourism facilities. Called Wamupa for "We all meet under Paradise," it came at the perfect time. The dump truck driver stopped in a cloud of dust and listened to my request for a lift down the coast with a bewildered look on his face, before telling me to throw my backpack in the bed. I took my place with two dusty workers on top of the cab. Fifty kilometers later they turned on a logging road toward a village called Leitre. I was left in a shadeless intersection of two roads heading seemingly infinitely in both directions. I knew we had climbed away from the coast and into the hot Serra Hills, somewhere around 1,000 feet. A 2,182’ mountain caps the range. To the south the much larger Bewani and Torricelli ranges are famed for their tree kangaroos and other animals found nowhere else on earth. To the west lay the enormous Pual, or Nemayer, River and to the east the Piore. The driver told me to head that way, but hesitantly. "If any car comes, you stop that car!" he said with downward thrusts of his hand. An hour later no car had come and I was fighting off heat stroke in a small, ant-infested mound under a tree at the road’s edge. Sweating and with heart pounding, I rose and walked over a hill where I saw a few huts in the distance. Through glazed eyes I made out papaya and banana plants and then, as I drew closer, orchids, sweet potatoes and a woman with wild hair and bush knife bent over in a steep garden. Julie Kamuli, 40, eyed me curiously with her one good eye, then welcomed me merrily, telling me she wouldn't chew betelnut (made from a local palm tree) out of respect for me. From Manus Island, a mountainous 100-kilometer strip of land out in the Bismarck Sea to the northeast, the three small dashes on her forehead from her 16 year birthday were just barely visible. She told me she sat on the Sandaun Council of Customary Landowners, representing 2000 acres of Puare traditional land. Most of the 500 Puare villagers, she said, live near the coast "This is a new thing," she told me in Tok Pisin, or Melanesian Pidgin. "We’re trying to promote tourism." As I talked to Julie, her son made his way out of the mountains where he had been up all night with five cousins. Tobit appeared from behind a bamboo hut with six wallabies, a cassowary and a couscous, enough meat for a month, he announced. In a mere three or four kilometers, he had crossed two rivers and four mountains, he said, a typical, grueling hike of anywhere in Papua New Guinea. Later he walked with me around camp. Between him and his brother, they named every tree and bird that caught my attention. Some they named in English, some in Tok Pisin. For the smallest birds, they knew only their tribal word. Bush pigeons, hornbills and cockatoos were visible everywhere. Birds of paradise are seen and heard primarily in the morning, his younger brother Timothy said. Just as we were talking about the difference between white and black cockatoos, a white one flew over and tore open the night sky with its raucous almost tortured call. The stars popped out and I hung my headlamp in an enclosure of what they informed were Areca palm branches. I stripped. A full kettle of boiling water brought the water in a bucket to the perfect temperature. The night was cool and each cup of the water cut straight to my weary muscles. A generator was noisy but powered a porch light for me to hang my towel after my shower. Six of us gathered and I was urged to eat first. Sweet potato and bananas cooked in coconut milk were life saving. Cumu, edible grasses and shoots, was complemented with canned corn beef and was surprisingly flavorful.I asked again about the meaning of Wamupa and told them "paradise" is a fitting description of the camp. I found added irony because conservationists such as Greenpeace also know their area as paradise, or Paradise Forests rather, which encompass much of Southeast Asia. These are old growth forests. The largest tracts are found on New Guinea. I didn’t know if I could express it all with my limited Tok Pisin but Tobit said it for me. "All of Papua New Guinea is paradise," he said. "When I die, who knows? Paradise is here and I celebrate." Close