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, October 11, 2005

Travelling with the Astute Traveller

These events are purely fictional ... I assure you.

  • Try to catch a bus back to town on same route taken to get to current location. Stand on the side of the road you think heads back to town. Get picked up by bus. Give destination as Jayapura. Get nod and "Jayapura, Jayapura, ya" from driver. Gaze out the window trying to remember seeing these scenes on incoming journey. Struggle to remember. Bus gets to certain point, turns around and heads back. Driver smiles and says "Jayapura, Jayapura, ya".

  • Have a beer at a café. Watch the sunset. Get a tray delivered with tea pots and deep fried banana fritters. Waitress says something in Bahasa Indonesian. Look at the tray and tea for a while. Enjoy beer. Look back at tray. Assume the waitress has delivered the wrong thing. Take back tray. Get told that it is a traditional gift in Indonesia. Bring back to table and enjoy banana fritters.

  • Go to a Warung (small street restaurant). Look at wall mounted menu. Decide on middle priced dish. Decipher that it is rice with something. Order one using newly learnt Bahasa numbers. Woman runs out to the kitchen without asking what travel partner wants. Woman comes back and asks question and makes cupping motion with hands. By powers of deduction assume this means "do I want a bowl". Answer back "ya". Woman runs off again. Comes back with plastic bag full of food for takeaway. Assume "of course this is what I wanted look". Pay and leave. Eat discovered rice and chicken at hotel.

  • Stand around watching the sunset at café. Get delivered two beers by helpful waiter. Hear a statement in Indonesian from the waiter. Assume he is introducing himself. Issue hand to be shaken and say "my name is ...". Get puzzled look and hand shake back. Waiter leaves and returns with table and chairs.

  • Go to a Warung. Order a Nasi Goreng. Finish it and go to pay. Ask how much to woman owner. Get rapid indecipherable reply is Bahasa. Look at notes in wallet. Have small notes up to 18,000 rupiah. Hope it is around this much. Hand over 10,000. Woman hands stays. Hand over 5,000. Hand stays. Hand over 1,000. Hand still there. Repeat with two more one thousands. Hand hovers still. Give her a 50,000. Get small notes shoved back and 30,000 rupiah change from cash draw. Walk away trying to look cool.

  • Go to Papua New Guinean beachside village. Feel confident on how it works. Decide to go and look at the nearby beach. Wander down with big camera on shoulder. Gaze out and then left and right. See women sitting on beach. They see me. They hastily stand pullling up their shorts or skirts and scuttle into the undergrowth. Quietly slip away. Discover later beach is women's only.

  • Sit in airport terminal. Start conversation with nearby man. See that he has unusual circular patterns on the back of his neck. Assume they are some sort of tribal or traditional scarring or tattooing. Ask what they mean. Get reply and shown circular scabs on arms that did not notice before. Discover it is some sort of skin disease. Try to find another place to sit.