THE PRINCESS BRIDE

I had a break back in Canada recently and flew back through Hong Kong. 2015-05 - Blog (25)

This visit (my fourth I believe) reaffirmed my belief that Hong Kong was built by Satan as a portal to hell. The doorway to hell itself is found right here at the airport. Poor signage, pushy crowds, incompetent staff and a layout that rivals Pan’s Labyrinth make this arguably the world’s most frustrating airport. 2015-05 - Blog (24)

This sign is interesting – it is illegal to depart with more than the permitted quantity of baby formula. The reason of course, is the ongoing scandal over the quality of baby formula in quality – and more specifically the amount of toxins found in the formula sold in China. Evidently it’s easier to ban people exporting it from Hong Kong than to get them to stop putting plastic in the formula made in China. 2015-05 - Blog (21) Here’s why I hate Hong Kong – a spectacular skyline is ruined by the appalling air pollution. 2015-05 - Blog (17)

I, like other tourists in Hong Kong, went for a stroll along the water front to attempt to see the city. 2015-05 - Blog (22)

It was hot. Hot enough for parasols.

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Here I am peering through the haze, wondering, “What have we done to our planet?” 2015-05 - Blog (16)

There’s some interesting architecture. I’ll have to check it out more next time I’m there. 2015-05 - Blog (20) In Hong Kong, they leave junk all over the place. 2015-05 - Blog (14) Sadly, the appeal of Hong Kong remains lost on me. I have heard people rave about how much they love it. Perhaps one day I’ll have a tour guided by one such person and then I’ll finally understand the mystery. 2015-05 - Blog (26)

I took a stroll through a weird little shopping mall in search of leather pants (not for me!) for a friend who wanted to cut them up and make coconut bikinis (but that’s another story). 2015-05 - Blog (12)

The mall was weird in a hundred little ways. I would have thought “No spitting” went without saying, but they said it. 2015-05 - Blog (10) The mall is full of these narrow corridors that would never pass safety or access standards in Australia or Canada. 2015-05 - Blog (11) Nor would these stairs that go up and then down for no apparent reason – complete with mirrors either side to keep the senses appropriately confused.

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The advertising amused me. Like this advertisement for a seafood buffet showing a plump, oriental Poseidon complete with trident.

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And who wouldn’t buy financial services from this company after seeing the girl riding around on the pink pig? 2015-05 - Blog (6)

As I wandered around I came across the set of a movie being filmed. It was an action flick and this is a scene of a street fight. All the actors were carrying machetes and such and posturing aggressively. 2015-05 - Blog (5)

I wasn’t the only one taking an interest. A crowd formed, including this woman with an ice cream in one hand and her camera-phone in the other. 2015-05 - Blog (8)

The hotel at which I stayed had the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever seen I think. 2015-05 - Blog (7) It had everything – including a map on the table mats so that one could navigate the breakfast treasure trove. I ate enough to feed a small African village and then went back to the Airportal-to-hell and took my flight back to PNG. The news from this part of the world is as depressing as ever. PNG faces so many challenges that sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. But I think that if I had to pick one (and I do so recognising the inherent flaws in generalising), it would be the issue of loyalty to one’s own ethnic group at the expense of all others. This may sound like an oversimplification, but I have observed the same pattern in other countries like Afghanistan and Nigeria. People with a remarkable sense of community and compassion towards their own ethnic group seem to transform into psychopaths when dealing with competing groups. Everyday human kindness seems to become rare when there is no promise of a reward from within one’s own circle. It makes it almost impossible to build a nation when the laws of the nation are ignored by those bent on violence towards those they consider outsiders.

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Evidence of this abounds in the newspapers of the destruction wrought when ethnic groups collide. In this particularly disturbing article recounts the tale of how a dawn raid by the residents of one village against a neighbouring village left 3 dead, including a disabled 15 year old girl. It’s hard to fathom how this stuff can still go on in 2015. It’s like a scene from “Game of Thrones” but with no amusing little person to lighten the mood. 201505blog (9) As a consequence of the horrific daily violence, there is one clear winner – the security industry, which is now worth over 1 billion kina per annum (around $450 million). That is a massive chunk of this modest economy and it highlights how hard it is to get anything done around here – without paying through the nose for private security, people are at constant risk. 201505blog (10)

One interesting news article caught my eye this week – it is possible to visit the site on which the bomber carrying Yamamoto crashed during World War II. Yamamoto masterminded the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour (though his tactics were based on an attack by R.A.F. Swordfish aircraft against the Italian navy over a year earlier). By 1944, the Americans had broken the Japanese codes and so they knew that Yamamoto was flying to Bougainville. The Japanese sent two aircraft – one with the Admiral and one as a decoy. The Americans, not knowing which was which made sure to shoot down both aircraft. The one pictured above was the plane in which Yamamoto was travelling. I haven’t been to Bougainville yet, however if I get a chance I will certainly visit this site.

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The PNG Cancer Foundation ran events around the country for cancer awareness recently. 201505blog (7)

I am amazed at how little people here seem to understand about the risks of chewing betelnut in particular. It causes cancers of the mouth, throat and stomach – and these are 10 times more likely to occur when taken with tobacco (as they so often are here).

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The good news at the office is that someone discovered how to print “Wet Paint” signs, though sadly, too late to save my black shirt.

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I found this sign interesting – in a market where almost everything is fake, this store is trying to offer product differentiation by offering the only genuine branded products in town. 2015-05 - Blog (37)

This is a coffee shop with no staff. It was taken at 08:15. They’re supposed to open at 08:00. Do you have any idea how disappointing it is to go to the coffee shop and find no one there to make coffee? It’s a deeply troubling event. How cruel of them to get me thoroughly addicted to their delicious caffeinated beverage and then not turn up to sell me a fix. 201505blog (5)

There’s a restaurant next door that sells coffee too. But when I got there I found that they were sending mixed signals. Are they open, according to the sign on the door, or closed, as per the giant-ass chain and padlock holding the doors together? I walked away confused, my brain unable to process the mental challenge due to a lack of coffee. 2015-05 - Blog (32)

Undeterred, I set off up the street to the other coffee shop, five minutes away. 2015-05 - Blog (30)

However, I was  foiled by the road works. 2015-05 - Blog (31)

I pressed on, risking life and limb in the noble pursuit of coffee, and took the back route. Somewhat fatigued from the journey, I arrived at the other coffee shop and procured by beloved beverage. It gave me the strength I needed to make it all the way back the way I had come to get to the office.

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On the way, I passed this woman with excellent taste in NFL teams, but probably a understanding of American football. I doubt she knows her wide receivers from her tight end.

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In the desperate rush to make Port Moresby look less crappy for the Pacific Games, there are road works under way all over town. I was most impressed to see a “lollypop” man working at one intersection controlling traffic. That’s the first time I’ve seen that here.

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The dry and windy season has arrived in earnest now, but not until after one last deluge that left the city a big mess. 201505blog (3)

Inadequate drainage leaves scree all over the roads when it rains heavily. 201505blog (2)

The lack of proper garbage disposal exacerbates the problem. 201505blog (11)

The storms pushed the sunken boat further down into the water. It appears that no one is coming to rescue it. 201505blog (6)

But the rain did bring out these huge snails. They were cool. 2015-05 - Blog (2)

When I first arrived, I was surprised to see that the old CRT televisions were still on sale. Two and a half years later, they are still available here – for about $120 each. 2015-05 - Blog (45)

I have been involved in another production with the Moresby Arts Theatre (MAT) recently. 2015-05 - Blog (47)

This time, it was a production of “The Princess Bride” – a stage adaptation of the film adaptation of the book by S. Morgenstern.

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As always, the production pulled together a diverse and talented group of actors and crew. 2015-05 - Blog (46)

I played the lead role – the Dread Pirate Roberts. Here I am having just recovered from being “Mostly dead all day”. 2015-05 - Blog (44)

It was pure joy to be a part of the show. The crowds were extremely appreciative and the show always got good laughs. I quite liked being in a humorous show. I’ve enjoyed the Shakespeares that we’ve put on but this was so effortless by comparison.

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Here I am lying dead in a wheelbarrow after having been tortured by the bad guys. I got better. 2015-05 - Blog (49)

The show was a huge success, thanks to the combined efforts of everyone involved. It was wonderful to be a part of it. 2015-05 - Blog (1)

I even made it into the paper and was interviewed by a local celebrity for a television report as well. 2015-05 - Blog (50)

The director, in addition to having put in a staggering amount of effort to bring the show together, made the cast and crew souvenir puppets of themselves. Mine is at the top in the centre. With the little black mask. 2015-05 - Blog (33)

My maid quit the other day. She got a better job so I was pleased for her. I found a new one, but breaking in a new maid is tricky. Especially when they have limited literacy. I came home the other day to find that the towels hadn’t been washed. There was a note, but it didn’t make sense at first. Then I realised that the towels weren’t washed because there was “no water”.   Until next postcard…

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