Tuesday, 24 January 2017

It’s 2017, A New Beginning

This coming first of April, I will mark my 6th year anniversary in Port Moresby. It’s still a long way to go but I kind of observe that time flies so fast in Papua New Guinea. Right now, I may be thinking that I’m still young but the next time I bring a topic similar to this; I might be in my 50’s.

Anyway, it’s 2017. So many years have come to pass and with the new contract that I’ve signed on, I’m looking at another three years of endeavor which I am hoping to be, if not as fruitful, as joyful at least. Despite the wonderful experiences, I’m still pondering on the thought that everything here is just temporary and that life back home will pick up again once I decided to go back for good.

But until then, I’ll try and live life to the fullest but as decent as possible and with hopes to continue sharing the experiences that I’m having in this country.

Here’s a PABX system that I installed in my bedroom, with PABX being a Personal Alarm w/ Blinking Xmas-like-lights.

Just kidding.

PABX means Private Automatic Branch Exchange. The purpose of which, for example, is to allow people living or taking office in the same house or building to be able to make calls to each other without the need of a telephone company service.

But on top of that, I actually use it as my alarm clock with the help of someone whom I put my trust to ring me in the morning for breakfast.

My PABX can accept three external lines and can have 8 extension numbers. The router-like device at the back is a GSM-modem from Digicel which you can get from any of their offices here in POM. Basically, it can allow an analog phone to make calls if connected to its telephone auxiliary port.

The antenna in the front is for the GSM-modem that's using a BMOBILE SIM. It too, can allow calls under the same idea. Both of these modems and a Telikom landline are connected to the PABX’s three CO lines so we can also receive and make outgoing calls aside from it being just an intercom device.

The area in which I needed to run the UTP cables is with several buildings built next to each other. In PNG, the sun can get really hot and even a limited exposure to the sun may cause minor sunburns. It’s a good thing that I have arranged for the warehouse staffs to come and help.

They say that two heads are better than one; I say that eight arms are more effective than two.

As soon as the telephone cables were laid down, I went on to do the connection. The endpoint to which all of the connections should meet must be in some type of enclosure for protection. Luckily, I found an unused power socket attached to a wall and placed all the convening wires there and had it covered for neatness sake.

And here’s the fruit of labour.  I asked one of the company drivers to get us cold drinks and some bread after. That set me back about K50 kina but it’s worth it.  We finished the job before noon.

While going in one of the busy roads in Port Moresby, we drove past this commotion that was happening on the roadside. I was not able to get a clearer photo but it looked like there was a minor road mishap involving this car.

I believe the problem was quickly settled down and did not cause too much for concern, but I still find it amazing how pedestrians could quickly amass into a big crowd when incidents like this happen in Papua New Guinea.

Last week, a power box belonging to a power company has short-circuited and caused a few shops in the area to lose power for a day. The reason for which is believed to have largely been due to the continuous rainfall this city has received during the last few days. Here, workers from the power company came to clean the box and prepared it for restoration.  The next day, it was all done and the power was restored to the shops around.

Thumbs up for the good work guys.

During our off days, it was nice to go around the city and visit places. If you’re fine with it, you can visit second hand shops and get lucky with finding branded clothing being sold for a fraction of whatever its original price were. This particular shop is called Labels and they got a lot of pretty decent hand-me-down clothing.

Second hand shops also sell almost anything you may ever want. Well, not really everything, but most of the relevant to it. For example, you can find from them branded bags, books, toys and bed covers.

Although I’m not a fan of second hand shops, we do come here whenever there’s a window of opportunity. A few of my bags are bought from here. 

The tall building behind the welcome billboard is the Stanley Hotel. This is one of the newest hotels in Port Moresby. It’s just standing next to RH Vision City and people can actually walk back and forth the two buildings through a special area.

Oh by the way, the gentlemen on the welcome banner are, the Minister for Sports, Hon. Justin Tkatchenko,  the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the Governor of NCD, Hon. Powes Parkop.

Here’s what the Stanley Hotel looks like in the night. I’m guessing that the rooms with the lights on are the only ones occupied by the guests.

We came here by way of this small, but pretty neat company car. The parking space in Stanley Hotel is enough to accommodate more than twenty cars on this area alone. I saw some curved entrance near the parking area that led to a basement which was probably another space devoted to the same purpose.

This hotel is really nice in the inside. It sure felt like we were in those big and expensive hotels back in Philippines. They also have these escalators that go up to the second level. Last year, Port Moresby was the chosen location to hold the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Most of the international players from other countries have checked in to this hotel.

I can only imagine how busy these escalators were throughout their stay.

For some reason, I love going to hotels even though I can only count in my fingers the number of times I had actually booked in one. Here’s the hallway after the entrance. There are quite a number of things that are nice to see in Stanley Hotel.

Two of which are a shiny floor and the intricate designs on the walls.

The pillars that stood in the restaurant are gigantic and they seem to dwarf the chairs around.  The restaurant offers a buffet for about K90 but if you're not up for it, you can order your own choice of meal 

The reason being that we went here was just to have a look at the place. Being a practical man that I am, we just ordered this beef burger with ground black beans and chips for less than K60. The potato chips are sliced thinly and when foods are sliced this way, it is for the fact that thin slices get cooked in just a short while.

I don’t really declare things much but I can honestly say that this beef burger is the finest beef burger that I've had in Port Moresby thus far.  In General, beef burgers have a distinctive aromatic scent and to discern whether it's a factor for inducing hunger is up to everyone's personal preference. 

I like it when the scent is not too strong.

And here, once again, is our friendly co-worker, kuya Levi , who gave out a Monaliza smile when I said “cheese!”

Monday, 16 January 2017

Camping at Koitaki Country Club (Part 2)

The first part of my post about our Koitaki Country Club camping trip was just enough to show most of the pictures that I took there during the first day; and I did not want to bore you with too many pictures shown at once in a single post. Hence, I decided to write a part 2 of what went on in the second day of the trip.

This scene is what greeted me the next day. I had actually woken up in the wee hours with a slight feeling of being cold from the cool breeze that usually results to a build-up of mountain dew. The thing I did not bother to bring was my favorite blanket, which was actually not necessary because my tent has a door cover that I could zip up in case the weather got really colder.

I did zip it up and slept like a log.

In the early morning, crows flying back and forth with their loud callings loitered the place. I thought that it would be nice to record a video of them flying around while the crickets fine-tune the hum of their peculiar chirping sound in the background. 

The next day, we still have a lot of firewood left for cooking. The person in the red shirt was chopping firewood into smaller sizes to make it easier to start a fire. Others just stood there in admiration of what I can say an impressive display of Boy Scout skill. 

The morning dew has moistened the firewood, making it difficult to burn. But this guy is not backing down that easily and in a couple of minutes later, he seemed evidently happy to have made the fire.

Great! Now, if I could only find where I kept my 3 in 1 coffee.

Cess boiled a pitcher of drinking water and Malou poured in 3-in-1 coffee to the cups. Some were still asleep in their tents but I reckoned I would much rather rise up early to witness sunrise from this hill. If I get lucky, I might get to see a nocturnal animal retreating from an overnight spree.

While the sun has not risen up yet, the misty fog enjoyed the liberty to emblazon the horizon with blinding spectacle, stretching from where I stood and far beyond those mountains. You can see that the fog has made things less visible.  On times like these, an air traffic controller will divert incoming airplanes to the nearest airport or advise them to stay aloft until it is clear to land.

Or before they run out of aviation gas.

These tiny mounds are probably an ant nest. It’s a good thing to examine the grounds properly before setting up the tent, because the last thing we ever want to see in the tent is an army of crawling angry ants.

Cess and Malou prepared something more appropriate for breakfast. I helped by grilling up the eggplants which would be made to tortang talong later on. We had some leftovers from last night and Cess had fried them after the eggs were done. Everyone ate his or her share of breakfast in silence without qualms, I guess that’s because it's either the foods tasted great or it was just the morning dizziness.

Here’s Paul showing me a big bug he got out from his tent. I’m not sure if it was a giant mosquito or just a mayfly, but it’s an interesting bug to see. Actually, all bugs are an interesting sight to see.

As long as they remain tiny.

After having our breakfast, we went down to see the restaurant. I looked back and took one last shot of our camping spot. It’s nice to see how surprisingly small our tents were from afar. By the way, it’s a lot easier to walk down than to climb up. And if there’s some kind of an empty drum, I would so much like to lie down in it and ask someone to roll it down the hill.

Just kidding.

Here’s Malou with some kids. The restaurant has some washrooms where the guests can freshen up. You’d be allowed to take a bath if you wanted to, but I opted not to and did that in the house a few hours later.

There is a large pool at the back of the restaurant. I noticed that nobody was taking a dip. It was probably due to the warning sign that said, “Sharks have been spotted in this pool, they come out when they smell pee.”


The restaurant has a distinctive ambiance like that of a ranch and it looks wider from the inside. Even if you come with a busload of people, there is still enough space for everyone.

In one corner, this sign says, “Captain’s Corner.” I’m not sure what that means but this table is probably reserved to someone worthy of the Captain status.

As in Captain Hook, Captain America or Captain Barbell.

There are many tables in the lobby and there are some tables in the enclosed area as well. I believe that the ashtray on the table offers an obvious hint that this specific area in the restaurant is cut out for guests with smoking habits.

The foods are listed on the menu in this corner. The T-Bone Steak is around $25.00 USD. It’s a bit pricey for an average earner like me but it’s worth the price for all these amenities. On a side note, food servings in Papua New Guinea are generally more than enough for one’s regular consumption.

Although secluded, there is a mobile phone signal in Koitaki. In fact, we never had problems with uploading our photos from last night. There’s a large satellite antenna sitting outside near the restaurant but I’m not sure what was that for.

I guess I must upgrade my ability to ask.

If you’re not wary of horseback riding, like I do, you can try and ride one of these horses for free. If it’s your first time, you can say that to these staffs and they will guide you accordingly. Here’s Cess’ daughter being lectured on by one of the staffs as they prepare for a galloping-ride around the meadow.

My late uncle Alex used to have three horses in his A & J Farm, where I worked for a very long time. Compared to these, his horses were smaller and skinnier. We used to ride those horses around the farm. When he learned later that the horses were getting thinner from malnutrition, he sold them out immediately. A move that, I believe, was wise since nobody from us knew how to properly care for a horse.

Horseback riding is a fun activity because it somehow lets you experience one of the oldest mode of transportation known to humankind. Equestrianism is the proper term for horseback riding and people have been in this practice since 3,000 BC.

On the way home, there is an open market near the Koitaki Country Club. We stopped by and bought some fresh vegetables. I bought some Ampalaya sprouts and some other things that I already forgot. 

It’s a good thing to buy from them not only for the reason that they sell fresh-from-the-farm produce but also for the fact that it supports their livelihood.

That’s all for our camping trip. Until next time!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Camping at Koitaki Country Club (Part 1)

Camping is best done together with our family, but if we don’t have our immediate family to share this refreshing outdoor activity with, our closest friends or fellow OFW’s will do just fine.

Koitaki Country Club is the only place that I know of in Papua New Guinea where an expat can spend a night out in a tent and enjoy the feeling of being in one with nature and become temporarily disconnected from our  usual busy lives.  The photo of me above is taken in one of the open fields in the areas within the club.

Except for the car on the far left, all of these vehicles are from our group. I went with the grey SUV on the left. Our belongings have made up most of the space in it thus, we were left with a very little legroom to wiggle around. Some of the Filipinos that I went with were cracking jokes all the time during the entire trip and it somehow made the occasional bumpy roads less noticeable. The establishment behind is the restaurant with a balcony overlooking the entire fields.

This is the pathway going out to the gates. Back in my younger days in the Philippines, we used to play baseball in an open field like this in the afternoon; looking at this picturesque view seemed to remind me of those days. If your place has this kind of road, you wouldn’t want to walk on these during the summer or the rainy seasons. It might get dusty if it was totally dried out by the summer heat or muddy during a heavy rain.

If you remember a scene from The Terminator 2, where the "Liquid Metal" robot was poured all over with liquid nitrogen, his feet were sticking onto the road as he walked over to the T1000 robot, which was played by the younger version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. From that scene, one can probably surmise the difficulty of keeping up a regular pace while walking on a muddy terrain.

Here’s an interesting billboard that you won’t miss to see if you happen to walk up to the restaurant. It has all the reminders that a first-timer guest should know for one’s safety and what’s not to do.

There’s a pond in the middle which is probably man-made to encourage the arrival of wild birds. Walking over the bridge are my friends from a different workplace. That pond bridge is nice, but I reckon it would look nicer with people waking over it so I stayed behind and snapped this photo just when they’re about to cross it.

The three colourful houses on the far right are the guesthouses. You can stay in one of those for K250 or K350; that’s about $79 and $110 US dollars. We were on a camping trip so we didn’t take one except for these friendly couple in the picture who booked one for an overnight stay because they tagged along their children with them.

Our camping spot is up the hill behind the houses.

This particular camping spot that we chose was on  top of the hill. The dusk was fast approaching so we hurriedly unpacked our things. This bag is mine and I only put emergency things in there like a bug spray, toiletries and a solar rechargeable lamp. I also brought the tent that I wrote about in one of my post last year. The green thing is a yoga mat. I figured it was more practical to bring one than an inflatable bed.

But it was not as comfortable.

The tent with a blue and orange colour is mine. It was super-easy to setup, all I need was to pull some strings up and it was standing on its own. I got this from a bargain sale at City Pharmacy for only $14 USD. The couple in the middle is Paul and Cess and they were setting up their own tent, which was really bigger. Unlike mine, their tent has an extra space for visitors apart from a private room.

Hmn, visitors, that I didn’t expect.

The management of KCC was thoughtful enough to consider placing a picnic table on top of this hill. It was a nice gesture. Just a suggestion to the management from this young blogger, I think that it’s also nice if there's a big umbrella or a shade of some sort to shield our foods from rain if it happens suddenly. But anyway, this table and the fireplace nearby are of the trivial things I am thankful to have around.

Thanks to the Koitaki Country Club management.

We camped nearby these two cylindrical water tanks. Here’s Cess preparing to cook our dinner on the designated fireplace. The people at the back are OFW’s from a sister company where Cess is working at. I think that another important aspect of camping is being able to experience cooking food in a primitive way. Here, the management has supplied us with firewood for a minimal price.

It’s fun cooking foods this way if you don’t mind the billowing smoke going to your direction every once in a while.

All of our tents were standing before the sun has set.  I was expecting the temperature to be cold but that wasn’t until dawn. But generally, it was slightly less warm in Koitaki than it is in POM proper. It was probably because of the higher winds that were constantly sweeping by the mountain skies.

On the few selected locations are these solar lamps mounted on a movable pole. It provides enough light for a certain area only, say, a good 2 meter radius underneath. We were given two but only one lighted up by itself when darkness came. 

The most economical application of solar power by far is through streetlights. I like the idea of having my own solar lamppost someday.

Just before the sun has set, we took the time to grill up pork meat and hotdogs. These would be added to our menu for the night. 

Someone from our group was kind enough to bring a hammock and attached it in between these trees. It looked nice from where I was sitting at because it seemed to complement the sun setting down from the horizon.

I swung my camera around and found two pairs of horses grazing around. If it were not for the houses nearby, it was easy to imagine that we were in some kind of paradise, with all those wild animals roaming around freely.

To give you an idea of how high this hill is, this is what the houses looked like from the top.

Before the night fell, I went down to see the other sites in the club. I ended up standing before a seasoned picnic table in between an old tree and a solar lamppost.  I kind of envision this area as a perfect place, aside from the comfort of our bed, to skim through the pages of an X-men comic.

X-men? Yeah, I know, I’m old.

When the night came, a blanket of total darkness covered the place. I switched on my solar power lamp to see how my tent would look like from the outside. The skies didn’t yield many stars on that night and judging from the amount of humidity, it felt as though a rain would come.

That begs a question, how does one know if it's going to rain without looking at the clouds? Long ago, I’ve read somewhere that if you can smell the scent of a flower from a distance, there’s a good chance it will rain.

I had smelled our dinner from my tent.

Here’s Jake, Malou, Cess and I. While the others were sitting next to the table, we were seated at the back of Paul’s pick up truck because the table could only accommodate so much. It did rain a little but disappeared quickly.  The night was filled with laughter from the funny stories everyone was sharing.

As the night grew deeper, we began to pipe down a little. The fireplace gave off waves of heat, keeping us warm from the slowly falling temperature. The firewood burned off slowly and we decided we’d just let it burn to discourage snakes that may happen to come around.

Here’s what the inside of my tent looked like in the night. At 9:30pm, I was already feeling sleepy. Perhaps because I was a bit tired from the office or because the sight of my tent was inviting. I told them I’d hit the sack and went straight to my tent. To keep my tent ventilated, I let the door open but kept the mesh on to prevent mosquitoes from coming in.

These are all about what we did on our first day in Koitaki Country Club. On the next post, I’ll continue about what we did on the next day.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...