Driving in Port Moresby

Thanks to the raskols and attempted carjacking in August, I didn’t really have the mojo to write for a while.  Got it off my chest – then stewed for a long time.  My head wasn’t in the right space over the last part of the year, and I needed to completely relax over the Christmas period in order to get focus for another year.  (Not sure that I relaxed but…)

I was sitting there the other night thinking about what PNG does, that makes you better at something…  And the first thing I thought about was …. driving.

So how does being in PNG make you a better driver?

1. Your reactions are so much better!  Ever had a car on the outside of a roundabout go right around it and in front of you?  yup, that’s “surfing” the roundabout…  How about being in the line of traffic, so you are driving and go to overtake when you realise there is a [insert vehicle here – truck, bus, van, car, 2 cars, truck and trailer, etc] parked in your lane, with rocks placed behind the tyres (presumably because the handbrake doesn’t work – nah – just cause you can) completely immobilised, and you have to instantly check to make sure you aren’t going to hit a car traveling at 120km/hr from behind you (yes the speed limit is 60km/hr) and “dodge” around the car on the road.

2. You can dodge potholes at any speed, including at night, after a couple beers, with someone driving towards you with highbeams on.

3. You know how to work your Hazard lights, that you sometimes have to use when there is a crowd of people walking on the road, or a car broken down (see #1)

4. You can now drive through torrential monsoon rain where you can barely still see your car, let alone the car in front of you.

5. You can ford fast flowing rivers and creeks – as that is what happens to the roads when it rains…

6. You don’t go anywhere without your license!

7. You have reminder checks on your vehicles safety sticker and registration, and make sure you get new ones well in advance of them expiring

8. Every time you jump in your car, you check that all your lights are working (instant traffic fine – no matter what)

9. You learn how to stop without a stop sign, all you need is a policeman with a machine gun standing there

10. You make sure you have every excuse, address, wantoks name under the sun dialed into memory just in case you get stopped at a roadblock

11. You never leave home without your phone – just in case #10

12. You can ring and drive (yes we know it’s dangerous!), whilst dodging potholes and random abandoned cars.  Sometimes text and drive, and on the old occasion email and drive (shock horror!).

13. You identify approaching hazards well before you get to them…  The dog on the road (he will just cross it), the pig in the village (heaven forbid you hit one of those), the pikinini playing by the side of the road (omg – lukautim pikinini lo yu!), the people waiting to cross – running directly in front of you…

14. You know how to use a horn, whilst dodging potholes, texting, dodging abandoned cars, and avoiding stray dogs that someone, somewhere will claim ownership of.

15. You know how to yell at the taxi or PMV driver so that he knows that you aren’t some dim dim with no idea.  KKK isn’t a white supremist here – is abbreviation for the swear words that you yell in tok pisin at the taxi/pmv driver

16. You can line up the coke cans on the road to crush them using your tyres for the locals (lotsa Kina in crushed cans)

17. You always have a few Kina on you to pay someone to change your tyre

18. You know exactly how to change your tyre (see #17) so someone else can do it for you 🙂 (it’s no fun doing this in 30+ degree heat!)

19. You routinely run carjacking exercises, where everyone in the car ducks and you can still drive 500 metres up the road without looking at the road, driving by feel – hehehe

20. You learn to love the AC, leaving your windows up and your limbs inside the car

21. You know exactly how to jump into your car and lock the doors in under .23 of a second

22. You learn how to change oil, water, check tyre pressures etc – all because you actually have too

23. You can reverse (super fast) back down a road, in the middle of the night without crashing

24. Who needs 3 point turns, you’ve now mastered the handbrakey turn

25. You can park exactly in the middle of a carpark (actually, excludes those with DC plates – they can’t park)

26. You have no issue sliding from lane to lane, at speed, whilst talking to someone on the phone and yelling at the kids to shaddup..

27. You don’t need a GPS – you know exactly where you are going, and if you get lost you just keep driving whilst ringing the person to where you are going to and see #26

28. You can identify a police car, not because is says police on it – you just know

29. You learn how to travel in Convoy following a madman who does #26 #14 and #19 routinely

30. You recognise all your friends car’s, and know all of their number plates (so you can tell the guards to let them into your compound), you remember all their phone numbers too.

31. You see dead dogs on the road and you don’t flinch, waver or cause an accident.  You slide the car past as if it wasn’t even in the way – without taking a breath.

32. Bonus: Your kids learn how to count (How many dogs were dead on the freeway today?  2 Dad!) and learn the alphabet by playing I Spy (I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with D D…   Dead Dog!)

33. Riding shotgun takes on a whole new meaning in Moresby…  You strategically place your passengers in the car, intimidation sometimes is best 🙂

34. You figure out who to wave to, and you can spot a roadside fruit seller 300 metres away

35. You learn the international signs for:  I don’t want any; piss off; come here; I’m watching you buddy; I’ll see you later; yes, its me, I live here; look at my sticker!

36. You figure out what #35 means

37. You know where to get air for tyres, and what fuel station doesn’t have water in the fuel problems.

38. You can shift house with someone standing on the back of your ute holding on to everything

38. And just for my mate Andrew – you can reverse a boat up 400 metres of winding narrow road, through a security gate, up a hill and into a garage – without a permit or anyone getting pissed off

love it 🙂

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One thought on “Driving in Port Moresby

  1. Loved it, brought back memories of my years in Moresby. I remember checking out the carpark for undesirables before quickly disarming car alarm, jumping in and locking yourself in before driving home. Especially after evening at Moresby theatre at Waigani as it would be quite late. And going through a red light at 3am to escape three guys surrounding my car asking for a lift! After giving them the appropriate hand signals.

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