This summer I had the opportunity to travel to the other side of the world for work, to Papua New Guinea, a place I once studied on a globe when I was a kid and dreamt about visiting. I decided to capitalize on the opportunity of being so close to Australia to take a few days before my meetings to see Brisbane.
So I arrived in Brisbane at 7am and dropped my suitcase off at my hotel then hit the pavement to see the city. I started by catching the free water taxi and got off at a stop on South Bank.
There was a beautiful walking path along the river and I walked on this until I reached a bridge to take me back over the river into downtown.
I checked out the farmer’s market, walked around downtown for a while then went back to my hotel and passed out around 6pm. The next morning I walked to the transit centre which was the departure point for the tour I had booked of Stradbroke Island.
Our first stop on Stradbroke Island was a park on the ocean where we watched dolphins swim near a dock. The water was incredible and the sand had a reddish hue.
We saw a number of beautiful things on Straddie (the nickname for the island), including my first kangaroo!
And even though it was only about 23 degrees celsius, I swam at this beach.
Our last stop was Brown Lake which gets its name because it is surrounded by tea trees that drop their leaves into the water and turn the water brown and make the water smell like tea tree oil. It was very beautiful and smelled amazing.
That night I fell asleep pretty early again and the next morning I was back at the same rendezvous spot for my tour to Springbrook and the Tamborine rainforest.
But before I move on to that tour, I’ll just take a moment to tell you why it’s taken me so long to write this blog post. For the tours in Australia I decided to bring my point-and-shoot camera because I thought it might take better pictures in low-light than my phone camera. But when I got back and plugged my camera into my computer, it wouldn’t recognize the camera. So I took it to a few different camera places and discovered that the memory card was corrupt and that even though I can still see the pictures on the display screen, I can’t actually take them off. Luckily, I didn’t take that many pictures with my camera, but I did take a picture of the only koala bear I saw and used it for this amazing coastal hike I did where we saw sea turtles and wales breaching off the cost. So please bear with the following pictures, they are very pixelated and blurry (because the only affordable solution I could come up with was to take pictures of the display screen on the camera), but I still wanted to include them because they are both very special moments on this trip for me.
So now that that’s over with, I can get back to the rainforest tour. We drove out to this amazing forest on the Gold Coast where we saw several waterfalls and walked a few different forest paths.
The rainforest actually reminded me a lot of the rainforest in BC, with a few eucalyptus trees mixed in for good measure.
After three days in Australia I boarded a plane for Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
This is what Port Moresby looks like from the sky as you approach.
And this is what Port Moresby looks like from the top floor of the hotel I was staying in.
I was staying in an area inland called Waigani, which is a newer part of the city. And as you can see, there’s not much to see. However, since we were all going to be very busy with meetings, our host decided to bring PNG culture to us.
Almost every day we arrived for our meetings there were different greetings from various tribes from around the island. PNG is the most culturally diverse place in the world and I feel very lucky to have been exposed to even the smallest fraction of those cultures.
Here are a group of Huli from the Hela province of PNG, up in the highlands.
And these are the Asaro Mudmen. The story goes that during a battle where the Asaro were losing, some of the tribes people hid in the mud of a river bank. When they eventually emerged, their skin was turned a ghostly white and the invading tribe believed them to be the ghosts of the Asaro tribes people they had killed in the battle and so they fled. So the Asaro continued to use this tactic in battle and created large clay masks to instil fear in their enemies. Here they are paying us a visit during dinner.
I learned that the currency in PNG is named after the shells that were used as currency before paper money was introduced. The large shells are the Kina (which are dollars) and the small shells are the Toya (cents) and in the middle are boar tusks.
I also very much enjoyed the food in PNG.
And there was a lot of very good Asian food.
I also managed to find some time to relax by the pool, which was fantastic (even though it was cloudy, it was still very hot and humid).
And of course, I made lots of new friends.
Now there’s just one last thing I want to say about PNG that I found absolutely charming. They use Christmas decorations everywhere as just normal decorations. So I would see strings of garland and Christmas lights in the shape of stars and other random Christmas stuff decorating restaurants and booths in the mall and on the tills at the grocery store.
It made me smile every time.