Survived the first week!

Trip Start May 05, 2012
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Trip End Sep 09, 2012


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Where I stayed
Peter Torot Centre

Flag of Papua New Guinea  ,
Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's been a week now in Kavieng, PNG and it’s been a once in a lifetime experience already.

Living in town, I’m gradually absorbing the lifestyle and culture of the locals. People love  to chat and show me why their lifestyle is so unique.  I do miss some of the luxuries we take advantage of here in Australia. For example warm showers, fresh milk, washing machines, and the efficient health system. Despite missing home, the locals are the nicest people I’ve ever met and I always find someone to chat with. They love Australians, especially seeing as though a lot of the tv stations are Australian broadcasts. Rugby league is the big sport here and the locals go crazy over it. Apparently on state of origin games, the whole town dresses in the maroon or blue jerseys and celebrate in the streets...even though most of them haven't even been to Australia. Apparently they're trying to get a PNG team starting in the NRL, which would be great for the country.

Although many everyday items are ridiculously overpriced…fresh seafood and locally grown vegetable are the exception. A stroll through the popular markets= bargains galore! I bought a whole fish (~$ 2.50 AUD), a live mud crab (~$4 AUD), and a whole crayfish (~$2 AUD) for dinner….jealous mum? They also have buffets at Kavieng Hotel and some of the resorts, which are quite expensive ($40-50) but some of the best food you will ever taste and all you can eat.

Walking far distances in this humidity really sucks, and it only takes a few minutes for your shirt to be soaked with sweat. There are a number of dilapidated minivan taxis that can get you from point A to B for virtually nothing…It’s an interesting trip as the van swerves from side to side avoiding the countless potholes in the crumbling roads.  

By Australian standards the hospital is dirty, understaffed and often runs out of essential medications…Yet, it’s the best that is available to the people. With the lack of resources and diagnostic test, more often then not patients are treated solely on clinical judgment. I spent the week in medical ward and adult outpatient department. Medical ward rounds alternates between the acute (mainly malaria, strokes and diabetes) and the chronic (99% TB patients) wings. Ward round starts on islander time (10 am or not at all if the doctor doesn’t  show up due to other commitments). The hardworking, efficient nurses run the ward and contact the doctor only if any problems arise. Getting a lot of experience and responsibility in outpatients. Usually see about 60 or so patients a day between myself and one or two other nurses. Most of it is the common flu or uncomplicated malaria…but occasionally an interesting and more acute case will come through. These poor people arrive in the early morning and some don’t even get seen till late afternoon… and no complaints. Some patients only speak pidgeon and I’m stuck there trying to take an awkward history with someone who doesn’t understand a word I’m saying.

I also found a little paradise and a good getaway from the chaos of the town. Nusa Island is a picturesque island adjacent to the town and accessible by 5 minute boat ride. Nusa retreat is a moderate to high end eco-friendly, bungalow style accommodation and bar/restaurant on the island. It’s got an awesome choice of drinks and the outside bar with its sand floor has a chilled out vibe and unpretentious character.  I went for a little walk around part of the island and met a number of Australian and NZ ex-pats. Also made friends with the owners and chief builder who were all originally from Australia. They were a real chilled out bunch and we spent all night talking shit over beers.

Although New Ireland gets a regular influx of tourists, it has so much more potential as a tourist destination with its beautiful environment, culture and people. I think that the two things holding the industry back are the cost to get here and stay (as opposed to Bali and other SE Asian countries) and the generalisation that all of PNG is not safe (certainly not true).

Next week I’m doing O&G. Next weekend I’m heading with one of my adopted 'brothers’ to his mums eel farm in one of the other towns. My next big challenge  now is to learn some Pidgeon.

Hope things are good back home. Miss you all!
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