General: Papua New Guinea
2 reviews from the community
Review of "General: Papua New Guinea"
I was in the Royal Marines for 11 yrs. I retired to study geophysics and have been a freelance consultant since 1980. I live with my wife in West Dorset and travel through my work about 6 mths per year. I have worked in over 50 countries worldwide.
I made five one month trips to PNG through 2007. Apart from the small isolated patch of jungle where I worked, my main impression from a visitor's point of view was in Port Moresby, the capital, and Lalouta Island (Dive Centre) about 5kms away.Generally the people are wonderfully friendly. Bad people are referred to throughout PNG by the charming name of "rascals." Their economic woes have of course caused painful unemployent and a dispossessed youth who have turned to drugs and robbery. As all reviews have stated, it isn't safe to walk the streets day or night. Taxis are safe if you order them through your hotel and are not expensive, but you always need to have your eyes looking behind you. ATM cash points are fairly well distributed, but some banks don't take some cards and some don't take others. If you can calculate what cash you will need in total, it is best to take out as much as you need in total rather than making frequent trips.
I used to make my taxi wait for me whenever I went shopping or to an ATM - its worth the extra small expense. Also it is worth negotiating the price via the hotel receptionist before you go - avoid taxis supplied by outside hotel staff like the gate guards who will always get their cut from the inflated fare - later - from the driver.In Port Moresby the Airways is the best place to stay. It isn't cheap, cheaper on line though, and if you want a back-packer type hotel I wopuld say don't go to Port Moresby!!
As the climate in P.Moresby is less rainy than in most of PNG, it has many warm sunny days. The Airways hotel has a lovely pool and poolside restaurant, from which you can look over to the Airport below and watch activities there against an attractive tropical backcloth of distant hills- not as unpleasant as it it might seem.In the terrace restaurant by the pool there is the most extraordinary fan system. (see photo) An electric motor is attached to what looks like an old movie projector spool. A rod is attached to the outside of the spool and as it rotates it drives the long rod slowly backwards and forwards. The far end of the rod is attached to two long rectangular sheets which of course by also being moved backwards and forwards produce a gentle breeze throughout the covered eating area.
The rooms are great, and the so-called executive section, naturally even better. Breakfasts are included in the rates and are based very much on our own "Full English" and are really substantial (self service so you can pig out.). Lunch and dinner was a bit hit-and-miss and fairly basic, some dishes better than others.Most of the tourists are Australian, usually en-route somewhere else,usually to one of the several dive centres which can only be reached using internal air services.
The hotel has its own free transit coach and trips to the nearby airport are easy to arrange. I am not sure of the tourist visa arrangements as I was on a 1-year business visa which cost 200 kina.(about £35).Foreign currency can be exchanged at the hotel - a very slow process and like all hotels, not the best rates on offer if you can buy beforehand at a bank before you go.I very much liked the bar below the restaurant which at night has a real club atmosphere. Happy hour is daily from 4.30 to 6.30pm and you can run a tab. I was never short of a friendly person to talk to in such a friendly atmosphere.
During one such happy hour a friendly Australian wearing the ubiquitous shorts which they all wear out there,introduced himself to me with the usual goodday mate."Australian are you?" I enquired. "No mate" he replied "Came out here 30 yrs ago from Peckham in London and ain't never been back"Their local lager-type beer is deliciously refreshing and their wines, mainly Australian, are very good too from a comprehensive selection.They will appily open a fresh bottle from their wine rack behind the bar if you don't like the opened ones on offer. If you like Pool, it is very popular - you will soon get challenged by locals and ex-pats alike, - you don't pay if you keep winning so it cost me quite a bit!
The bar is long and the whole room is spacious and a huge area is set aside for gaming machines which sadly are very popular here. However their presence isn't overbearing.
The hotel is on the side of a hill and has some fascinating multi-level architecture which gives it a warm homely atmosphere. In the evening on one of the half-levels beside the large stairway, a pianist plays very soothing music. It is not crowded with strangers, you have your own security card which lets you up to from your room to the public areas above.On my last stay, I decided to go further afield and booked a stay at neighbouring Lalaouta Island.I planned two night but unfortunately the second night was privately booked by the French owner to celebrate his 50th birthday with friends and family. Nevertheless I loved my one day and night there. Transport was provided free by the island Resort from all the P.Morsby hotels to the jetty followed by a 20 minute boat ride to the island. Comfortable wooden cabins by the water's edge, (see photo) a beautiful little zoo with many birds and marsupials who were lovingly cared for gave the place a magic romantic atmosphere - pity I was on my own but I made several friends, including local businessmen and their wives who would bring their families there on a regular basis at weekends. This place for sure was safe.
In the evening there was a (Saturdays only) dance display by local villagers from a neighbouring island who always rowed over and back for the event.(see photo)Many guests arrived by helicopter which could be chartered from the nearby Port Moresby airport.I didn't enquire the price, but I should image that by comparison it wasn't ridiculously expensive, especially if the cost was split four ways.
I had the opportunity once to transit through Mount Hagen, the highlands capital which was apparently beautiful but now is very dangerous with frequent civil disturbances between tribal feuding factions. I thus turned down the offer and flew to PM direct.The newspaper had a report of a rascal who had been continously robbing and raping bus passengers on the route out from Port Moresby to one of the outlying villages. He was found dead in a ditch with knife wounds in his neck. The Police Inspector commented in the article that this rascal had received village justice, that he deserved what he got and the case could now thankfully be closed!!
I am going to download some photgraphs but I find the system - it seems you can only download after youhave published your review - and then it takes about 5 days for them to be approved - here's hoping.Personally I wouldn't recommend coming here unless you are prepared to pay the price to stay at the Airways. I have stayed in two of the others, almost as expensive, and although OK they lack any real atmosphere and their equivalent night bars are shoddy places and best avoided.
Product Information : General: Papua New Guinea
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Listed on Ciao since: 17/02/2003