Monday, 28 December 2015

The Boat Trip To Loloata Island, Papua New Guinea

In a sudden twist of event, the management in the company that I work with has come up with a decision from the accumulation of mass suggestions to hold our annual managers’ party at Loloata Island Resort. 

This was a news like no other news to us, and since our little shuttle bus can only accommodate a few partying hearts, the managers were separated into two little groups comprised of 11 and 13 persons.  I happened to be with the former group full of excited people.

Truly, this is an era where mobile phones go beyond the prestige of being just a basic necessity. I took this photo with my Samsung Galaxy S4 and coincidentally, the scene came out with much similarity to infinity mirror of which principles are derived from geometrical optics.  I pointed the lens at my friend, he took a photo of himself and someone else was taking a photo of us; a cycle that repeats itself in a never ending manner.

I like to be standing at the stern of the boat as it glides above the water. This way, I can have a splendid view of the part whence we have left.  As it turned out though, I wasn’t the only one with the same preference around.

As the voyage continues, this scene will come to pass. On the far right was the Lion Island. I could see some houses built on the island that was closer to us. I didn’t see any sign of white sand but rather a fortification of mangrove trees tucked in the crevices of rocky edges.  The Lion Island, on the contrary, was said to have white sands. 

Surprisingly enough, the voyage doesn’t take that long and it ends shortly at this long wooden structure that serves as a footbridge for travelers. Each pole was installed with LED lights that I guessed, would look exquisite at night. At the end of this footbridge was an arc to welcome the visitors. 

Or rather, a street sign that welcomes us and at the same time points us to two directions: one goes to diving stall which is fairly visible behind and the other to where the reception is.  

Within the reception, one can be forgiven for expecting a majestic setup of dining tables and chairs. This can be followed by a dose of reality that it wasn’t your typical hotel-restaurant setup.  The whole dining was decorated and arranged, however, in such a way that you will literally feel the essence of having retreated to an Island and being served the islander way. 

Each group will be assigned a table. We got the number 4 table which was long and sturdy and was just perfect for our group.  On the tables, cookies were already waiting for us. 

And there’s this area with these wooden tables and a more comfy chairs. Here’s kuya Lito enjoying his first order of ice-cold SP beer which he bought from the in-house store for a slightly higher price. 

The dining was at a very close proximity to where the land and waters met.  This island really reminds me of an island off the coast of Costa Rica where scientists from InGen once bred giant dinosaurs from genetic materials belonging to frog and fossilized dino blood, only there was no dinosaur in Loloata.

If dinosaurs are responsible for making Jurassic Park famous, Loloata is augmented by interesting animals like this blue peacock. I saw a couple of them roaming freely around the island. Scientists say that while dinosaurs may resemble an animal of reptilian structure, they are most likely the predecessors of the modern birds that we see around.

Talking about birds, they have real birds too. While birds-in-a-cage photos are not the best thing to depict these animals, I commend the management of Loloata for giving them a nice and big cage which I would rather call a shelter in which they have plenty of space to move around. It also protects them from predators. 

In addition to birds and peacocks, Kangaroos are everywhere. They didn’t seem to be intimidated by my presence. While its buddy was exhibiting camera-shyness, the Kangaroo on the right was all set for a photo shoot.

A typical island scenery is not without coconut trees. These trees covered most of the areas and give us a nice shade… and something to watch out for. 

Lunch is served in buffet-style at 12:30 in the afternoon. Guests are welcome to indulge themselves with a glorious serving of coffee or tea before and after that. A variety of souvenir items are available for the tourists as well.

Next to the dining area are the stairs to the highest point of the Island. We named it “100-steps” just to give a name to it. We did not actually count the number of steps although we resigned to the idea that it was 100 to make our lives easier.  

Once you get on top, you will be treated with a majestic view of the neighboring islands, but not without heavily catching up on your breath. Parabolic antennas are installed here to sustain connectivity. One should be careful when climbing this area at night because of the limited visibility. Steep cliffs are dangerously waiting for any single mistake.

If climbing up was a challenge, going down on it was the same for acrophobic. We did not name the stairs “100-steps” for nothing. But we enjoyed the experience.

There was not much to do until the free ride to the next island so we ventured out to the farthest side of this footbridge and tested the depths.   Here, kuya Arnold is seen admirably jumping so high while executing a near-perfect dive in the presence of accomplices turned spectators. 

An hour before lunch, we were ferried on a small dingy boat to another island called Lion Island.  We were requested to wear life vests for our safety. Along the way, while the small boat rocked back and forth through the big waves, the vests have imbued us with greater chance of survivability of which we were so grateful afterwards.  Here’s Hernan, a co-manager who is seemingly happy enough to keep the whole ocean for himself.

As promised, the Lion Island was a nice spot.  It has white sands and shallow waters to swim around, although what we did was more of tip-toeing around than swimming.

The writings on the rocks suggested that we were not the first party to have landed here. Whoever they are, they must have purposely left these messages indiscernible enough to be considered by future populace as a subject of hieroglyphic importance to study.

While there were so few of us in Lion Island, the small boats that transported us lingered around for most of the time at a safe distance. Although they occasionally vanished from our sights, they just magically appeared when we needed them to, especially when our hungry stomachs started to growl.

Back at the dining table, we were served with gracious amount of freshly prepared foods.  Our group has paid for K180 (kina) each and it was sponsored by our company. With all these amenities and activities, I conclude that it was worth it. 

While a small percentage in our group has expressed a bit of disappointment on their experience,  the majority, including me was more than happy with it. If I were to rate this resort from 1 to 10, I would give it a 9. 

In rating this resort, one must bring to mind all the effort being given to run this Island. From the systematic ferrying of guests from point A’s to B’s, to its being a self-sustained island capable of giving electricity 24 hours a day to its guests and inhabitants. And while giving my opinion, I am quite glued to the fact that it takes a lot of effort to keep this Island Resort rolling for us to enjoy it.  I still have a few notes to share like how accommodating the staffs were and how good they keep the place clean but I will leave that part to those who may want to visit this resort.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Snapshots In Papua New Guinea

According to Albert Einstein, happiness becomes true if it is associated to goals and not with something else. An object, or money, for instance, do provide happiness at some point in time and pretty much they make living our lives easier.Yet at the end of the day, only us can tell if it's hollow or not.

For me, as being a man who is always in pursuit of happiness, I do think that my happiness is simple. But purely, as a result of my imagination, I am always inclined to believe that anything that makes me happy is tied to a simplistic goal.

Take my photography hobby for example, although I am not blessed with an inborn-talent that turns anything crap into a framed art, I persevere to learn the trend but I don't exhaust myself to the point that it's no longer a hobby.

My goal in photography is really simple, and that is to be able to capture a scene into a frame that can stir mine, or somebody else's emotions when I look at it again a couple of years later. Being simple as it is, I don't quite belittle the effect of setting a realistic goal because the reward of joy that I instantly get every time I hit it is repetitive, sort of a Dopamine boost that gives a positive impact to my everyday life.

And with that being said, here are some common scenes that I managed to capture from various locations in Papua New Guinea with a hope to spark a recollection of similar events from our memories.

A wet star-spangled banner of Papua New Guineas flag flaps as the wind blows after a sudden rain. Unless I'm mistaken, I remember to have taken this shot somewhere in November when everyone around is preparing for the Independence Day celebration. When I was around 7 or 8, I remembered seeing a Philippine flag of similar size with its plastic pole filled of tiny spherical candies in different colors. I used to buy those flags just for the sake of it. 

Mother Theresa had once said that "peace begins with a smile." Such a smile from this lady "Meri" (Tok Pisin) brings about a warm feeling and it was difficult not to smile back. 

Remember the days when we're toddlers? Friendships could form without even knowing when it started. It's easy enough to conclude that curiosity is what brings about an undeclared friendship among little children. And for adults? I think it's games and sports. The man in this photo is Graham. Although he was more adept in playing soccer, he had tried his best, in several occasions, and played basketball with us. I took this shot at the end of one of those games. 

Once or twice a year, we would find ourselves visiting our boss' house. They have this nice overview of the surroundings. I honestly think that it's a perfect location to observe how this country is growing forward from day to day.

An affordable pocket watch from City Pharmacy and a chess board that was on sale at RH Hypermart. Both can make a good combination in depicting time and action. No matter how crude it is, I think it will be a nice prop if one wants a shot about explaining the idea of Time Dilation in Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity.

The famous 1 Kina coin with a hole in the middle is seen floating here along with the other types of Papua New Guinea's currencies.

One thing worth nothing for in Papua New Guinea is that the eggs sold around here are produced in brown color. While some may argue that brown eggs contain more nutrients than white eggs, I seriously believe that they are both the same on the inside. 

While we occasionally encounter a decrease in water pressure at some point in a day, the water service in Port Moresby is excellent in providing water to its residents. 

Sometimes, even the little things of less significant value is an art to the beholder. A small thing I found lying on the ground after a downpour at Gordons.

Stove with multiple burners is a common thing to see in everyone's household particularly in expats' accommodations. This is probably due to the fact that most accommodations dedicated to expatriates are shared and that includes the things you find in the kitchen.

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