New Expat to Port Moresby?

I know my blog posts have died down, but that might have to do with all the emails I crank out… I thought I would create one of those posts where I hope some of my fellow Port Moresby resident expats can help by commenting … Please :)

So, you are thinking about the adventure, maybe you are just going through the interview stages and its looking good, or you might have accepted your contract and you are coming up for a look/see whilst your visa and work permit is being processed. You will be thinking – what to bring! So here is my list of things you should bring with you, even if you have no interest – trust me :)

  1. iPods, music systems – preferably big and loud (for the parties you will hold). You will want normal party music, lots of it. Don’t worry about what you like, just bring stuff that everyone else likes :)
  2. Portable hard drives. You never know when someone has that great movie collection, and you need to copy it.
  3. A great electronic movie collection – if you share, you make more friends!
  4. Something like a WD Live or Apple TV to connect your movies to your TV (which you should also bring)
  5. A good BBQ – at least 4/5 burner. Yes, you might have a small family, or just be a single – but trust me, a big BBQ is perfect for BBQ parties.
  6. Lots of wine glasses, and an extra dinner set including cutlery
  7. A proper coffee machine. No pods here – but the best ground coffee in the world
  8. A UPS for your electronic stuff, make sure it’s a good one.
  9. Surge protection, Belkin do great 6/8 way boards
  10. Black Tie for blokes, including bow-tie and ruffled white shirt.
  11. Ladies – maybe one cocktail dress, you can get plenty here in the 2nd hand shops so don’t go overboard.
  12. Sport shoes. Good quality ones, and if you intend to really pound the roads, bring a spare pair
  13. Tennis racket and balls – even if you don’t play, you will get invites
  14. Squash racket and balls – refer 13.
  15. Your favorite sporting team jersey or shirt. Even better if it a rugby one or league…
  16. Noise canceling earphones – for all the flying in and out
  17. A frequent flyer membership! Figure out how to use it properly, check http://www.australianfrequentflyer.com.au
  18. Good quality dive/snorkeling gear. Make sure that they are suitable for the tropics.
  19. If you golf – bring your clubs, if you think golf might be something you’d do, bring some clubs
  20. Life jackets for everyone!
  21. At least 2 pairs of Polaroid sunnies
  22. Lots of dress ups! Face paint, crap like that, as you will be bound to go to dress up parties…
  23. If you like fishing, or would like to fish – bring some fishing gear
  24. Kindle – a normal one, the light is bright, so you really need the Matt screen
  25. Smartphone – easier for Facebook etc. you can pick up a cheap old school mobile for nix here
  26. Camera – spare batteries and cards
  27. Rechargeable AA and AAA batteries and charger
  28. Torch
  29. Freestanding Light (like a torch)
  30. Really good kitchen knife set
  31. Containers that seal shut
  32. iPad or other device
  33. DVD player
  34. Battery or power mossie zapper
  35. Suncream
  36. Top shelf alcohol
  37. Fitness gear if you have it.
  38. A good bed if you need it. If you don’t, then don’t bother
  39. A small chest freezer
  40. Pack of cards
  41. Laptop
  42. Good quality suitcases
  43. Good quality backpack
  44. Chilly bin/cooler/esky – Large, Small and fabric
  45. BPA free water bottles
  46. A good jug
  47. Toaster
  48. Frying pan etc
  49. Cotton clothes
  50. Good quality sheets, pillows etc

If you have anything to add – please do,

Aaron

Fishermans Island Port Moresby

 On Sunday we went to the annual RPYC (that’s the Yachty) Christmas party at Fishermans Island.  If you have a boat, then it’s a nice trip out of Fairfax Harbour and across to Fisho’s.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a boat, and haven’t been invited on one… Note to new expats that read my blog, and come over and buy a boat – we have kids, but we’d still like to come for a cruise!

So, Jacinta hasn’t been over there and I have only once.  We went across on a Steamships barge, which was pretty cool.  On the way we past a guy on an upright paddle board paddling his way across.  This is no small feat, it must have been easily in the mid 30’s and it is quite a distance, 45 minutes on the barge…

We had a great day, it was very hot, and since it was a family day – we left the booze back in Moresby :). Santa came and visited, and basically we just soaked in the beautiful clear water.  We honestly felt that we were in a beautiful island paradise – and of course we were :)

The next day I woke up to a fully sunburnt body, including the tops of my hands.  Very sore!  And then to top it off, Deliotte Tower lost a circuit breaker which meant no AC, water or lifts…

Oh to be back on the island!

It’s getting very hot now – I’m really looking forward to cooler weather back in New Zealand at Christmas!

Heres some Photos: Xanthe and Xaria waiting in the shade

Getting on the barge

Happy dad, pissed off son

Xanthe checking out the Harbour

Checking out the front of the barge

Yay, almost there

Lunch area

Xanthe surrounded by local girls having a swim.  

Xavier got grease from somewhere, how the hell do boys find dirt?  Here he is getting clean…

That’s me checking the barge out getting ready for the trip back

All in all, a great day :)

12 Months in Papua New Guinea

Today, officially – I have been in PNG for 12 months.  So far – it has been an amazing journey, all be it frustrating at times

From a work perspective, my IT team has grown immensely – I am very proud of their achievements.  When I arrived, they didn’t have a lot of real world IT direction, and now they are on track building their careers and enjoying what they do.  I am very satisfied, that my team has had zero turnover – they obviously see the real benefit in my mentoring approach.

We have achieved a lot, including Project Management Frameworks, Change Management Policies right through to our technical projects.  This year we deployed Windows 7  Enterprise and Office 2010 to 180 odd clients, migrated from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange, and deployed Sharepoint 2010.  We have done heaps of work on disaster recovery, have moved into a Virtual world with Hyper-V and are gradually pulling things back into a framework that Papua New Guineans can manage – such as moving from Pervasive SQL to Microsoft SQL.  This might seem odd – but it’s important here to ensure that systems are self managed using locally developed skills.  In general, it is very expensive to access the internet, use power or even buy a PC – so the type of research that we would do in New Zealand is decidedly difficult here.

On the home front, Jacinta and the kids have settled into PNG life.  Xaria (our youngest) is off to the lik lik pikinini school (little kids school) on the 20th of August, and both Xavier and Xanthe have made good friends in their respective classes.  Both the two big kids are on the advanced side with schooling, with Xavier being an almost straight A student and Xanthe not too far behind.  I was very proud when Xanthe was told to stop reading school supplied books after school.  She has been reading some of our fantasy novels that we have at home :) and Xavier is part way through The Hobbit.  Not bad for a 9 and a 7 year old…

We now get cold when it is 24 degrees, and the pool at our compound looks rather fresh – I hope it warms up soon!  Our social life is pretty hectic with the weekends generally full starting with the Friday drinks…

Of course – we enjoy being Kiwi’s here, and make sure that we shout it out…  Today, I am wearing an All Blacks top to work – just to piss off the Aussies.  And on Monday, when we win the rugger this weekend – I’ll be wearing Black business attire, just to rub it in some more :)

We have made many friends here – and lost some to ended contracts – but not lost for good…  Expat life in PNG can be tough at times, and good at other times – it can be very isolating…

Our life is luxurious compared to how some Papua New Guineans live, but in general – I think we have a better quality of life in New Zealand.  We do have a house keeper here (Maria – Our Haus Meri) but more for the fact that we are employing someone, than any real need.  It also does mean that Maria can babysit on the odd (so far once) occasion that we go out with no kids.

I think some of the frustrations I have here – is with the Sir Michael Somare coined phrase “Boomerang Aid” that is prevalent.  I don’t really get why Aid workers are on such high, untaxed salaries, except that it sets them up back home for the future.  It would be interesting to look at all monetary aid in PNG and find out the percentage that actually hits the community.  Even so, some of our friends work for Defense and AusAid – and are wonderful people with amazing jobs and attitudes.  I just wish the Aussie government would grow a pair and review the methodology in aid packages.

I’d also really appreciate anything from the IT community out there to help me develop my team.  Literature, magazines, software etc.  Anything physical can be mailed to:

Aaron Bird, PO Box 1141, Port Moresby, NCD 121, Papua New Guinea

Appreciate anything you can throw our way J I don’t mind that it takes 2 months to get here

Above all – thanks for continuing to read my blog

Aaron

Ela Beach Craft Markets Port Moresby PNG July 2012

I purchased a new lens for my Sony NEX-5N camera in Thailand (55-210) makes it a little  easier to take photos at the markets as I don’t like standing there pretending to be a tourist…. :)

I did include a photo of Xaria with her new Bilum (string bag) that we bought from the markets.  Location: a little coffee trip to Duffy’s (our sanity coffee shop) :)

Aussie TV in PNG

The worst thing here in PNG is having to put up with bloody Aussie TV… Really, I don’t get The Block, Home and Away should have been canned many years ago, and Aussie’s funniest Home Videos??? C’mon Australia – where the bloody hell are ya! You’ve copied US, British and Kiwi TV and quite frankly done a shit job at it.It’s sad – that we have to watch it here…. And so, TV ends up revolving around Discovery, Discovery Turbo, emtv, and the movie channels.What we want to see: Outrageous Fortune, Sparticus, you know – tv shows that are different… Poor PNG having to put up with this, and c’mon Aussie’s if you think I’m being harsh – let me know the best TV shows so that I can actually get entertained….And onto the biggest rant ever: the All Blacks vs Ireland rugby test this evening isn’t on free TV in Aussie (or PNG). wtf!! Union is bigger than AFL, or League – and only fox sports (which we can’t get here) is showing it… Wouldn’t be so bad if I could stream it, but with the cost of Internet….I always thought that kiwi TV was backward, until your only selection is 20 odd Australian channels… I’ll take tv1, 2 & 3 any day now :)