Monthly Archives: September 2013

Resort Relaxation or Independent Travelling?

Some experiences from travelling in Papua New Guinea

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PNG is a particularly fascinating and quite unexplored tourist destination, a place many have on their wish list but might be uncertain about: Is it difficult to get around; does it need to be expensive; do people understand English; should I leave to others to make all the practical arrangements?

Time

The decisive factor is time. If you have a week or ten days an organized stay at a resort, or with a touring or trekking company might be the best choice. There are several resorts both along the coasts, in the Highlands and along the big rivers, some specializing in diving, bird watching, fishing or cultural experiences, and some offering a bit of everything. There are price differences of course, which is also the case with the touring companies from abroad that have PNG on their schedule, so you want to
check out what suits your budget.

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Resort guest enjoying a beach picnic lunch at Tufi

If your plans are a bit more flexible, as mine have been, you can aim for a spot, book a few days at a hotel or resort, and then make arrangements with local people to visit special sights and places: villages, islands, waterfalls, bird watching sites, etc. Tufi is an ideal spot for this kind of travelling, and for me this has been a successful approach around Lae and Alotau as well: Kamiali and Salamaua south of Lae and the hot springs and villages on Fergusson Island are among the treasures in my travel scrap book.

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Boiling hot pools and geysers on Fergusson Island

The Moresby syndrome

A convenient feature for most of us is that English is spoken and understood pretty much everywhere. On the negative side are the fired-up hotel prices in Port Moresby. It’s not a bad idea to move on straight away on your arrival in the capital, but when returning you should book a night to be on the safe side – weather or other circumstances sometimes causes delays on domestic flights.

Rather than overspending in Moresby I prefer to spend an extra night at a pretty and relaxing resort or spend some extra in the villages. When in Port Moresby I usually stay at the reasonable and well-run Comfort Inn. Another good (but more expensive) alternative is to book at Loloata Island Resort just south of town.

Boroko market Port Moresby

Boroko market is a good spot for both locals and visitors in Port Moresby

Village stays

Try out the village guest houses! There are many all over the country, and I believe Tufi has the most. These are basic, bush material houses, but full catered and including transportation and guiding services; most of them need a day or two’s notice for preparations.  At Orotoaba (Tufi) I’ve had a morning Bird-of-Paradise walk followed by a lobster brunch; at Kamiali (Morobe) I’ve spent the sun rise hours paddling up a tranquil river; at Waluma (Fergusson Island) I’ve snorkeled by underwater volcanic vents; and at Angorogho (Tufi) I have climbed up to a hidden skull cave. My list is endless and spectacular.

Give it a try!!

Jebo guest house private white sand beach

At Jebo guest house you get your own private white sand beach

For village guest house information visit Village Huts

PS: Check blog posts below for stories about cultural festivals, waterfall walks, etc…

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Tufi Picturesque

8dWhen I travel I bring out my camera for a photo when I see something interesting or unusual, but most of all when I find something to be beautiful. Sometimes a majestic view or fascinating scenery; sometimes a colourful detail or a special line or figure; and sometimes I attempt to capture a beautiful mood or atmosphere. Sometimes a smile.

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In my book, where I have deliberately focused on the positive sides of life around Tufi, photos of this character have found a natural place. Here are just a few examples:

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Warfare, Cannibalism and Migration

Okeina warriors at a peaceful ‘singsing’ at Tufi, early 1900s.

Okeina warriors at a peaceful ‘singsing’ at Tufi, early 1900s.

“One night around 1850 the Korafe clans who were living by Lake Moghana in the hills behind Gobe woke up to the sound of warriors shouting and hollering, and to the death cries of their tribesmen. The Okeina from the coast had come up for revenge; they had sneaked up in the darkest hours and had suddenly charged the sleeping villagers. In the panic and commotion of the attack, warriors from other tribes could be seen as well – the Okeina had brought in re-enforcements to be sure of a successful mission against the strong Korafe. Axes were swung and spears were thrown in the darkness, and soon the whole village was filled with the desperate cries of men, women and children, mixed with the thuds and slashes of weapons and shelters breaking.”

This is how the chapter of the big Korafe migration starts in my Beautiful Tufi book. It think my idea of writing this book started to take shape when I realized that Tufi has a very dramatic history. Here were not only a beautiful place with wonderful people, but here were also stories from World War II, from the devastating cyclone that hit the area in 1972, and then from the pre-colonial days when tribal warfare, cannibalism and migration were part of what people expected to see in their lifetime.

There are several tribes (or groups) around Tufi, speaking different languages, and they are again divided into a great number of clans. Each clan carries the stories of their past, so the big story of the great migration is a conglomerate of stories from all clans. It’s a story of how bigger and stronger groups have expanded into the area, pushing others against each other, and sometimes even killing them off completely. Some were forced to move, sometimes for forever and sometimes for a later return.

Today the spears are only prepared for hunting.

Today the spears are only prepared for hunting.

The Korafe were a big group with many clans that set out across the pass between the Keroroa and Yamewara mountains (Mt Victory and Mt Trafalgar in English) and then lived for some years here and for some years there, finally finding their way to the Tufi fjords where they still are today. Around Tufi the found another people, lower in numbers and weaker, and these they soon dominated, meaning marrying their women and killing their men. It’s part of history now.

The Migration chapter continues:

“The men who managed to reach for their knives and clubs fought back, but the surprise tactic had its intended effect and many were killed or wounded before the hostile visitors returned down to the coast. Moghana was now a village of devastation, death and despair, and the eerie wailing from those who had lost their dear ones kept sounding through the long hours of the night. This was truly a dark night for the Korafe, in every respect. (…) When the chiefs sat down to discuss the situation they felt the pressure had become unbearable, and once again they decided to gather all the clans and move on.”

Here, behind Spear Point, the fighting was fierce in the time of the tribal wars.

Here, behind Spear Point, the fighting was fierce in the time of the tribal wars.

Read more about Beautiful Tufi here!

Categories: Book, PNG, PNG history, Tufi | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stolen title !!!!

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Yes, I have sort of stolen the title ‘BEAUTIFUL TUFI’ for my book, I know. I guess I first encountered this phrase as a chapter title in expat Colin Baker’s book Doodle-Buggers in Paradise. This is a hard-to-get, out-of-print book that I borrowed from former Tufi resort manager Simon Tewson some years back, and besides some amusing stories from around the time of independence (70s) the title stuck in my mind.

I have then learned  that the beauty of Tufi has been commented by just about every passer-by, and that the Tufi people themselves are certainly aware of this particular characteristic of their home grounds.

Captain John Moresby, who ‘discovered’ this coastline in 1874, was mesmerized by this particular stretch, and then followed William MacGregor, British New Guinea’s first governor; Albert MacLaren, who established the Anglican mission on this coast; and George Le Hunte, MacGregors successor and the official who opened the the Cape Nelson (Tufi) colonial station in 1900 – they all commented on the beauty of the Tufi fjords in their reports and reminiscencies.

In 1921 the famous Australian photographer Frank Hurley visited British New Guinea. His love for the country came in full bloom when he stayed for some days at Wanigela and at Awanen – the southernmost of the Tufi bays. In his diary he wrote about:

“…palm fringed ribbons of golden beaches, washed by deep blue waters streached with opalescent tints of coral shallows; inlets studded with verdant islets, reclining at the base of somber wooded bluffs; a scene that calls back memories…” (Pearls and Savages p. 72).

Awanen Creek

In recent years diver/travel photographer and writer Don Silcock has used Beautiful Tufi in his writings as well (try Google his name for some fascinating articles and fabulous underwater photography!).

So ‘Beautiful Tufi’ is not just a tacky title, it’s just the way it is. It’s a fact! And I found it a most appropriate title for my book.

Read and check it out for yourself: click here

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My First Visit to Tufi

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We are sitting on the porch of Benson’s auntie having a well-deserved rest. I turn my head – the view from up here is as promised: absolutely gorgeous. The green ridges that line the fjords are stretching out toward the Bismarck Sea, parts of them covered with kunai grass, and parts of them forested. The sea is shimmering along a wide horizon.

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This was back in 2005, and here from Kikita, high on the ridge behind the fjords, I had my first panoramic view of ‘Beautiful Tufi’. The walk up there, through the band of pretty, small hamlets, was the highlight of my first Tufi stay.

It was a short stay, only five-six days, but I had the feeling already before arriving there that this would just be a first glimpse; an entré that would be followed by longer and more adventurous visits.

I should thank my sisters and brothers-in-law down in Queensland for giving me the idea in the first place. Through them I knew that Papua New Guinea was not at all inaccessible, and since I was looking for a culturally exciting place to visit PNG was a natural pick. On the Internet I found my way to Tufi, with a small resort and possibilities for village stays. And so I took off.

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Paddling along coconut-lined beaches in traditional outriggers; stopping for a chat in villages and hamlets; getting to know people who were both interested in telling their own stories and listening to mine – this all made a deep and positive impression on me. I wanted to see more; I wanted to hear more.

Another of my memorable first-visit impressions was waking up to a beautiful sunrise on the beach just below the guesthouse at Kufure village. There I was also well taken care of by Davidson (in the photo below) and Erwatius, by Bona, Champion and Benson, and this is one of the reasons why I let my book both start and end at Kofure beach.

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The first paragraph here is from a little story that I wrote about my walk to Kikita for my old travel web page. If you’d like to see the whole story you click here.

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