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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Back In Oz

Wow. I left the shores of PNG for the first time in ten months and still I am speaking pidgin to wantoks.

I am currently in Brisbane for the Conference on Communications in the Pacific, and there is quite a large contingent from PNG, which is good to see. In actual fact out of the 16 South Pacific countries here PNG has the largest group.

I have been told about free Internet access here at the University of Queensland Women's College (though it is now a mixed gathering as all the women students have left) where I am staying so I thought I would come and discover if this was true. If you are reading this then it is indeed correct.

Well where do I start about the differences I have already noticed from flying all the way from Lae to BrisVegas. The first thing I noticed was, how clean everything is! No Buai stains on the concrete anywhere.

Secondly all the jobs are filled with white people. White people everywhere. It is a given that if you see a white person in PNG they are certainly someone who has an important job (unless they are volunteer). In Oz, no such given.

Thirdly flying over Brisbane, the rows and rows of suburban houses. My god, I had forgotten. I know it has only been 10 months, but I have just become accustomed to seeing villages. Is this suburban sprawl really such a good thing?

Anyway, I will discuss these and other things at length when I have had a chance to ponder them more. Signing out from the Women's College.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Shorthand Observation

Tomorrow I fly out of PNG and back to Australia for a holiday. I have been here just over 10 months now and am almost at the half way mark in my assignment. Seeing as this holiday will almost neatly sever the assignment in two I thought now would be a good time to put down some of my thoughts on this fascinating country.

When I arrived I didn't know what to expect (old cliché I know). I had read almost nothing about the place (apart from the Lonely Planet) and to be honest I really didn't want to read much or know much full stop. I wanted to find out first hand. Not to have someone else throw in their thoughts and observations. This is what I like to do before I go to any place. I want to see it, live it, breathe it and immerse in it. Does this sound trite?

Well anyway instead of going through and writing out a long-winded post (you can already read them in other posts) I thought it would be easier if I summarise my conclusions on what I think I have lived, breathed, soaked and seen.

So here goes, my impressions of PNG the land and people - condensed:

Comely landscape.
Smoke-hazed valleys.
Moss-hued mountains.
Clear-felled scars.
Azure ocean.
Silt-stained harbours.
Emerald growth.
Deity-topped peaks.
Creaking earth.
Dog-terrifying thunderstorms.
Chaotic transport.
Car-swallowing potholes.
Beirut buses.
Spider-web windscreens.
Razor-wire fences.
Washed-out bridges.
Twisting highways.
Pig crossings.
Rutted tracks.
Toyota testing.
Monster knives.
Omnipresent gardens.
Convivial gatherings.
Effusive speeches.
Passionate preaching.
Credulous faith.
Hidden diablerie.
Covered nakedness.
Naked sing-sings.
Vehement revenge.
Hospitable charity.
Fecund villagers.
Puckish pikinnis.
Improvident government.
Resourceful residents.
Kit-gloved ex-pats.
Bow-and-arrow guards.
M16 raskols.
Vagary adventures.
Unexpected expected.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Tolai Baskets

I have been scanning in some photos that I have taken on my real camera and I thought these couple of pics taken at the Uni graduation ceremony in February were good. They show traditional Tolai baskets from East New Britain.

If you have read my profile you will realise that photography is a bit of a passion of mine. I am looking forward to be able to get six roles of slide film developed when back in Sydney. Of course more pics will then follow.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Not A Joking Matter

Sometimes is it great fun to be hooked up to the Uni e-mail system, just to receive some of things that back fire. I received the following e-mail during the week as a mass mailing. It is a harmless joke - not that funny but still harmless. Have a read, and then look at the replies.
God created the DONKEY and said," You will work tirelessly from sunrise to sunset carrying heavy bags on your back, you will eat grass, you will not have intelligence and you will live for 50 years.

The Donkey answered, "I'll be a donkey but living 50yrs is too much, give me only 20yrs. and God gave him 20 yrs.

God created the DOG and said, "You will look after man's house, you will be his best friend, you will eat whatever they give you and you will live for 25 years.

The Dog answered, "I'll be a Dog but living 25yrs. is too much, give me only 10 yrs. and god gave him 10 yrs.

God created the MONKEY and said, you will jump from branch to branch, you will do silly things, you will be amusing and you will live 20 years.

The Monkey answered, I'll be a Monkey, but living 20 yrs is too much, give me only 10 yrs. and god gave him 10 yrs.

God created MAN and said, "You will be a man, the only human being on this earth and you will use your intelligence to control other animals, you will dominate the world and you will live for 20 years.

The Man answered, "I'll be a man, but living 20 years is not enough, why don't you give me the 30 years the donkey refused, the 15 years that the Dog refused and the 10 years the monkey refused...?


MAN lives 20 years like a MAN ... then he gets married and spends 30 years like a DONKEY, working and carrying the load on his back ... then when his children leave, he spends 15 years like a DOG looking after the house and eating whatever is given to him ... FINALLY he gets old and retires and spends the next 10 years like a MONKEY jumping from house to house or from children to children doing silly things to amuse his grandchildren.
Now as you will probably realise by now, PNG is a pretty Christianised place. One thing that you don't mess with is people's beliefs. The following were received not long after.
Its a big mockery to the true nature of the creation of Man and the world.......

Does not look funny or amusing to me...
and ...
Please be selective when mass mailing......

I hate to be a parttaker to your mockery!!!

The funniest thing about this episode was the follow-up reply sent out by the original forwarder. I did not receive it but I got to read it on one of my colleague's machines. They said they were deeply sorry if people had been offended and that their computer currently had a virus and that this was the reason the e-mail got sent out!!

Now it doesn't take a genius to realise what a piece of bollocks this is, no virus I know of is smart enough to selectively read your e-mails and then forward them on. Perhaps the reason I did not receive this reply is that I would have immediately seen through this smoke screen.

Anyway, I did receive a funnier e-mail during the week from Roger that I am sure would have most of the Uni staff up in arms and forming a lynch mob. Hopefully no one from Uni will ever find this site!
A businessman is getting on a flight when he hears from the other passenger that the Pope is going to be on the flight. "WOW, great!" he thinks. "What a good place to be today."

He is boarding, but he doesn't see the Pope, so he figures that maybe the other passengers were wrong. He takes his seat and is thankful that there is an empty seat next to him. Just before the flight closes, the Pope enters the plane and sits next to him. I am surely blessed the man thinks. Here I am a good Catholic on a flight with the Pope sitting next to me.

The plane takes off, and after a few minutes the passengers take off their seatbelts. The man looks sideways and sees the Pope reaching into his bag to take out a crossword book. Marvellous, he thinks, not only am I blessed with the Pope next to me, but he does crosswords and so do I. Maybe he will ask for help. He notices that the Pope is working his way through the puzzle, and that the Pope is tapping his pencil, thinking.

The Pope turns to him and says: "I usually don't talk to others on flights, but I wonder if you can help me?"

"Anything your eminence. What is it?".

"Do you know a four letter word for 'woman' that ends in u-n-t?"

The man feels uncomfortable. He thinks and thinks. Finally he says, "The only word I can think of is aunt."

The Pope turns to him and asks, "Do you have an eraser?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Watching My Garden Grow

Going away for five weeks of holidays next week has not made me worried about my garden. There is one thing that is almost guaranteed in the tropics and that is the plants can survive quite well on their own. In fact the only slight worry is that the weeds may take over, and give the proper plants a run for their money.

The reason is obviously that here we get an average of something like 4500mm of rain a year, if you work in the old scale that is 177 inches! Thankfully though the best thing about all the rain is that majority of it falls at night. This is a double blessing, as it means that the days are usually nice and sunny, except during the rainy season from May to September, and the nights are cooled down by the rain. I am really digging this weather.

In terms of gardening it is too easy here. Long term readers will remember how the security guard for our street fixed up the dead area out the back of my house by planting cuttings from various "flower" plants (not really flowering plants, but anything that is not something you can eat and looks pretty gets called a flower). Well the majority of those cuttings are well established now and have taken hold - leafily blooming.

My other attempts at the green thumb are equally doing well. About six months ago I chucked in a hole planted some turmeric, that me and Martin (next-door neighbour) bought from Papindos. They had little nodes on them and looked like they would grow well. They have certainly done that and have virtually taken over a whole area.

Not long after planting the turmeric, Martin gave me some cuttings of galangal (any fan of Thai cooking will be know about this little gem), which he was delighted to find growing around the academic area. I put this in near the turmeric and that has since gone the same way, very happily.

After those successes I thought I would see how some plain old ginger would go (funnily enough ginger is always sold here at markets and used in most of the cooking, but turmeric is hardly ever used and most people would not even know that you could eat galangal). Well surprising the ginger after a slow start is now going great guns as well.

Is there nothing I can't grow? By the looks of it no. I have not even mentioned the lemongrass yet, which is going berserk nearby.

My turmeric, galangal (flowering), ginger and lemongrass

My major problem that has arisen is that I need to pull some of them out and replant elsewhere, before they start to strangle each other. This shouldn't be too hard to do and I will get onto it this weekend before I head back to Oz.

The other thing that I am proud of is the coconut that I planted near the drain at the back. Although it is not growing as quickly as the turmeric or galangal this little guy will someday be a massive coconut tree. If I ever come back in ten or twenty years time I hope that I will be able to look at my coconut tree and say "I planted that", and then get a mangi to climb up and fetch me some kulau.

My coconut palm

So far, all my plants are doing fine, without any help what-so-ever. If only PNG as a whole was like this.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

So Long Old Salty

Because I cannot think of anything decent to type about at the moment I thought I would share some observations from another AVIer, Geoff, who has been stranded out on the Duke of York islands in East New Britain.

He has sent us vols some fantastic e-mails through the year of his experiences and last night I got his final one as he is now packing up and heading back to SE Queensland to go and live on his property. The assignment was particularly tough for him, with the place he was living in more like a cell than a house. With no fridge, no stove, no running water and no fan, it became a tad too much to handle. So he is pulling up stumps and fulfilling one year out of the two.

The job he was working at was as a teacher at a high school/technical college on one of the islands. He was supposedly trying to teach the kids boat building. From his e-mails more often than not he was parting with knowledge on other marine topics, such as engine maintenance and the like. Seeing he has lived for a good proportion of his life on the sea I am sure he has lots to impart. Whether that was soaked up by the students is another question though.

He has a very observant eye and a great ability to share this in words, so I thought I would pass some of his better stories onto a wider audience. I am sure he wont mind other people reading them.
The following recounts a typical Development Day: We kicked off with an assembly, which was about twenty minutes late, as there were not enough students. At about ten minutes past the time at which we should have started, the manager said to me, "We will just wait until some more students come." We eventually managed to drum a few more out of their hiding places, and they listlessly formed into lines on the parade ground, girls to the left boys to the right, and as far apart as possible regardless of teachers' urgings to fill the centre lines. (There is no visible interaction between the sexes, and that, goes for the adult community as well. Men are frequently seen holding hands with each other, but never with a meri. It seems that romance does not exist, and women are used for cooking, carrying and copulation.) I counted twenty one boys, and about the same number of girls. When I asked a boy who cooked breakfast, and I was told Hoseah, I asked him, how many plates he had put out for breakfast. He said thirty-six. Hmmm, thirteen absconders between breakfast and work parade. Nobody else seemed concerned, though.

The manager told them, in Tok Pisin, "Yumi olgeta go wok long gaden". Now, I'm not sure why, but any address given in Tok Pisin goes on, and on and on. It's a bit like listening to the World Tomorrow with Garner Ted Armstrong in Lithuanian. He, the manager, not Garner Ted, explained 'why' go wok long gaden, 'how' go wok long gaden, when, where and what go wok long gaden. He explained the roles of the meri (girls) and the mange (boys), what is expected of the tisas (teachers), their mission is to capture escapees, metre punishment, prevent, which really means monitor, theft, and smoke and chew in the shade. He also set few other parameters, gave those who had not yet paid their fees a rev, and I think he might have elucidated on the Old Testament, but I wasn't paying much attention by this time.

Then, weapons of mass agriculture were issued, most of which were bush knives. A bush knife is really a machete, but much longer and much more lethal. Most PNG people, even from an extraordinarily young age, have their own, perhaps they're given as prizes in school; I've never seen anybody with a book. I was also pleased to see a wheelbarrow and several hoes' er, that means 'hoes', as in garden implement, of the 'row to hoe' variety, has nothing to do with rappers' girlfriends, and is not a reference to the girl students who seem very nice. Finally, at about ten, we straggled off across the ten acre, mown patch to the garden at just under a slow dawdle, but by lining some of them up with coconut trees, I could see that they were at least still moving. As they went, I counted again this time there were just seventeen boys; it seems we had (or didn't have) four more defaulters. When we eventually arrived at the kaukau patch, some of the boys set-to with a will, heaping up soil into 'mountains' with their hoes (snigger), while others, those without wills probably, followed the teachers' example and got busy sitting down in the shade.

When I'm the garden, it's as though I'm transported back in time. The image the boys present (although most of them are young men) as they toil and sweat in the sun, with primitive hand tools, ragged clothes and black sweaty skins, while teachers strut around, for all the world like plantation overseers, reminds me of the slave labour I see in the Hollywood blockbusters. I actually found myself humming Bringing in the Sheaves, one day. I might try fixing a beady glare and intone: "What we have here, is a failure to commuunykate!" (Cool Hand Luke) The girls began 'thrashing' what was left of our rice crop. They'd pull up a rice bunch, straggle across to the wheelbarrow, and stand there picking off the grains, then after a few minutes, they'd throw that bunch on the heap to be burnt, and straggle back for another bunch. I showed them how to push the barrow close to the rice, which would reduce the straggling time, and how to thrash the bunches against the sides of the barrow making all the grains fall off at once. I was pleased to see that they followed my example, but intrigued that when I left them to it, they soon went back to their original method.

Time means nothing in the islands, imagine what it would be like if there was no need for money, and there were no jobs. Very few people, probably less than one percent, own watches, and many can't tell the time anyway. When we leave Kokopo in the boats, the operators often ask me the time, and rather than try to make myself heard over the sound of the motor, I show them my watch, but invariably they look at it blankly, and flick their eyebrows at me. Time means nothing when there's nowhere to go, and nothing to do when you get there. We (white men) see work efficiency as a good thing, but they, the islanders, could well see hurrying as wasting their life. If a job is finished in one day instead of two, might death be one day closer. Is our allotted span decreed by time, or what we do in it. Without time, punctuality is also an abstract concept. Meetings start when everybody gets there, school bells ring at any old time, and if there are not enough students for assembly, we wait, some might come. When the lunch bell goes, for example, it's often impossible to tell whether it's the bell to end smoko, or begin lunch. They seem to think that if the bell hasn't been rung for a while, they might as well do it now; it's better to ring it than not ring it, right! I might add that the two time keepers appointed at the beginning of the year, did not possess a watch between them, and recently the girls who have been paitim belo (fight, or hit, him lunch bell) have been instructed to do so, by the Home Ec teacher whose watch is twenty minutes fast, and she doesn't know how to re-set it. She knows it's fast, but still tells them to paitim the damn belo.

Development Day dragged by under the hot tropical sun. I busied myself by heaping the rice trash up to be burnt, but another teacher told me that they usually leave it laying about to protect the soil. I was a bit piqued that they hadn't told me sooner, as I'd already made some pretty big piles and I didn't feel like spreading it all out again. I left it, and I'm glad I did because later, the Manager had the boys pile it all up and burn it anyway. If the left hand doesn't know what the right's doing, sticks and stones won't hurt if it leads a horse to water? you know what I mean. It's Papua New Guinea, and this level of relaxed, confident confusion, goes all the way up to the House of Parliament.

There is a sound, that probably pervades all tropical areas, that can strike instant fear into the hearts of anyone who hears it. It's the sound of coconuts hurtling through the canopy, and, if you're lucky, thudding to earth. If you hear that sound directly above you, it's too late to do anything, the deadly green missile is already speeding on its way and before you have time to react, it ploughs into the ground alongside you, hopefully, and you won't have to worry about lunch, that day. If you don't hear it hit the ground, you're already dead, and you won't have to worry about anything else ever again! People do not sit or loiter under coconut trees around here. The morning wore on, the hot sun burning the ground. Then, thud, thud, thud! Thud! When you hear multiple thuds, it means that one of the kids has gone aloft to get lunch, and sure enough one of the Pomio boys was high in a tree, raining down kulau. This was the signal for the work to fall into total and utter disarray, and at about eleven, with full bellies after a feed of kulau, we broke for lunch, but everybody seemed satisfied with their efforts and there's always another day here on Duke of York.
And some more:
The Sunday arvo soccer game took a new twist today; it was lady's day. The girls took the field, and during the next hour or so, absolute mayhem ruled. My manager's wife, who, I might add has a very large bosom, played centre forward for a while, and I didn't like to watch, and Mrs Levai was a picture of inelegance, in a gaping singlet. Two of the ladies appeared to be sharing one set of soccer boots, probably borrowed from hubby because the field was wet, and several continued to play in ankle-length laplaps. But for sheer good natured fun it was unbeatable. A young woman standing near me, laughed, hooted, giggled, barracked, snorted and cheered. She went through every possible human emotion, and she was just one of about a hundred. Great fun. The game finished at nil all. A lapun said, when I asked him what the score was, said sagely, "No score; they can play, but they can't score." I thought that was particularly observant. Sexist, but observant.

A lapun is an "elder". I am lapun. The average life span for men here, is fifty four; I'm fifty-nine (and looking good, I might add.). I might be the oldest man in the Bismark Archipelago.
And with homage to Banjo Paterson, here is my personal favourite.
An Aussie Vollie at Kokopo, caught the cycling craze,
And bought the latest Chinese model. It cost him six full pays.
He saddled up, peddled off, the locals stood and gaped,
But when he tried to reign it in; the damn thing had no brakes.

He bought a spanner, fixed 'em up, and started off again,
"This here's the go! Look at me, sailing 'round the bend!
A breeze in my face; it's all downhill; this is the way to travel."
He could not know, the wretched wheels, had started to unravel.

The spokes were loose, he heard them rattle, they made the bike feel floppy,
"Hmm." He muttered beneath his breath, "A vollie could get stroppy."
He stopped again, in blazing heat, and watched by local blokes,
He turned that cycle on its head, and tuned up all the spokes.

He leapt aboard his two wheeled beast, the locals stood in awe,
A white man, on a bicycle had never been seen before.
Hellooo, hellooo, and apinun, the chorus cheers him on,
A wave of sound, hot on his heels, like running the marathon.

But soon his way leads up a rise; the world's not all down-hill.
His breath proves short, his legs too long, the seat seems made of steel.
He changes gear, the chain comes off, and makes a graunching sound,
And long before he tops that hill, he stops to look around.

A grassy verge- he takes a rest- considering his plight.
It's not as though he needs to, though, he's really quite alright.
It's not that he's old- just a little less bold; the sweat drips off his chin.
Although he's not a teenager; he never could give in.

With greasy, blackened fingers now, grinding up the hill,
His breath! It roars! there is no air! The crowd, staring still.
He'll not yield to that mighty peak, the summit is the prize
Which, if you're paying attention, has grown from just a rise.

Colour drains from his immediate world, there is no life but pain,
And then he makes a solemn pledge: Don't come this way again.
At a weary wobbly walking pace, his legs both turn to water,
A tiny voice says take a rest; he thinks he bloody-well oughter.

But no! he peddles on, and on, the summit is his for the taking,
And finally in victory, he stands there, legs a-shaking.
His arse on fire, his heart as though, pummelled by native beaters,
He slowly turns and looks back down that dreadful hundred metres.

"What's that!" I'm sure you cry, dismayed, "Are you for bloody real?"
He turns and kicks that Asian junk, a beauty in the wheel.
"A hundred bloody metres! All this for bloody that!"
He turns and boots the bike again, in tit for bloody tat!
It will be sad to miss out on more of these humorous PNG anecdotes, coupled with reworkings of famous poems. Things always move on though.

Have a safe trip back and all the best for the future mate.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Some People Are Roughing It

If you are observant you may have noticed that I have added a link on the side to the "Tenkile Conservation Alliance". This funky and catchy name is basically just a two person show run by my fellow Aus Volunteers Jim and Jean.

Now Jim and Jean are doing it rough. They are out in bush in the West Sepik province at a place called Lumi. They are living in a bush house with no running water and power supplied from a couple of solar panels. In their latest report Jean is quite happy to have a hot shower for the first time in 9 or so months when we were all in Goroka for our AVI conference.

The work they are doing there is to try and save an endangered tree kangaroo called the Tenkile. This little fella lives in the mountains near Lumi and has been hunted close to extinction. Jim is a zoologist by trade and his job is to go on scout trips to try and find scats and other clues to check numbers of the Tenkile.

Jean's job is to try and educate the villagers to let them know that the Tenkile is special and should not be hunted but saved. From the presentation they gave us at the conference it looks like they are really starting to make progress in this regard.

My hat goes off to these two. Not only do they have to really rough it, but they also have to manage the whole project themselves including trying to obtain funding. Their two year assignment with AVI is running out at the end of the year, but they have decided to extend for another year and AVI has agreed they will look after them, which is great.

Keep up the good work guys.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Shoot Shots

As promised before here are some pics from the shoot yesterday.

Roger after "make-up"

Slip and slide in the mud

Time for his bath

The Mangis in their suits

Salamaua Without Malaria

I am now back at the Uni after a great weekend was had over at Salamaua.

I would definitely say it was better than the last time there. Not because of the huge party including midnight swim and attempted sleeping on a beach. Not because of the beautiful weather, swimming off from and paddling an out-rigger canoe. And not because of the use of creative expression in making a film but simply because this time I didn't have Malaria!

Salamaua is such a fantastic place to hang out. Great beach, clean water, absolutely fantastic scenery and not to mention the great company. It is just a shame the company will be shortly heading out of there and back to the UK.

Helen is coming back though and will be living in Port Moresby next year at an International School earning something ridiculous like 18 times her volunteer salary. Wendy is staying back home in cold dreary London for what I am sure will be a massive reverse culture shock before surprisingly enough taking a course in film making (something which I have been encouraging her to do for six months, good to see that it will now happen).

As to the events I have alluded to, well Saturday was a chill out sort of day, hung around H & W's house, "storying" with Wendy, while Helen did a day trip to Lae to get her flights back to the UK sorted. In the afternoon we scoped out the locations for the shoot, which was still on for Sunday.

The scopeing basically consisted of us hacking our way through a sago swamp, looking for some sort of dark and dank hole for us to inflict onto Roger. What we found was more of a "leafy or viney grotto" to use Rogers term when he saw in on Sunday.

Later I got to see the world of the rich ex-pats partying. Certainly an eye-opener. At least we managed to arrive at it in true volunteer style - by canoe.

Wendy had organised the hire of one from the village across the bay from the ex-pats houses on the spit. So on dusk Wendy and me trundled down and grabbed it. Helen had decided not to come and just have a quiet night at home with her national teacher b/f, AJ. This was the source of much amusement later for obvious reasons.

On the canoe, after the usual go in circles style for a bit, we eventually got it straighten and slowly made the half hour or so trip over. We dragged the canoe up the beach at someone's house and made sure it was OK there before we went found the party. I must have looked a sight walking in with two paddles perched on top of my shoulder, we were not even sure if we were invited. We soon found Roger and the others and quickly got into the swing of things. Drunkenness occurred quickly, more so for some more than others.

Some of the ex-pats were completely hammered by the time we got there, including the guy who was leaving, Captain Tim. It seems they had started at the yacht club at 11 that morning and then of course continued on the boat over until when we arrived. One ex-pat was not the kind of drunk I usually like to hang out with. Afterwards I nicknamed him "fridge" as he was the size of one but not as smart - at least in a fridge the light comes on. It was the first time most of the group had met him, but that didn't stop him nearly causing a few blues. At one point he called Wendy a "bitch" to her face, which no doubt offended her and the rest of us, it would have been unwise to try something with all his equally massive mates there so we just let it pass. But in true Wendy style later she went and sat next to him while he was alone on the beach and had a heart-to-heart to discuss the real reason for his bitterness.

Later there was the stupid idea of dragging one of the pilots off and attempting to throw him in the water. Unfortunately he was a big bloke as well, and when the three of us carrying him got to the water edge, which was at the low point in a wave cycle, a wave broke and we all got washed in. Not sure if it was because I was drunk or if it was normal, but the water was superbly warm.

No change of clothes for me so I was drip-drying for the rest of the night, which made it difficult to try and sleep anywhere later. The breeze kept me shivering, no matter if on the beach or on the lounge. But by the sounds of it I got a much better sleep than other people trying in the big bunk bed room at the back. Fridge decided to keep everyone else awake in the room by talking in his sleep to his 12 imaginary friends, one of whom was a fish. Turns out there was no bitterness in him, he was just completely long-long (mad).

Sunday morning was tough. Originally we were worried if we were going to be able to get organised in time to get the shoot finished. We shouldn't have. With all the movement and noise in the house through-out the night and Captain Tim pulling an all nighter - impressive work, those Army guys must train hard - we were all up not-so-bright and early. I saw the pre-dawn and the sun rise, which I can't say I have done often, let alone on a Sunday.

We got our canoe towed back behind Alex's company's boat, which was fun. Roger disembarked at the high school while the boat roared off to the Yacht club. Later after coffee, a wash and a rest we got organised for the shoot.

Roger got his costume and got muddied up and we did his dank hole scene first. Then the water scenes followed including the Mangi's scene of them splashing around. We did the canoe scenes after and then, Wendy and me paddled it all the way back to the owners house which took about 2 hours. I don't think it helped that Wendy decided to swim alongside for a way and then when I had my turn she couldn't keep it straight and ended up going around in circles so therefore I had to swim back to her.

Anyway, by the end of the day Wendy's back looked like a cooked lobster, I was completely had it from all the paddling/lack of sleep and Roger kept nodding off in his chair while we had dinner.

Roger and me got up brighter and early this morning and with the company of Helen went down to the village to get a banana boat back. I felt sorry for the owners of the boat we originally jumped onto, which had a big 75 horsepower engine (usually they are 40hp), as we jumped ship when we stopped to get fuel at another village and boarded the high school boat that showed up with AJ on board. We managed to get a free lift out of it, which is always good.

It was certainly a great weekend and probably the best I have had while being here. Later I shall post some pics of the shoot yesterday.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Tropfest: The Progress

I am heading off to Salamaua this afternoon, via the usual way of banana boat. Last weekend the proposed shoot didn't happen for a variety of reasons, so we decided to postpone it to the next weekend. So that being this weekend we need to get the Salamaua scenes shot otherwise .. well it won't happen.

The scenes we shoot there require the use of a outrigger canoe, so Wendy has been given instructions to organise that with some of the villagers nearby. She also needs to rouse some Mangis (boys) for one of the scenes where they come splashing into the water. The costumes that I got mum to send me for the mangis in that scene are those white painting suits with a hood you can get from a hardware store, it should look good to see a dark face pearing out.

The Director and a canoe. Taken on my last trip to Salamaua

Our main star Roger is coming over on Saturday afternoon, it just so happens that this weekend also coincides with a big piss-up over at the ex-pat houses in Salamaua. One of the Australian army guys from the barracks here is having a "go finish". I have no idea who it is, but Roger knows him.

The shoot will therefore take place on Sunday. Hopefully Roger will be coherent enough when the time comes. It shouldn't be particulary stressful, and it won't hurt him if he is a bit hung-over, as he is being washed up onto a beach after floating in the sea for a period of time.

On Monday night when Wendy and me went around to Rogers to discuss the schedule we were treated to a tape of all the scenes that he has been an extra in from various shows. There were a few from the "X-Files", a couple from the "Commish", some from other shows and one from that awful movie "Look who's talking 3". It was a laugh to get the background info on how these extras get paid, get directed etc. I will take more interest in them next time I watch a show.

Not sure when I am going to make it back. It will probably be either Sunday afternoon on an ex-pats boat, or bright and early on Monday morning with the rest of the plebs in a banana boat.

The weekend after, Wendy is coming back and this time we definitely have to shoot the Lae scenes. It will be the only time that we will get to do it. I will be gone on the following Tuesday and W cannot come back for a couple of weeks later and by then it will start to clash with the Christmas rush.

So fingers crossed hopefully we can get it sorted. Stay tuned ... again ...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

After that particularly bleak previous post, I thought I would share again my favourite photo taken in PNG.

Everybody say "ahhhh..."

Inherent Violence

I have only just recently noticed that I received a comment on my "Highlands Highway Survivor" tale. Thanks for the comments Harold, but your subsequent link to your experiences while here in 2002 has now got me thinking about PNG being a violent and dangerous place.

I know that it is as I keep getting reminders from Aus Dept of Foreign Affairs, but for me I have never really seen this side of PNG. When someone a couple of months ago asked just this question on Lonely Planet's Thorntree I replied saying in general that it was fairly safe you just need to be vigilant.

I still think this is pretty well spot on advice, but I can't help now to think that I am particularly lucky to have missed and bypassed the undercurrent of violence that is inherent here. I mean if Harold just comes here for a couple of weeks of holiday and manages to see all sorts go down in Goroka, how come I have missed it.

Others keep telling me plenty of tales.

One of the volunteers on the April despatch who went down to Alotau, which is supposedly meant to be one of the safest towns in the country, saw a couple of kids rob a shop on his first day of work. The proceeding lynch mob that quickly assembled and beat the kids nearly to death, before a cop came and managed to somehow shoot and kill one will be a memory I am sure he won't forget.

Or closer to home, Helen (my mate from Salamaua) was out the front of another mates place in town and had her bilum snatched. She had left it on the ground while she tried to lock the gate and a passing raskol grabbed it and sprinted off. Helen called out to stop him and some guys grabbed him. They with the help of security guards from the nearby hotel, managed to again beat him close to death. Apparently later on the hotel staff were out at the spot hosing off the blood.

The security guards all carry cudgels around. Other AVIers in town have seen raskols beaten up while trying to flee from a shop.

The closest I have been to witnessing an incident like this was only the other day when I saw a guard take a swing at a running kid. The kid knew what would happen if he tried to keep going so immediately dropped to the ground. I was driving at the time and passed by before I could see if anything else happened.

There is no doubting that this is a violent place. Let's not beat around the bush. But most of the violence is directed at each other and I think you would be extremely unlucky for it to be directed at you. Saying that though it does happen. Testament is the Australian pilot who was shot dead during the year as he came out of getting money from an ATM machine in Hagen.

As my colleague Joy said the other day "PNG is like the ocean. It can be friendly and it can be rough".

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

On The Buses

One of the things that really freaked me out and had me worried for my safety, when I first arrived, was catching the PMV's (Public Motor Vehicle) aka bus.

I guess it could have been something to do with the stories you hear before you get here, about robberies and people holding up buses all the time etc etc. It even comes as an official statement from the Australian government.
Public Motor Vehicles (PMVs) in Papua New Guinea are unreliable and can be hazardous due to poor maintenance and frequent robberies. Roads are generally in poor condition. Taxis are unreliable and also targets for robbery and where possible, visitors should rent self drive vehicles from a reputable care hire company or use hotel transport where available.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade Travel Advice for Papua New Guinea. Monday, 08 November 2004.
The biggest problem I have with the above, is that there are no taxis in Lae. So the only way to get to and from town without your own vehicle is to catch a PMV.

Like I said this was a source of nervous tension when I first needed to do this. It was a week after I got here and I did not know anyone apart from the guys I met at work. I decided that I should get in touch with the other AVIers in town, so I rang them and agreed to meet up on Friday night, we would go out to Phil's, have a good time and I would crash at one of their places.

Now I got my stuff together after work on Friday and with some angst went and jumped on to the first bus that I heard shouting "erikuuutaunerikuutaun....".

I might at this point mention the way buses operate. There are two guys on them who do the work. One is the driver, and one is the "bos kru" (boss crew - a PNG equivalent of a conductor). The bos kru is the friendly face of the PMV and the one who collects all the fares and does the important job of yelling out the front passenger window announcing where the bus is going. Now obviously the bos krus takes great pride in this job because they have managed to almost invent a whole way of speak to do this.

"erikuuutaunerikuutaun...." (repeat continuously) is a call out that the bus is heading to Eriku and Town. This is easy enough to decipher as all the buses from Uni go to Eriku and Town. The problem as I will point out later is when you get multiple buses going to multiple destinations.

Anyway back to my story. I jumped onto the bus and was heading into Eriku. No problems there. I even got chatting to a guy in front. Then when we got to Eriku and I told him I was heading off to a mate's place, he offered to escort me all the way. Too easy. All this talk about security is just hot air I thought.

I met up with the guys, had a good night, and crashed on a spare bed. The next morning I decided that I should go and do some investigation of the town on foot. I head over to the Eriku shopping street and sussed it out before I thought I might investigate the town a bit and decided to walk off towards town proper. In hindsight not a great thing to do, not because it is particularly unsafe during the day, but because it is a bloody long way.

On the way I got numerous stares, hellos and thumbs up from the locals though. Obviously I was not doing something that many white guys do. I checked out the Botanical Gardens, paid my 90 toea walking-in entrance fee and immediately decided that this place had seen better days. The place was more jungle than garden.

I walked on past the hospital as soon as I decided that it was impossible to take a short-cut through the gardens without taking along a bush knife. Eventually after about one and half hours walking I got in to town proper and had a look through some of the shops before deciding that I was seriously getting a burnt neck (I was only wearing a peak cap), and it was time to head off back home.

Now this is when the fun started. At the main bus stop in town it was manic. About a hundred people crowding around while the buses got themselves into a jam trying to get out and onto the street and to their destinations which the were being shouted out in that bos kru language. "makittmakittmakitt...", "barrookankoomingbarrook...". My problem was that none of the bos krus from what I could determine were singing out Unitech.

The buses have a route number spray painted on them, and I knew I had to catch an 11c or even better an 11u bus, but I couldn't see any. So I hung around for about half an hour before I decided this was just too much. I decided I would be better to walk back to Eriku, than to try and decipher this. First though I tried to see if I could see any Uni vehicles driving past. No luck.

I trudged back to Eriku via an alternate route which was shorter, keeping an eye out for those ZSU number plates that indicate a university vehicle. Once there it seemed the problem was similar to in town. Masses of people, buses seemingly going everywhere other than where I wanted.

At this point it would have been wise to just ask someone where the buses to the uni left from. Perhaps the reason why I didn't was because I started to believe those warnings that I had been told. I was still scratching my head when I saw what I thought was our departments vehicle pull up at the nearby BP and start fuelling up. Saved.

When I got there and after I started to tap the passenger window, I realised that it wasn't our vehicle at all. It turned out to be a bank manager from the biggest bank here, BSP. Luckily the guy was a nice bloke and he was headed out past the uni anyway and decided to give the dusty, sweaty, sunburnt, white guy a lift back.

OK. So after that disaster you would wonder how on earth I would ever attempt to catch the buses here. Well fast forward to now and I am jumping on and off, riding in the open door ways, fighting the swarms and the pickpocketers. I have got this gig under control.

The first trick is to realise that you wont get a bos kru calling out "Unitechunitech...", instead it will be "unigateunigateunigate...". Next you have to time it right. Saturdays, unfortunately for my first attempt, are the worst days to try and get out to the Uni. For starters they don't go all the way. They try and make a quick buck during the busy periods by only going half the distance from town and then head back. This will usually be to Kankumeng market, where you will be able to change and grab a ride to Uni gate.

The third trick is to have confidence to just fight to get on the buses when it is busy. You need to stand in the right spot where they will pull up, wait till you hear the bos kru sing out Uni gate and then squash to get on. This as I have stated previously is prime-time pickpocket-time. So you need to have a combination action of jabbing out the elbows and concentrating to make sure your pockets aren't getting felt. Luckily the gamin are not as adept as their European cousins.

Once you have all those skills mastered, it really isn't that bad. You just then have to put up with the quality of the buses. That is another post altogether.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Simple Things Amuse ...

Yesterday I got to do something that I have missed. Something that I have not done for close to a year. Something that used to be quintessentially Sunday morning for me. Perhaps it might sound familiar.

It was to lie on a lounge. Stare at mind-numbing shows on a TV. Point remote and flick when desired. Brilliant. Ahh the simple things.

Upon moving into my new and I must say great house here on the campus, I was disappointed to learn that I was missing a very important piece of furniture. A lounge. I inherited plenty of easy chairs (a sort of omni-present PNG style, perhaps south pacific, type of chair) the type where you can comfortably sit, put your feet up and read a book, but impossible to come close to completely horizontal because of the very solid arms.

So yesterday morning was bliss, pity that at the time I felt like utter crap.

I had just had a big night out in town. Which ended with me sleeping on Alex and Jonika's lounge. Upon waking up around 10 it was quite easy to reach and grab the remote and begin a day of veg. Other Zombies joined me, ones that I vaguely remember drinking with the night before and the zoning out continued.

It was broken by the need of some for fuel. This involved a short trip down to the local supermarket to get some fudd, and then back to fry it up. Unfortunately my stomach was in no mood to be social to what I was forcing it to talk to, so most of my plate just sat, went cold and felt sorry for itself.

The best thing about this though was not that I was feeling sick was that I was back to living a close to normal city life. Living out at the Uni, with no TV, no lounge and no local shop, I don't get to experience any of these wonderful civilised things. I try to compensate on Sundays by buying bacon and eggs and frying up myself, washed down by orange juice, but it is just not the same if you don't have a lounge and TV to veg out in front of afterwards.

Sad I know. Perhaps I need a holiday. Somewhere where I will get to experience all this on a regular basis and more. The more being the fact that there I can wander not just to local shop but to a local café and get someone else to fry me up some grease. Luckily one is on the way and sooner than I expected as well.

The boss rang me up last week at home and told me that he wants to send me off to a conference in Brisbane, no problem I said, when? 1st, 2nd and 3rd of December. A quite Wayhay! was thought. He then proceeded to explain the details, which I did not really take in. I was too busy thinking about what I could do with an extra 2 weeks in Oz. Maybe go for a bushwalk. Hmmm the possibilities.

Anyway I will end with some tips to people contemplating on coming to PNG. You will know that you have been away for too long when:

- You start writing about lounges
- Going to the local shop and buying a litre of milk seems like a great thing to do
- You pine for a café of any sort even a "greasy spoon"

Friday, November 12, 2004

Tropfest: The Project

Things are moving on with the Tropfest film project. Without giving too much information away about the actual details I will breifly explain the current status. I don't want to spoil it for anyone do I.

Wendy is coming to town this weekend and we are looking at shooting some footage in and around Lae, hopefully tomorrow. Some of the locations we may be going to use include the Architectural department building here on campus and the Yacht club and/or the crappy SP beach in town. I will have to discuss this with my Director.

I received last weekend, via a hand delivery from Helen, a rework of the script, which I had asked Wendy to do. I got her to include some more explanation at the beginning about the main character and his motivation behind his journey. She did a great job on this and it reads and sounds more complete now.

The script I forwarded onto Roger (our star) so that he could check it and make some of his own suggestions. I have not heard from him so I can only assume that he approves.

I also asked her if she could draw a storyboard so that we could keep track of all the scenes that we wanted to shoot. I think she did such a brilliant job at this, I will give some snipets.

I am getting a few of my contacts in Oz (well mum and a mate) also involved to help procure stuff that we can't get here. Mum is getting some costumes for me and Alex is getting me some film editing software. For obvious reasons I won't disclose which one, but let's just say that it is an intermediate level editing software between iMovie and Final Cut Pro.

Stay tuned ...

Mondex Truth

Well I thought in case you wanted to know the truth about the Mondex thing in the previous post, it has come to my attention that the Powerpoint slideshow I was sent, is in fact 90% false. You can read all about it and see the slides on the Urban Legend website. Good to know someone can be bothered to do the background research.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Soap-Box e-mail System

I have mentioned before how the Uni e-mail gets used for quite a bit of preaching and spouting off of various thoughts and ideologies but I did not include any examples. So after receiving one particularly good e-mail this morning I thought I would share it.

I have left it completely unaltered and in its original glory, so you can make up your own mind.

In 1992, there was a Samoan AOG World Conference held in New Zealand. The Late Evangelists Pastor Barry Smith prophecied that once BUSH became the president of USA there will be a great WAR. (it happened & its still on til this very moment)

Then Barry Smith also mentioned that if BUSH became president again, the next 4yrs (which is now) will be the time of the REVELATION. He also went onto details that within the 4yrs as of 2day, 1 day soon everything that is written in the word (BIBLE) will be revealed. All water supplies will turn into blood, The 666 (MONDEX) is already being used now as we speak & it can only be inserted in ya forhead & hand - its a size of the rice grain & its called the MONDEX it will soon take over all cash & ATM cards, there will be 1 currency (which is the EURO), then there will 1 leader who will be known as the president or prime minister or ruler europe etc.

Now, How did BARRY SMITH know that this was going to happen back in 1992??... The answer is simple, GOD spoke through him & told him to spread the word... & he did faithfully.

I know we hear it all the time (ENDLESSLY) that JESUS will be coming soon, but when POE mentioned BARRY SMITHs prophecy last sunday about BUSH becoming the president of USA again, there will be great sufferrings & more wars ahead of us within the 4yrs that we are living in NOW. I dont know how ya feel'n after reading this email.... but it is time for us as individuals to get all this msg out to all our un-saved family & friends before its too late.

This morning my mother was sharing with me about BS prophecy back in 1992 & now that BUSH has been reaveled president of USA again, it has really got me think'n about all my un-saved family & friends out there whom i really want to get this msg out too. If i can get this msg out like this, then so be it.

Anywayz i hope ya'll take this msg seriously & think about all those close to ya heart that you can save by letting them seeing CHRIST through you. i hope ya'll have an awesome day, may this msg save you're heart n soul through the power of CHRIST & at the same time be a blessing.
My first thoughts were "can't people use a spellchecker!".

As to the Mondex thing well I received the Powerpoint slideshow for that back in March with the comment "666 technology is here" in the e-mail. According to the e-mail Mondex are a company, owned by Mastercard, that are developing new technology which will enable you to make cash transactions via a chip implanted in your hand. Apparantley the right hand or forehead are the best places to put it. Well this certainly caused a stink with some Christians, because according to the Bible:
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Revelation 13: 16, 17
Interestingly now if you attempt to go to you will get the following message.
This Page is no longer active. You will be redirected to in 10 seconds.
When I did this back in March a full website appeared. Obviously Mastercard have decided to do a bit of rebranding and remarketing now after the heat they have been getting from the "devil technolgy" e-mails circulating.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Memo Crazy

I don't write much about my work. Maybe that is because there is not a lot to tell. But as that is all I am doing these days (no trips planned away - not counting the one home anyway, more about that in a later post as changes are afoot), I guess it should be time for me to elaborate about a bit of work culture I have witnessed.

The big difference for me working here as to anywhere else in the past, is the old school reliance on Memorandums as a communication tool. Maybe I have just bypassed the companies/organisation that still use things and gone directly into the ones that are enlightened and have entered in the electronic age.

Here though it seems that this organisation would fall apart if memos where not used. Everything it seems is communicated using these babies. I am no tree-hugging hippy but do have green tendencies and to me it seems like such a huge waste of paper. In fact I have stack of memos sitting on my small desk that only slightly, partially, briefly relates to me (nothing I can't find out in a meeting anyway - and invariably get told about it then as well).

During the student strikes at the start of September, the memo craze got turned up a notch with student body sending out about three or four official notices every day and then posting them up all over campus. In return the Administration responded with their own memos, which got posted up. I can see a need for memo in this case as it really is the way to communicate to the student population, but the volume created was pretty excessive.

I guess maybe that is partially related to the Melanesian culture. Any sort of issue, point or information will get discussed to death. Case in point is on my first trip to Mt Hagen when I saw the compensation ceremony, it was literally discussed for hours and they had even pre-arranged the outcome beforehand.

Go to any get-together like a party or celebration and there will be guaranteed to be speeches, where whoever has the floor will discuss not just the reason they are all gathered but probably national politics as well.

So in terms of using memos and multiple memos and official memos, this is just another way for whoever is writing them to get their point across, whether it is truly required or not.

It is one of those little cultural differences that you notice, especially where in Australia we are more direct and things usually just get done, it is discussed and planned as in so much as needed to and then it happens.

Which brings me to the office renovations. We have got the posts cemented in and the joists are on top and so it has stayed for the last two weeks. Workmen who were on site everyday are now no where to be seen. Apparently there has been the usual complication of cash-flow, i.e. they need us to give them money up-front to keep going.

Monday, November 08, 2004

A War Wages

Seeing as my weekend was not filled with any adventures or misadventures, I figure it is time I highlight a war that is being waged every day here.

It is a battle between the forces of good (me) and evil. The evil side has multitudes of minions pitifully throwing themselves into the front line time and time again, only to be swept back (literally) again and again.

There seems to be no end to the evil hoard, as they continually scout, looking for weakness and then pouncing with tremendous fury. Circling and swarming within minutes. Dragging back from whence they came with all they can scurry off with.

I am of course talking (rather dramatically) about the Ants that are invading my kitchen. Eternally looking for anything that I forget to wipe up after making some kind of meal. And because of my habits in food preparation, tend to be the make, eat and forget style, when I wander back into the kitchen an hour, half an hour or even 15 minutes later, there is bound to be a swarm.

My little evil friends seem to have certain preferences it seems. Their intake could almost pass off as to what your average American would desire. Sugar is up on the list, veggies get bypassed. They love the fats, margarine and peanut butter left on a knife is a gold mine. And boy do they love their meat. Chicken scraps, fish bits, steak bones, it will make them literally come out of the walls.

After I had got back home after the big birthday/David's go finish party, it seems that they had discovered the bag full of crab shells, which Jonica had kindly brought (not just shells mind, but whole cooked chilli crabs - very nice). There was a thick brown line running from the crab shells plastic bag, left delightfully hanging from a cupboard handle, creeping off to their little hole where they make their pillage runs from.

The ants are loving the crab leftovers

When I discovered this I was in no state to contemplate charging into the fray, so I just left it with a "bugger they have won this battle" attitude and climbed into bed.

Even though I continually wipe them up and wash them down the sink, it seems like there is a never ending supply coming from somewhere. But where? I have checked outside and I found a nest under a rock lining my garden. I got all Arnold on that and terminated them. No difference. So now I figured there must be a nest somewhere else. After some more tracking of their lines I discovered that they actually are nesting inside the brick walls.

It seems what this needs is a full on pest exterminator. Which just may be on the cards if I can't figure out some other solution first. The Ant-Rid has been bought and utilised but they just lapped the stuff up, and came back for more. Not exactly my idea of ridding them. Next option is buying some of those marking lines that you draw on the wall over their lines. Once they reach it apparently they don't like to cross it. Well according to how it works for cockroaches anyway. 

Of course I could just go with my existing practice and just live and put up with it. I have managed to survive for past 9 months, maybe I can cope for a bit longer.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Winding Down or Up?

Things are a bit topsey-turvey here at the moment. I am not sure if we are winding down for the year or not.

Circumstances are certainly slanted to an end-of-year mode. The Uni students have all gone. They wrapped up their exams last week and checked out from the lodges and headed back to their corners of the country by boats, planes and automobiles (pity there are no trains here as I could have made a catchy name for a movie). The place is now back to being the sleepy place it seemed when I first showed up over 9 months ago now.

Anyway the biggest indication that the end-of-year has arrived with a vengeance is that our department had it's End of Year function last night. That's right our End-Of-Year-Function and it is only the first week of November. I am hoping that this is not our office Christmas party, but that seems doubtful as we were handed presents from the department for all the .. ahem .. hard work we have put in.

It is certainly a new concept for me if this was our Christmas party, considering at all the previous jobs I have had the Christmas party actually happened around the time that Christmas carols are getting belted out and fake plastic trees with tinsel and reflective bulbs looming large above us at all the shopping centres. Actually, I will be interested to see if this actually happens in SVS or Papindos come next month.

OK so it looks definitely like the year is finishing up then .. right? Well maybe not because DODL of course has to have a six-week summer session, which is strangely enough called Lahara. Of course what this means is that for a lot of this week I have been outside writing receipts again! God I hate registration weeks. It has been like de-ja-vu for some reason.

Anyway I am not too worried. It is now only 44 days till when I will back in Sydney, catching up with all the family, mates and the pubs.

For those that are thinking I am not hard-core enough to stay overseas for two years. So what! I have already done that, and in fact last time it was 25 months o/s, so I think I can at least allow myself the liberty of going back home half way through my stint.

Besides I fixed the flight back using my Frequent Flyer points. So it ended up costing me 30,000 points and K323 for the tax (around Au$120). A bargain. If you were to cough up the cash it will be close to Au$1500 return. And 30,000 points is the same as flying from Sydney to Melbourne.

The downside is that when I booked back in February (yes 8 months ago) because I was using the freq flyers I could not get the connections I needed for a direct flight, so I end up staying in Brisbane for 10 hours. Gives me time at least to head into the city for something I have really been missing .. a browse in a book store.

Ohh and as to my present last night it was a Sandwich Maker. Toasted cheese sandwiches here I come this weekend.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Toad Antidote

Heres a pic I took after walking home from the market tonight. He was hiding in the garden out the front. Thought he was a good antidote to the double horror that disturbed me the other week.

Now this is the type of amphibian I like.

Heres looking at you

Monday, November 01, 2004

Show Time

Ferris wheel, show bags, cattle judging, ice cream, army exercises, giant slippery dips, flower displays, fireworks, tug-of-wars and hoards of people. The weekend was almost like I had been transported back to a country NSW show. The only things different were the lack of fairy floss, pluto pups, slushies and kids throwing up after coming off the Octopus.

It was the Morobe Provincial Agricultural Show for 2004. The biggest event it seems that the city has to host, and this year it was big. To me it seemed like the whole city came out to witness it. I have never, while I have been here, seen so many people in the one area before. And it was not just confined to the paying people who entered (for the cost of four kina) but the people who didn't enter seemed to enjoy themselves just as much by standing around outside blocking off entire roads.

I was there for most of the weekend. I had to be you see. The Uni had a pavilion, therefore my department has a stand and of course where we go some computers have to follow to make us seem technologically capable. So for all of Saturday and Sunday morning I hung around handing out pamphlets looking after the two computers, with one displaying photos from trips we have done and the other giving a demonstration of our e-learning solution that I am establishing (slowly).

Knox and Damaris minding the DODL fort

I gave myself breaks. I needed to as Saturday was very hot, and it was multiplied inside the pavilion, with a lot of dust as an added extra. So I got to wander around and suss it all out. I watched some of the entertainment going on in the Main Arena. Though for all of Saturday that was mainly just restricted to displays of horsemanship. Which is surprising, as you don't immediately think of horses, cowboys and PNG in the same context. All of these cowboys though are from the big farms up the Markham valley, the only farms big enough to actually need guys with horses to look after the cattle.

Other displays included one from the army, which consisted of two groups, one in a fixed position in the middle of the arena, and another group that did a faux attack on them. There was lots of blanks being fired, smoke bombs going off, flares released and of course this attracted a huge crowd. As soon as people heard that machine gun fire, the locals swarmed to see.

Next-door neighbour Martin got to see another display up close as he was judging the flower competition. From his description though it was pretty ordinary. There were people entering with a single rose in a wine bottle, and that being half wilted. Out of the 35 categories, he seemed to think that between our gardens, scrounging together what we had and arranging them, we could of won about half of the categories.

There were all the local companies making a presence with their own pavilions, selling their respective show bags full of the usual rubbish. There were the government departments telling people of the latest in technology so you can grow kau kau or bananas better - not that there is much problem there. Down the back was the entertainment area, which consisted of the ferris wheel and giant slippery dip. And the behind them was the practice area for the sing-sing which was scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

I couldn't be bothered to hang around for the sing-sing as I figured that I had already seen the Goroka show and to me that would beat this hands down. For starters at Goroka you can mingle with the performers, get up close, talk to them, have your photo taken with them all for the same price as the entrance ticket (five kina). Here though it would cost 150 Kina to get a "photographers pass" so you could enter the arena with them and do the same. Forget it.

All up the experience was akin to the ones I had as a kid going to the Gresford or Dungog shows and watching the events there. Obviously there were quite a few differences but there were too many similarities than not. Pity though that they didn't have the tractor pulls, which is always a good event. I sound like a real country bumkin now, don't I.