Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snow capped mountain in PNG

No of course it aint snow...its ash and hot ash at that. Still errupting from Mt Tavavur (Rabaul). It first lifted its lid in 1994 to devastating effect, wiping the beautiful little seaside city of Rabaul literally off the map.

I was lucky enough to visit a few days ago. Its surreal, errie to drive the now desolate streets, drive down the once perfect runway and look straight ahead at the still smoking volcano, defiantly spewing her ash high.

The main street is now nothing more than a thick layer of ash.

The old runway. Now looks like a landing strip for a day trip to Mars.

These trees amazed me. Still standing but like giant toothpicks.

But the people of East New Brittain province are super resilient. They with the help of the World Bank and an energetic business community, provincial government just decided to take a very bad situation and make it better. They relocated to Kokopo - a gorgeous seaside town just down the road. This is the bustling, very clean and safe market place.

I love to see bravery in the face of adversity in action. Rabaul and Kokopo communities are a must see and an inspiration.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Have bilum and will travel

Its been a very strange week, a week of emotions that I havent experienced before. Being away from home, the place that is the most familiar to me and seeing it splashed across CNN in my hotel room is well, shocking. I have found it a rough week but feel guilty feeling anything compared to those of you in the thick of the fight against the raging waters and mud and silt and tragedy.

So in typical escapism I went bush PNG style and headed for Chuave, a town in the remote Chimbu province of PNG.

The team here arranged for me to travel to Goroka (an hour flight from Moresby) . So I set off at the crack of dawn to catch my flight at the domestic terminal. A terminal that is fast developing a reputation of being unsafe...again it was fine. The security was phenomenal, much better than the domestic arrangements in Australia. Firearms are to be handed to security and they lock them up on the plane for thoughtful.

Here is my new briefcase...I like it much better than my faithful black Tumi case.

My Western Province Bilum is the pefect size for my laptop, radio, phone, wallet, paper, lunch....

Coming in to land at is like the rest of PNG, breathtaking. My camera phone just doesnt do the magnifence of the mountains, waterfalls and the valley justice. The striking thing is that all farms are small family plots. There is almost no corporate farms left in PNG and thus most farming is what I call subsistence for the family, pigs and what is left goes into the local market for sale to others. One of the many reasons why formal employment is so low.

Welcome to Goroka...indeed.

The trip from Goroka to Kongo Coffee at Chuave was supposed to be 30 minutes...slight miscalculation, it is 90minutes, going very fast in a twin cab. But my driver Rex is legendary and everyone got out of his road. I would too. This was my view for 90minutes doing 100kms most of the time but slowing to a crawl frequently to navigate where the road is long ago eroded. The grill was on the front, the sides and the back to protect us from "enthusiastic locals" who like to throw big rocks!

I ended up at Kongo Coffee and met one of the most inspiring business people, Jerry Kapka and his wife Lilly. Jerry has developed PNGs largest processing facility (taking coffee bean and converting it into green bean ready for export) right in his home village at Chuave. He buys directly from small farmers who produce around 8 - 10 bags a year of some of the world's most sought after coffee.

There was something extra sweet about drinking Kongo Coffee with Jerry & Lily in the middle of the processing facility. Coffee will never taste so good. It was strong but not bitter and a little bit chocolaty.

Possibly the luckiest dog in PNG having a rest, obviously has a nose for coffee too!

The trip back was nerve racking...not enough room width ways for everyone...I admit I shut my eyes (tightly).

There is not a clear photo but we even saw some green, leafy material for sale. The driver told me it was K1 about 35cents for a small joint.  The ladies below were simply selling the equivalent of a Maccas burger and minties for the road trip.

We went through three police checks to make sure we were travelling for all the right reasons.

I had another two meetings in Goroka and then headed back to Moresby. All in a days work. The check in at Goroka is not high tech but it works. My plane up and back was perfectly on time. Better than a lot of flights in Oz.

Here is one of the three guys who were my personal protection for the day...maybe a bit extreme but I felt safe and was able to power through my work without having to worry. The only problem was they are all blues supporters.

My apologies the images are poor quality but I was supposed to be here for 3 days and so far its day 13 and counting. I didnt bring my camera just using the camera in the Blackberry Torch.

Take care and big hugs and smiles to all those back home. I wish I was there to pitch in.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I know Port Moresby and more broadly PNG has a dreadful reputation as a violent place. I know this and still choose to be here (and now bring Shane and the kids too). My experience is different though.

I thought I might use this blog to once a week or thereabouts, have a look through my lens on the world at violence - PNG style and abroad.

So to kick off week 1 here is a story of gang rape in England

'Gang rape of 17-yr-old was filmed'
A TEENAGE girl was gang-raped by four men who took videos of her ordeal on a mobile phone,a court heard.
The 17-year-old was attacked after being lured to a flat where the rapists were lying in wait, it is claimed. They used the same ploy to prey on another 18-year-old woman two days later, Inner London Crown Court heard on Tuesday. The 17-year-old, who cannot be named, sobbed as she described how friend Idris Adeokun, 21, known as Jermaine,called her that day wanting to meet up.He picked her up in a car before taking her to his cousin Emmanuel Garrick's home in Tessa Sanderson Place, Clapham, where four men were waiting.
She said: "He [Jermaine] said he wanted to have sex with me. I said, 'No, I've got a boyfriend and I'm happy'. He said I didn't have a choice. I told him I wanted to go home."
The teenager described how she was then raped by all five men and filmed until she managed to escape and call police.Jurors heard that two days later three of the gang lured another 18-year-old to the flat after offering to help with her CV.She was then raped by Adokun and Garrick before fleeing the flat, it is claimed.

and now for PNG

Chinese businessman Hacked

A BUSINESSMAN of Chinese origin may lose both arms after he was attacked with a bush knife in a holdup at Kokopo yesterday.

The middle-aged man, who operates a trade store in the town, was attacked as he shut his shop between

9.30 and loam yesterday.

Bystanders in the quiet area said the businessman was attacked as he got into his utility.

"There were three of them, all wearing caps which they pulled low over their faces," a woman resident told the gathered crowd only minutes after the holdup.

"One had a bushknife and did the chopping. He cut him on the left arm ftrst: and then on the other arm. They pulled him out of the car, got inside and speeded away."

Nearby resident John Simon said he came along moments after, to see the wounded man standing but with his body and arms shaking as large amounts of blood poured trom the wounds.

"We got him into th~ back of a utility, tore off some sheets and tied up his arms to try to stop the bleeding," Mr Simon .said. "By the time we reached Vunapope Hospital, I thought he was dead, the way he was lying there."

The victim's wife was inside the store at the time, according totriends ofthe businessman.

"He is longtime here," said a young Chinese man. "He has been here for· more than 10 years."

Police later found the stolen car in bush near a local transport company on the outskirts oftown. The thieves had fled on foot, bystanders said.

It is believed the store owner's condition stabilized during the day.

Its a bit dour I know but I feel strongly that the media that leaves PNG is tainted and one sided and NEVER shows the true PNG.

And just to lift the mood a little, here is a pretty picture - the pool and view at our new place in Moresby.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday in Port Moresby

I am supposed to be landing in Brisbane right now. Back in the arms of the one I love and my gorgeous kids. BUT....Iam not as the floods have surrounded the farm and there is no way for me to get home for at least a few days and since I was coming back up to PNG on Monday, its best that I stay here and work the weekend. AWWWWW.

The good news is that at the same time I was to board the plane, we had a fire evacuation here at the building. With time to kill my wonderful offsider Rex decided I should check out a house his mate had just listed for rent. I really wasnt keen still feeling a bit sorry for myself that I woudlnt be seeing the kids this weekend.

But I got dragged off and boy am I pleased I did. The house is fantabulously brilliant. So much better than I ever thought I would ever get. I just love it.

However, as bright as that moment was this afternoon was better. The local staff here at the World Bank are well off in PNG standards but still money is tight and food is very very precious. This arve they cooked up fresh corn on the cob cooked in banana leaves in the microwave. What a treat and they made me laugh...I cant share how but gee I cried laughing. Now thats a high point.

Enjoy your weekend! Carolyn.

Monday, January 3, 2011

We have a date with Port Moresby

Finally we have a date for our move to PNG...Janaury 23rd will be lift off for our quick shuttle to a world away in Port Moresby.

Most people, actually everyone, thinks we are short a kangaroo or two in the top paddock to be moving from our glorious farm in one of the World's luckiest countries to Port Moresby, recently voted as the second most unliveable city in the world and the most dangerous capital city in the world right alongside Baghdad.

I say, your a long time dead better live while I am here. Not very prophetic or worldly I know but I need something to hide behind and fake bravery and foolishness seem the best options.

So why such a dim view of Port Moresby?

This is a shot of an over water village in Moresby. Yes its not quite paradise...but then there is this...

but then there is the crime situation. Raskols are criminals who are intent on making the lives of others miserable through car jackings at gun point and general robbery. PNG has one of the world's highest rates of sexual violence. It also has one of the world's lowest ratios of police to citizens in the world.

but most people, nearly all, are gorgeous, friendly people who strive for a better life in one of the world's most resource dense countries, but yet also remains very poor and undeveloped.

and this is why we, on the 23rd of this month will be off to live in PNG for a while. To see if we can help PNG and its people make the transition from developing to developed nation while ensuring we dont interfere with their incredible, unique culture and traditions. Wish us luck.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 - The Year of Extra Measure?

A very clever friend emailed me a Happy New Year message titled - "Welcome to 2011, The Year of Extra Measure". Of course, curious as a cat I am, wrote back and asked what "Extra Measure" meant.
Apparently, countries around the world are going to be taking a lot of "extra measures" in 2011 - extra measures to fight terrorism, extra measures to combat global warming, extra measures to boost flagging economies - you get the picture.

I was thinking, what would my "extra measure" be in 2011?

So here is my list of the "extra measures" I am going to take in 2011 -
  • be nicer, "keep calm and carry on"
  • smile more and laugh out loud, often
  • chill, do nothing for more than 5 minutes at a time, be still
  • reduce my extra waist measurement by eating less and moving more (these are aspirational goals I know)
  • spend less
  • give more of me
  • tell those around me how much I appreciate having them in my life
  • enjoy the places I visit more
Oh yeah, and do my blog regularly! Just for extra measure.

I wish you a very Happy New Year and just know that 2011 will have surprises for us all.

Unfortunately not rum in my "half a softdrink bottle glass" but billy tea in the rain.