A trip around Port Moresby

I am not one to normally argue a point, but breakfast this morning was a bit of a joke. Apparently, even though my room was booked no-smoking with breakfast, it somehow turned into a different room, smoking with no breakfast. So 40 kina was added to my bill this morning, and it’s guaranteed to be added tomorrow as well. Weird, because the day before I had breakfast no problem. I had a discussion with the poor waitress, who to her credit, went down to the front desk and was told that I had to pay. She seemed to be quite upset as she was stuck between a rock and a hard place – so I told her not to worry about it, signed the bill and I’ll sort it out later. Think I’ll leave it for Sean to ring and sort out – he’s got a bit more backing than me at the moment.
I did figure out why I keep waking in the night, the window/ranch slider frame creaks and groans, so I took a video so that I could show the construction boys back in NZ. I wonder if it is due to a blockwork construction… Very unnerving but.

I spent most of the day with Sean going everywhere we could in Port Moresby within reason. We did go past the notorious 2 Mile settlement, and spent time going to hardware stores, appliances, DVD shop, the golf club (where we stopped for exactly 10 seconds), and all the apartments up on airvos ave and it’s surrounds. The company is trying to get us into Era Dorina and after being inside the compound I really hope that we get in there, safe, secure and with things for the kids to do… I took a mountain of photos and really enjoyed myself – especially going into the supermarkets and chemists, it’s the mundane things here that are important. We also made it into Vision City, which is an amazing development, and a place that I can see Jacinta spending a bit of time in. We ended the tour by visiting the Ela Murray School and talking with the principal, who was very nice. Xanthe got the final spot in her grade, and I believe that Xavier was in the same boat, so I did the paperwork on the spot to secure their positions. The school is pretty awesome, lots of grass to play on, and heaps of classrooms. ICT seems to be a big focus, so that is great, and all the kids seem very happy. I wasn’t able to take many photos as there were too many kids around – and that is just not the done thing… But the Principal allowed me to take a few without kids in it to show my kids their new school. One of the things I was most impressed with was a “indoors” basketball court with stage and seating, open on both sides for the breeze. And sitting right next door to the wonderful swimming pool. I expect that gets a lot of use. Sean’s wife runs ballet classes here on Saturdays, so I can see X1 taking it back up again. And maybe X2 will spend the hour or two kicking the soccer ball around.

On leaving the school we were approached by a guy selling a big bunch of small banana’s – 5 kina (about $2.50), but they were very floury and were given to one of the guards at Era Dorina. Sean is very generous and gives people food, which is very nice. Some of these people don’t have much, and something that is inconsequential to us means a great deal to them.

I ended the day by going back into the office, and trying to spend time with my Projects team who are in the process of mapping out some business processes. However I kept being interrupted so made a meal of that. We did get together for a great group photo, and it is a photo I will cherish for a long time, although I look like I could drop 10kilos…

I will miss the team, even though I didn’t spent that much time with them, or as much as I would have liked. They have such fantastic synergies, from the girls that shyly giggle and don’t want their photo taken (yes, I hope you read this! – I want individual photos next time), to the guys, who can’t seem to stop smiling. We are a small team, but we have so much opportunity to do great things, I can’t wait to see you all achieve, and be there to support you in your goals.

This blog really sounds not like what it was intended, in fact it sounds almost HRish. But, I am just so thankful to have this opportunity. Papua New Guinea is full of promise, and I hope that I can assist in helping it’s development especially in IT. Technology nowadays is just as important as having commerce and tourism strategies. We all work hand in hand, but I am concerned that technology in Papua New Guinea is not being strategically delivered, and that the power of the dollar is undermining the advancements that can be made. If there is anywhere in the world that I can make a difference – it is right here. With a talented bunch of people, a company that is full of energy and growth – we can show PNG what can be achieved.

Some things I need to do; is get on some governance boards, in with the universities and of course the Computer Society, to evangelize, assist and provide support for our growing industry here in PNG. I sincerely hope I am still passionate about this in the future, as it is keeping me awake at night thinking about it.

I’ve rounded the night off tonight, by having a couple of beers at the Yacht club, and am now sitting in the very quiet bar at the Crowne Plaza. I fly to Brisbane tomorrow, and then onwards to chilly Dunedin on Sunday, then back to my real job on Monday. Before I sign off tonight the 20th May, I think I need to finish with an Aaron quote, and yes Johno – this one has P’s as well.

Power, Purpose, Privilege. We all have the Power to make change, it defines our Purpose, and in doing so, gives us great Privilege.

I love the letter P 🙂 it has given us Pride, Punctuality, Preciseness and Protection. It starts so many Powerful words, that Provide us with our Purposes…. I need to make a big letter P and stick it on my wall, or Partition 😉

Gudfala evening lo yu












A long day in Port Moresby, PNG

It’s always going to be a long day when you are up again at 4am, with no chance of getting back to sleep. There is obviously two things to do, get up or try and go back to sleep. I tried the later for all of 10 minutes, then got up. Why can I not sleep in away from home but have no problem when I am at home…

It is amazing, when the sun comes up at 6am – the day here in Port Moresby really starts with a vengeance – the sellers on the street turn up, and the hustle and bustle of the city begins. I do think that we are going to have to change how we run our day here in PNG, no more stuffing about in the morning, up at 6am to welcome the day, and earlier to bed at night. Given there is little to do in the evenings, it’s not really a hard choice. When the sun drops at 6pm – it really drops, beautiful sunsets, and then darkness – I would love to capture it on video, but you just have to be in the right moment, and so far I keep missing it. Blink.

I have had a fantastic day, PNG people that I have met have just been wonderful. Jacinta is going to love it – I know. I feel so settled (apart from missing my family) I don’t know how I am going to go back to NZ. The heat only affected me for the first day, have hardly broken any sweat… Although I have had a killer headache since flying, but that is normal for me, and the beer doesn’t really help I suppose. I’ve spent most of the day with my Team Leader Johno, who is just so engaged it’s not funny. In fact the whole team are bloody fantastic, it’s going to be a privilege working with them over the course of my contract. There are so many challenges, however motivation doesn’t seem to be one of them, they really are the meaning of Team. You can see it when they are working, and communicating with each other and the shear hard work that they put in. I am almost embarrassed to say, that even though Kiwi’s are in the whole, extremely hard workers – we don’t treat each other with the amount of mutual respect that this team does.

Sean took us out for lunch at some Chinese restaurant in the middle of nowhere, hidden behind a 10 foot wall, razor wire topped, security guarded, with a crows nest guard tower complete with guard and shotgun. Once you are inside the compound, another guard unbolts a steel barrier that gives you access to the door. I suspect they have had a few unsavory characters in their time… 🙂

The pork and rice meal was bloody nice, and for 22kina you couldn’t go wrong. The tea was equally pleasant, and the inside reminded me of a little place in Penang that I went to back in the early 90’s. We then took Matt out to the airport, and stopped in at the Airways hotel for coffee… A VERY nice coffee, and although a very expensive place to come, I think it will be a nice break from the bustle of Town.

It amazing what great coffee does, and I felt rejuvenated coming back into the office. Another afternoon session with Johno and before you know it everyone is leaving for the evening. Everyone that buses needs to get going before dark as the buses don’t run after 6pm, and of course I am oblivious to this. I really need to pay attention to the time and not get lost in what we are doing.

Back to the Crowne Plaza and I am alone for the evening. A couple of beers (SP Draught) at the bar, introduced myself to a few people, had a chat, and then off to the restaurant for dinner. The buffet was a seafood, and price at 70 or 80 kina, so although I am not a tight arse, I am not going to spend that sort of money on food I wouldn’t enjoy. After a quick browse of the a la carte menu, decided to have Kau Kau Risotto. Kau Kau isn’t Cow, although in my accent it’s pronounced basically the same. Kau Kau is crocodile, and although I have tasted Crocodile many years ago, I have never had a meal of croc. The lady who waited my table, was so funny – she said to me, “oh, this is the nicest meal, I tell all my guests if they choose it” and she wasn’t wrong. I went up to her after I had finished and told her I though it was such a beautiful meal – she beamed.
Kau Kau tastes like a gamey chicken, and combined with a cheesy risotto – the flavours were incredible. I did ask for a glass of water, and in hindsight – everyone else was drinking bottled water, so I’m not sure if that was a good thing or not. 24kina later, and another part of this experience I will never forget. Kau Kau. (I hope I spelt it right)

Sitting now, having a SP Export and typing this up. It’s almost 9pm local time, so I am feeling like it’s 11pm. Whilst I was having my first beers, I couldn’t help but overhear a discussion between a couple of guys talking about expats, they were obviously consultants – and had a pretty poor opinion of both how expats worked and their attitudes. Personally I thought their views were very elitist and not really reflective of the expats I have met, although there are bound to be people in that mold. I feel embarrassed that I have had a lot in my life, and some people haven’t – however I am so determined to help people, gain their trust and let them take as much of my knowledge as they can… I feel like I have a purpose and I don’t understand how this has happened to me, it is so powerful I don’t think I can describe it.

So how do I like PNG…? I LOVE IT! I so hope that my family will love it here too… 🙂




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 🙂

Tripping to Papua New Guinea

I’m typing this, somewhere above the Tasman Sea heading from Dunedin to Brisbane. It’s amazing what a good seat, headphones and a empty spot beside you does. On checkin, they asked if I would sit in one of the exit rows – Hell YES! Extra leg room, window seat, and it just so happens an empty seat beside me. My Phitek noise canceling headphones on, Pink Floyd in my gigabit (yes – no iPod here), and my iPad out. I must look like a real geek! I am winging my way via Brisbane to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – for a “look/see” before taking up my new role in a few months time. I’m not exactly the best flyer, and this Virgin Pacific Blue plane isn’t really what I expected for a 3.5 hour flight. No movies, have to even buy a coffee, food- yup, optional extra… Funny, the food is in dollars, but it doesn’t say if the $ are Aussie or Kiwi – so I used kiwi. $14 NZ vs $14 AUD – pity the poor soles that just spent a bit more due to changing all their money over. Meal = Ham and Cheese roll, cold of course – and a bottle of Crown Lager – mmmmm. I haven’t had a Crown in years! Funky bottle too – like a mini keg, metal botttle. Made the beer taste different, however that might have been the plastic cup I had to drink it out of.
My evening consists of spending the next 2 hours mucking about, before navigating an airport I have never been to, and then catching a cab to Royal on the Park, some fancy hotel beside the Brisbane Botanical Gardens. Who… Have a twitter account, but don’t respond to a simple question, and don’t respond to an email question via their contact page. Pretty bloody slack really.
I spend the night there, before catching the 8am Air Nuigini flight to Port Moresby – I can’t wait…
My goal in POM is to check things like accommodation, schooling etc – and take heaps of photos for the whanau. I hope I don’t die of the heat – we had snow to 300 meters in Dunedin before I left, and Port Moresby is sitting between 25 and 30 degrees celcius – d’oh