An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Checking it All Out

I am making quite a lot of new friends. In fact I would say that I have made more new friends here in a week (outside of work mates) than I ever did while living in Sydney. It is quite a lot easier obviously when you live in a smaller community. For example I met my next door neighbour last night, and we had a chat over a glass of wine in his place for a couple of hours. I have probably only talked to the next door neighbours in Bourke st maybe 3 or 4 times. My next door neighbour up here is an Aussie guy, who lectures in the architecture dept. He is not a volunteer, but was actually born up here, but has lived most of his life in Oz. We got on really well.

This morning I was held up by a little local lady outside my door as I started off to work. She had a reference and was wondering if I wanted a house cleaner and someone to iron my clothes. For the equivalent of $4 I now have a Haus Meri, who will come once a week, and do all the things I used to avoid in Oz like clean the toilets and bathroom, and iron my shirts. Whose complaining?

Yesterday I visited the Rainforest Habitat, that they have on campus. It was pretty good. Got to see Tree Kangaroos, and the PNG echidna which is bigger than the Oz variety. They have birds of paradise there, a saltwater croc and cassowaries etc. So I had fun with my camera snapping away. I was the only visitor at the time so one of the workers let me into the tree kangaroo/echidna pen and I got to wander around and get up close to them. If anyone comes and visits me, this will be on the destination list.

Went out on the town on Friday night to a local club with some of the AVI volunteers who live in town. It is certainly no London or Sydney, but I am sure it could have been worse. The local beer was cheap at least. They have an obsession it seems with 80's music though.

Speaking of price, anything local is very cheap. You can buy fresh food and vegetables at markets for next to nothing, and there is a little campus market which is about 100m away from my place. The price for about half a dozen Kau Kau (Sweet Potato), is 1 Kina (40 cents). Carrots are a similar price/quantity. 1 Kina for a pineapple, same for a coconut. To go into town on a PMV it cost's 50 toea (about 20 cents). A local newspaper costs 1.50 Kina. It gets expensive on any imported goods. Electrical products are very pricey, and there seems to be a massive mark-up somewhere along the line. eg a DVD player costs 1000Kina ($400), where a similar one in Oz would be $150.

So far I have done all my own cooking, but I need to get myself some more utensils like a wok etc. Last night I had chicken with kau kau chips, plus some veggies. Not too bad if I say so myself. Milk is a problem over here and it is like Asian countries where they only have UHT or powder milk, something I guess I will just have to live with.

Lae is not the prettiest town in the world and it is very spread out, it gets dusty when it doesn't rain, although last night we had a massive rainstorm that absolutely down-poured. It caused a brief blackout this morning with the wind. The university campus is pretty quite and laid back, but then the students haven't arrived yet. It is a flat place with mountains all around it in the distance. Through my bedroom window I get a great view of mountains that rise up to 4000m. They constantly have cloud wisping around them, pretty picturesque, although there is a powerline across the street that runs through the scene. On my 20 minutes walk to the office, I pass through sports fields, where they play cricket on the weekend at the moment and Rugby League during the southern winter months.