Friday, December 30, 2005

MAF – flying where no one else will fly

I’m still getting my head around how big MAF are – but knew something about them through family friends. Long time friends of the family have been in PNG forever, and are up in Mt Hagen at the moment as Managing Director (or something) for PNG of this flying organization.

However I’ve already lost count of the flights we’ve (Anglicans) put through them. And starting to lose count of the people who have said “we’d be stuffed without them…”

I did have one little story told to me of how it’s getting harder for the pilots – as when they have their leave, they need to go and speak to more and more churches to raise money in Australia/otherwise. Jeez – tough thing for your holidays.

This little article came through the other day-:

MAF Airfares Subsidised

The Western Province gas announced that they have allocated K500,000 towards subsidising airfares on the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) airline service. This is to help the people who have to use remote airstrips no longer used by commercial airlines. Often the only other means of travel in the province were by walking along the waterways or by dinghies that were usually time-consuming when there was a matter of urgency. The airline services all the remote and central routes in the province including covering connections to Port Moresby and Mt. Hagen. MAF has had a long-standing commitment to servicing the remote areas of PNG but even they have to charge a realistic fare to recover operating costs.

Looking forward to getting to Hagen and saying hello!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Observations for Krismas time bilong PNG!

A Merrrrrrry Christmas & Happy New Years.

For the family/friends back home who have been asking- here’s a super-Quick “Nathan’s first PNG Christmas” wrap-up:

Had a small little Work-Christmas gathering up on my 2nd floor balcony on Friday afternoon – a lovely little afternoon of it. There’s some photo’s of said event here... Closed the office early, did a little shopping, and we had some pizza, some sn-ausage rolls, some fried chicken, some fruit, some chippy’s… and lots more. But with this many kids around it didn’t last too long! The kids seemed to enjoy the chrissy crackers I had around the place. They’re a great bunch at the Anglican National Office. Photo’s tell the words best for these ones – I’ll get around to commenting (names etc) them properly a little later on this week.

Flowed on (after the usual Fri night at the yachtee) to Sat. night Christmas Eve dinner with Jonika, Alex, Roger (Jonika’s dad), Marian (visitor from UK/Moresby), and yours truly. Speshial, special food – lovely sweet potato & pumpkin curry, beans & cashews, fish… good company, good wine – purrrfect. Lovely little intimate candlelit dinner.

Christmas Day arrives! Had my own personal little opening of presents session (thanks Mum & Benny!). Then it was off for All Souls church, for all 300 people on Sunday morning @ 9am. Nice service, if a tad high-Anglican for my personal taste on Christmas day! Anglicans seem to “vary from a theme” for about 15 minutes (of a 2 hour service) on their special days. However the 3-part harmony choir was lovely, enough for a tear in Nath’s eye, and was great to see everyone and wish people a merry chrissy.

Then began-eth Sunday lunch at Lae International Hotel for a buffet around midday - - an epic campaign ensued, replete with heroes, villains, bounty and takings. There was also lots of seafood, champagne, turkey, seafood, salads, desserts & drinks. We had a table of 7, and there were around 150 (I think) total there in the hotel. Finally we ambled back to retire in the afternoon to J&A’s place for more drinks...

Once again – good company kept it together!

It’s kinda quiet around here (Anglican compound) the rest of the time. People seem to vacate Lae to the villages to a certain extent – maybe not unlike the pilgrimages of ppl in Melb to the country/coast!.

So - This is da first Christmas away from the fam-damily since I was 20yrs old. Back then, finished my 3 yrs at Uni, borrowed $10k from a bank at a nasty rate of interest and went to New York. Ended up arriving in Rome on Chirstmas Eve (and couldn’t find a hostel…) and hanging out with American backpackers I’d just met. Then on Christmas day was blessed by the pope (or at least standing in the Vatican with 15,000 other people)… But every year since then for yours truly has been Chrissy with basically only Mum & Dad & Ben.

Christmas 2005 bilong me was a nice one – thanks be-(eth) for gutpela peoples.

Some more regular places... long Lae Market

This is the front of the local market – can’t see too much from this shot, but there’s the usual trucks chock full of people n stuff from the surrounding settlements – some buying, some selling. Floorplan wise, probably not as big as Vic market, but it’s all fresh food… lots of nice stuff.

Quick shot across the market – most of it is people with their plastic/tarp spread out on the ground with a little bit to sell. It's alright, but I didn't stand around with my digital camera in my hand for too long. Mostly ladies sitting there doing the selling. Usually I buy more than I can carry with K20 or so… depending on how much you can be bothered looking for slightly cheaper stuff. Just lately, though I still buy fruits on a Sat. morning with the rest of the ANO – I’ve been able to send Wendy (Haus Meri) to the market… who is much, much better at it than I am!

A couple more regular places n faces…

This is Muandu – who I talk to every evening and/or for a while. Every night, Muandu is out there with the bow, arrows & bush-knife. I think he’s paid around 50Kina a fortnight for 7 days of 12-14 hour shifts. Night time security guard... he looks out for me and tells me some stories about people around the place, and I give him biscuits and water every night… sometimes panadol and/or a course of Malaria tablets.

Security has been blogged well by others - JCD and LittleP here and here - - and I’ll try and put some security observations down sometime... But for now, here’s Muandu.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Christmas time is here...

Have started the "christmas letter" blog thing - but doesn't look like it will be done in time for the last day of work. Super-busy week with staff not having baby-sitters, malaria (for the staff this time) and some other fun and games.

Also organising the mini-office chrissy party, which should be some fun this afternoon.

Merry Christmas to all! Missin' all you Aussie-types for the usual silly-season parties n cricket sessions.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Cronulla - wtf?

Wonder how many blogs have been written on this topic over the past few weeks?

Even up here, where more of the news channels seem to be cable USA and/or BBC World Service, there was plenty of reporting about the other weekend in and around Cronulla... very bizarre.

Whenever the family used to go to Sydney, we'd swim at Cronulla beach there - and the grandparents/parents all grew up somewhere around that Sutherland Shire. The Mall there wasn't anything to rave about, but always an ice-cream to be had. The pictures from the other weekend were therefore, of course, a bit surreal.

When the mates in Melb emailed me about it - I initially said "surely it's not 000's, that's just a beat-up yah??". Apparenltly not so.

The random chatting at the yacht-ee up about it over a few SP's included people recounting little stories about the Moubra boys (or whatever they're called) n stuff, and some general Alan Jones ear-bashing. I'm always up for some AJ knocking-: all these late middle-aged white-bred fear-inciting shock-jock peoples are easy targets of the chardonnay sippers (and vice versa)... but they also rate heavily in Sydney. W*nkers.

Totally, totally non-PC, but one Aussie mate here in Lae put it something like this:
Him: "You know how you go through Thailand or Amsterdam or anywhere, and you see the Aussie or UK total yobs idiots having a big drinking session and making knobs of themselves??
Me: Well... Yah of course. Same as everywhere.
Him: "Yeah, well they're the step up from the drinking groups most of us never got into in the west of Sydney or the south of Melbourne - like the Cranbourne boys, or the Westies in Syd - those you saw o/s actually got up and _travelled_ overseas"

I don't know how accurate (or useful) that sort of pegging is, but I know I spent most of my hours in the inner-city of Melbourne, and that everywhere else we went for raves and/or pub nights and/or birthdays was a very, very, very different scene.

Not as diffferent as the Lae Yacht Club, but different. But enough random rambling on that subject. Hope it's not in the world-news again this week!

2005 according to CNNN

CNNN made me laugh. Alot. In fact, it may have made me laugh more than anything since the Late Show.

Those Chaser guys have put together a 2005 in Review thing, linked up here...

Friday, December 16, 2005


PNG has this kinda bizarre spread of population. I don't just mean rural vs urban, though that's plenty different as well. I'm kinda also talking about the towns/cities merging at the edges with some settlements, which then run into foothills/mountains pretty quick. Anyhoo's - the PNG Gossip thingy, which you can see anytime here, had this link here which gave some census figures for Province and Town/City.

Accuracy would have to be questionable I'm guessing, but still - interesting to see where the larger provinces really are when you get the map out!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Happy Birfday's -- in Goroka!

This last weekend, I trundled up into the Highlands to Goroka! Even leaving off the weather, Goroka is cool because of lots of things n people (I hereby decree) - and I will be back.

So earlier this week I copped an invite to a triple birthday - sweeping up birthdays from across the year, for 3 AVI's who are in Goroka-: Eden, Jason & Robyn. All on the one Saturday night at Eden/Jason's place. Getting towards last thing on the Friday afternoon, I talked myself into not needing to work this weekend, and grabbed an Airlink flight (my luxury purchase for December) one-way to Goroka early Sat. morn. Managed to get the tix 5 min before the office closed - Noice One.

The day was super-relaxing (needed after this week/month!), and the party (that night) was spe-sh-ial. Must've been at 25 odd come through the place, and a lovely bunch of people they are. Great party, replete with balloons, fairy lights, dancin, bbq, chattin n drinks aplenty. The cake bought by Robyn was a bit of a talking point for interpretation!

Sunday morning I was feeling a little delicate(!), Robyn was walking me to the PMV stop, and out of no-where this freak'in dog who was trotting past had a bite at my leg! Nasty thing - ripped up the pants below the knee and drew blood on both sides of the calf...! Anyhoo's - stinging leg, thumping head - jumped a 4 (or so) hour PMV back to Lae.

Worth another post or two is suuuurely Goroka generally & the Highlands Highway return trip (being Nath's first long PMV ride). But not tonight!

So. Eden (Save the Children, doing IT-ish), Jason (Institute of Med Research- multi-media) & Robyn (Editorial stuff-Melanesian Institute) - - are basically "way cool", over and above the fact that they're AVI'ers as well. Cheers for the weekend in Goroka!!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Some Weekend Papers!

Never take your newspaper for granted.

Geoff is one of the other AVI’s here in Lae who arrived in the same group as me. He’s working at the Unitech in their department of distance learning. This morning, Geoff’s shown up at my place with the Weekend Australian in hand (THIS WEEKEND’s!). Every time I’d looked previously, there was only last week’s paper, and it was K19.10 for a Sydney Morn Herald/Sat Age/Weekend Australian.

So this/last Sunday morning I got to chill in the morning with the Weekend Australian. Nice. Gave the mass this morning a miss after a double-header weekend, which included the go-finish party for Jeremy (another AVI here in Lae). I’ve mentioned it before, but after 2 years Jeremy has a soon to be mothballed gutpela blog which you can see here.

Back to the papers. Looks like it’s happening as per usual in Oz media eh? Some rich reserve bank guy I’ve barely heard of dodged some tax, and Little Johnny getting through that de-regulation for that ‘culture of individual initiative’ he wants to entrench. Front page of the Weekend Inquirer-:

“Even where all employees at a workplace want to bargain collectively, they will be unable to do so if the employer refuses. This gives workers in Australia fewer rights than those in the US, as well as in most other developed economies…”

Not that it’s easily comparable, but I wouldn’t call the rights of workers here in PNG any good compared to what Aussies will still have.

Ahh… Weekend Paper input. I’ve had to turn past the book & film review section for 2005, as I started to very quickly get antsy – there’s no cinema, or good bookstore, here in Lae!

Good article on p21 as well on early childhood development:

“Part of the problem is that we’re always comparing ourselves with the US and it’s easy to look good… in [Scandinavian] countries child poverty would be around 12 percent without government intervention. With government intervention, it’s around 2 or 3 percent. In Australia, child poverty is around 16 percent, until govt. intervention bringing it to 14 percent”

Awright – I’m off to read the rest of the paper before Geoff gets back from church…

Friday, December 02, 2005


Yup - I've been snapping here and there.

So far the travelling has been to Moresby a few times and the beaches/places/faces around Lae.

If ya keen to have a squiz at some of the collection so far, you can do that HERE.