Facebook Pages

Facebook is going great guns here in PNG, with lower internet costs, an influx of Andriod smartphones, and an increasingly  savvy population – the outlet has turned away from Blogs and Forums, and Papua New Guineans are leaving their mark on Facebook.
The facebook group: LOCAL MARKET – PNG has over 41000 members, and there is a good reason why.  With no ebay (or Trademe) a high cost to advertise in the local paper, and a rabbit warren of shops around the capital – means a high demand for PNG to buy, sell and trade.  MarketMeri is another good spot to find a bargain, but since there is little in the way of social activity (something Papua New Guinean’s feel comfortable with) it is hard finding traction in the market.

Here are some good Facebook pages to help you out as a new Expat here in Port Moresby.  Please note – these are normally closed groups and you may need to go through a vetting process.  Facebook is full of scam’s and con-artists and we want to keep our facebook groups free of these and other predators.

Expatriates Association of Port Moresby – with 1700 members a great place for a new expat to start.

POM Parents Group – over 450 members, most being expat’s.  A lot of organising of little kids functions etc.  If you have kids – this is the place to join.

PNG Expats – another Expats page, a small membership of almost 400, and a great way to catchup, find out what is going on etc

Expat Buy & Sell In Port Moresby – over 500 members buying and selling.  From cars to wakeboards.

PNG Expats – another page (same name as above) for expats that used to (or maybe still do) live here and want to catch up with friends – lots of people from Lae (from the 60’s and 70’s)

Skerah – almost 40,000 members.  Skerah is a magaziney type Facebook page as well as running a website http://www.skerah.com

Our Port Moresby – another magaziney type Facebook page (with website) – doesn’t get updated enough (a lot like my blog – hahaha)

There are plenty of other Facebook pages around, such as Humans of Papua New Guinea; Only in PNG etc – some are very political, others aren’t.  Some are bloody dodgy!  Some are bloody funny.  As with any website – be private 🙂 stay away from politics, don’t abuse the country, use some commonsense.

Feel free to add your comments about your favorite facebook pages in the comments 🙂 

Please note – I have note put any companies down.  Not really interesting in advertising for other people unless I enjoy the service, have a great time, and isn’t made up.  I will however be happy to review a business, but only if you pay me 😉

Aaron

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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.

4 Years in Port Moresby

It’s been a long time since I had either the time, or the mental capacity to write up a new post on my blog.  I think it’s safe to say that PNG looks good on us sometimes, but it isn’t without it’s challenges.We’ve now been here for the past 4+ years, and on reflection – it’s been a hell of a journey.

When we arrived up here, I had a baby, one kid just started school and the other a few years older.  Next year, the baby starts school (about half a year late due to the way school starts here), our boy is in Year 6 (what is Year 7 in NZ) and the eldest is off to Boarding School…

Boarding School!  holy *@#$…  She’s a teenager!

We came to PNG for a 3 year adventure, it’s turned into something unexpected, but that’s what you should expect in the Land of the Unexpected.  Jacinta still pines for home, but she is making the most of being able to spend time with the kids, and my job just keeps on changing.  I started here managing a small team, and now have over 40 staff and a bunch of different departments to look after.  Each part of your working life here in Moresby has different challenges, and mines no different.  One minute I am dealing with no power (actually that happens every day), but seriously, no power, and a genset that keeps shutting down, likely to continue on for a few weeks as they try and retrofit parts to an aging and obselete main switchboard, the next minute helping someone with a mobile phone who’s only form of power is that which is at work.

Who needs power…

The past 4+ years have been very eventful.  We’ve been apart of some pretty amazing things; being part of a brideprice ceremony; watch a volcano erupt; seeing a country go through 40 years of independence; watching the 15th Pacific Games in Moresby; Swimming in water warmer than the bath; Fishing in amazing waters; eating the most amazing food; having the most amazing travels.

We’ve also seen some horrible things; the gang bashing of a man and boy in East New Britain; the death of 2 little kids as they were thrown from the back of a ute at high speed; our neighbour getting vicously carjacked outside our door; the women that come to work with black eyes and sad hearts; the broken hands; the broken lives; the violence that lives just around the corner; the violence that poverty and hardship create.

But I see a country of resilience, of fight, and of swagger.  A country not afraid to stand up for itself, and a country of hope.  A country that is changing; rapidly; modernising.  A country that is standing up and shouting “look at us – we are here”.  A country that is no longer tolerating domestic abuse; no longer tolerating unlawfulness.  But a country that sometimes slips back into previous times; a country that is trying hard, but needs help.

We’ve been lucky, here.  We’ve faced a few obstacles, but prevailed.  The kids keep laughing at me for breaking fingers and toes, 2 fingers, 1 toe in the past 2 years – not sure how that happens, but it does.  I seem to have a way of tripping over anything that isn’t bolted down.  This year, on top of the malaria I got a few years ago – I got the dreaded Dengue Fever.  What a drama that was; being misdiagnosed with malaria, then misdiagnosed with Hepatitis, before finally being flown down to Cairns.  Dengue is the worst illness, they don’t call it breakbone fever for nothing, it feels like your whole body is snapping in half.

Thankfully, we haven’t contracted TB.  But we are trying to help those that have.  PNG has some of the highest rates of TB in the known world, and we are raising funds for Kikori Hospital in their fight against this devestating illness.

I think living here, we (and certainly the kids) have lost our materialism, but enjoy the good things, a nice meal, travel, hearing the rain, being on the water, getting some sun.  We still collect lots, but we give away as much as we get.  Our’s isn’t a life where we sell a cup for a couple of dollars, ours is giving it a new home.  I noticed the other day when we were at the Ela Beach Craft Markets, we didn’t bargain once.  The vendors named a price, if we liked it, and liked the price – then we bought it.  If we didn’t, we didn’t haggle them down – we just moved on.  I think everyone knew 🙂  Some of the market vendors are people that see us, and wave – not because we are a prospective sale, but because they have seen us over and over again.  The street sellers all know us by name, and people come up to us in the street to say hi (then you recognise them as the guard at work, or the girl at the chemist).

Lots of things are happening in PNG, there is lots of investment, and the city is completely changed from what it was 4 years ago – we are even getting paintball facilities!!  It’s still relatively cheap to eat out, but very expensive to buy groceries.  Our living costs have almost doubled in the past 4 years – but that might be due to the boy getting bigger 😉

We now have unlimited internet – although it’s very slow.  But if you want highspeed, you can get it – for a price.  There are 2 movie theatres, showing movies before they are released anywhere else (in 3D too).  Flights to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Solomons, Vanuatu, Fiji – lets hope someone does New Zealand soon!  But also a huge amount of internet tourism places with cruise ships coming in and of course some of the best diving in the world.

Yes – PNG is changing.  But like 4 years ago, you can still get carjacked, you need to keep your wits about you at all times, and if you do that – you can have the most wonderful experiences ever.

The hardest part of PNG, is saying goodbye.  We meet so many people from this blog – some of them (looking at you Olga!) didn’t even know it was me writing this blog.  hahaha

And we lose so many of them…  It’s hard, saying goodbye.  But we will always remember, the parties, the good times, the sad times, the frustration and the anxiety.  Living here gives you all that and more – but we all dread the end, the go pinis bbq’s, the lack of another place to go.  And as we live here for longer, the new expats that arrive seem to be too scared to say hello, some of them don’t fit in, sometimes we don’t fit in as well.

But still we create friends for life.

Aaron

Making Progress

Any progress here in Port Moresby, is good progress. As a kiwi expat, I simply just expect things to happen – however, here…. It’s a little hit or miss, but at the end of the day, if you keep at it (and followup) things do happen.

Progress…
So, I finally have a cash-flow card, and chequebook – which means I feel comfortable about my income situation. For a while there, I was feeling rather exposed with having a bit too much cash on me. Although when I checked my account, they hadn’t deposited the k50 I needed to start my account. ANZ – you have serious issues with how you setup accounts here in PNG.

Progress…
Off to Aussie on Thursday for a long weekend in Brisbane and the Gold Coast with Jacinta and the kids – then we all (finally) fly over to PNG to really start our adventure – yay! And the kids are getting taken to Movie World too 🙂

Progress…
We have somewhere to live! Yay! One of my colleagues lives in Era Dorina, and he is moving out – so he has kindly given up his apartment for us. Era Dorina is extremely hard to get into as it is so popular. It is a very large compound with 3 swimming pools, tennis court, gym, playground etc, and the kids will be able to safely cause mischief within the compound… Awesome – thanks Sean and family.

Progress…
Our container is on it’s way, and should be here in a weeks time.

Progress…
My team is warming to my philosophies, we did an office move today, everything was well planned prior – and it went perfectly. So I took the guys out to Gateway Hotel and shouted pizza and coke. Then they helped me find Brian Bell home center – so I could browse :). We get on really well, I enjoy the banter and laughs, but also that they just get on and do what they need too.

Progress…
I only get Mosbi belly… Some days 🙂

Progress…
I found the bloody mosquito that has been dining out on my feet in the middle of the night… Squish!

Progress…
I have officially driven into areas where I’m not meant to, and nothing happened. It doesn’t mean that I am going to go back there – but it does mean that I am learning the streets.

Progress…
Rugby World Cup – All Blacks – 1st win! w00t

Progress…
Upset the Aussies cause I put a big All Blacks flag in my cubicle at work. Being the only kiwi in an organization of 175 – I don’t think they were prepared for the passion we/I have for the All Blacks

Progress…….

Another day in PNG

EftPOS, Charge Card, Bank Card…

Desperately seeking someone that can give me one, it’s only been about 2 weeks – ANZ, you have my kina, please let me access it….

Yes – I do have a bank account here in Port Moresby, but no – still no way of getting any kina out, except for going down to the bank, getting a number, sitting down and waiting for my number to come up on the screen… waiting waiting waiting.

I’ve emailed the bank – response: sorry Allen… Allen, Allen who the **** is Allen? Yes – it’s Aaron. And this is the bank! Yesterday, emailed them again – thankfully, they haven’t responded with a “Sorry Allen” however – sadly, they actually haven’t responded….

Welcome to PNG! lol

I wonder what will happen when I make the account joint with Jacinta… And as for credit card facilities, or heaven forbid – internet banking. Well – you just never know 🙂