Papua New Guinea
I have almost come to the end of my travels. Tomorrow night, I will be leaving for Changi International Airport and taking the long flight home to Scotland.
The last 14 weeks have been incredible. I have met wonderful people along the way, seen things I wont forget and been to places I will certainly one day go back to.
Since my last entry here, I have been in Papua New Guinea. The 7 weeks(minus a few days) in PNG have just been incredible.
Papua New Guinea only sees around 7000 tourists a year and it is a pretty big place too – I really got off the beaten track there. As I was on a expedition as a volunteer, what we got up to was completely different to what I was doing as I travelled SE Asia independently. I was skeptical about how much we were really going to be giving back to the country, as in the expedition industry it is fairly hit and miss, thankfully Trekforce Worldwide had done a fantastic job in setting up a sustainable community project.
The expedition to PNG was the first of its kind, in the sense, that no other volunteering expeditions by any other charities or companies were operating in PNG. So as you can imagine it was a challenging experience. Local politics, logistical issues and medical problems were just some of the things we encountered along the way. But as the Expedition leader, Dave, pointed out – there is not going to be a following expedition that will live up to the first one.
I had a great team of people to work alongside, a gebuinely diverse bunch from different backgrounds There were highs and lows, as you can imagine with the stresses and hardships of living in the jungle for such a long time – but everyone parted as friends. I admit it was pretty sad saying goodbye to everyone, though there are a couple of reunions in the pipeline. What I learned from a similar expedition to Borneo in 2006, was that people from your life at home cant really apreciate what an expedition entails and there is only so many times people will put up with conversations starting with ‘When I was in Borneo……’. Everyone parted as friends and I am sure that sooner rather than later the team will get back together.
One thing that I have to mention about Papua New Guinea is the people. Before the expedition, I was reading the horror stories that the Australian media were writing about the country. I can safely say, that the Australian media is 100% wrong. You only have to look at how Australia treats the ethnic Aboriginal people to see that racism is inherent. That may sound harsh – but I will go into detail about some of my experiences when I get home and have more time. The people I met from Papua New Guinea were the friendliest and most welcoming that I have ever encountered – I have been nowhere that even compares to this country. I can safely say that I got to know and like our local partners as much as anyone on the Trekforce team. Our local partners were part of the team. Cultural and linguistic barriers were never a problem, not once did I feel uncomfortable or intimidated by anyone. For example, our last night piss up in a pretty grotty nightclub in Port Moresby was one of the best and most interesting nights out I have had on the whole trip – It wasnt the kind of place the Australian Expat at the airport on our first day would have gone, his introduction to PNG was ‘Dont go near that red stuff(betel nut juice on the pavement), you’ll get TB. Take of your watch in town, there was about 20 people killed last week just down that road in a tribal fight’. What I am trying to say is that PNG is not the wild west that it is portrayed as being. I will go into some of the experiences I have had, and you will soon hear about Henny – our man in PNG!
Heard of the Black Cat Trail? No time to explain right now 🙂
Right now, I am back where I started, in the Betel Box hostel in Singapore. I would dearly love to continue travelling, but no time left! My plan to go to Paris is kind of out the window, I have a fair bit to do before I go back to Uni, so I am staying put – also money! Anyway, I just met a german girl called Anne so we are going to go and see the sights. I also need to buck up the courage and get this tattoo done(sorry mum and dad 🙂 your going to love it).
Anyway – I have alot to write about when I get home.