Thursday, 8 September 2016

Picnic in Pacific Adventist University

Our itinerary to Pacific Adventist University involves waking up early, sealing off our foods in a picnic bag and heading out to the route that usually traverses the vastness of Port Moresby’s uninhabited landscape under the shades of a dusky morning. The starting point of which antedates from what I regarded as a usual Saturday night dinner in our accommodation comprised of me and just a few co-workers.  I sometimes refer to this dinner as an impromptu congregation of sleepy managers.

Surprisingly, when someone asks, “Who wants to eat a sweet corn?” Almost everyone will cheerfully agree and will say “yes” to “Tara sa PAU.” (Let’s go to PAU)

True enough, the main reason as to why we find it enticing to visit PAU is due to the nature of their produce comprised primarily of fresh-from-the-garden vegetables, and of course, sweet corn. Before we move further to discussing the intricacies of measuring vegetable freshness, which is by the way, an interesting thing to do when a refractometer is at hand, let’s just go and check out the road to 14 Mile.

This is the entrance to PAU. If all goes well, you are sure to arrive here in just about 10 to 15 minutes of driving from Gordons. On quite a few occasions that I’ve been here, I have gotten used to counting the varying number of guards manning this gate. But for security reasons, this young blogger will choose to keep it a secret.  Upon reaching the gate, it is mandatory to roll down the car windows and inform the guards of your destination to which they will suggest cheerfully that you take the road on the right side.

Choose the “right” road and you’ll never get lost in PAU. Sounds right enough.

Floating in the air are dust particles perturbed by the sweeping motion of the passing vehicles. The road to the market area is paved but is yet to be cemented. While it’s too tempting to keep the windows open and let the morning breeze freshen us, the passengers of this undertaking, it is best to keep them closed if there are other vehicles in the lead that go to the same direction.

If the volume of the cars parked in this area can speak for itself, it would have told me that we had arrived a little too late. On the bright side, it was nice to know that a lot have come to visit PAU which is a good thing for the local community.

The drawback to arriving late is that all of the freshly harvested sweet corns for the day are already sold out by the time you have arrived. Anyway, here’s an interesting thing that I found in PAU. My guess is that, this is a station for washing vegetables. Those two circular shelves might be manually rotated by hands and the vegetables on them would go through the running water coming from that suspended hose.

I was actually observing how those automatic sprinklers were keeping the plantations irrigated but the sight of this gigantic yellow backhoe raising itself sideways and rolling one of its metal tracks at a time is an equally amusing sight to see. The technique is an apparent attempt by the driver to rid the machine of the hardened mud that got wedged in between crevices of the caterpillar tracks. It was a success, by the way.

Green leafy vegetables as well as edible flowers like the pumpkin flower in particular, are marketed here for a much lower price. For example, a pile of leafy sprouts tied in a bundle is sold for K1.

If the majority of people that go to PAU are aiming for sweet corn, I am more attracted to a big possibility that I can always find bitter gourd sprouts here. Well, not really always but if one has to rate its availability to some degree, I would say, it’s about ninety percent of the time.

Kaukau or kamote is K10 a pile. I can’t say if that’s a bargain but the pumpkin on the far side is only sold for K1 each. Recently, I have come across an easy way to eat pumpkins. The recipe is simple: slice it to smaller portions, remove the seeds, wash the slices, sprinkle with seasoning like salt and bake it in an oven until its texture becomes soft enough to eat.

Easy enough right?

This particular table has on it some necessary ingredients for making pinakbet. What’s pinakbet, you say?  

From Wikipedia 

Pinakbet (also called pakbet or pinak bet) is an indigenous Filipino dish from the northern regions of the Philippines. Pinakbet is made from mixed vegetables steamed in fish or shrimp sauce.[1] The word is the contracted form of the Ilokano word pinakebbet, meaning "shrunk" or "shriveled".[2] The original Ilocano pinakbet uses bagoong, of fermented monamon or other fish, for seasoning sauce, while further south, bagoong alamang is used. 

These are the typical vegetables that can be found in a Pinakbet recipe.  Photo Credits: Glorious Food Glossary) 

And here’s what a Pinakbet is supposed to be when it’s done. This is actually a Dinengdeng Sa Patis At Alamang by Luweeh’s Kitchen but the recipes and the way it is cooked is very much similar to pinakbet.  Photo Credits: Luweeh's Kitchen Tokyo

Here’s another variant of pumpkins found in PAU. Both of the elongated and the spherical in form are sold for the same price. There are also young coconuts that have been partially skinned.

When you’re done shopping vegetables, it is safe to assume that everyone is welcome to roam around the fields that belong to the school provided that one is keen on respecting the area. What I mean by that is that the visitors must at least know and maintain civility when visiting the place.

 It is not always that we can convince Levi to go with us on a picnic trip. He prefers to rest on Sundays.   But anyway, here he is, sitting on a bench that is close to a pond. I believe he was pointing at some birds flying around when I took this photo.

PAU is home to some naturally occurring wildlife and most of which are birds. In this photo are different diversities of life that have once co-existed with one another. This is the first time that I’ve seen a bird’s nest, a wasp’s nest and an ants’ nest being so close in proximity to each other in the same tree.

The bird’s and the wasp’s nest are abandoned. I’m assuming that, by some nature way, these three must have found themselves embroiled in a fierce battle against each other; and the ants had won in the end through their sheer number alone. 

The buildings around the school campus are usually bordered by big trees such as this.

These bush fowls skimming the area are a bit used to human presence. I tried and took a photo of them in a stalking manner: by that, I meant that I had closed-in the gap that extend from me to them by progressively switching between tiptoeing  and pausing like a statue until I got close enough to scare them away.

The place is so spacious and it’s easy enough to avoid bumping into each other. From not so far, our attention was attracted by a familiar scent. Perhaps Levi and I had a keen sense of smell, for when we looked for the source, we found ourselves looking at a huge tree and under which we also found these two bushes of Sampaguita.

Pinoy In PNG would like to specially give our thanks to these Sampaguita plants which had helped us greatly in locating this forlorn tree. It was a perfect place to eat the food that we have packed earlier.

Because of our unwavering commitment to keeping our environment clean, we have packed our food in food containers. We did not use disposable utensils that will contribute to pollution. We also brought our own water containers and a couple of drinking glasses.  They are all safely returned to the comforts of our home.

No tetra-packs or disposable plastic bottles were used in this picnic.


  1. hello mr glen. we also go there sometimes. -Rikk

  2. hi glen, You had a wonderful adventure at PAU it seems. Yes for quick meals, pumkin is cheap and quick, I love that.


    1. Hi Cedrick,

      Thanks. Yes we did enjoy that adventure. I love that the air is very clean around. :)


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