Posts Tagged With: travel

The Tufi Tattoos

Ramona at Kasiawa

Ramona at Kasiawa

When a Tufi girl is ready for marriage she might, for some weeks, enter the hibernating process of getting a facial tattoo. The tattooing is an old traditional practice that has faded away and disappeared in most communities, but there are some areas where the tradition lives on.

Ethel is proud of her tattoo

Ethel is proud of her tattoo

The girl stays in seclusion during the time of the application, which is made by a qualified tattooist – sometimes a relative; always a woman. First the pattern is drawn in black, and when the girls’ parents have expressed their appreciation the tattooist starts the actual process. Dulcie at Kafuaruru village and Levinia at Angorogho, two of the still active tattooists, use a modern needle instead of the bush needle that was tapped by a stick, which was the old way. The dyes today are also mixed with modern ingredients that give a stronger and more lasting colour. This way the tattoo has to be worked over only twice, instead of three or four times which was the rule before.Ethel from Kuruwe says: “Mine was made by a lady from Sefoa. It was my parents that decided, but they listened to me too, of course. Nowadays the girls decide much themselves, but only a few get them. My auntie from Angorogho made one last year on a girl from Mafuia – that’s the neighbour village.”

A hundred years ago tattooing was common all over Papua New Guinea. Most places it was only for the women. The method was basically the same everywhere, but the patterns and what areas would be marked varied between the different areas. Some had their whole bodies tattooed, starting with a section at a young age, then adding some every year, and the final needle applied around puberty. At Tufi it was the face and sometimes the neck, and some would – only for the husbands to view – have their thighs tattooed as well.

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You’ll find some more about the Tufi tattoos in my book Beautiful Tufi, and there’s a set of photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29122604@N05/sets/72157622661762090/

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Categories: Book, PNG, Travel, Tufi | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Spectacular Head dresses

Dancing at Kwafurina

Dancing at Kwafurina

When the steady rhythm of the kundu drums sound and the dancers move around in lines and circles, finding the right steps to the songs, one can’t help being captured by their amazing head dresses. The expressively colourful feather arrangements light up the dancing ground; the cassowary plumes down the back sway to the beat; rooster feathers wave from the tops. It’s an explosion of colour and movement.

Much of the old style of the headdresses has been kept through the years but some changed have been introduced. New Guineans have never been afraid of picking up new ideas and inspiration from others and the decorations are also, to a large degree, individual expressions.

Roy chooses between a series of beautiful pieces

When Roy makes his head dress ready for a dance he brings out his little suitcase where he keeps his feathers carefully and neatly stacked. They are all strung up in rows of similar feathers – some are very old. He then finds his helmet-shaped frame, and start tying one row of feathers in front of the other. Maybe he will arrange it just like he did last time or maybe he will try a new combination – he’s got a lot to choose between.

Attaching to the frame

Attaching to the frame

This one wears Roy's signature

This one wears Roy’s signature

Roy has a liking for the blue and red feathers from the female Eclectus parrot, and he combines them with others from lories, lorikeets, kites, and the white cockatoo ones that have been cut to zig-zags. Then come the orange plumes of the Bird of Paradise, the big dusk of cassowary feathers in the back, and finally – since he belongs to a chieftain clan – the black rooster feathers. While some of his brothers stick to the more traditional styles, Roy always looks for an interesting new and attractive combination – he knows that it will be noticed.

A classical example from Kabuni

A classical example from Kabuni

This type of head dress is common, with local alterations, in most of Oro Province, and also down the coast to the area around Rabaraba, and they won’t disappear. Many of their songs and dances are important parts of the clans’ and families’ oral tradition, and for a dance only the traditional dress is appropriate. That means tapa cloth, shells and feathers, and they are worn with pride.

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About Beautiful Tufi

WTufi Papua New Guineaith this book I intend to show what life is like for the villagers of Tufi in Papua New Guinea.

Very little has been written about this area before, so having been impressed with both the people and the place I figured it was about time for a presentation. The people here are also quite representative for their country, living as they are in close contact with both the sea and the forests, and they are even ethnically a mix between the Melanesian and the Papuan groups. Traditional life is still dominating, but certainly not without influence and knowledge about the world around.

As with many other developing nations, much of the news that reaches the outside world about Papua New Guinea is of the negative kind, and the many misconceptions I have met with abroad has also triggered my inspiration to fill in some of the missing pieces.

During my first stays at Tufi I had learned that the area has a very dramatic and interesting history and a great wealth of natural treasures. Then there was the warmth and hospitality that I was met with, and all this made it natural to go back and experience more of what ‘beautiful Tufi’ has to offer.

The idea for the book developed slowly after my second visit to the area in 2006, and two years later I had started making serious preparations. In 2009 I again widened my range and made many important contacts – I learned that the villagers were positive to my coming back for a more substantial project.

Between August 2010 and March 2011 I spent more than six months around Tufi, and also ventured a bit further down the coast to Collingwood Bay for a few weeks. After many hours of story-telling in shelters all along this fascinating coastline; after long canoe rides and hikes through the forests; and after an endless number of wonderful experiences, I believe I have the material to give you an idea of what life at Tufi is like.

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Papua New Guinea on Flickr

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Colourful festivals; beautiful scenery; special wildlife; everyday situations – if you’d like to get an idea of what Papua New Guinea is like you should drop in to Flickr. Photos is the quick road to an impression. I have 800 some PNG photos there, and you can find thousands from other photographers (try Eric Lafforgue’s).

(If you prefer to see the back side of the country – it certainly has its problems – you can try to Google Steven Dupont’s photos.)

My Flickr sets include views and people

from Alotau – http://www.flickr.com/photos/29122604@N05/sets/72157623187183733/

Preparing for Canoe Festival races

Preparing for Canoe Festival races

From Fergusson Island – http://www.flickr.com/photos/29122604@N05/sets/72157625568385966/

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Gowma afternoon atmosphere

from Kokoda – http://www.flickr.com/photos/29122604@N05/sets/72157628129360265/

Clouds over the historic track

Clouds over the historic track

from below the surface – http://www.flickr.com/photos/29122604@N05/sets/72157625889479447/

Guardians of Garewa beach, Tufi

Guardians of Garewa beach, Tufi

from all around – http://www.flickr.com/photos/29122604@N05/sets/72157610401154634/

High five at Salamaua, Morobe

High five at Salamaua, Morobe

and from Tufi, of course – http://www.flickr.com/photos/29122604@N05/sets/72157610401154634/

Late afternoon fishing by Kasiawa

Late afternoon fishing by Kasiawa

Be my guest!

Categories: Book, PNG, Travel, Tufi | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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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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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Memories from Morobe

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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
http://www.underabigsky.com/index.html

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Coming soon !!

 

The ultimate presentation about Papua New Guinean life

 is just around the corner!

 

Tufi is both mountain and sea, both rainforest and beaches – it’s

PNG in a nutshell. I spent six months finding out about what life

is like around the wonderful Tufi shores and collecting stories of

both the past and the present.

Yes, the future too.

 

 

So her you can read about

The Fascinating People

The Beautiful Scenery

The Dramatic History

                                                                                  Photo by Frank Hurley, 1921, Australian Museum (v4589)

It’s a story about dealing with the past, while looking to the future; about being small in a big world, yet proud.

I’ll keep you updated about the publishing process…..

Mr. Jan

Categories: Travel, Tufi | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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