Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday 12th August 2011

Wednesday 22 June  - Friday 12 August
It's been ages since I wrote on here.  So much has happened so I will try and write it all up.  I really need to record what is happening more often so that I don't forget anything. Well, I flew to Cairns to get Monique for the school holidays.  We came back for about a week and a half of just chilling and spending a heap of time together.  Steve had to fly to Lihir for a week for work so Mon and I just giggled and giggled all week and watched movies of course as that is what we do on the holidays.  The girls at the movie shop know us well and remembered Mon even though she has only been here a couple of times.  Just goes to show how many movies we buy.  Scary.  We had a great time making up new names for everyone we came across.  The fellow who lives in one of the units above complained about how our car was parked so he was called Jerky McJerk Jerk.  Mon was in one day Grumpy McWhinge Sulk and Chatty McChat Chat.  So funny.  We were coming home
from Vision City and there was a man who was using a whipper snipper on the side of the road, so we called him Snippy McWhippy Whippy.  Mon and I were laughing so much that I could hardly see to drive.  She reckons I drive like a real local now, all over the road.  Hilarious.
When Steve got back from Lihir, we all flew to Cairns for 2 weeks holiday.  We headed up to Innot Hot Springs for a couple of days so that Steve could get in the hot pools which he loves.  While we were up on the Tablelands, we looked at a heap of properties, and found a little 5 acre place out in the bush 10 minutes from Ravenshoe.  So we put an offer on it and it was accepted.  We are now waiting for the contract to finalise.  Steve is exciting about getting a tractor with all the accessories.  I want a huge vege garden and some chickens and pigs.  One day we will be able to live there full time and can build or put on a fully solar powered house and can
live off the land.  Dreams.....................hopefully not. 
Once Monique went back to school on the Monday afternoon, Steve and I flew down to Brisbane and hired a car to spend a couple of days in Toowoomba with his family.  We had a great time catching up with everyone and especially enjoyed spending time with Lachlan (Steve's little nephew) who is 3 years old.  Such a character. 
We then headed back to Brisbane so that Steve could go into head office for a couple of days to see the bosses there.  We met up with Tiarna who had moved down there looking for work (which she found on the first day) and friends who used to live in Mount Isa.  I spent one day with Dad and Rhonda and Yolanda while Steve was working.  Each night we went out and explored and found new places to eat.  Our first night in Brisbane, we booked into a motel and then headed out for dinner.   We took a couple of wrong turns and ended way out from where we wanted to be, but we found this great little Italian cafe to eat at.  The waiter was just like Manuel
from the Faulty Towers series that used to be on years ago.  So funny.  He kept us entertained with his funny antics all through the meal.  Who knew that you could have dinner and a show at a cafe. 
We headed back to Port Moresby on Wednesday 20th of July and had a couple of days at home before Steve had to fly up to Lihir again for a week and a half.  As I can't go out at night while Steve was away, I made sure that I spent heaps of time out during the day keeping busy with Buk Bilong Pikinini and other activities.  I started walking at the yacht club again in the morning which is a good thing.  And as I (not sure if I was foolish or not) put up my hand to coordinate the fundraising for BbP with Shivani and we had a Teddy Bear Picnic Party scheduled for the 14th of August, we had a heap of people to contact to get prizes and food/drinks so it was a very busy time.   
One of the special things I did was go on a boat trip out to Munubuda Island with the All Nations Womens Group.  I wasn't at the meeting when names were drawn out to go on this trip but as a lot of ladies pulled out, an email was sent around offering for others to go.  So we went.  And it was on the brand new huge BSP boat.  This is top class, full luxury cruising.  25 of us (including the captain and 2 boat boys) went on this huge boat.  We weren't supposed to take that one out but the one we were going out on had a leak that morning and so we got the good one.  Yay.  It was a spectacular day.  We swam, snorkled and ate at the island, and then cruised the
whole harbour on the way back.  There is nothing better or more relaxing than spending the day just chilling on a boat.  Gorgeous.
Another special day was when I spent the day with Lesley.  First in the morning we went to the Ela Beach Markets with Lilian.  I got a few new items to decorate the house.  Just a few.  Ok, maybe 4 things.  Steve still shakes his head over how many musical instruments I have collected here.  So I got a wood carved flute, a little wooden pestle and mortar which is traditionally used for grinding beedle nut and the coral to make lime to use with the nut.  But I love banging it as it makes a great drumming noise.  I also got myself a funny mask to go on the wall and another painting.  I thought the painting was of a duk duk dancer, but it's not.  It's a dancer from
another part of the country with another name.  I got the artist to write on the back of the painting what it was so that I can look to remember.  As I am typing this, the painting is on the wall above a sleeping Steve so I can't get it down to tell you exactly what it says and or course I can't remember.  After the markets, we took Lilian home and went back to Lesley's place for lunch and an afternoon of sorting out donated stuff for BbP.  It was a great day.  Nothing too exciting but really enjoyable.
Steve phoned me to say that he was coming back home from Lihir on Thursday 4th of August and had to go up to Tabubil on the 5th for 6 days.  Did I want to come?????  Hello.... you don't need to ask twice.  The tickets were booked and I went and paid for mine so last Friday we flew to Tabubil.  Steve had to work all weekend but I met up with Heather who had visited POM at Christmas with Jenny and offered to show us around if we ever got up to Tabubil.  So there we were.  I hired a car for a ridiculous amount of money (when there is no competition, they can charge as much as they like) for the weekend and Heather, Israel (her husband), Kayla (little daughter) and a couple other family members went for a drive to Kiunga.  Kiunga was 136kms away over a mountain range.   First though, let me describe Tabubil.  It is a little mining town on top of a mountain near the PNG/Indonesian border.  Some days you can't fly in because there are too many clouds and the pilots can't see the ground to land.  It rains nearly everyday and records up to 14 metres of rain a year with is just incredible.  It is a truly beautiful place.  It feels as though you can go outside and touch the clouds.  There are a couple of big rivers surrounding town but due to years of mining, they have been well and truly ruined.  Such a sad thing.  The little bits and pieces of streams and such like coming off the mountain are lovely though and we saw some amazing
places.  The town is run by the mine and is a very safe place to walk around.  It is very disciplined and lots of rules but it works for them.  About 98% of the food is brought in so it is all very expensive and the range of fruit and vege is very sad.  I don't think I could live there just for that reason alone.  Trying to have a big fruit and vege diet is just not possible.  But other than that, it is amazing. 
Anyway, to our trip to Kiunga.  We set out with the dual cab with Israel driving, Heather in the front passenger seat with Kayla on her lap.  Kayla is about 2 and just didn't want to get in the back with me.  I was in the back with Claudie who is about 10 and Michaelin who is 13.  In the back of the ute was Paul (Israel's brother/cousin) and VuVu (a neighbour who I found out is related to Cedric  the PNG Parts Manager - Steve's boss).  VuVu is a gorgeous big fellow about 30 at a guess with dreds in his hair and a huge bushy beard.  So off we went.  I, of course, had forgotten my camera, again.   So as nothing was open at that early time, we decided to
get some batteries for Heathers camera in Kiunga and take photos all the way back.   The road was a wide gravel road that is kept in really good condition by the Ok Tedi Mine (who controls Tabubil) due to all their freight being trucked up from Kiunga.  It was a little rough but not too bad by any standards.  But I felt sorry for the two boys and sometimes Claudie or Michaelin who were in the back.  I would never have coped with traveling all that distance without the padding on the seats.  But I was told that they were used to it and not to worry.  OK.  All along the road at every kilometre there is a white board stating what distance to Kiunga.  It starts at 136km just outside of Tabubil and continues all the way.  So when people talk about swimming holes or little villages, they are referred to as 115 or 27.  (There was a gorgeous waterhole and picnic area at 115).  For the first half of the trip, the landscape along the road is wet tropic rainforest.  Huge sago palms and majestic big trees.  Spectacular ferns and little flowers.  So beautiful.  Because we were travelling along the top of the mountain range for most of the first half, you could look out and almost touch clouds while driving along.  It was rather overcast on the way to Kiunga so we couldn't see much in the distance.  The second half of the trip was
drier and heading downhill.  Kiunga is situated on the edge of Fly River which brings in huge cargo ships offloading freight etc.  It's a dusty fairly dry little town, very much an industrial looking town.  We sat on the river edge eating lunch and watched the little canoes and boats heading out to the other side of the river.  We then collected some bits and pieces and headed back to Tabubil.  As we bought some batteries in Kiunga, I now was able to take some of the 158 photos I ended up taking on this trip.  Twice a day, a heap of trucks leave Kiunga to go to Tabubil and if you get stuck behind the convey, you have to stay there until they stop.  Unfortunately, we got stuck behind them for most of the journey home.  But there was some funny results from this.  Because the dust was being kicked up so much and we were staying close so that we could pass if they stopped, by the time we did stop for a rest, Paul, Michaelin and VuVu were completely covered in dust.  It was such a funny sight that I took some photos.  Anyway, along the road there was a village which is a mission called Rumjini.  There is a little hospital there as well as a small landing strip for planes if needed.  Lots of well maintained houses and it 's very peaceful.  It lies along a river so we stopped to have a look.  Very nice.  Another village was Ningerum which was about half way between the two towns.  It is where there is a prison for those who commit crimes in the area, and there seemed to be quite a number of locals around too.    There were other small villages,
but I didn't get their names.
That night at a bbq held by a couple of the Hastings Deering boys, I was given the opportunity to try chewing beedle nut.  No.  It's not for me but I was fascinated with the whole process, so I was given instructions on it.  Very interesting. 
On Sunday we drove to all the places around Tabubil.  First to a man made pool/creek called Yuk Creek.  It is pronounced Yook, but I took a photo of the sign because I was at this stage horrified by the state of the rivers coming down from the mine, and feeling bitter that a man made creek had to be made in such beautiful and lush countryside and then to call it Yuk.  Pretty appropriate, although it was rather lovely.   Then to the two villages above the mine, Bultem and Finalbin.  The people who live in these villages are the landowners of the mine so get house built, water pipes and electricity supplied as well as money paid for the use of the mine.
Okmanga Tunnel is a kilometre long tunnel though the mountain.  This area is where the hydropower station is situated.  The river here is wild and gorgous in some places, but dammed up and directed elsewhere in others.  Fascinating place.  7 corners village is across the bridge over the Ok Tedi River.  Last rain season (I'm not sure if there is only one big rain season that lasts all year or just a heap of little ones) the road leading to the bridge was washed away, so the bus deposits residents on one side, they walk across the bridge and are met on the other side by another bus.  Laydown settlement is the little village right on the edge of Tabubil.  The workers of the mine and contractors etc all live in the main part of Tabubil.  Some other locals live in Laydown as they can't get or afford accomodation in town.  While the houses in town are really lovely, the Laydown settlement is very much a patchwork of little sheds or shantys made up with whatever is found around. 
While we were in Tabubil, there was a big fight over something and someone burnt some of the houses in the settlement down.  All sorts of punishment ensued by the police and even some of the flying police force (who are feared all over the country) came in to settle it down.  This doesn't happen very much as the police and mine keep a really close eye on everyone. 
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, everyone was at work so I was able to spend the days reading and wandering around town.  I met up with Heather for lunch on Monday and Wednesday and was invited to a sewing class on the Tuesday with some local ladies. It was great to get out. 
Thursday was spent mostly travelling or waiting to travel back to POM.  We finally arrived back at 3.30pm so I dropped Steve home to rest while I picked up Shivani to do some Bbp stuff for the Teddy Bear Picnic on Sunday.  Today was also a full day organising the picnic.   Dad and Rhonda are arriving on the plane tomorrow for a week and a bit, so I am looking forward to showing them around a bit.  So that's it for now.  Stay tuned for the next episode.  Jokes.......

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