Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Lutheran Shipping Freighter "Rita"
You could fly to Madang via Port Moresby but we had heard that there was a 'freighter' that worked the north coast of PNG that was going to Madang the next day. Never having traveled via a freighter before this seemed to be calling our names so we booked passage. It turns out that the ship was less a freighter (although a ton of produce and livestock was unceremoniously shoved into the cargo holds) and more of a floating men's prison complete with security guards (only a handful of women were courageous enough to make the journey). We had booked the Tourist Class section but I think the only difference was some extra space versus the cheek-by-jowel overcrowding that was going on down below. The trusty crew had long since given up on cleaning the cells between sailings- there was a garbage can but it seemed to be for the exclusive use of the beetle nut spitters- everything else went on the deck or into the ocean. There was a small section set aside for TV viewing (with a steady diet of some of the more violent American B war movies I have ever seen- just what we needed to get the crowd riled up). The rest of the deck was filled with bunk beds that were arranged in a way that would ensure you really got to know your neighbours. DH almost immediately curled into a fetal position and stayed that way for the entire 18 hour journey- she claimed it was sea sickness but I suspect she spent the whole time contemplating why she kept following me into these situations. We both longed for the comforts of the Airport Lodge.
All was forgotten as we bobbed and rolled our way into Madang. It actually seemed to be a noticeably less threatening town with substantially less razor wire and steel gates- not quite Fiji but pretty good for PNG. One of the dock security guards seemed to take pity on us as we were looking lost and worn out, and he arranged to have a couple of his buddies drive us over to the Madang Resort where the check-in girl also took pity on us (just how bad did we look after our night in the floating prison??) and gave us a free room upgrade. We're on a roll.