Monthly Archives: May 2013

Villages on the Water

Panorama - KopiMy first visit to PNG was back in 2005 and at that time I was fortunate to have my brother-in-law, Ken, living in Port Moresby. After a first evening in an ex-pat bar we drove down the coast for an hour to the village of Gabagaba where he had done some business. We walked over to the chief’s house for some talk-talk, and then I got some time to roam around the beach.

Hus m jenteGabagaba is half on land and half out in the sea, the houses lifted on solid stilts two-three meters above the surface. Boardwalks point out from the beach, like narrow alleys, lined by houses. This type of stilt villages have been common along the south-eastern shores of New Guinea for hundreds of years, and although the Gabagaba houses are of the permanent type, many of them very solid and well-kept, it still has a feel of the traditional and strong links to the past.

KanoreparasjonTo me this was truly exotic. I was also taken by the friendliness of everyone that came up and talked to me – the waitman stranger with a camera. This, my first impression of New Guineans, greatly contrasted the warnings I had received from some Australians: “Raskols around every corner; you might get yourself killed!” I’m happy to say that my first impression of hospitality and openness has been confirmed during my several trips that have followed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn later visits to PoOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERArt Moresby I have enjoyed visiting the water villages in town, Koki and Hanuabada. I present myself and my innocent intensions and then I’m invited to walk around and take a few photos; talk to a few people. Again, all very open and friendly. I can’t say I’m impressed with the sanitary conditions, but the boardwalks with their endless clothes lines, the houses – some like shacks, some real nice – certainly have an atmosphere different from other places.

In my water village set on
you’ll see more photos from
these places, and many from Borneo:

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Memories from Morobe


Sad-eyed ladies of the Highlands

A mudman approaches me, his face a fearsome smile with teeth pointing in all directions and his arrow aiming straight for my chest; the feathers from the headdress of a Morobe warrior whip my face as he tumbles by; from the bright, red face of a Chimbu woman I am greeted with a look that could kill, before she dances on with rolling hips. The sound of drums and hundreds of voices fill the air while shells, dusks of grass and bird feathers whirl by in a cascade of colour. I’m at the Morobe Cultural Show in Lae, Papua New Guinea…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was back in 2006, when I had timed my Lae visit for the big annual sing-sing. These big gatherings in Papua New Guinea, whether in Mount Hagen, Goroka, Moresby, Lae or Alotau, must be the ultimate places to see and indulge in tribal traditions and pride, to get absorbed into the music, the dancing and the colours.

A great thing is that the performances that are put on represent a living culture. The songs and dances are important pieces in the oral historic tradition that keep tribes, clans and villages together, and when I have visited Tufi I have stumbled upon several small and local events.

The Morobe show was the first big one I got to see, and what a spectacle. Bringing a camera to an event like this is a real challenge – you just want to keep snapping continuosly. Here I have dug out some photos and a film clip to give you an idea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe top paragraph here is the beginning of a text that I wrote for my old travel story web page. A pdf of the full story is here, and below that a link to the ‘Under a Big Sky’ site:
Festival of sound and colour


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