Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Should I be on Danger Money?

I hate to complain…………….

considering I live in such a Paradise………….

but really……………………..

some days you reckon it would be safer staying in bed.

Workers digging a trench at the school I work at, have uncovered an unexploded World War II Bomb in the yard!!! We have no idea what sort of bomb it is but it is not the first; we had one on the beach in front of the school two years ago.

It is not surprising as 20 000 tons of bombs were dropped on the Japanese base in Rabaul during the war. It was still there last night as the Police, who were notified immediately, still haven’t arrived to take it away!!! I wonder why???

Does anyone have a flat-pack bomb shelter they could send?

What dangers do you face each day at work????

Monday, July 30, 2007

Memorial and Peace Monument

The Japanese Memorial Monument is built on ash-covered Namanula Hill and is the main Japanese World War II Memorial in the Pacific. It has great views over Rabaul and the harbour. There is a hole in the structure that allows sunlight to fall on the simple stone shrine in the centre.

A plaque at the entrance states: "In memory of all those who sacrificed their lives in the islands and seas of the South Pacific during World War II and in dedication to world peace.
Constructed by the Government of Japan in co-operation with the Government of Papua New Guinea.""

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lunar Landing

No I haven’t landed on the moon. This amazing landscape is taken at the foot of Mt Tavurvur. The ground is littered with centimeters of pumice stone pebbles and boulders which have been shot out of the volcano. Under the pumice are metres of ash which have buried the airstrip, golf course and many businesses.

The sea is boiling and the rocks covered in minerals. Very surreal - it certainly makes you feel small and vulnerable.

This link shows you the same view taken in October last year by Bruce Alexander, when Tavuvur reminded us of her power!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rabaul Panorama

You will need to click on this photo to enlarge it.

This is a view of Rabaul I took from the Volcanological Observatory, where volcanologists monitor the 14 active and 23 dormant volcanoes in PNG. It is a great view even on a windy day – I had trouble standing up!!

The harbour is actually a dormant caldera and Rabaul is the only town in the world built on one!

To the left is the active Mt Tavurvur (it was puffing quietly yesterday) and on the right is Vulcan which is now dormant. The area on the left of this photo was where the brunt of the ash fell in the dual eruptions of Vulcan and Tavurvur in 1994 – (the buildings collapsed under the weight of it).

This link is excellent and gives photos before and just after the eruptions. The map at the bottom of the link is good. The cross marks the position of the observatory.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Splat by name - Splat by nature

Geckos are one of the icons of PNG. One evening we counted 76 of them outside on the verandah and under the house!!! If you don't like them then this isn't the place to live.

In Rabaul we get the biggest geckos I have ever seen. My daughters call this one Splat, because when he jumps and lands he makes a big "splat" sound. He and I often scare the hell out of each other if I come out during the night and disturb him. You have no idea the trouble I had taking this photo - I was downstairs, standing on a ladder with one leg on the car, with "He-Who-Doesn't-Blog" yelling, "You'll kill yourself!!"

He has obviously had a run-in with something (maybe our cat) as he has had to regrow his tail. I am quite happy to have them around as they eat the insects - especially mosquitoes, that can cause malaria here. They make very loud clicking sounds which I found really cute.

Click here for more information on these amazing creatures, especially their toes which have very special characteristics.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Light thru yonder haus win shines

It is dark and stormy this morning so I thought we needed something sunny. This photo is of the edge of the thatched roof of a haus win, which is the pidgin english word for gazebo. Pidgin is such a wonderfully descriptive language. Haus is house and win is wind - so translated it means a windy house. How true!!!

Here are some more haus words.

haus sik - is house sick - a hospital
haus mani - house money - a bank
haus dring - house drink - a hotel
haus polis - house police - police station
haus waswas - house washwash - the bathroom

What do you think a haus motakar is?

Later - Obviously this was too easy so how about haus piksa?
Dorish - you can't answer - you know too much!!!

Cabacurl - This link here is for you - oh and anyone else too. It has photos of my jewelry.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Turtles on Pidgins

This post is for Laura who used to live in Rabaul and loved visiting Pidgin Island.

This is called Little Pidgin and yes there is a Big Pidgin. Last time we visited we found turtle scratchings and a turtle's nest just near the boat.

The mountains in the background are two of the volcanoes on the mainland and are called Tavurvur (active) and Mother (dormant).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rain Trees and Australia's First War Dead

This is one of the rain trees that stand guard at the gates to the cemetery. It is a very beautiful place and like the war graves I visited in France (my Grandfather and his brother fought on the western-front in WWI, and my Great-Uncle is buried at Boulogne-sur-mer) it is maintained with such care.

The Gazelle Peninsular became a German protectorate in 1884, and the Bitapaka Cemetery is situated on the location of Germany’s most powerful wireless station in the Pacific at that time. It was captured by a small force of Australian naval reservists, on September 11, 1914.

That day saw the first Australian killed in service of the new nation, Australia. Able Seaman Williams and the six other Australian men, also killed that day, are buried here. If you asked Australians where the first Australian soldier was killed, most would say Gallipoli. But here outside Kokopo, lays the body of Australia’s first war hero.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bitapaka War Cemetery

Yesterday we visited the Bitapaka War Cemetery outside Kokopo. It is a memorial to the thousand Allied servicemen who were killed in and around Rabaul in World War I, and mainly WWII. Service men from Australia, India, Holland, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea are buried here.

During the Second World War, there were 97 000 Japanese troops stationed here, thousands of allied POW's, and 800 Japanese and Korean prostitutes. The Japanese planned to make Rabaul their major supply base for their invasion of PNG and then south to Australia. As you can imagine we have many historical sites and relics from this terrible time in our history.

This cemetery is administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and is set in beautifully manicured lawns and gardens with huge rain trees flanking the entrance.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Faces at the Market

I saw these women at the Kokopo Market and thought their faces were stunning. The first lady has such beautiful facial structure and is very tall and regal looking. The second lady has the most open engaging, happy face and she just made me smile so.

In Papua New Guinea, the people from each province have quite marked facial characteristics and build. People can often tell where someone is from, by their facial structure and build. I think the first lady is from the Highlands of mainland PNG, but I really can't tell with the second lady - maybe my PNG visitors could help out there.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Women with Melons and Greens

These photos were taken at my local market. I told Marie that I would show her ours after her wonderful Montpellier ones recently. So today and tomorrow I am posting from the Kokopo market.
The women, often with babies and small children, spend all day here in the heat, selling the wares from their gardens. Many do not have any cover, as the place is in
terrible condition. They are wonderful women - hard-working, spirited, joyous and very shy usually of the camera. Some of them won't look when you take their photo, but they all love to see the results, and giggle and blush when you show them. Their friends all come over too to see. So you end up being a pleasant distraction for them in their long day.

A new market is being built across the road so when it is finished I will post some photo

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Gardening We Will Go!!

Checklist for the garden
wheelbarrow .........................................check



small boy............................................check

small boy????

I saw this old man wheeling his wheelbarrow down the road yesterday and did a double take when I saw this little boy bouncing along in it. I stopped the car and went to take a "in-the-distance-anonymous-photo" when the grandfather saw me and wheeled back towards me, gave me a big smile, picked up the boy and turned him around so I could get a good shot of him. It wasn't what I really wanted but it is very cute anyhow!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fire! Fire!

This warehouse, filled with electrical gear and timber burnt down yesterday morning, in one of the back streets of Kokopo. The fire brigade got their quickly from their headquarters down the road, and were able to stop it spreading, but were unable to save the building. There are no fire hydrants here, so the fire-brigade has to bring their own water.

A near-by worker took the second photo at the height of the blaze, and I went down later in the day and took the one as the fire was still smoldering!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

By Dawn's Early Light

I used to be a night person - but alas bloggers must make sacrifices and so I find myself each morning sweating over a new post instead of languishing in my bed snoring!!

Phone lines in PNG are unable to cope with internet usage, and the difficulties in downloading make it imperative that I do my post before people get to work and the phone lines become overloaded. At best I can only download at between 12 and 30Kbps a second and often the line freezes for minutes at a time and drop-outs are a constant frustration. So blog sites that have very large photo files are out of my league unless I get up at 2 am in the morning!!!

But thanks to blogging I now see the dawn more often than I can remember and this morning, while working on a photo I took in town yesterday, I looked out my window and saw this and thought - how can I beat that?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Mud Man Cometh!

The Rabaul Mask Festival is held annually in July. During the festival, people from different parts of PNG perform their dances and show off their spectacular costumes. This year I was in bed sick and missed it!!! I went to the resort next door last night as there was to be a Mud Dance (no guys – no women in T-shirts wrestling in a pit of mud). However the dance was cancelled which was a shame. The good thing was I was able to buy a mask which I have always wanted for my collection.

The story differs, but apparently.... after retreating from their victors after a clan fight, the Asaro men (from the Highlands of mainland PNG), hid in a muddy river bed. As they emerged from the river bed later they noticed the villagers went screaming and hiding into the forest. They then realized they were covered in a pale grey mud which had hardened, making them look like ghosts. So from then on they covered their bodies in mud and wore mud masks into battle. Now of course it is done for the tourists.

The masks are made from clay and weigh a staggering 7 kg – imagine dancing with that on your head!! They are very fragile and each has a different face and personality. The only problem now is – where the hell am I going to put it!!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Weigh anchor!

These gentlemen are deck hands on one of the boats moored on the reef in front of my place. They were weighing up anchor when I snapped them. One of these guys is in my diving course and I now know why he is so much fitter than I am. Maybe I need to swim out and do some "anchor work" each morning?? Might be more effective than my exercise bike!!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Red Ginger

My garden is only small but it is full of many tropical plants – some of which I even planted, but many of which just seem to appear?? Ginger is a plant that grows like a weed in the garden. Ginger plants have luxuriant glossy leaves and vibrant flower heads making them great cut flowers for the house. There are many varieties including those that look like globes, shells and honey combs. This one is just called Red Ginger.

I use ginger in cooking a lot, and my Dad used to make Ginger Beer. The best part for us when we were kids, (as we didn’t like the taste of it), was hearing the bottles exploding in the laundry and my mother getting annoyed about the mess!!! Click on Ginger Beer above for a link to a recipe.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Light through sea glass shines

Haven’t been out of the house to take any photos the last few days so today I thought I’d take one inside the house instead. This tray of sea glass is on my kitchen window sill where the light can shine through, highlighting the glorious colours. I adore sea glass but it can only be found on the surf-side of the island, as the reef on this side prevents any getting washed up on the beach.

I was amazed to discover that there is so much ado about sea glass. In America there is a Sea Glass Association which has a Sea Glass Festival in October each year in Santa Cruz – what fun!!! It is all very serious stuff though with a $1 000 award for the best shard of sea glass. On the net there are heaps of sites for sea glass jewelry, books, bulk orders, etc - more sites to while away the hours in!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

How much is that coffin in the window??

Have had to drag myself out of bed to make this post today - am sick in bed with the flu. So thought this post was very relevant.

This sign is on the Rabaul-Kokopo road and always makes me smile when I see it. The gentleman has a number of beds for sale but always just a coffin. I always wonder if he sells one and then makes another, or if it has been just the same old coffin languishing there all these years. Whatever - I may just ring him and ask him the measurements - I feel so bad, I might need it!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Diving in the depths

Am doing a dive course at the moment, which is very exciting. Diving around Rabaul is fabulous with 28 degree water temperatures, great visibility and a brilliant array of fish and corals. Much of the diving is found in pristine natural areas without the damage of over-tourism. There are some spectacular wall dives and many World War II wrecks to explore as well.

A number of dive resorts operate around the province and there are a number of live-aboard dive boats traveling between dive sites. We are getting more and more divers coming this way as the secret leaks out.

This is a beautiful featherstar taken on a dive in Blanche Bay, Rabaul by Martin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bags and bags of bilums

PNG is famous for its bilums. Bilum is the pidgin word for bag. They are a symbol of this country. The women make them out of wool, string, rice bags, even cuscus fur (tree kangaroo) and use them to carry everything: from their vegetables to their babies. I bought this one in my local market because I just loved the colours.

Pidgin is a language first developed around Rabaul by the early planters who needed a common language for their workers who had many tok ples (clan languages) . About one-third of the world's indigenous languages are spoken in PNG - over 700, so you can see the need for a common one.

Pidgin uses words from English, German and even Indonesian. It is a very simple language and is used all over Papua New Guinea. A lot of people frown on its use as they believe it has corrupted the local languages.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sorry sir your flight is delayed!

....and for today ..... something totally contrasting from the last few posts.
This is the view from the old Rabaul airport across the water to the volcano. In all directions there is total devastation and everything is buried under metres of ash. The rocks you can see are pumice and even very large rocks are incredibly light. It is all very surreal!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Camping Paradise

What a view!! This is what we woke to - hard life but someone has to do it. The beach - just out of view - is where we set up a fire and ate our meals. This deserted island is one of the many in the Talili's group and not one has a Club Med on it.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Tropical storm

We arrived on Talili Island, off the north coast of East New Britain just before this storm rolled in and drenched us! Luckily it only lasted a short while and the rest of the weekend was perfect weather. This coastline is stunning and completly untouched, with just a few small villages clinging to the water's edge. It felt like we could have been sailing in a hundred years ago. More photos tomorrow.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Saturday - I'll be here!!

We are off on a catamaran for the weekend so will be unable to post tomorrow, so thought I’d do it today instead.

This is the catamaran we will be fishing, diving, and snorkeling from. We are sailing around to the other side of the island with friends to camp on a small deserted island called Swallows. We will anchor off-shore, and spend the night on the beach with a big fire, a BBQ and a couple bottles of wine!

Note: Volcano – Mt Tavurvur is the small puffing mountain on horizon.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Danger from Above!

The rain has cleared but the winds are high.

These coconuts in the plantation next to us are really getting blown around. At this time of the year we get the cooler, drier south-easters - a relief from the humidity of The Wet. However the Tree of Life (the coconut ) often becomes the Tree of Death during this time, with coconuts falling on people!!! When you park your car here you always look up to make sure you aren’t under one – they make a mess of vehicles too!!!

Coconuts are called the Tree of Life because every bit of the tree is used (including the roots) - for oil, food, matting, timber, building material, insulation, household items, jewelry, bilums (bags), and medicine – the list goes on and on!!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Where is the sun?

Where is the sun? This is supposed to be the "dry" season and yet we have rain, winds and cool weather. We are reaching for jackets and blowing off the cobwebs!! Under this mud is a 2-lane sealed highway!! Heavy rains wash soil down from higher areas and drains can't cope and we have a traffic hazard and delays. PNG is conducting its elections this week and the weather has caused delays with this too.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Mt Tavurvur

This is our local active volcano Mt Tavurvur. Luckily it doesn't always look like this and at the moment is fairly quiet. In 1994 however, it and Mt Vulcan erupted simultaneously and devastated most of Rabaul town, which at that time was one of the most beautiful spots in the Pacific. Will post more photos another day of what is left of the town.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Welcome to Rabaul

Welcome and thanks to all the daily bloggers for your inspiration - I hope I can continue the high standard!! Lonely Planet calls PNG "....a last frontier for travellers," so from the comfort of your computer chair I hope I can show you around the island of New Britain PNG, where volcanoes, gurias (earthquakes), world-renown coral reefs, fire dancers and colourful markets are part of our daily