Papua New Guinea, Highlands trip ends 20 minutes after it starts

Motorbike/Motorcycle, Papua New Guinea, Travel No Comments

The plan was to have a ‘long weekend’ trip to the highlands this weekend. I had planned to go as far as Togoba today, preach at Wabag church on Saturday, then travel Porgera-Laiagam-Mendi on Sunday, to Tari on Monday, and back to Lae on Tuesday/Wednesday.

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I departed Lae at 6:00am this morning, and by 6:20am, the trip was over!! I didn’t even make it as far as the Nadzab airport.

I was cruising at 120km/h, when the bike popped out of 6th gear into what seemed like neutral (the engine freely revving, with no power going to the rear wheel). I selected up into 6th again, and about 5 seconds later it popped out again. So I changed down to 5th, and that is when the fun started – it sounded like someone had thrown a box of nuts and bolts into my gearbox. Fortunately the rear wheel didn’t lock up till I was just about stationary, but when I stopped by the side of the road, I couldn’t move the bike forward or backward.

The ever friendly and helpful locals assisted immediately. These boys carried the rear of the bike (as the tyre wouldn’t turn), so that we could move the bike of the main highway.

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Just 20 minutes later, my bike was in the back of a ute being ferried back to Lae. I guess I will need to fit a new gearbox before I can consider this trip again. L Once again, my dream of traveling the Highlands highway has been postponed.

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Of course the good news is, that this happened while I was still so close to Lae. I would have had additional challenges if it had happened a few hours out of Mendi.

I am back in Port Moresby tonight, wondering how to best go about repairing the bike.

Papua New Guinea, Kambubu Adventist Secondary School

Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea, SDA Church, Travel 2 Comments

Elevation Profile

As part of my trip to attend the Sonoma Adventist College Board meeting, I decided to use the opportunity to also visit the Adventist Secondary School in East New Britain. Fortunately a board meeting was scheduled for Kambubu for the day after the Sonoma board, so I joined the team to Kambubu for the day.

We were supposed to be picked up by the Kambubu 4WD truck at 8:00am in the morning. By 10:00am, the truck still hadn’t arrived. When we contacted Kambubu, we were told that the truck was stuck in the first river crossing of two river crossings, and the engine had died. It was therefore decided that we would take the Sonoma Truck (not a 4WD) to the first river crossing from our end, and that we would be picked up there by the Kambubu tractor. And that was how the adventure started!

I had been warned that I would learn the “Manus Dance” in the back of the track, and initially didn’t know what that meant. But as we got going, it became obvious very quickly. Although the first section of road was tar sealed, there are so many potholes, that vehicles find it easier to drive beside the sealed road. The “Manus Dance” is being bounced around in the back of the truck!

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One of river crossing that has a bridge – all metal, and very loud. Notice the big hole in the middle of the bridge.

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The road was windy and followed the top of a ridge. It was very scenic, and obvious that this area gets regular rain.

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At one point the driver hit the brakes really hard – there was a another truck coming the other way in one of the tighter corners. It turns out they were from Kambubu taking Copra (the dried kernel of coconuts – used to make coconut oil) to market.

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We then arrived at the first river from our end, and found the tractor with trailer already waiting for us.

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As I walked down to the river, a truck was just coming through.

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The government has already nearly completed bridge over this river, but it is not ready for use yet. However, it is OK to walk across. So we were told to walk across the bridge with our laptops – less risk. The river bed is undulating, and can vary in depth quickly (due to rainfalls upstream). One of the people travelling with us told of a time he crossed the river at night in a little Suzuki 4WD. They stopped at the edge, and he waded into the water to ensure it wasn’t too deep. The depth was deemed OK, so they started into the river. By the time they got to the middle, the river had risen by one meter, and the vehicle was swept downstream. They ended up spending the night in a nearby village.

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Despite all that, the tractor had no problem crossing the river.

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This is our team travelling on the back of the trailer.

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In Papua New Guinea, no-one is ever alone. So we were accompanied by lots of students who were happy to come along for the ride.

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When we reached the next river, we could see more students waiting for us – as well as the broken down truck in the distance. It had already been towed out by a tractor, but they were still unable to get it running. In the foreground you see a concrete structure, which was going to be a bridge across the river. It was funded by the Chinese government, but before it was even complete, it was pushed partially downstream by rising water levels. The students enjoy using it as a jumping platform.

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The students in this photo were rushing through the water to bring a large rope to the tractor, willing to pull the tractor across if it gets stuck.

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We were advised to take special care of our bags (due to our laptops) in case the trailer drops below the river level during the crossing. However, the crossing was uneventful.

As we headed out the other side, we came past the truck. It looks like they were trying to clean out the engine by the side of the road.

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One of the plantation tractors followed us on the road to Kambubu.

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This was our first glympse of Kambubu. The headland is the start of the property, and the water in front is the famous Rugen Harbour.

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As we were approaching Kambubu, the Kambubu truck came racing up behind us. They had finally got it going.

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The students were exuberant!

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Arrival at Kambubu Adventist Secondary School.

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Yes, this was the travelling party!

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Kambubu is a very beautiful school. Just look at its lush green grounds, and location by the sea!

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In the distance New Ireland can be seen (the mountain range in the clouds).

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I then came across this propeller placed near the administration building. To get the full story of this, I am told you must speak to Bryan Paul, a lecturer at Pacific Adventist University Smile.

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It appears that the steps on the back of the truck were damaged when it was towed out the of the river – nothing a quick welding job can’t fix.

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This is where I met with the Year 12s to discuss university entrance with them.

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After my meeting with the students, I went for a quick swim. This creek comes out of the mountains and is quite cool. It runs into the ocean where the mixture of cold stream with warm sea water makes for interesting swimming.

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Some more photos of the grounds – it is absolutely beautiful. The palm trees are magnificent.

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By the time we were ready for our return trip, it was already quite dark.

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When we got to the first river crossing, one of the boys jumped out and waded across. It was deep, but not too deep. So the truck drove into the river, only to be stuck spinning wheels about 5 meters from the other side.

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The driver asked the boys to jump into the water and push, but it made no difference. The lights you see on the other side, are two trucks that were thinking about crossing, but as they weren’t 4WD, didn’t want to take the risk at that time.

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After a few minutes, the driver remembered that he had forgotten to lock the front hubs, and that this was the reason the back tyres were spinning. Once hubs were locked, we were able to drive out without issues. Here we are passing one of the trucks was considering crossing.

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We continued to the second river crossing, and after checking the depth, crossed over without incident. And then it was just another 1.5 hours of “Manus Dance” before we returned back to Sonoma Adventist College.

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Needless to say, most directors don’t experience this level of adventure in the execution of their duties as board members. As for me, I loved my day out, and look forward to returning to Kambubu sometime in the future with Rebecca.

Gavuone, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea, SDA Church, Travel 1 Comment

The Koiari Park Pidgin Church (Pacific Adventist University) organised a weekend trip to Gavuone, and I was keen to go. Unfortunately, Rebecca had an assignment overdue, so she was unable to go. At first I decided not to go either, but there weren’t enough seats on the organised truck to cater for everyone. So on Friday morning, I offered to go if that meant that more members could go.

However, I had some critical things that needed to be attended to on Friday afternoon, so I chose to leave at 4:00pm – three hours later than the truck. I ended up running late, and we left at about 4:20pm, and then had to fuel up in Port Moresby. Finding fuel at that time is always difficult, because of long queues at the petrol stations. By 5:10pm we finally left 6-mile.

We made great time for the first hour or so, but once the sun set, we slowed down. Despite driving very sedately, we still had some passengers getting car sick – especially those sitting in the very back. So we stopped three times along the way.

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When we arrived around 9:00pm, we were offered dinner. The others had conducted the opening Sabbath service a the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and had just finished their dinner.

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The plan was for the group to sleep in a classroom – two classrooms for the boys, and one for the girls. Although I had brought a tent, there was no good place to pitch it. So I was offered a mosquito net and a place in the classroom with the boys. Here the pastor is putting up the mosquito net for me. He also provided the mat for me to sleep on.

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I stayed up late talking with some of the boys. There is a diesel powered generator for the region, and it runs all night. During the day there is no power.

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Most of the boys were asleep by the time I got to bed.

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The next morning I slept in, as I had little sleep the few nights before this trip. Most of the members were students from Pacific Adventist University, and they were asked to run the early morning devotion. The Gavuone Seventh-day Adventist Church has worship for all Seventh-day Adventists in the village every morning from 6:00-7:00am, and every evening from 5:00-6:00pm.

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The church is the big white roof in the center of the picture above. Below is a picture of the classroom where I slept, and another classroom where two others had pitched their tents for the night.

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The Gavuone Seventh-day Adventist Primary School is situated on a small hill surrounded by mangroves. The path below is the only access to the school – and it floods during King tides.

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In the pictures above, you can see a ‘metal shed’ in the middle of the picture, directly in front of the church. This is the elementary classroom. Here is what it looks like inside.

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When I arrived at church, it was still empty – but that changed very quickly, with every seat being filled and almost all the floor space used by people sitting there. Approximately 600 people worship here every week, two-thirds of them are youth and children.

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This photo shows how almost the whole floor is covered by people sitting on the floor.

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Lunch was prepared by the village women, who put on a superb spread. Given that Gavuone had 16 cholera cases in the previous few days, some people were a little anxious. However, no-one got sick, and nurses who were with us ensured good hygiene standards were followed.

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While we ate, the ladies who had cooked the food waited outside. Once we were finished, they took the leftovers back to the village.

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Following the afternoon program at church, we went for drive to see the village and the beach. Gavuone is situated at the mouth of Marshal Lagoon.

This is the national primary school.

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Here the beach faces the open sea, and in about the center of the photo is where the lagoon meets the ocean.

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Unfortunately many of the youth have little to do, so they sit around on the beach and play cards.

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After dinner and telling stories, it was time for bed.

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On Sunday morning I again slept in. When the others came back from the morning worship, we decided to go for a quick walk before breakfast. The mangroves looked very beautiful in the morning light.

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The youth were busy practicing their volleyball. The village is largely divided into two halves – the Seventh-day Adventist side and the Uniting Church side.The Adventist youth were going to face the United youth in a volleyball competition – something that was a first in this village.

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And on Monday, the famous canoe race was going to take place, so people were busy getting ready for that also. People from all over the country come to watch the canoe race.

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This man is busy working on his canoe for next year – the shell you see on the left, needs to be ‘doug out’ further, until the wall is just 1cm think (currently it is still almost 3cm).

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A few houses are built over the lagoon.

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Getting a haircut!

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Everywhere I went, children were looking at me – I guess they don’t see tall white men very often.

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The house below had these two children look out between the cladding.

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And, of course, people were going about their normal business. This woman is weaving a basket.

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Here is a shot across the lagoon fro one of the highest points in the village.

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The main street of the village.

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The school where we stayed from the distance – this makes it easy to see how it is one hill surrounded by mangroves.

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The beauty of the mangroves is that it attracts many herons. Here are two landing on the water.

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Yes, everyone helped where required.

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After we finished breakfast, we were told that the church had put on a farewell feast for us. We were expected to eat again! When we arrived at the church, sure enough, here was a long spread with lots of food. Notice the bowls for hand washing? Just making sure no-one gets cholera.

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While we were eating, the ladies sat on the lawn and sang – they sang for more than an hour without stopping.

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After the extra meal, there were some short speeches and then it was time to leave.

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And here are some shots showing some of the terrain we saw on our way back to Port Moresby.

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One of the little churches along the way.

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We spotted some locals processing sago by the side of the road. These men are cutting up the palm with hoe like instrument.

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The ladies then take the shavings and wash the starch out.

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A common sight in Papua New Guinea – washing the car (and everything else) by the river.

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We passed the truck, and shot ahead and looked for a nice spot to take some pictures of it passing.

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And some more photos of the varying conditions of the road.

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Just before we reached Gaire, the truck driver decided it was time for a short stop. For some reason Papua New Guineans must sit in the middle of the road (Magi Highway), as sitting by the side of the road is clearly not appropriate.

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When vehicles come, there is a quick scramble to get off the road.

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Our nurse, Annie, who made sure we were safe.

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And then we were on the road again.

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Arrival back at Pacific Adventist University.

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Edevu and Beyond, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea, Travel No Comments

On Sunday, 6 June, I joined a team from the School of Science and Technology of Pacific Adventist University to Edevu and from there on a two hour drive to the end of the track in the mountains. The track ends near where a new hydro dam is planned, and the team where there to take a preliminary look in preparation for an environmental study.

Here we are, three 4WDs in Edevu village getting ready to leave.

 

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It was a beautiful, misty morning.

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The track is quite rough in places, but passes through some beautiful forest.

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Wayne, the driver of the Mitsubishi Challenger, was also enjoying the drive – he is only sliding his car a little bit here – very self-controlled.

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As we headed up the mountain, the clouds blocked our view most of the time, but as you can see in the third photo below, the sky did open up a bit to reveal the height of Mt Victoria.

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Some more pictures of the conditions of the track.

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The whole in the road is only small … it goes right through to the stream underneath.

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Just a little crossing, though I did this crossing quickly, and bent the number plate.

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When we neared the top of the mountain range, we came to a transit point. A 4WD comes up this way two times a week to pick up villagers who walk for hours to this point. They bring vegetables and all kinds of produce/goods for markets in Port Moresby.

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The track got worse the further we went.

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Yes, some of the mud holes were quite deep. Here Wayne is backing up to make another attempt.

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I guess the School of Science and Technology staff had too much for breakfast, so they had to get out in order to navigate the mud pool.

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When Wayne tried, he found his car just a tad too low – and with the back of his car firmly sitting in the mud, his wheels were freely spinning.

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But that is what the towrope is for, right? Hey, boys, surely you aren’t planning to pull him out? Oh, that’s right, Roger’s 4WD is close by.

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About 250 meters from the top, we encountered this washout. The hill was pretty steep, and on the far side of the hill was a 10+ meter drop and a very steep slope. We tried dig the far side of the track to make a bit more room, but the tyres just spun on the red mud. So we decided to walk the final few meters.

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The misty track we walked up was very beautiful, with lots of ferns. These photos also show how the locals walk everywhere, often carrying huge loads. This man was carrying half a 44 gallon drum, and the ladies in the following picture were just unloading for a short rest.

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At this point, we are actually very close to the Kokoda trail – separated by just one valley. When the clouds cleared for a few seconds, we were able to see one of the villages in the distance.

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Lots of nice ferns.

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On the way back it was raining, and the some of the villagers were resting under a shelter.

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The rain made the trip home more fun than originally anticipated.

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When we came to the meeting point (see earlier photo), we found out that the 4WD that normally comes on Sunday wasn’t able to make it up the hill due to the mud and rain. Many of the people walked down the mountain to meet it. We took on some cargo and carried it to Edevu village, where it would be collected later.

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After we descended the mountain, we passed the 4WD that does provides the public transport. It costs K30 for a trip from here to Port Moresby.

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When we arrived back at Edevu, the sun was breaking through the clouds again.

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Here is a picture of the number plate I nearly ripped off during the water crossing.

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Papua New Guinea, Crystal Rapids

Papua New Guinea, Travel No Comments

Elevation Profile

After a stressful week, a picnic at Crystal Rapids seemed just the right thing to relax. We had great lunch, which was followed by a tropical downpour.

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Swimming in the rain is wonderful – so we had a great time.

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However, the rain had made the track out of Crystal Rapids a little more difficult to navigate. Rodger was the first to head out, but the Hyundai’s struggled a little bit due to being on road tyres.

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Ok, so they struggled a lot, but fortunately we had lots of people to push/pull.

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Vehicle recovery PNG style!

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Yes, Branimir. That is the clutch you are smelling!

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Pushing behind a spinning tyre has its side effects.

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Rodger, which road did you use? Why is your car so clean?

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Even the main road was not in the best condition after the rain – but certainly a lot of fun!

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We then decided the try the newly graded road to Owen’s Corner, which marks the start of the Kokoda Trail. The road looked good, but with more rain coming over, the road got more and more slippery by the minute. There are no photos or movies of the many slides that took place, presumably because the drivers were fully occupied, and the passenger hanging on for dear life.

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We were only a couple of kms from Owen’s Corner when we made a unanimous decision to head back, before the road became unpassable for those on road tyres. And anyway, the last hill is so steep that the cars with road tyres would not have been able to negotiate their way up or down.

We stopped at the little memorial by the main road.

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We also had a quick stop at the waterfall on our way home.

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Papua New Guinea, Lea Lea-Porebada-Roku and Adventure

Papua New Guinea, Travel 7 Comments

The past four weeks had been extremely busy, and I had worked long hours every day. So as we approached the weekend, I decided to go on a ride to get some wind in my hair and relax a little.

I had been planning to attempt a ride to Kido, a little village normally only accessible by boat from Lea Lea. However, after carefully viewing the satellite images posted on Google Earth, I thought that there was a small chance that we can ride there by following the inland track. A quick check of the tide charts showed that the tides perfectly supported my intentions.

So I invited a good friend, Axel, to join me for a little sightseeing and exploration.

It didn’t take long to get to Lea Lea, where we pushed our motorbikes across the ‘frail’ wooden bridge.

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We headed up the beach, and with the receding tide, made great time. We had the whole beach to ourselves.

Kido is located on the far peninsular behind the green hills.

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We found the track leading off the beach, and immediately found the ‘track’ that I had seen on the satellite images.

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We followed this track for several kilometers, and then stumbled across this fallen tree. “No Problem”, says Axel, we just carry the bikes over or cut the some of the branches. First choice: Cut the smaller branch. So Axel got out his pocket knife saw and started cutting away.

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After about 5 minutes of cutting, we tried breaking the rest by forcing the branch. To our surprise, the branch didn’t break where Axel had cut it, but much further back :-(. All that cutting was for nothing!

Anyway, no harm done, except that I had never ridden over such an obstacle (yes, I am still learning). So Axel rode both of our bikes over, and off we went. On the way back, I tried myself, and after many attempts, finally made it. I decided to try again, and went over it two more times for practice!

After a few more minutes of riding, we finally reached the point where the satellite images showed a break in the road.

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Unfortunately, the water was flowing swiftly (the tide was still flowing out), and it looked about 1.2m deep. Under the circumstances just a little too deep for us to attempt. Sure, in an emergency it could have been attempted, as there was wood around, but certainly not the kind of hard work that we had in mind for this leisurely outing. Are there crocodiles here?

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So we turned around, and decided to head up the beach where this ‘creek’ hits the ocean. Perhaps it is shallow enough for us to cross.

The ride up the beach was fabulous, but when we reached the ‘creek’, there was so much plastic in the sand. All the white you see here are plastic bottles and plastic bags – it looked terrible.

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And the ‘creek’ was a little more than a creek here, and way too deep for us to cross. So we decided that Kido was out of the question until we return with a bridge some day :-).

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On our way back, the beach was alive near Lea Lea.

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I stopped to talk to the locals – they were so friendly. These people are really wonderful. When I asked permission to take a photo, they children screamed for joy – the noise was deafening! Everyone wanted to be in the front of the picture.

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We asked the locals how many children there are in Lea Lea, and were told about 2000-3000. While this may be an exaggeration, anyone who doubts that PNG’s population is exploding should come to any of these coastal villages.

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We then headed back towards town. This photo shows the work being done to upgrade the road for the PNG LNG Project.

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We then made our way up to one of the cell phone towers, from which we had a great view. This is village of Boira, which recently had a tribal fight with Porebada killing four youths. When I went to Boira about three weeks earlier, we were not allowed to enter the village because of the tensions between these two villages.

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As we entered Porebada, a man waved us into his front yard. So we rode in, and had a little chat with him and his friends. Within minutes we were again surrounded by children.

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There is a beautiful United Church building in Porebada. By contrast to the surrounding houses, it is in immaculate condition.

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Unfortunately some of the houses are in very poor condition, and there is a lot of plastic on the ground.

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However, the people were very friendly. We also saw what we think was the graves of the youth who had lost their lives in the recent tribal fights. Some of the locals invited us to go and take pictures, but we stayed on the road, showed our respect, and kept going. I’m not sure what the right protocol is for behaviour near grave sides, so I wasn’t going to risk offending the locals.

We left Porebada by the main road, which unfortunately is in disrepair.

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Our next stop was Roku, another beautiful little village by the sea.

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It appears that the locals really like being in photos. I took the first photo below, and then a few seconds later I noticed that more people turned up and wanted to have their photo taken!

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And after Roku, it was off to the white sandy beach just south of Roku.

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And then we headed back to town … thinking that our adventures for the day were over. We were pleased with ourselves – having had a relaxing day enjoying the beauty of PNG.

On our way home, Axel suggested that we take the back road to Gerehu, and as neither of us had been there before, it seemed like a good idea. WHAT A BIG MISTAKE!! Our adventure was only about start!

We headed back to town, and when we hit the first roundabout, I wasn’t so sure that this could be right one. So we stopped under a tree and consulted the GPS. Yes, this looked like it could be the right one. So we headed down the road. There was a warehouse on the left, so we asked the security guards if this was the right road to Gerehu. We got an affirmative response, and we were on our way.

What we weren’t told, was that this road passes by the main dump, which is not the best place to be in any country. As we were riding along, there was a 30cm deep and 30cm wide trench across the road, and, as I was ahead, I indicated to Axel to be careful. He stopped in front of it, and stalled his bike, so from this point, he wasn’t directly behind me (unbeknownst to me). This was just before the blue mark on this aerial view.

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When I got to the point where the red marker is, I saw that we were heading to a dump, and I had thoughts of turning around. Right at that point, a 12-year old (or so), who was walking up the hill by the side of the road, picked up the plastic casing of a large computer monitor (or TV) and threw it at me! Yes, it was a direct hit! Fortunately not a painful one, as plastic is not heavy. While wondering what to do, In noticed that a vehicle was just leaving (yellow star), and that seven or eight 15-20 year olds got off the back of the vehicle. They stood in the middle of the road looking rather “tough”. Rather than risk riding past them (and having something else thrown at me), I decided to stop and be friendly. I used the limited Motu I know to greet them. We conversed in Pidgin English, as I introduced myself, and found out all their names. I told them where I live, and they told me that they life at the dump. As we chatted, their demeanour became more friendly. It is at this time that Axel caught up with me, and he told me that a boy (possibly 10 years old) threw a large rock (about 15-20cm in diameter) at his motorbike (see blue marker above). His blinker was completely smashed, along with the bracket and assembly. We talked for another couple of minutes, before deciding to move on. As I was saying “bamahoota” (good bye in Motu), one of the youth tried to rip my camera from my belt. Fortunately the case was strong enough that did not rip off. However, the look on the would-be-thief’s face was not a pleasant one. He looked angry that his attempt was not successful. Without hesitation, we took off – we had already said “good bye”, so it was a great time to leave. But much to my dismay, another group of youth, probably 18-23 year olds was walking onto the road just 200m down the road (where the orange marker is). Part of me wanted to make a dash, but I was worried that at speed we might come off second best if they decided to get us. So I slowed down, introduced myself, got all their names, and started a conversation. These youths also became more friendly as we spoke to them. As I turned to speak to the one of the group’s members, I noticed that the would-be-thief had followed us, and was now less that 10 meters behind me. Not knowing what was on his mind, I decided to get out of there. Mid sentence, I said “Bamahoota”, and Alex and I sped off.

As we were riding back, my mind was going over the incident over and over, to see if there was anything we should have done differently. Well, taking that road was not a good idea, but we didn’t know, and certainly the security guards didn’t warn us either. Further, I have since found out that one of the PAU staff goes there regularly, and is good friends with some of the youths. So were we just unlucky that one tried to take my camera? Was he new to the group? Who knows.

To make matters worse, on the second last intersection before we got back to Axel’s place, a car tried to block Axel on the roundabout. This is something that has never happened to either of us before, and given that we were already on a little adrenaline high from our encounter at the dump, this was just a little unsettling.

Unfortunately, what would have been a perfect day out turned into a somewhat less wonderful experience as the last 30 minutes left us a little concerned.

However, having reviewed the incident over and over in my mind, I am sure that we did the right thing by talking to the youths at the dump. If I had tried to make a run for it at the first point, the second group would certainly have had enough time to group themselves in such a way that I would have come unstuck. Further, Axel would have been about 1.5 minutes behind, and that would not have done much for his chances.

I still maintain that treating people with respect (I took my glove off to shake their hands) resulted in the best possible outcome. And I am sure that speaking in Pidgin/Motu wasn’t a disadvantage either.

Papua New Guinea, 17-Mile (Port Moresby) – Waigani SDA Church Camp

Papua New Guinea, SDA Church 2 Comments

The Waigani SDA Church held a church camp at 17-mile over the weekend of 30 October to 1 November 2009. The camp was a time for spiritual renewal for all who attended.

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The location for the camp is very scenic – it is a beautiful park that is well maintained. The children (and some of the adults) really enjoyed swimming in the river.

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On Sunday morning, a traditional Highlands Mumu was cooked.

Collecting the firewood.

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Peeling the vegetables.

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Banana leaf on which to cook the food.

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Heating the stones.

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After the stones are hot, they are made level and banana leaves are added. The food is then added on top. Pipes are added, through which water is pored in to speed the cooking process. You can see the steam coming out through on of the pipes here.

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About an hour and half later, the food is cooked. The man standing on the left is the head cook!

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Here the food is ready for removal.

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There is still a lot of steam when the food is taken out. It is very hot!

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You can see the sticks that were added to support some of the weight. The greens are edible too!

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The food is layed out next to the Mumu on top of banana leaves.

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This is about half of the food that was cooked in the Mumu.

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As I am a vegetarian, I didn’t try the beef that was added. However, the kaukau was very soft and tasty! This is good food indeed.

Varirata National Park, National Capital District, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea, Travel 2 Comments

The Adventist Accreditation Association committee visited PAU from 21-25 August 2008, and so it was appropriate to take them on a tour to the nearby national park.  Although it drizzled most of the afternoon, we still had a great time.  Below is a selection of photos, which again highlights the beauty of Papua New Guinea.

The following map shows our trip overlayed on Google Earth.  The straight line at the end is due to the road being completely under trees, which resulted in a straight line to the point where we came out of the forest near the lookout.

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If you wish to manipulate the map yourself, install Google Earth and then open the following file:

.  This will allow you to zoom in and review the track in detail.

The following shows the approximate elevations for the trip (keep in mind, that the GPS algorithms favour horizontal positioning over vertical positioning – hence the slight differences).

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Sirinumu Dam, National Capital District, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea, Travel 4 Comments

We rose on Sunday morning, to find out that the locals recommended that we don’t travel to the Sirinumu Dam that day, as it had rained all night and the road would be very difficult to traverse (if at all).  However, to most of this, this was just an additional incentive to go.  Rebecca had invited seven students to join her in the car, while I took the motorbike – my first serious outing in muddy conditions.

As always, I can’t help but highlight the beautiful countryside in PNG.  It was a gorgeous morning, despite the occasional drizzle.

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It didn’t take long, before the road became distinctly muddy!  Rebecca had never done any 4WDing, but she took to the challenge with great enthusiasm.  She was assisted by seven back seat drivers who cheered her on!

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In Papua New Guinea, one is never alone.  We met lots of people walking along the road.

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There is mud – and there is red mud!  The red mud is extremely slippery.

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Given her inepericence, Rebecca did a superb job keeping the car on the track and moving.  However, she had failed to put it into the 4WD mode that locks the center and rear diff-lock (which ensures that all four tyres spin in unison).  As a result, she got stuck in one of the more difficult stages.  Yes, that is her co-pilot with a big smile … and yes, even Rebecca has a grin on her face as she is getting towed out.

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Here are a couple of pictures of where she was stuck.

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As can be seen in the above photo, one of the other cars had difficulty here – but they managed to drive out.  Look at the tracks to see how that vehicle slid sideways!  It was very, very slippery.  Fortunately, Rebecca learned how to engage 4WD with both the center and rear diffs locked!  I must encourage her to go out again and use that new skill ;-).

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This is the dam wall, and in the next photo you can see the what is at the bottom of that wall.  What a huge spray of water!  The car’s are small in comparison.  It was very majestic.

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Yes, this is Rebecca driving!!

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Finally things got easier again.

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We then proceeded to Crystal Rapids, where we enjoyed a nice picnic and swim.  However, even there, the road was extremely slippery.  It was a slow crawl climbing this hill!

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One of the nice things about mountainous terrain is the when the clouds hang low over the mountains.  It was a very pretty sight.

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Lae, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea, SDA Church, Travel No Comments

On the 14th of August I travelled to Lae to deliver a presentation at the Annual CPA conference.  Here are some of the photos of this scenic town in Papua New Guinea.

This is the Lae town centre.

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The surrounding hills and harbour are absolutely stunning.

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The conference was held at the Lae International Hotel.

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The moon rise was spectacular that night.

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On the 15th, the CPA organization opened its Lae office, and Pr Geoffrey Pomaleu dedicated the building.  Notice the picture of Christ on the wall?  Papua New Guinea is very much a Christian country.

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On Saturday the 16th I went to church in Lae.

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The Seventh-day Adventist Union office.

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And, as is often the case, my flight to Port Moresby was delayed by two hours.

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