We have the tendency to become afraid of things we do not know. The fear of the unknown somehow lingers on our minds despite the current advancement of technology. Be it because of what we heard or read, that fear is being magnified by stories from other people that turned out to be full of either exaggerations or personal opinion with no basis on actual facts. However, that fear stops when we are able to prove that such stories are nothing less than urban legends and rumors far from the truth.
I was actually afraid of making a transit in Papua New Guinea. I have read about road crimes, security guards being knock-out by thieves at night, malaria, and other things that apparently makes PNG a dangerous place in South Pacific. I have heard some of my crew mates telling stories about people throwing rocks on taxis, people roaming around the city with their bolos and cannibals in the mountains. I have had so much of those stories that it somehow instilled fear on me, and I almost choose to stay in the hotel until our flight back to Manila despite our two-day stay and my plans of doing few sight-seeing in Port Moresby.
Things turned out to be different when we disembarked last Saturday (June 4). There are some roads under construction on our way to the city and few people sitting by the roadside waving at us. I didn't feel threatened at all, instead, I was surprised to find out that Port Moresby is similar to some areas back in the Philippines. When we arrived at the hotel, we were welcomed by the hospitable ambiance and hotel personnel who immediately attended to our luggage.
Grand Papua Hotel
Situated in the city center of Port Moresby and few minutes from the airport, the Grand Papua Hotel was our accommodation prior to our direct flight to Manila on the fifth of June. They have a lot of facilities for both dining and entertainment. They also offer sumptuous meals that will surely make a mark on your palate. Their lime cheesecake is a must try for those who love sweets.
You can visit their website for more information about reservations and other facilities they are offering for your comfortable stay in Port Moresby.
|Due to the sudden downpour, we were not able to take a dip in the pool.|
|I was alone in my room with two beds. Ang saya lang diba?|
|Coral Sea as seen from my room. Me mga ulap pa. Sabi nang uulan eh.|
|Old photos on the wall by the hallway. Lakas maka-museum ng vibe.|
The Port Moresby Nature Park
One of the most interesting place one can check out in Port Moresby is no other than the POM Nature Park. It is actually a combination of a zoological and botanical garden and considered as PNG's leading park that provides tourists a glimpse of Papua's diverse fauna and flora. Taking into account its location near the city, the park has 30 acres of tropical gardens, harboring almost 250 PNG native animals. The park also have a souvenir shop, cafe and cultural displays. They hold guided park tours and events for tourists and nature enthusiasts.
We decided to check the park since our agent told us that we will be leaving the hotel for the airport at one in the afternoon. And since we have nothing to do in the hotel in the morning, we prepared ourselves and set out for our limited-time tour in the park. We have no idea on how to get there. Fortunately, the hotel receptionist arranged for a taxi bound for the park and we were able to get there in few minutes time.
Travel time from the hotel to the park is around 15-20 minutes by taxi. Travel fare is 40 kinas, one way. After we arrived there, we paid 13 kinas each for the park entrance and bought a mosquito repellent spray as advised by the park personnel since it rained the night before and mosquitoes are more likely to appear in the area.
|Group picture right after arrival at the park!|
|It is advisable to read posters like this prior to park entry for guidance. Park personnel will brief you as well.|
|Cultural artifacts like these totem poles can also be seen around the park.|
|The map that leads to the famed bird-of -paradise.|
|Be informed. Read these DYK cards.|
|These nest-like thingies are actually used for a traditional dance.|
|A close encounter with the bird-of-paradise. Nasa taas nga lang siya.|
|One sign prompted us to look down and this is what we saw.|
|Another sign told us to look up. Kala namin may sawa na naman.|
|A bust of Dr. Rizal. Nakapunta pala siya ng Papua?|
|These are wallabies. Use wallaby in a sentence.|
Me: I wallaby a billionaire, so freaking bad.
Crew mate: If you wallaby my lover...
|This is a tree kangaroo. Hindi nya kami pinansin. Hindi rin siya gumalaw.|
|Another pair of tree kangaroos, but they look different from the first one. Pero ganun pa rin, di kami pinansin.|
|We left the tree kangaroo area because it started to rain. We passed by this pathway lined with orchids.|
|Eto yung pose ng inabutan ng ulan.|
|We seek shelter from the rain only to find this small tribal hut.|
|Back to the souvenir shop. This book caught my attention. Binili ko nga.|
|Souvenirs range from tribal masks and figurines to PNG themed merchandise like postcards.|
|The souvenir shop personnel were very friendly. We had quite a long conversation with them before we left for the hotel.|
We were not able to visit other parts of the park because of the sudden rainfall. We returned to the souvenir shop, and waited for the taxi (we told the taxi driver before to pick us up by 11 o'clock). We bought few items while waiting and had some good conversation with the shop personnel.
We learned that there's a lot of Filipinos working in Port Moresby. We were also quite surprised to find out that they(Papuans) are fond of watching Filipino TV series and movies. They even told us the names of actors and actresses in those movies.
The taxi arrived few minutes before 11, but we were already done buying souvenir items. So we bade the shop and park personnel goodbye and went to the taxi bound for the hotel. While on the taxi, I can't help but think about how some people wrongly tell stories about places that have amazing things to offer.
Come to think of it. Any place could pose a threat to anyone in any way. PNG is not an exception, the Philippines or any other country either. Therefore, one must take precautionary measures before travelling to any country. It is also helpful to read information provided by appropriate authorities of a certain country to ensure a safe and hassle free travelling experience.
We may had spent a short time in Port Moresby because of our disembarkation arrangement and flight details, but it didn't stopped us from showing beyond doubt that PNG is not as dangerous as described in stories and rumors of few people who weren't able to look at its good side. So next time you disembark on a vessel or you plan to visit this often misunderstood country, feel free to travel and check some of their interesting places. But of course, be safe, like any prudent traveler should be.