33 degrees – thankfully dropping

It seems my blessed run into Port Moresby just continues, although the beef/chicken thing reversed itself this afternoon, ordered Beef Vindaloo, got chicken … Something.
Got into Port Moresby with the temp at 33, first in the queue for a visitor visa which only cost 100 kina – maybe she liked the look of me… And then, the bag carousel wasn’t working so they offloaded the bags, my one was 2nd. Customs agent barely looked at me and waved me through to arrivals. I am expecting a crap trip back… My luck can’t continue.
In arrivals, and no Sean to pick me up – but lots of laughter from some locals when I went to step outside – then said… Bit cooler in here, think I’ll wait inside. A lovely lady came up to me to ask if I was OK, then said “you are much better to wait in here” – I tried some tok pisin to say thanks, which only brought out more laughter from the people there – obviously, I need to work on that quite a bit more.
Sean turned up, apologizing for being late – more giggles of “you found em” or samtin lik that (you see I need some lingo lessons). And we were off – and I mean off… The speed limit according to the signs is 60km/hr, speed limit according to Sean is anywhere from 80 to 100, with swerving to avoid cars that only see the 6 so are driving real slow, the odd pothole, dog or person wandering across the road.
On first impressions Port Moresby is a lot like other tropical islands I have been to. Quite dusty, but also green, and lots of people just hanging out. The razor wire is everywhere, and there are lots of people sitting under umbrella’s trying to hawk their wares. Although it doesn’t look far on the maps, POM is quite deceptive – but it doesn’t take long before we are waved through the gates of the Crowne Plaza. Quite a funny check in process – poor girl had me telling her that the booking was spelt incorrect (as per my documentation) so she was looking for a Mr Baird, Sean was getting impatient, but I was just switching easily into PNG time – so no worries :). Turned out they had fixed my name up, moved me into a smoking floor (yes they have that here!), so we got sorted out into non-smoking – phew… Note to self: you can buy a carton of cigarettes for $15US on the plane….
A young porter named James took me up to my room, big smiles – a bit of a chat and he was off – loving it.
Quickly off to work, although technically I am not working – which is nice, as I don’t feel pressured. I just went and talked to people – had lots of interesting discussions, and felt that we were all engaging. One thing I have noticed, is that ‘some’ Australians are a bit rip snort over here, I don’t think that I will ever be like that, however I can see that you can’t stop and thank and chat to everyone, you’d never get anywhere. I am hoping to be the calm individual I know I am, and direct traffic like a set of traffic lights. Traffic lights – yes Port Moresby has them, I think two or three sets. They weren’t working when we through on the way to lunch at Lamana Hotel, and as usual – just like everywhere else in the world – chaos ensues. Cars, people, all in a bit of a panic. I think people just naturally panic when control has been put in (sometimes when you don’t need to) and then you take away that control. Not that people really care about giving way whilst driving here, but when you take awai the traffic lights everyone mouths “you go” “ok you go” “yeah you go” “ok I go” ” yeah I go” “oh shit”!
Lunch at Lamana was interesting, really nice place – in fact in some respects much nicer than the places we go to in Dunedin. So we decided to all have Indian. I ordered Beef Vindaloo, and got Chicken, Matt (consultant from Oz) ordered beef and got prawns, Sean got Prawns – but they were cold. So they took Matt and I food away, even though I was OK eating it (I am not a chicken eater) and after a while the Beef Vindaloo came out, and it was quite tasty, glad it wasn’t too hot – as I was already cooking with the heat.
A quick trip to pick up Sean’s daughter from the school (Ela Murray) and try and organize a school visit on Friday. It’s a nice school, looked like 3 or 4 teachers in the class, lots of artwork, and kids having fun. Sean said, that if you don’t pick your kids up on time – they have to sit outside the principals office. Can’t imagine Xavier doing that, however he will just have to learn. Sean was saying that his daughter often has to sit and wait – busy busy you know. :). Then off to Era Dorina to drop off Sean’s daughter, through some dodgy area that Sean said not to go through. He obviously felt comfy with the gangster in the back seat (a story for another time)
Rounded the day off by talking – something I do quite well, and listening – something that I am going to have to get better at…
Then off to the Yacht Club for a couple of SP Exports and Steak Night, Syd joined us for a meal and I finally rolled into bed at midnight NZ time, a very long 20 hours…

A few photos for your pleasure




PNG here I come

Sitting on a Fokker F100 bound to Port Moresby from Brisbane. Up at 4am this morning – still on kiwi time (6am). Arrived in Brisbane last night, and to be honest I think this trip has been blessed, I had a window exit seat, with the middle seat empty from Dunedin to Brisbane, sitting next to a girl, those parents just finished building a helicopter hanger up in Haast – and yes, they engaged Calder Stewart to build it… It’s a funny small world. Then when I went through baggage claim, I spotted my bag getting spat out, so grabbed it and off to customs. I have one of those smart card passports, so missed the queue and used the auto system – which didn’t work.. So had to go past a real Custom Officer who just shook her head at the machine, and stamped me through. When I got through, the people in front of me in the auto system were having issues looking at the camera, so I jumped the queue.. Again. Through to baggage scanning, and the lady there just waved me straight through to the exit. I was like – what? How did that happen… Here I was getting in a taxi 15 minutes after exiting the plane. The longest part of the process was the walking. The trip from Airport to Royal on the Park was uneventful, the taxi driver couldn’t speak very good English and I wasn’t really in the mood – relatively mutual. The passenger seat was bloody comfy though. Arrived at the hotel, and I had been upgraded to the Spa Suite – w00t. 60sqm of hotel rooms – proper lounge/dining, separate spa, separate bathroom, and king size bedroom… Bliss. Of course, I had a spa – just to annoy Jacinta. Hahaha
Crawled into bed at 8:30pm local time, and was woken by some bloody awful drone at midnight that went on for half an hour outside. Then woke up at 4am local time… Cold. Yes you heard me – cold. Apparently it was like 4degrees outside. So I got up and organized myself to catch my 5:30am taxi into the airport – with a taxi driver who liked to talk, which was nice. Entry desk for Air Nuigini was open with only 2 in the queue – so I was really quick to the counter. I cheekily asked for an exit aisle and she said, I’m sorry Mr Bird, but that is a long way back down the plane – I have put you in the first aisle behind business. lol so here I am, window seat, huge legroom, and the seat beside me is vacant. Awesome. The only drama I had was when I went to change AUD $200 for Kina, expecting to get close to PNK550 but only got 366. Was explained to me that the bank rates were much better – no kidding Sherlock.
And they charged me $12 AUD for the privilege – that is terrible… I decided that I was pissed off enough to go back and complain – which fell to deaf ears of course.
Again, straight through customs without so much as someone blinking. And yay – got an exit stamp, unlike Dunedin which didn’t bother… The Air Nuigini plane is tiny, we had to go out onto the Tarmac to board tiny. But it is so much like the old twin-prop fokker’s that used to do the Christchurch – Invercargill run (but with jets). The service is quaint but very friendly – however the plane stinks of curry spices tickling my nose. The food is just like old skool Air New Zealand, nice wee hot meal (I asked for chicken as I couldn’t hear the announcement – but got a curried beef on rice) YUM… Cracker and cheese, glass of apple juice, and water, finished off by coffee from one of those old metal coffee jugs… It was all very nice, and I really couldn’t fault it too much. A LOT better than the food on pacific blue which had to be paid for…. We are half way through our journey, and I have been belatedly warned (too late) that because of my dress, customs may not give me a tourist visa. Apparently, if you aren’t dressed in t-shirt, shorts and jandals – then you aren’t a tourist. I suppose I will have to see what happens when I get there. The pilot has said that it is 29 degrees in Port Moresby, so the t-shirt, shorts and jandals might come out really quickly!

Getting close now 🙂