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.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Village Kids

The above photo was taken on my first trip to Mt Hagen. I actually mentioned this in my story of this trip ... although it was just a side note to all the other things that happened. I have finally got around to getting a digitised copy of it - so I though I would share it.

The kids here are of course great. Especially out in the villages. So innocent and full of wonder - or perhaps that's because a white man is in their presence when I am observing this. I had all these guys above in stitches just by shaking their hands. What a novelty for them.

Any time I meet a new kid belonging to someone I know, I will ask their name, "wanem nem bilong yu?", but they are usually too shy to respond. They are shy when by themselves, but get them in a group like above and they will race around and terrorise you. Pretty similar to kids all over the world really.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Patriotic, Me?

Went to the Huon Club last night for the first time. I previously thought the Yacht Club was the last bastion of the colonial era in Lae, but I now have to add the Huon Club to that list.

Wood panelled walls, easy chairs, bar, two massive sized snooker tables - the sort where you need 10 foot arms or barge poles to reach the balls - and I am sure a portrait of the Queen was hiding somewhere, I didn't get to see her though as she must have been buried underneath all the Australian flags decorating the place.

The occasion of course was Australia Day. The location just happened to be the mysterious Huon club, which I only found out existed yesterday afternoon. I am not complaining though. It was a great piss-up. 25 Kina to enter and then free VB all night long. A large banquet of food was thrown in later as well.

His Excellency, the Oz High Commissioner, showed up and gave a little speech at the official time. Being the first time I have done the ex-pat Australia Day thing (oops, I did go to the Walkabout in Sheperds Bush once - no high commissioner there), I wasn't sure of what was the official protocol.

It turned out that the HC, who is a little rosy rotund rolly-poley sort of a man who would be able to play Humpty Dumpty perfectly (he is in the middle of the picture here), gave a little speech about the current situations involving the police presence and then toasted PNG. There was no saluting the flag. No singing Advance Australia Fair and no toasting the old bird in London - thank god!

We did all get to do the very Aussie thing of watch the Cricket on one TV and Lleyton Hewitt "coming on" on another. This was drowned out though by the two-piece band flown up from Cairns to keep us entertained. They were quite good.

After five hours of drinking VB, something I would not contemplate in Oz (apart from if it is the only thing on offer), I was feeling a little bit seedy this morning. No rest for the wicked though. Busy at the moment with a big Workshop for all our Study Centre co-ordinators here at the Uni.

Best be back to it. I am missing the free feed on offer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Climate Change

It is interesting to note (well if you are a bit geeky like me) how the body adapts to changes in climate. When I first came over to PNG 12 months ago - gee has it been that long already - I was tossing and turning, trying to sleep at night underneath the fan whirring around overhead.

A couple of months later I found that I had to go out and buy myself a blanket, and huddle up underneath it as I was starting to get cold.

Repeat scenario. Go back to Australia for 5 weeks, get used to the climate there. Come back here, lie sprawled under the fan tossing and turning to start with and then gradually get used to it and reach for the blanket.

I am no scientist, but from my limit research of one, I am theorising that it takes about a month before you fully adapt to a particular climate.

I am sure everyone is saying, "I could have told you that". Well I am just re-establishing the fact. And here is a good place to do it, as the temperature, especially at night, stays pretty constant all year round - apart from the odd storm and wind off the mountains.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Mama Makes

This is Mama. The funky rasta looking old woman at the market who I have briefly mentioned before as the one who is always popping a little bit extra in my bilum when I buy from her.

When my Mum came over, mama promised her that she would make a bilum to keep. A souvenir of her time in the country. Well she has finally finished it and has given it to me so I can send it on. Which I will do shortly, mum, if you are reading this.

I promised her in return that I would take her photo or mi kisim piksa long yu of her holding the bilum which I would then make two copies of. One to send to mum with the bilum and one to give back to mama as a gift in return.

She hails from Goroka, and occasionally she has her daughter along with her to help sell kau kau or kumu or whatever, although I have not seen her for a few months now.

She has that Jamaican style happening. Not sure how intentional it is. But I wouldn't be surprised if she is Bob Marley's biggest fan. She could be one of his long lost wives.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Sing-Sing

The passion. The colours. The movement. The finery. The noise - Kundu drums barking. The pride. The effort. The sweat. And of course the Singing.

If you ever come to PNG, get yourself to a sing-sing. Here are some more photos from the Unitech Cultural Show, back in March.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Covet Thy Job

OK, this is probably revealing more about my personality than I care to admit, but since I have been in PNG I have come across quite a few people, with really cool jobs, that I would love to do.

It is certainly the type of country that draws these types here. Firstly you have to be pretty game to start with. Also I am sure a sense of adventure is needed, not to mention that this is a country that breeds difficulty and therefore that translates into difficult jobs. All qualities that I would subscribe to.

So as to the types that have made me a tad jealous, well at the moment I can think of four people who have I have met, whose jobs I would seriously like to poach - persuming of course I had the skills to be able to do them in first place.

Leatherback Turtle Counter
OK, the list starts with these guys, who are also from the most recent meeting, in fact just last Friday - well something had to give me the idea for this post. These two guys who work for the U.S. Govt. Fisheries department. They get to travel the world, checking out the numbers of Leatherback Turtles and their nest at the various nestings sites.

They called themselves Marineologists or something like that, and obviously do the job because of the love of ecology. If you have worked me out, you would gather that I would be in this job for the travel and certainly not for being a public servant of the U.S. Government. One of the guys, Scott, has been all over for his work, Australia, South Africa, etc. It must be tough.

Counting turtles though would be a pretty cool thing to do, let alone the travel. On this trip out here (this is the fourth time in a row for Scott) they are chartering a plane and flying at 200 feet above the coast of Madang, Morobe, Northern, New Britain and Bougainville provinces to count nests. Even the pilot, Chris, said it was a blast, afterwards.

Lonely Planet Writer
The reason for this one is pretty obvious if you have just read the above. Except this time you get to stay longer than a few weeks in the country - although according to Andrew, who we met back in August, not by much. The downsides would be that you have to actually write something and not just go in awe of all the culture you have to absorb. Still if getting paid to go anywhere is happening I would take it, especially exotic places.

Bush Pilot
Travel doesn't take a starring role in this profession, not like the others above. In this case it is more of the thrill. I have spoken to quite a few of these guys and they get up to all sorts while working up here. There is the professional related fun as described by Chris, and there is not so professional related antics, some of which I have collated from some Column 8 snippets in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Where else in the world would you get to have so much fun being a pilot, especially from a technical point of view (unless of course if you are a jet-fighter pilot, landing on aircraft carrier decks in the middle of the pacific). Not many places throw up as many challengers like PNG does. Steep grassy slope landings of 17°, 14000 foot mountains, tropical storms, celebrity status from the locals when arriving at a small village. Good fun all round in my books. The downside I guess would be that it would be a case of fly in and fly out, no time to take in scenery, although you get to do that from the air before and after anyway.

A job similiar to this is the helicopter pilot. There are a few of them here, but strangely I haven't met any of them. It would be a good toss up between a copter and fixed wing pilot over which would be better. Just to be on the safe side I would take them both.

National Geographic Photographer
Of the jobs listed above, all of them are ones that I would enjoy for a limited time perhaps a year or two at the most, although a Lonely Planet job, I might stretch it out to about 5 years before I got sick of the rush and write. This one though is one that I could not see myself getting sick of in a hurry.

I actually lied at the top when I said I have met all the people who have these jobs while being here. I haven't met a National Geographic photographer. It would be cool if I have but, but I have certainly met a freelance photographer with all the gear (including assistant) at the Goroka show in September.

A NG photographer in my eyes would be the ultimate job. Go on assignment for a couple of months, to photograph a place. Get time to absorb all the details, and be expected to. Have all the gear at your finger tips. It would be pretty good.

Surprisingly enough it is probably the job that for me would take the least amount of training to be able to achieve. I am currently pretty handy with a camera, all it takes is a lot of experience. Something I will have to work at - I just can't see myself setting up computers for ever now can I.

In case anyone from NG is reading this ... here is a pic I took at the Unitech Cultural show, way back in March. And yes this is from the bunch of films I had processed while back in Oz, so you will see a few more of these pop up on this site intermediately in the future.

Huli wigman from the Southern Highlands

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Current Power Saga

Life in a developing country obviously has it's issues. And so it is that we are currently having a drama with the reliability of power.

Last year the blackouts were numerous. You could usually count on the power switching itself off at some point during a week, but not really for more than an hour. At the moment it is a different story.

It started with a typical weekend of scheduled outages. PNG Power, the national electrical supplier, announced that it would be conducting power shedding on the weekend, so maintenance could be performed upon a generator or two at the Yonki hydro power station, the power station that supplies, Lae, Madang and Goroka.

This is not so untypical. There were quite a few of these last year. The uni however seems to cop it more than other parts of the city. PNG Power supposedly has a two hour on and two hour off rotation system, but it usually more like one hour on and 3-4 hours off here. Overnight on Saturday night we had 13 hours off. It gave me a chance to defrost the ice out of my freezer on Sunday morning though as it was already happening.

So on Monday morning when the power is supposed to return, I am just about to walk into my office when I hear an almighty bang. It comes from the next building. I turn around have a look, expecting to see smoke, check to see smoke, hear some laughter, so I end up walk into my building and putting it down to someone blowing up a TV, as the building is the electrical engineering departments.

Later it turns out the bang was from a step-down transformer that just so happens to provide power for about three building including ours. So when the rest of the university's power came back online at 9 from the scheduled outages, we were still in the dark. It is a bit hard to finish off my reports or write some work instructions up when I have no juice to run my computer. So in the end we did as much as possible and then went for a run into town.

The word from the electrical engineering department turns out that it could take all week to fix the transformer. They basically need a new one from PNG Power, who don't have one at present. So on Tuesday we arrange to get a generator hooked up to our office which enables me to get the files I need off my PC which I then take home to work on my laptop.

As I am heading home yesterday, I discover that the rest of the university is without power as well. I ask someone what the story is with it this time and it now turns out that the uni has not paid its power bill! PNG Power had just switched the whole administrative campus off.

This happens regularly in PNG. It seems even institutions here are not so reliable at paying their bills. Last year the government did not pay it's power bill so they switched off the power to parliament house while they were having a session. Out of note, PNG Power will give you one month to pay your bill before they do the switch off.

Luckily I keep my bill paid so I currently have power at home, which is where I am currently typing this up. This morning I rang up my boss to check if the transformer was fixed found out it wasn't so decided to stay at home and work.

Ahh the joys of a developing country.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Tropfest: The Polishing

It has been planned, project managed and progressing but finally I've got word from Wendy that the Tropfest film we have made is polished off. She is back in London and the word is that she has pretty much finished the film now and will be sending it in, just after she has burnt it to DVD - no word as to whether she is freezing her bum off though.

This is good news as I was getting a bit worried as to if we were going to finish it at all and if we would make the deadline of the 20th, this Thursday. This last bit could still be a bit of an issue as she is couriering it from London to Sydney today and the deadline is this Thursday at 6pm.

The delays as to why the whole thing has taken so long is because we wanted to get some footage in a big city, that wasn't cold. So we used Sydney seeing as Wendy came down to Oz for 10 days on route back to the UK and stayed with me for a couple of those days in Sydney.

Then once she had the footage she had to then edit the whole movie. The plan was originally that she buy her own iBook, like mine, in Sydney and take it back to the UK - getting the GST back as she went - then edit it there before sending the film in. First problem was that we didn't end up buying the laptop in Sydney as she really wanted to get one with a large hard drive (editing movies really chews through the space), and they can only do that as a custom order which takes 1-2 weeks to do.

So she ended up going home and buying an iBook there, rushing through the edit, stitching up some background cello music from a friend in his studio, finalising the whole thing, and now burning it to DVD. Only the actual entering of the film into the competition is all that remains.

This isn't without a hitch either. When you enter you need to pay $20 for the privilege. When you are in London this is harder than you can imagine, especially if you don't know many Aussies and the ones you do don't have Australian cheque books on them. In the end Wendy rang the staff at Tropfest and they said you can send cash in. Looks like Wendy will be down at the Bureau de Change window to get some $.

Anyway I'm looking forward to seeing the final results. Wendy is going to send me a copy at some point. And of course Tropfest itself is on in the Domain in Sydney on the last Saturday in February. Get yourself down there if in town. Who cares if our film is not there. It should be a good show anyway.

Later in the year I will host my own Tropfest night here, with the aid of the 2005 finalists DVD, a multimedia projector and some speakers, just like I did last year. It should be another good night if lasts years is anything to go by.

Monday, January 17, 2005

On The Buses: Amendment

As to my previous little story about learning how the town bus system works and how to catch them I would like to add, that any potential customer of a bus service should - as well as deciphering where the thing is going in the first place - take the time to do a thorough investigation of the quality of the bus.

This will no doubt confirm that the bus is in fact a heap of shit, but it may just prevent an episode of where a said bus is hankering along at speed when a major noise occurs beneath the bus which upon hearing the driver will pull over to investigate the cause. Upon investigation it is revealed that the fuel tank has indeed broken loose and had been dragging along the tarmac for a hundred metres. As the loose fuel tank is not a quick fix, the passenger, i.e. you, will need to walk back in the blazing sun to the nearest bus stop and then attempt to squeeze onto the next bus with the rest of the passengers from the now emptied bus.

Yes, this is exactly what happened to me yesterday, and I thought it would be wise if I share my experience with you, the reader, the potential future occupant of these third world clap-traps or should I say death-traps. Consider yourself warned.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Don't Mess With Patch

Poor old Patches. She was locked inside Martin's house this morning (and yesterday), by Chekit who is currently minding his house while he is down in Melbourne. Chekit is a former student of his who stays occasionally there when in town. Unfortunately when it is his responsibility he forgets about Patches.

So this morning I left my house and headed off to work with cries of poor old patch ringing in my ears. I couldn't do anything to help her because I don't have a key, if I went around it would have just made her upset anyway.

One thing I have since found out though is that she is a determined dog, who will find a way if needed. And so it was when I came back this afternoon that I found a couple of glass louvres smashed and fly wire shredded. Patches had forced her way outside. Two days in a row was not going to happen for her.

Patches the destroyer

I think I will suggest to Chekit when I see him (if I see him tonight) is that he should give me all her dog food and I will look after her from now until Martin returns in 10 days.

Ohh Martin, if you are reading this, I will see if I can get some replacement louvres for your front window.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Tucking Into My Greens

I got home tonight to find this fellow munching on some of my newly planted plants. It seems I am not the only one who thinks my garden is good.

Start of a plague?

I tested out my new digi camera and macro lens for this pic. And I am impressed. You should see what it looks like in high res. Low-res JPEGs just don't do these pics justice.


The whole wantok thing is bugging me at the moment. Luckily for me I am not affected like the locals are, but I still can't help to get annoyed about it on their behalf - well for John, my colleague anyway.

In case you have never been to PNG, this little statement above might need explaining. Literally translated from Pidgin wantok means "one talk", but in reality like most pidgin words it's definition encompasses a wide scope. Wantok is a term used to denote anyone who is from your family or anyone who is a close, or sometimes not so close, friend.

It takes on special significance here when the wantok system is talked about. This basically means that you are obligated to help out your wantoks if they are in need. The problem is that anyone who makes it, i.e. anyone who actually has a job, gets hit up all the time for things by their wantoks.

So for example, John the other day had to give one of his wantoks 50 kina for a bus fare back to Mt. Hagen because this cousin, friend, associate (I think it was the former) decided to come down from Hagen two days before when a free lift presented itself. There was no reason for his visit save for the fact that it was free. Of course he had no money to get back so he decided to go and hit up John to give him the cash. I ended up having to chip in and lend K30, because John did not have the whole 50 on him.

Perhaps poor old John is just gullible, but I do know for a fact these guys are pretty persistent and have long memories. Off topic, a while a go I had a guy come to my door on campus and pestered me for half an hour into trying to buy a carving of a dolphin. In the end I was almost tempted just to give him money so he would go away. But eventually my persistence won out and he walked away empty handed. You have to be straight from the start or they will keep coming back trying to peddle things.

Anyway, back on wantoks and poor old John. He was telling me about his Christmas and New Year and how he had a few people stay over. It turns out a few was a dozen, and they were all cramped into his little house which is smaller than mine. It is just expected of him to put up his wantoks like this. He always is having to accommodate someone who has come down from his villages up near Hagen.

John is certainly not the only example of wantok madness. In fact it could be argued that a reason PNG is being held back development wise is because of the wantok system. Why would you want to go out and be successful, only to have all your wantoks hit you up for favours when you do. There are plenty of stories about trade stores going bust because,it is expected that if you own one you should just give that bar of soap, box of washing powder away when a wantok comes asking for it.

Conversely, why should you bother trying to succeed if you have a successful wantok, just go and ask them for what you want.

It is also pretty evident that the wantok system is holding the country back when you witness, like I do all the time, the University ambulance being used as a personal bus for the driver. He has been given the responsibility to rush people into hospital if they become sick on the grounds, but all I ever see it doing is ferrying wantoks around, with most of them riding in the back where patients should be.

Politicians and public servants are the classic example of where the system really has a downside for the country as a whole. It doesn't take a genius to realise that if you are in a position as powerful as a member of parliament, then you will be expected to give kickbacks to wantoks. Besides they are the ones who voted for you. Stories abound about this in the local papers almost every day.

Even though the system has a lot of downsides, there are quite a lot of benefits for it as well. It makes the family unit a very strong one here, which can only be a good thing. I am all for a strong family, I think this is certainly lacking in a lot of western societies.

Overall though I think the negatives out way the positives, especially for the whole country. Unfortunately it is a topic that is a huge and very complex one and something that is not going to go away in a hurry. Personally, if this country does want to go forward and progress, the attitudes of what is expected from your wantoks need to change.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

My God Is Better Than Yours

It didn't take long for the e-mails to hit the University system and be passed on. This one has made me angry ...
Subject: Christians Survived Disaster

Apocalyptic Invocations While Some 100,000 Perish In Indian Ocean As Christians Survived Disaster - Newscasters and relief workers alike have described the Indian Ocean disaster as one of "biblical proportions." It is most certainly a type and shadow (although on a very small scale) of the apocalyptic judgments described in the New Testament book of Revelation and it demonstrated without a doubt God's protection of His people.

Koenig's Eye View has received reports from around the disaster area were Christians were spared from the disaster and survived where thousands next to them perished.

The Sunday earthquake measuring 9.0 magnitude in the Indian Ocean touched off a tsunami of 20 foot waves traveling at 500 miles per hour crashing into Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh and even in Somalia, killing over 100,000, leaving millions more homeless without food and clean water. The initial quake was followed by at least a half-dozen powerful aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from almost 6 to 7.3.

This was the fourth largest earthquake recorded and the largest since a 9.2 magnitude quake in Alaska in 1964, a generation ago. It was preceded by an 8.1 quake Friday in Antarctica. Earthquakes have become increasingly more frequent in the just the past 20 years. The United States Geological Survey reports that the number of major earthquakes worldwide from 1990 to 2003, in just the past 14 years, increased from 16,612 to 31, astonishing 88.8%!

The Biblical proportions of this disaster become clearly apparent upon reports of miraculous Christian survival while nonbelievers were less fortunate. Christian persecution in these countries is some of the worst in the world. Eight of those nine countries--Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Somalia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia are among the top 50 nations who persecute Christians. Depending on the list, "Open Door" or "International Christian Concern," Maldives, Myanmar and Indonesia rank among the top ten. One pastor from India said that two churches where he was supposed to speak on Christmas and New Years were swept away into the ocean and thousands went with them, but the pastor at one of the churches reported that not one Christian was harmed.

Instead, a fisherman, who lost his family, received salvation. Another report from the disaster area described buildings that had collapsed under the immense pressure of the waves and the only survivors were Christians. Still another report came from a ministry who has pastors and Bible students throughout the coastline of Southern India and not one Christian member of that ministry was scathed.

God said in Isaiah 43:1, 2,"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you." We are not given to a spirit of fear, but one of faith. These times will cause us to wonder, but do not let your faith wander. You are under His divine protection. John writes in 1 John 5:4, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith."

A pastor who reported in said that he needed neither verse nor knowledge to prove that God is sparing His people. "I do not come to an idea that God provides PROTECTION TO BELIEVERS BY READING SOME VERSE OR BY LISTENING TO SOME INTELLIGENT ARGUMENTS. I HAVE EXPEREIENCED AND I AM EXPERIENCING THIS...GOD PROVIDES US A GREAT PROTECTION IN THE TIMES OF TROUBLE!"

Typical of the news reports are stories like this: an Indian woman surrounded by bodies on her knees with her arms outstretched to the heavens crying, sobbing, "Why, God, did you do this to us? What have we done to deserve this?" It is interesting in a land where people worship over 330 million gods that when disaster strikes, they turn to the one true God and demand to know why He did it. On a beach in Indonesia, a similar scene where a man mourning the loss of his entire family, looked to the sky and demanded to know from God why He did this to him. He did not make his demands on Allah, but rather God, the one true God. People are either thanking God for their survival or demanding from Him an explanation, even cursing Him. And this is the way it will be in the end.

It is in these moments that there are many believers ... perhaps not many who are saved, but many who now believe that there is one true God. But they make demands of Him after worshiping other false gods. As we enter into the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy of what Jesus called "the beginning of sorrows," there will be many more catastrophes. Man will stand at a crossroads. Man can continue to worship false gods, a blasphemy unto eternal death; or he can continue in his sins-homosexuality, child sacrifice, adultery-and receive judgment. Or he can turn his heart toward the one true God and receive the gift of eternal life.

Insider's Take: There are many men and women of God who sense in their spirits that the year ahead will see many, many Biblical prophecies fulfilled. They sense that there will be world-changing events in epic proportions. The Indian Ocean disaster of '04 could be the beginning.

And there will be many questioning, "Why did God do this?" God does not owe man anything, yet John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

America is not immune from such disaster. And the way she is behaving by accepting the sins against God and by participating in dividing the covenant land of Israel, surely catastrophe lies ahead. Remember that the Lord protects His own, and in this season the harvest is ripe. So many questioning people, and you have the answer, Jesus Christ.

I knew it was coming, but this is really sick. Using a disaster as a piece of religious propaganda. This seems to top the cake in terms of the stuff that I have got through the Uni e-mail system. It really does make me quite angry.

They seemed to have not mentioned the fact that plenty of Christians were in fact killed. I am sure a lot of the Swedes, Germans and other Western citizens in Thailand on holiday would have no doubt been devote Christians. The waves found no distinction between them and anyone else there.

There are some remarkable stories of survival, including a guy found floating on debris and found 8 days after. I am sure most of those people were not or are not now worshiping the "one true god".

This spiel also seemed to forget to mention the Mosque that was the only building left standing in that town in Aceh.

Arggg ...

The worst thing about this e-mail is in fact that it was forwarded on to me by my boss, George, someone who I have had great discussions with talking about all kinds of cross-cultural, spiritual things. He even told me he wants to go and live in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet for a couple of months after reading the Dalai Lama's biography. What gives?

Anyway, I have vented my disgust now. I could say more, but it is pointless. Thank you for putting up with me. Normal programming will follow ... and I promise I will try to restrict my outbursts about the e-mails I get to a minimum in the future.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Rainforest Habitat

Well I am back at work. Isn't it good to see that I am doing something productive again like writing up a post for my weblog? This will only be a short one I promise and then I will get back to it and do all the stuff I need to catch up on, and there is plenty of that.

I mentioned that a volunteer mate, Elissa, was coming in the previous post. Well she eventually showed up. Although that was a bit of stress for both of us. Her plane was an hour an half late and didn't get down to Nadzab until 6:45. Well after dark, which is not a particularly good thing in PNG. Luckily the guys from Bus-a-nova were still waiting for her, as she had a seat booked with their airport shuttle service.

I did some concerned ringing to find out what the story was and to see if she was going to get into town. I had been told other stories, notably from Martin (next-door neighbour), about that particular flight and the lateness of it's arrival. One time Martin's son, flew down late and there was no waiting shuttle service, so he had to get a lift into town with a cop and didn't show up at a stressed Martin's house until after 8. The plane is scheduled to land at 5.05.

The reason she was late in the first place was that her original plane from Goroka, a little single engine thing, had engine troubles after take-off. In a single-engine plane this is not particularly good news. The plane managed to land back at Goroka and another plane came and took the passengers on to Lae.

Anyway ... after that all the drama I took her along to the Rainforest Habitat here on campus yesterday. I have briefly mentioned this in previous posts or as they were when I wrote it e-mails to friends that were converted into posts.

I love the Rainforest Habitat and I love the fact that it is only a short stroll from my place to it. So even though this was the 6th time I had been I wasn't bothered by taking someone new.

It is great to wander through the bird enclosure and have the parrots chase you. Walk into the tree-kangaroo enclosures. Look at 'Agro' the resident croc and watch him watch you. And try and spot the birds of paradises in their overgrown aviaries.

While showing Ellisa around I also got the chance to test out my new digital SLR camera that I purchased, whilst back in Australia. Following are a few examples (I was impressed by the colours of the pics until they got converted into small jpegs for this site).

A Tree Kangaroo having lunch

Long neck turtle

Ellisa and a friendly parrot

Ohh and if you were wondering about my lost bag, it has shown up and I went and collected it this morning all intact - though customs did break off my little lock.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Not A Great Start

Well I am back at home. In PNG. I arrived yesterday afternoon and of course the power was out. We are currently having one of those weekends when they turn the power on and off all the time. Some sort of maintenance on the grid somewhere. I have just managed to get a load of washing through while the power was on so I am happy. Clean clothes.

When I arrived in Port Moresby from Brisbane my bag was of course not there. I filled in one of those forms and am going to get them to forward it on to Lae, hopefully it should arrive this afternoon. That means though that I have to do a trip out there to collect it. It does correspond, almost, with the arrival of one of my volunteer mates who is flying down from Goroka to come and see me a for a few days before she heads back home herself to Kavieng in New Ireland. Perhaps she could collect it for me and save myself a trip. If I can steal a car I will of course collect both of them.

Walking back into the house yesterday I was greeted with that closed up musky smell you get from houses left by themselves for any length of time. It seems to be more pronounced in the tropics. After just five weeks there was mold growing on my kitchen benches. Spider webs criss-crossing rooms, fine ones so that I could not see them but kept walking through wherever I went. Mouse droppings were also around. I might have to do another mouse trap exercise.

The garden as I predicted earlier is a tad overgrown. Though that wont take long to rectify. It is good to see my plants are now nice and healthy - and bigger.

As to my thoughts at being back home. Great - as long as the power doesn't stuff me around all weekend as predicted and my bag shows up.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Recharge Complete

I fly out tomorrow. Back to PNG for the rest of the year. Am I looking forward to it? I would say yes. If you had asked me a couple of weeks I would have been not so positive, but now that I have done all the things I have wanted to do - and spent far too much money in the process (Sydney is too expensive) - I am ready to head back and sink my teeth into a new year.

The batteries are recharged.

As to the logistics of getting back there. I am glad I rang QANTAS this morning to check about my ticket. It all turned into a mini drama. The story goes that I had originally booked my flights return flight to Sydney using my frequent flyer points. I was to fly down on the 19th of December and fly out on the 7th (tomorrow). All too easy.

When the boss told me I was to come down for the conference in Brisbane. That was the first spanner in the works. I booked that flight down as a one way all the way from Lae and got the Uni to cover the payment of it. I was forfeiting my flights down on the 19th, but I was told by the QANTAS staff in POM that that would not be an issue for me to use the flights back on the 7th.

Ringing up today I find that this is not the case and I need to cough up 5000 more frequent flyer points because I am using the flight back out of sequence. Not only that it turned out that because I was never issued with a ticket - the POM QANTAS office was supposed to send me the ticket but never did, unbeknownst to me - I would have to go to a QANTAS Travel office and fill in a lost ticket form, and get a new ticket issued.

So off I headed to the office today up in the city in Bridge St and after sitting with the QANTAS staff for an hour, filling in forms, explaining what had happened, being told that this was an extremely messy case, watching her tap away into the computer, I finally got myself a ticket.

So there is no excuse anymore. I am off, back north, tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Holidays Almost Over

Well I have been back in Oz for over a month and it is nearly time to head back to the tropics. I was thinking about the things I would not be able to do once back, and what I came up with was not being able to go out to major events.

First day at the Sydney test

Seeing my family ... especially the ones that grow fast.

My little cousin having a ball on Christmas day

And of course just enjoying the environment.

Those icons as they are currently lit at night

But I must say I am also looking forward to getting back up north and sinking my teeth into work and try and make progress. I have got a lot of ideas now to test and try - some of which I gained by going to the conference earlier. So hopefully 2005 should be all positive. Well it should be, because my philosophy is - it is what you make it.