A couple of surprisingly better than expected weeks have just past in Papua New Guinea. A place the locals like to call the Land of the Unexpected. But for me, it was mainly all expected. For instance I wasn't surprised by the DIY home vet procedure, or being stuck in the dusty wild west town of Kainantu, or the fact that my old base of Lae and Unitech is exactly as I remembered it. But I was pleasantly surprised when I found more than an expected amount of money in my old bank account. Always good.
Instead of a boring travel log of I went here and did this and then that. This time I might break the trip up into a summary of the highlights and lowlight. So here you go.
* Seeing my old buddy Wendy again for the first time in a year and a half. And getting to play with her HD video camera while she was playing documentary filmmaker.
* Hanging out with the old volunteer gang again and staying with a few (thanks guys). Luckily most of the gang that I remember are still there, sprinkled with a few new faces.
* Hosting another Tropfest film festival. Third year in a row. Crowds were down on previous years, but it was just as good if not better than before.
* Helping to remove a hook from the throat of Nick's dog. It always amazes me the drugs you can buy over the counter in PNG. In this case a couple of syringes full of anaesthetic and date rape drugs. Scary.
* Going out on Nick's boat to a deserted island close to Madang. Snorkelling over coral and finding Nemo. Always great to do, especially now that I am back in cold Australia. burr.
* Getting stuck overnight in Kainantu. A definite lowlight. Jumped on a mid-day bus from Madang to Kainantu in the hope that I would make a connection to Goroka. Instead the bus took forever and ended up getting to the final stop too late. Darkness descended and here I was stuck in the middle of dusty Kainantu being watched by the locals. Huddled under the only street light for about half an hour hoping another bus going all the way would come. Various shady people hanging around checking out my bags. And then thank Christ for the Salvos. Didn't know they existed there but sure enough I was shown there door and put up for the night for only K15. The lovely woman even cooked me a meal. Those guys are great. Next day I was off and out of town to Goroka without problem.
* Going up Mt Gahvasuka National Park near Goroka. A first time event and a recommended one. Got a friendly lift by a provincial government car up to the top over an extremely rough road. Then wandered around and up to some lookouts to get fabulous views over the entire Asaro valley. Unfortunately most of the buildings were burnt down a couple of years ago in a petty and typical PNG land wrangle. But the place is well going to. Apart from the Mt Wilhelm government reserve this is the only other one in the country I have been to.
Unfortunately I didn't get to go anywhere really new on this trip. No new provinces added or major hikes completed. Next time perhaps. Not sure when that will be for PNG though. It is a costly place to get to when AVI isn't paying. But before I contemplate going back there, first up I am off to new places again in a few days. Eastern Europe and Turkey this time beckon. Say tuned.