PNG – Tropical Paradise

Since my last post, I have so much to say – but really not enough brainpower to say it. I still have Mosbi Belly, and the construction on the hotel just outside my window has some nights been going through till midnight!

Saturday, I went to Ela Beach Markets – took one of our new expats (Cesar) who started a day after me. He is lacking in a little confidence :). Met Lesley and family expatsinpng.wordpress.com so that was nice to meet someone that Jacinta had been emailing :). Their kids will get on very well with ours – they are all loud! Yay!

Off to the Lodge that evening for the ABs game, where the only thing won, was the raffles – of which I won 2. A nice bottle of gissy wine, and some kiwiana nickknacks. Then, got offered a spot on a boat for Sunday, going out to one of the local islands (thanks Wayne). We went out on the MV Tiata which is a 65 foot cruiser, it truly was a magical day. I did have a panic when we had to swim ashore to the island though, about 100 meters, and although pretty confident in the water, I am not actually the worlds best swimmer – lucky the crew had some fins for me, and off to the beach on Fishermans Island.

Quite a few drinks, good company, and back by 7pm… Magic – although would have been nicer to share with the family.

Work this week has been really good – we are achieving a lot, although outside of work I’m not. The apartment I looked at magically increased in price from 5500 kina a week to 6500 kina a week overnight… And there is so little on the market… Gutted.

We worked late the other night, so I drove one of the guys home, we stuck to the main roads, and he got out and walked the km or so to his house. We almost got taken out by a PMV, so I’ve decided to not take lane directions from someone that doesn’t know how to drive – lol

And tonight I got a call from my Dad, he works fly in/out here in PNG as well, and as we hadn’t seen each other in 5 years it was about time to catch up over dinner. He’s going to make an effort to connect with his grandkids and spend time with us when in Moresby – that is really good…

I’ve now been here for 2 weeks, and am really finding the swing of PNG. I think, if you embrace, rather fight it – it is so much easier… Like taking a week to just get a bank account number, no eftpos or chequebook yet though – so although I’ll soon have money, I won’t be able to get it – lol, I need this system in NZ too!

Above all – I love it here. The people, the sounds, the smells… Funny thing: skyping Jacinta the other day “what’s that noise?” she asked….. my reply: “PNG!”

em tasol

Mosbi Bellie? Hmmm TMI..

Today is the National Day of Repentance, a new public holiday here in PNG, dedicated to prayer. Officially, I started mine last evening as the reef fish I had the previous night (which didn’t taste quite right) started attacking my system. It’s not nice having a crook gut, but at least I wasn’t disturbing my wife :)

This morning, feeling rather exhausted – I got to Skype and see the family (less bubba) back in New Zealand. I wish I had a better connection, as it was a little choppy. And then, of course – I get the public holiday phone call: email down. And then a call from my old work back in NZ – to give me a hard time about my office… lol – and to get some advice regarding something that I had been doing for http://www.stclairbeachresort.com

So drag myself into work, call one of the guys, and thankfully with some direction, I sorted it out, so that he didn’t have to come all the way in. Domino and Blackberry – one I have never had to use, and the other was some 6 years
ago….

Back to the hotel, and have spent this beautiful day (must be in the 30’s) asleep, doing some work and then watched a movie called Surrogate – which stars Bruce Willis (thanks Rob!). I am hoping I feel better tomorrow as it is the last Saturday of the month, and the Ela Beach Craft Market is on from 8am to 11am (I think). And the off to a Kiwi Club social event, they are hosting a Fish and Chip night to watch the All Blacks thrash the Ozzies. Should be good fun!

Yesterday, I stuck a claim down for an apartment up on Paga Hill, is really nice – family friendly, and even has undercover parking! Hoping everything goes through and we get it. The only bummer thing about it – the pool is VERY deep, no real kiddies part. It’s the deep alright, and it goes ALL the way around. I had a half hour chatting to Albert, the guard at the gate. He helped me out with telling the way the wind blows (so it isn’t coming straight in the apartment), what the existing families were like, what the area was like etc – nice chap, who I’m sure we will get on well with

Back at the hotel last night, yet again – no car parking. People using the gym had taken the carparks – this happens most nights, but this time they took down my room number, plonked me into a managers carpark, and I promised to come back down after dinner to move the car. Took some cheese rolls that I had bought down to the guards when I went down to move my car, to show my appreciation :). They are really nice guys, except for this old guy who never smiles or says hello – though, maybe he is just shy :)

Funny thing at lunch today, I recognized Bea Amaya who blogs here http://bea-amaya.blogspot.com/. Bea was one of the first bloggers we found when deciding to make the move to PNG all those months ago. So naturally, I introduced myself (not shy me). And will have to make time at some stage in the future to catch up proper. Port Moresby is a big place, but activity wise it’s a little limited, so I’m sure I’ll see the same people in my travels…

PNG House Hunting – a beginners guide

Firstly, organize your budget.
Have a look online, LJ Hooker, Century21 and http://www.skerah.com all have listings
Ring the agents and tell them your wish list and budget
Be very clear about where you want to live
Be very clear if you want a family friendly place
Get someone from work (local) to go with you – cause their advise on location is priceless
Get appointments and meet the agent there, or follow them in your car. Don’t do what I did in putting my life into the hands of a man in a Toyota starlet – although it was fine :)
Take a camera – take photos!
Be prepared to have all your pacific island getaway dreams, with the palm trees by the pool, the pool boi cleaning and piña colatas – shattered.
Revise your thinking about what is important
Check for cockroaches and water stains from the roof leaking.
Look for dodgy wiring and 20 year old air conditioners.
Sit on the bed and wonder how how you can sleep with a spring digging into your back.
Realize the pool, that looked great in the photo – belongs to next door, and yours is way down the other end of the compound, and hasn’t been cleaned in a week.
Make sure you (or the kids) can’t fall off the balcony, or under the balcony…
Remember to check your location – if you aren’t OK living next to Koki Markets, then don’t.
Understand that for the next 3 days, appointments will be cancelled, agents won’t turn up, and you will see some
really crappy apartments getting charged out at penthouse prices.
Then, you will find your palace – don’t dither, another expat is on day 2 looking at crap apartments and very soon they are going to see your PNG escape.

Thankfully it’s not really the agents fault – they have, what they have.

And remember – it’s not called “The land of the Unexpected” for nothing!

Two days in – life is: not as we know it

It’s been a mad couple of days. Upon arriving at the airport, I had no transport – Billy (one of our drivers) had accidentally left the AC and lights on in the car, and subsequently flattened the battery. So he was a half hour late picking me up. I then found out that it was my car that had broken down :) hahaha. Glad it wasn’t me!

Stopped into the Holiday Inn where I will be living for the next 3 weeks to drop my gear off, book in (upgraded to a King room – w00t) and freshen up before getting into work about 3pm. In the two months since I was last here, not much has changed – the fires, the people, the smells… The crazy bloody car drivers!

The first day was a bit of a write-off – I had been up since 11:30pm the previous day (local time), but one of the new expats brought me back to the Hotel just after 6pm, he lives here in a serviced apartment – so beers out by the pool, and then dinner. Pork Belly – which could be good or bad. In this case – it was OK but way too fatty for me – and the pork is really gamely/strong tasting.

On Friday, Dom took me into work and I could see it was going to be a busy day. Needed to get some FX done, get my license, be inducted by HR, get an ID card, have our Risk Manager talk through security, get my car, learn how to drive in Moresby, spend time with the team, do real IT work, meet everyone – somehow stop for lunch (which didn’t happen)… And you know – in Dunedin, that would be a full day – in Moresby it’s frantic, frustrating and just plain hard to fit that all in and be calm about it. But at the end of the day – I went to 3 banks, had a FX teller try and scam me out of $100 kiwi, drove over town to get my ID picture taken, Billy got me sorted at the license centre – jumped the queue and was only in there for 15 minutes. (Billy has connections) and knocked everything else off – ended up at the Yacht Club at 5pm for drinks – phew.

Then drove from the yachty in the dark by myself, took a VERY wrong turn and started going down the road that Billy said NOT to go down in the nighttime – so figured out my wee CRV does awesome uturns at speed, and got back to the Holiday Inn with a bit of a grin on my face. Then, the guards at the carpark told me I couldn’t go in the gate, as the carpark was full… WTF? I put on my kiwi charm, “hey bro, ya think I could park where that cone is?”. And got told that it was a managers carpark. So I somehow convinced him that a paying guest was more important than his manager – and that I’d come back down later and move the car. Sorted bro!

Today, up early – breakfast and off to Vision City to get a shaver and other stuff. I can see why the locals are all skinny buggers, they can’t afford breakfast – kiwi $20 for a box of nutragrain… So a got a box of cornflakes for the low low special nambawan price of K13.20, a plate, spoon etc.

Then off to Digicel, to get into the front of the queue, to be moved to another queue, to give the fuck up and stand off to the side. I kept being brushed against in the queue, and I hate that, it gives me that paranoid feeling, I hate people behind me. I’ve taken to having my wallet in my front pocket – just like I used to in other countries… Finally, I get someone to ignore everyone else and sell me a mobile wifi hotspot for my iPad and k50 topup, so all up k250 so I can have some Internet. Going spare without it – so a little sanity might prevail now. Back in the car – and bloody hell, going the wrong way… Lucky Moresby is pretty easy to get around, but it meant I hooked into a bunch of traffic…

Got my Internet up and running – hit Facebook, twitter, and rung the wife and kids for a very quick chat. Xaria was laughing at me on the phone – too cute. Miss them all heaps – but won’t be long till they are here :)

Started my IT analysis report that I hope to have finished by tomorrow, and very soon I might head down to the poolside for a nice cool longneck.

and that’s the start of our life here in the Land of the Unexpected – awesome!

Later
Aaron

The adventure begins

Stress < it happens

Over the past 3 weeks, I gave work an end date, got some awful flu, organized the movers, booked a motel in Picton, booked the Interislander ferry, sold lots of stuff, gave lots of stuff away, sold a car, organized the rest of the stuff, finished work, travelled the length of the country by car half a day ahead of the worst snowstorm to hit New Zealand in 80 years (we woke up to it at Taupo), somehow Jacinta and myself kept 3 kids amused for 4 days traveling, spent 2 days at the inlaws, went to bed late – got up at 1:30am, drove back to Auckland to catch the 6am flight to Brisbane…. And here I am. 33,000 feet up and just over halfway to Brissy. Missing Jacinta and the kids already… Phew. We even got our house rented within a week… Karma.

By 1pm today (Thursday) I will be well and truly an expat – staying at the Holiday Inn, Port Moresby for the next few weeks whilst I find somewhere to live.

Wish me luck :)

Aaron