Is Port Moresby the worst place in the world to live?

According to The Telegraph in the UK, Port Moresby is the 2nd worst place to live IN THE WORLD!!  Over the past 5 years that we have been here, Port Moresby is often ranked as one of the most unliveable cities in the world, however who makes this shit up?

A couple of things have gotten me a little bit peaved over the past few weeks, firstly, that Port Moresby is ranked the 2nd worst city to live in, and secondly that two tourists came underprepared to do Kokoda, got themselves in the shit, and are bagging the hell out of PNG.

So, it begs the question?

Is Port Moresby the 2nd worst city in the world to live in?

So lets break down what they think makes Port Moresby so bad (according to all these people that most likely have never lived here)..

1. Rape and Murder happen everyday to unsuspecting expats (not true)

2. Carjackings are rife – you can’t leave your compound without someone trying to rob you or your car (not true)

3. You can’t wear jewellery or show too much skin – just in case the locals get a little lusty or try to rob you (not true)

4. You can’t walk anywhere and need to be escorted by security to buy some bread (not true)

5. Everybody you meet is corrupt (not true)

Since we have been here, yes, there have been rapes and murders, yes, there have been carjackings, yes, people have been robbed, yes, some people get escorted to buy a loaf of bread, and yes, some people are corrupt.  And yes – this happens anywhere in the world – not just Port Moresby.

Instead of focusing on the negative parts of a city – why don’t we focus on the positive.

1. The people are amazing!

2. It’s a special treat to be invited to a villiage – people pay lots of money to do this in Vanuatu, here, you need to earn someones respect before – different cost, but so worth it

3. Traditional “sing sings” dances and song happen all year round – always an occasion to treasure

4. You have some of the best fishing at your door step

5. Every weekend you could be: surfing, camping, horse riding, mountain climbing, sailing, fishing (big game, river etc), diving, trekking, bird watching, snorkling, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kitesurfing, swimming, lying in a hammock, sitting by the pool, going to parties, playing golf, shooting guns at the gun club, offroad motorbikes, paintball, lawnbowls, watching local rugby comps, tennis, squash, road cycling, running (or walking), shopping at the market…. sounds like a pacific paradise doesn’t it.

In fact there is so much to list – I think that the actions of some of my friends here speak volumes.

Whilst lots of expat’s rush back to their home country for “breaks” or holidays, they take holidays and stay here in Port Moresby, relax by the pool, go fishing, have a dive, read a book, eat papaya and mango, drink pina colada, get a sun tan…  yes – Port Moresby can be one of those places where your time off can be as relaxing or as exciting as you make it.

If you look beyond the compound walls, in fact – if you stop thinking them as compound’s, but rather gated communities – then you will come to realise that living in Port Moresby isn’t the worst in the world for expatriates – in fact, it’s pretty damn good.

Sadly though, living in Moresby is extremely difficult for our Papua New Guinea friends, high rent, squatter settlements, poverty, lack of villiage food etc all add to a melting pot of different cultures, some still at tribal war with each other creating the “not so nice” side of Port Moresby.  And tribal conflict back in the villiage can add to or create conflict here in the city.  So many people live a traditional way of life, and the impact of the city on this is vast.  Land ownership in the middle of the jungle is defined by tradition, or conquest, or marriage – here, it’s defined by how much money you have…  And if you have no money – they you find land where no-one is living (or looks like no-one has claimed) and you start afresh not knowing that the land is owned by someone in a suit living and working in the city, or a company that is earmarking an area for city expansion…

One of my team recently purchased his first haus, a brand new 3 bedroom unit, fully furnished.  He moved in with his wife and 3 kids before christmas – I’ve been so happy for him…  but the funky thing is, that his brand new haus is cheaper than renting, he was fortunate than he was able to save enough for a deposit and of course our company home ownership scheme really does help.  And to top it off – he’s in his 20’s…  pretty damn awesome.  but pretty damn hard.

This last few weeks have also had the Kokoda Track in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.  Two tourists that set out on the Kokoda (one of the hardest walks in the world) in sneakers, without provisions, nor sleeping bag, nor arranged guide etc etc etc – what the hell were they thinking.  Anyway, they claimed they were assaulted, she was raped and they ran (naked, with no shoes – even though they were clothed in the clothes they left in when they got back) 24km’s through the hardest terrain in the world to get help (almost as fast as the record holder for the fastest running across the Kokoda Track).  Charlie Lynn who is a guide (and former Australian Politician, and Vietnam Vet) debunks the whole story.  And I am siding with Charlie nothing that they have said or done rings true, not from the people of Kokoda, nor even what I know of the Track.  In my opinion, it seems that they realised 1. they were in trouble and underestimated how hard Kokoda is, 2. they realised that they weren’t going to make their flight out of PNG, 3. they could claim being chased by cannibals as PNG is “like that – apparently”, 4. They might make some money selling their story of terror to the british papers, 4. PNG is so remote, no one here would know about the story.
And now he (the male) is calling Charlie out for “protecting his job” – what a load of crap.  Charlie is rightly protecting the people of Kokoda from defamatory accusations.  If what they say is true, then I expect they would have no problem coming back to PNG to stand before the young men accused of this crime and telling PNG and world what really happened.

PNG gets a bad rap at times, yes, some of it is true, and some of it is very scary.  But most of us can smell a story a mile away, and because the two tourists ultimately fabricated a lot of the “story” it puts lots and lots of doubt on the rest of the story.

If you want to come to PNG – be prepared.  If you want to do Kokoda, do it properly.  If you want to bag PNG and it’s people, be prepared to back it up.