PACIFIC GAMES

Greetings to my ever-growing audience (a fact that puzzled me somewhat when I saw the stats, but I guess there really isn’t anything much on TV at the moment, is there). I’ve been scolded a few times recently by regular readers for the gap between posts. Suffice to say, I’ve had rather a lot to deal with in addition to writing my blog. In fact, with what I’ve had going on over the last six months, it’s a miracle I’m not on heroin, collapsed in a gutter somewhere, next to some tramp with no teeth who smells like a gorilla. Nevertheless, I shall endeavour to keep the posts a little more regular going forward.

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So the big news in Port Moresby over the last month or so has been the hosting of the Pacific Games.

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The games took place in July, but preparations were evident throughout the city for over a year beforehand. Roads were resurfaced (many in a big rush at the end), stadiums built and monuments erected.

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Some of the preparations were somewhat last-minute and kind of half-assed. Like these “recycling” bins installed in the week prior to the games. They were bolted to the footpath without the benefit of a concrete plinth, so they aren’t level (as is evident from the tree on the right of the photo).

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Furthermore, PNG does not have any recycling programme of which I am aware other than for aluminium cans. Certainly the majority of plastic bags, bottles, etc. is burned by people in little fires by the side of the road, completely oblivious to the highly toxic fumes that are emitted. The designer of these bins also took to inventing a new word – “unrecyclable”. No doubt we’ll see that in next year’s Oxford dictionary.

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A large construction project was also undertaken to put pedestrian walkways across busy intersections. The designers, thoughtfully added these steep, flat sections for less-abled citizens in wheelchairs to slide to their deaths. Not surprisingly, there was outrage that no one thought to consult with People Living With Disabilities prior to building the walkway.

20150630_172530In the days prior to the opening ceremony, crowd control measures such as these fences were put in place.

20150702_090847We’ve even been seeing corporate advertisements displaying photos of local athletes. I was quite impressed to see this one of a female athlete because that is relatively rare in the developed world and so it was unexpected here.

20150630_171318  They even brought in some Portaloos to keep the crowds happy. It’s the first time I’ve seen portaloos in use in PNG. Normally, the nearest tree serves as a makeshift portaloo.

20150703_120505A stall was set up at the shopping mall selling supporter kits – they included stickers, and an annoyingly loud horn in the red, yellow and black of the PNG flag. Incidentally, those three colours were chosen for the flag as they represent the German flag. The northern coast of PNG was a colony of Germany until British and Australian forces captured it at the start of World War I.

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The Yacht Club hosted the sailing events. These catamarans arrived in boxes and were constructed in the car park.

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The course for the sailing races was marked with large buoys in the harbour.

20150703_165739A key event just before the games started was the Baton Parade.

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The Baton was the equivalent of the Olympic Torch. A wooden baton that toured the country prior to the games and then arrived with fanfare in Port Moresby.

 

20150702_113826Various schools, church groups and politicians participated in the parade.

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A huge crowd gathered to watch the parade.

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Rule number one of personal security is to avoid crowds.

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However, I feel that in certain cases it is worth seeing something despite the personal risks.

20150702_114010A local politician named Justin Tkatchenko had his own float and a hoard of supporters in green t-shirts.

20150702_112847Tkatchenko is one of the few caucasian politicians in the country.

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He seems to be well liked and has a reputation for getting things done. The Minister for Sport did seem to be perspiring a lot with all the exertion though.

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The police turned up in their newest and shiniest of vehicles. They seldom look this good as they’re driving around town.

20150702_113753     They even had motorcycles.

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The grand finale of the parade was the official bus and then Baton itself.

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The Baton breezed past, without me even noticing. It was among this throng following a truck so it was easy to miss.

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The Baton, it turns out, looks a lot like a stick.

20150702_142622The guest of honour at the Pacific Games was the Duke of York.

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I was held up by his entourage on the day that he arrived.

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In order to ensure that the athletes and VIPs could get around the city, the authorities closed one lane (of two) of all the key roads around town, causing absolute bedlam on the roads.

20150703_181432Finally, the big day arrived, complete with fireworks to mark the occasion. Fireworks at 6pm, while there was still daylight, making the fireworks difficult to see.

20150703_175514Events around town included this big gathering at one of the largest stadiums in town.

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In news outside of the Pacific Games, I found this notice in a store quite interesting. Both because of the way the Pidgin English descriptions are constructed but also the types of offenses listed.

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If you’ve seen the film “Captain Phillips” then this ship might look familiar to you. It visited Port Moresby recently.

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One can see on the stern of the boat is the life boat, which featured heavily in the story recounted in the film.

 

 

I noticed this novel way to avoid having others drink one’s bottled water.

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Just write on there that one has tuberculosis and that tends to discourage people from unauthorised sharing.

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There is a huge project underway to implement a biometric identification system. I came across one of the registration stations the other day.

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It’s not exactly a glamorous operation, but it gets the job done and in a country where proof of identification has been an issue for decades, this project represents real progress.

20150703_141800I love the variety of clothing that one observes in PNG – largely because people are buying second hand clothing from abroad. This woman’s “Almost Single” tank top made me laugh.

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This lady is wearing a Christmas-themed t-shirt with a teddy bear on it. In June.

20150627_151002My group of friends recently ran a huge “Fridge to Fridge” party. One of the houses had the theme of “Comicon”. We decorated the house with pictures from a number of popular films and TV shows. Even the bathroom was given a makeover referencing “Game of Thrones”.

20150627_221606Here I am being punched in the face by Batman with a hulk fist.

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I went for a walk around the Yacht Club the other day and was surprised to see myself on the instruction panels for the exercise equipment. The lady who runs the gym asked me to do some photos using the equipment, and this is what she ended up doing with the photos.

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A bit further around the track is the boat that sank in the big storms. It seems to be close to being reclaimed by the sea.

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It’s a lovely place to get some fresh air and exercise, whilst watching the sun set over the hills.

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And then the reflection of the city lights on the water.

In a spot of good news for travellers, Duffy (a cafe operated by some friends of mine) has opened a new coffee shop in the International Airport.

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It’s hard to explain why this is such glorious news for frequent travellers like me, but it ultimately comes down to the fact that cafes (and indeed businesses in general) rarely meet international norms in Port Moresby. Duffy is a wonderful exception.

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The staff are very well trained, the service is almost as good as I would expect in a cafe in Australia. The quality of the food and coffee surpasses pretty much everywhere else in town. So, Duffy gives people in the city a little taste of the outside world and there are times when the value of that oasis experience in keeping one sane must undoubtedly exceed a dozen hours of lying on a psychiatrist’s couch.

20150704_140514I just had a break back in Canada, which was great. But now it’s time to head back to Port Moresby.

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I took this photo of the PNG coastline out the window of the plane.

Until next Postcard from paradise…

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