Surviving Carjacking’s in Port Moresby

Australian media have pounced on video footage from this week that was posted on one of the PNG Expat Facebook pages.

The footage is of an Australian family who were travelling down snake road in Sogeri, just out of Port Moresby.

YouTube Link here:

Basically, they were travelling by themselves, when a car overtook them dangerously, and then proceeded to pull up in front of them blocking the road. A bunch of armed rascals jumped out of the car and started running towards them. The super quick and sensible reactions of the driver really saved them from being victims (I’m in awe of his fantastic reversing skills). He reversed back up the road very quickly, past a vehicle that was following them. According to reports, the vehicle following them may have also been part of the carjacking attempt, however on some other Facebook pages a PNG local advised that it was her family in the second car, and they indeed ended up being the victims of the carjacking.

Really scary stuff and I so feel for both the expats and the locals who were targeted. Again, the actions of a very small minority paint PNG into such a bad light, it’s such a shame.

A lot of expats are very fortunate with the type of security briefing that they get on entering Papua New Guinea. All the big Oil and Gas companies, Banks, and Government/Overseas Agencies all have put a lot of effort into giving briefings, providing duress systems and generally trying to make PNG as safe a place as possible. Ultimately, this can be a bit detrimental to your movements, and can make life a little more constrained. The Security industry in PNG is very much a boom industry, however it is highly unlikely a security guard on minimum wage is going to put themselves in harms way if shit did go down. In fact, my experiences were that the Security Guards were either overpowered by armed rascals, or they cleared out as fast as they could run and hide. Of course, sometimes they are the criminal. It paints a poor picture, given that there are some very hardworking honest Security Guards that really were concerned for your safety and would do anything to make sure you were safe, and certainly Security Companies in PNG are becoming very professional.

Although I was responsible for the IT department, I also picked up a few other departments along the way including being the go to guy for our security until we hired a dedicated security manager this past year. With any new Expat I would sit down and give them a small security briefing. We didn’t use radio’s as much as we could have if we were all living together, but all our vehicles were equipped with tracking and duress systems. And yes, they did get used at various times. Cars involved in car accidents were the main culprit, and I would go out, sort out if there were any problems and make sure all was well – much to my wife’s dislike. I don’t know if it was my former military training (that was a long time ago), or just my kiwiness, but I was able to diffuse situations relatively quickly without creating extra conflict.

This recent PNG/Sogeri incident just highlights that you have to be prepared to do things that Security briefings tell you not to do. Security will advise to comply with demands, get everyone out of the car, and hand over your belongings if asked. I think you have to do whatever is right for the situation you are in. In this case, I would most likely have slapped my car into reverse as well. Although in saying that, at the point where the car originally passed – I would have put lots of distance between us by slowing down and observing, or just flooring the accelerator and passing them immediately. Being an aggressive driver in PNG is pretty important.

Above all though, is not to second guess your response. I found out last year when a groups of thugs attempted to carjack me, that doing “what if” scenarios was detrimental to my mental state of mind, and it didn’t help. What I figured out, was that the choices I made were exactly the right choices for me – I made peace with myself. And if that means you are robbed or carjacked, then you were very unlucky – eventually you will be able to deal with it, and you will get by. In general terms, carjackings in PNG very rarely end up with someone dead – although it has happened, so you need to be prepared for the horrible consequences of what may happen.

One of the things that we did as a family, was to use a lot of prevention. We varied our routines, we travelled different roads, we didn’t become too complacent. Some roads that we knew were a bit dodgy at night – we never travelled. We ALWAYS locked our doors and put windows up. And always had our car keys ready before we approached the car. One of my colleagues used to have his finger on the “lock” on the key fob, so that he didn’t have to try and hit the central locking on the door – he just had to beep his car locked again – a great idea and one that I was practising with before we left Port Moresby.

We also tried to travel in convoy where possible, even staying out later with friends so that we could all go home together. Even if we had the opportunity to carpool, we would still take multiple cars. Our kids understood what to do if we were carjacked, and we had drills that we practised with them – our youngest was always buckled in on the drivers side of the car, so that if we were by ourselves it would be easy to get her out of the car. We quickly ditched the very hard to put in/out car seats as soon as she was big enough for a booster..

Every place we parked, or every road we drove, we were always scanning our environment, ensuring we weren’t being tailed, ensuring the road ahead was clear. When turning into our compound, we always made sure the road was clear, we always tried to have an exit path just in case. We never jammed ourselves against a gate as this would be a prime opportunity for being carjacked, stuck in front of a slow opening gate with no where to go. Guards are there to protect the compound, so thier first reaction is to close the gate…

Of course – you can still do all that, and yet be in the wrong place at the wrong time (as I found out)

I also always carried a slim dummy (throw down) wallet that had money in it, but also a card with my company details on it (in both wallets). There is always a chance you can get your wallet back with it’s contents for a “fee”, so it’s important to make sure that there is something in there that identifies your company or your partners company, so the wantok network can do it’s thing and get your gear back to you.

And above all – talk to your PNG teams about your movements. Papua New Guineas know more about what is going on than any security alert I’ve ever had. I trusted my team implicitly and had the benefit of their advise on many occasions. It’s also great if you can take your teams out with you, not only do they enjoy it but it creates a great bond with your family and theirs – some of my fondest memories are of spending time out and about with my PNG wantoks.

The worst thing you can do in Papua New Guinea

Is not appreciate this incredible place…

I took my kids kayaking yesterday. We have rented a place in sunny Waipu Cove whilst we settle back into life in NZ and the magical spot we have gives us direct access to both the estuary and the beach. There is nothing like waking up to the sound of rolling surf onto the beach, I feel almost on holiday, every day. There is a Shag that perches in the branches of a Pohutakawa Tree right in front of the dining table, and less than a metre away a Tui drinks nectar from a flower. And then the crazy fantail drunkenly flies across from one side of the vista to the other. I really appreciate being back here and seeing NZ completely differently to when we left.

So one of the worst things that can happen to you in PNG, is not appreciating what is right there in front of you. Focusing too much on the negative, and not getting out there.

We had 30+ degree heat, and yet never took the kids kayaking. We could have begged and borrowed someone’s kayak, but honestly the thought of paddling in that heat would drive me to the bar in search of a cool SP.

In 2011, we took a crazy car trip up to Crystal Rapids. It was a real simple trip, 3 cars full of kids and parents all new to Port Moresby. Jacinta and the girls happened to talk to some old codger down at the Yachty who drew a map on a piece of tissue paper. Back in 2011, Google Maps didn’t cover the Sogeri area, and we really had no idea where we were heading, but he told the girls, you’ll be fine, just follow your nose.

I then checked directions with my team at work after seeing the scrap of paper, which had a Y on it, some writing indicating a High School and that was about it.

They gave me the general direction of where to go, and told me to be careful.

So – we all head off, the intrepid travellers, with beers and bbq and kids and togs/swimmers. A great wee convoy, off out past the airport towards 9Mile.

We get to 9Mile, and it was a Y type intersection (it’s now a roundabout). I thought that was a bit too soon, Crystal Rapids was quite a bit more of a distance. So, not deterred, I pulled over to ask for directions. I found out later, that we had pulled over at 9Mile Settlement, and as indicated in my previous post, a bit of a dodgy wee spot. Never mind… a lady came up to the window and indicated that we were to just keep driving, and so off we went again. Me, in the lead – cause I knew where I was going (ha ha).

We went past the turnoff to Bomana War Cemetery (we hadn’t visited there yet), and carried on to about 15Mile, having not seen a High School, I had to admit I was a little concerned I missed a turnoff. Not wanting to look panicked, I pulled over to the side of the road and asked on old man where Crystal Rapids was… naively… he only spoke Tok Pisin, which at that stage I could only say the basic’s. “Mi go bigpla wara, yu save?”… He pointed up the road “Tenk yu tru!” And off we went again…

Finally we get up the road, Sogeri High School..finally, and here is a Y intersection. Obviously this was the one drawn on the map, not the 9Mile turnoff. It had been raining, and here we were in my company car, a little Honda CR-V, but our convoy had a Navara and a Fortuner so even if we got stuck we had no worries.

Up the hill we went, the wee CR-V sliding around in the clay and bottoming out, it was great fun – and pretty cheap to gain entry to Crystal Rapids (I think it was about K20 per car).

Crystal Rapids is a great spot, the river runs around the picnic area like a big horseshoe, and on the downstream side is a series of rapids. The local boys were running across the rapids to the other side, and then diving into what must have been a very deep pool. Lots of fun for the kids to watch. Then a game of Touch Footy started on the edge of the river, it was a bit of a hybrid game as it appeared that if you got caught with the ball close to the rivers edge, you ended up getting thrown in the water.

As we were enjoying a BBQ and a few beers, we all heard a car revving as it was coming over the hill, it was a Toyota Camry, was basically no suspension, completely full with people. How they got that over there, I have no idea – but I can’t imagine how they were going to get it back…

Unfortunately our time was cut short as a bunch of drunkards arrived and decided they wanted our spot. We quickly decided to avoid any agro and just leave. Yes – it can ruin the weekend, but you get idiots everywhere in the world, and sometimes it’s just easier to go.

Heading back over to Sogeri Village, we all stopped to buy pineapple on the side of the road. You have not had pineapple until you have eaten Sogeri Pineapple, and then you will never what to eat “tinned” or store bought pineapple again. Simply delicious!

The view coming back from Sogeri (which is elevated up a valley) is magical. And the drive down is a lot quicker than the drive up.

I don’t think I really appreciated the magic of Sogeri until reflecting on that trip up there. It was a great day with new friends – I’m glad I bluffed the whole “I know where I am going” speech. And I’m glad the we got to appreciate a little bit of paradise just out of Moresby.

Edge by the sea – Cafe review

The Edge (now known as “The Edge by the Sea“) is located at the far end of Edge Apartments, and looks out towards the Yacht Club and harbour.  We will still call it The Edge – cause that’s just what what we do.  Certainly one of my go to places, the coffee is great, food is above average but the service can be a little under pressure sometimes.  

The Edge cafe has gone through a few transformations, and is one of the first places to open in the morning for coffee at 6am.  Although you have to park at the entrance to the compound and walk, it gives you a great feeling of safety, and quite frankly we sit here and we really could be anywhere in the world – take the hint Dan and the team – hammocks and coffee 😉

I remember at the opening of the Edge, the food was a bit hit and miss.  But now it’s one of the more consistent places.

Our kids love the milkshakes and being pretty much regulars have the staff beaming at them.  Quite often this is quiet, but happy hour for drinks on Fridays used to liven the place up, and you can book out parts of it for bookings – we had Jacinta’s 40th here and everyone remarked how good the food was, and how awesome the setting was.

The Edge is having another refurbishment – so will post photos once it’s done, here is the notice:

Tasty Bite – Restaurant Review

Tasty Bite was “the” number one rated restaurant in Port Moresby, although since the foodie scene has opened up, it may have dropped down the list.

Tasty Bite is diagonally across from Crowne Plaza which is great for those of us that work in Town or live close.  They open for dinner at 5:30pm, and are generally very quick with takeaway orders, so I have rung them 321-2222/71114012, placed an order and picked up on the way home.

Tasty Bite is a small restaurant – but also has a separate upstairs area for groups.  The following is the main area:

They have had a few issues with getting robbed, so normally have a few guards around the place and the door is generally locked.  We tend to takeaway anyway, and have only had a sit down meal a couple of times.

Service is normally very quick, and they do plain chips (not on the menu) for fussy kids.

Currie’s can waver between being hot and bland, and on a good night it’s 10/10 – on a bad night it’s a 6/10 better than average.  I love a good Vindaloo, and Tasty Bite always seems to get this right.

The only issue is that their takeaway containers sometimes leak so be careful on the way home :).

We always come back though, and prefer it over Tandorri which is down at Harbourside due to the fussy child that needs chips.  And it’s reasonably priced; tonight’s meal of a Rogan Josh, Vindaloo and Boneless Butter Chicken, with 3 lots of Rice, 3 Naan and a container of Chips is just K160.  That’s cheaper than the local Indian back home – and much nicer.  The curries here are more Indian curry than Fiji Indian Curry like we get back in NZ, but still nothing like the real thing in India.

Tasty Bite also uses Go Food PNG for deliveries – a great service that we use often for various food outlets

KiwiExpat beginners guide to Port Moresby 2015 edition – part 1

  1. Port Moresby’s International Airport is called Jackson’s, and so is the domestic Airport. This is abbreviated to POM, which is also what we call Port Moresby to other people from Port Moresby. Eg: “When are you going back to Pom?“
  2. Port Moresby is also called Moresby or Mosbi, as well as Pom. Often the names get interchanged whilst talking (just to confuse you). Eg: “Hey, how’s life in Port Moresby?”, “Oh man, Moresby a bit crazy at the moment”, “No shit?”, “Yeah – when you coming back to Pom?”, “Ahhh – dunno bro, all my Mosbi wantoks want me to come back – but not sure when”….
  3. Port Moresby is spread out along an old main route called the Hubert Murray Highway. This is the old way old of “Town” (the modern way and most used is via the Poreporena Freeway (Spring Garden Road)).
  4. The CBD location beside Paga Hill is called Town, and the old Hubert Murray route is used for naming locations along this route
    1. Town
    2. 2 Mile (Badili Area)
    3. 3 Mile – Although this is actually called Murray Barracks
    4. 4 Mile (Boroko) – but normally refers to the 4 Mile PMV (Bus) Stop
    5. 5 Mile – 5 Mile roundabout (has a Mobil Service Station) – beside Jack Pidik Park
    6. 6 Mile – T intersection, left takes you to Jackson’s Airport – right takes you down the Magi Highway
    7. 7 mile – Jacksons’s Airport
    8. 8 mile – ATS settlement, Malolo Estate
    9. 9 mile – 9 mile settlement, right hand turn off to Sogeri
    10. 14 mile – Pacific Adventist University (PAU), Adventure Park, Orchid Gardens
    11. 16 mile – Hugo Canning factory (Ox and Palm)
    12. 17 mile – Bluff Inn
    13. Sogeri
    14. Turn right for Crystal Rapids
    15. Veer left for Koitaki
  5. The main suburbs/area’s are:
    1. Town
    2. Ela Beach/Ela Makana
    3. Touaguba
    4. Konedobu (Kone)
    5. Hanuabada
    6. Hohola
    7. Koki
    8. Badili
    9. Gabutu
    10. Korobosea
    11. Gordons
    12. Waigani
    13. Ensisi
    14. Erima
    15. Gerehu
  6. Suburbs/area’s you may not want to visit without a local are:
    1. June Valley
    2. Morata
    3. Sabama
    4. Erima
    5. Gerehu past stage 3
    6. Gordon’s Market
    7. Koki Market area
  7. Where can you get a Coffee? There are lots of places, however my favorites are:
    1. My Place 🙂 (we only drink PNG coffee – yum!)
    2. Other people’s places – especially when they like PNG coffee too 😉
    3. Duffy’s
    4. Edge Café
    5. Fusion Restaurant
    6. Airways Hotel
    7. Brumby’s at Vision City (when the machine is working)
    8. Royal Papua Yacht Club
    9. Espresso Café – Deliotte Tower (only cause I work upstairs)
    10. Boncafe – Deliotte Tower (Only cause I work upstairs, they open at 7:30am, and we get to see their pet rats that run around behind them…)
  8. So, you are now hungry – here’s my favourite eateries
    1. Fusion Restaurant – Wonton Noodle Soup
    2. Duffy’s – for their beef pie’s
    3. The Edge Café – The steak sandwich or Egg’s Benedict
    4. The Imperial – Salty Fish Rice
    5. Asia Aroma’s – Salt & Pepper Squid
    6. Stone Grill or Tapa’s at The Yachty – RPYC
    7. Friday night Fish n Chips at Sail’s Café – RPYC
    8. Sail’s Café – Egg’s Benedict
    9. Ten Japanese Restaurant – It’s all good, but try the special buffet lunch
    10. The Aviat – Burger and Chips. But standard lunch menu is a good pub lunch
    11. Koitaki – for local beef
    12. Bluff Inn – for a burger and chips
    13. Airways – Buffet Lunch
    14. Ela Beach Hotel – Pizza
    15. Foodstation – Pizza and Fish n Chips
    16. Ang’s – Best duck in town
    17. Sunset Lodge Lea Lea – BYO food to cook on the wood fired BBQ
    18. Big Rooster – for Fried Chicken (which I don’t eat BTW) and the best chips in PNG
    19. Tasty Bite – for steaks and Mexican… kidding Indian 😉
  9. And if you really have to eat at home, then you need some groceries
    1. Waterfront Supermarket (is 10 to 15% more expensive, but it’s nice, so we go there 🙂 )
    2. Boroko Foodworld at Gordons – still the best damn sausages anywhere… and I mean anywhere!! Was the place to go a few years ago until the new supermarkets opened
    3. RH Hypermart in Vision City – I really like their Ham, and quite often are a lot cheaper than anywhere else, they also have a Brumby’s bakery onsite
    4. SVS Harbourcity – used to be our old supermarket, now it just looks old… pretty grotty place, but you can find things here that you can’t anywhere else. Might be because they have less clientele now
    5. Waigani Central Stop and Shop (or Stab and Grab for a bit of fun) – has some of the best range of cheese around.
    6. RH Hypermart opposite Brian Bell – grotty grotty grotty, hold your fecken wallets…. Actually not a bad place 😉 you can get items here that no one else stocks
    7. SVS 2 Mile – has possibly the best stock of spices around
    8. SVS Koki – used to be (a long time ago) part of the Anderson’s Chain. Been there, not worth going back
    9. The Shed at PAU Markets – my favourite place for fresh fruit and vege, only open Sunday morning at 14 mile, make sure you spread some cash around the outside market as well – some of the locals grow the best pumpkin you have had in your life!   Even my kids eat it – and kids never eat pumpkin, they are normally forcefed…
    10. Malaro Markets – no wallets, old clothes, go with a local the first time 🙂 best market in Pom. Although you can get fresh fish at Koki Market, or on the side of the road – this is the best place to come.
    11. Side of the road – some of the best fruit and vege is found on the side of the road by a bunch of street sellers, people like Anna Banana and Peter bring fruit down from Sogeri and sell it at strategic places around the city (like the school when it’s pickup time). You can haggle a little with them (please don’t be too harsh), and if you buy banana’s, make sure they are green – they are the bestest!
    12. Sogeri – if you drive up to Sogeri in Pineapple season, buy some! If you have never had “real” pineapple (or banana’s for that matter) before – then you are in for a treat.


Part 2 to come…..