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Port Moresby-Worlds Worst City??

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I was Googling Port Moresby to learn more about the city and found this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/population/Story...1309839,00.html

It states that Port Moresby is the worlds worst city. I am passing through there on my way to Tufi. Has anyone who has been there had problems? I will be staying in the Airways hotel which sounds fairly safe. I do not plan to go out at night and doubt I will even try and leave the hotel.

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There's no need to leave the hotel. Besides, the food is excellent. I recall an amazing goat cheese and pumpkin wood fired pizza, and the rack of lamb was very tasty. It was hard to believe that I was in a country where some still wear feathers in their noses! There's a nice pool, too. Hope you don't have too long to be there, though. It can be deadly boring after a day.

Cheers,

Marli

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Moresby is indeed renowned as a dangerous place to wander around (especially at night) due to the gangs of young men (called "rascals") who come to the city from rural villages and discover that there's no work for them. The Airways hotel is probably the nicest place to hang out, so if you stay there you should be fine. We always hang out at the pool/restaurant of the Airways for a few hours on the way home when we have long layovers in Moresby (far nicer than the airport).

 

About the only place you might want to "see" while in Moresby is PNG Arts, which has the biggest collection of authentic masks and other crafts in the country. If you're going to be in Moresby during business hours, see about hiring a reliable ride at the hotel and make a stop there. They'll pack and ship stuff back to your home (takes a few months sometimes - I think they ship via outrigger canoe), so it's worth a stop.

 

BTW, a hotel alternative for your next trip is to stay at Loloata, an island resort about 20 minutes outside of town.

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Port Moresby is the armpit of the universe, but if you are passing through (no choice about that if you're going anywhere else in PNG) and have a day, the museum is spectacular. I think rockefeller money is behind it, one of (if not the) best collections of new guinean art and ethnological stuff in the world. The museum is near the Parliament. arrange a car with the hotel to take you there and wait - PM isn't a safe place to wander around even during the daytime, forget the night. but the musuem is well worth the trip.

 

Frogfish

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I spend a month in PNG every year. I usually stay at the Airways to and from. About the only excursions I make is to the botanical gardens and PNG Arts. Get a reliable cab and pay for them to wait for you. You don't want to wander around Port Moresby.

Once, a friend was driving me around the town and we stopped to look at some artwork along the sidewalk. A really sketchy crowd gathered around us that was unhealthy. My friend, a national, got us out of there quickly.

Use common sense and never leave the area of the hotel's armed compound at night.

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Wow Allison, looks like you spend 4 months in PNG every year. :)

I will have to differ from everyone here. I've spent 1.5 months in PM alone in one stretch and use to spend quite a bit of time in PNG when I was working in Oz.

I too have used the Airways, where many expats like to come on weekends to hangout. While things like carjackings happen like in many major cities, I also a bit of hyper exaggerated by the race sensitive expats.

My local friends take me for food around PM all the time. There's amazing malaysian food at restaurant 168 and there's even a decent chinese restaurant and pizza joint in Boroko.

Moresby is a tough city. I've had robbery attempts in Mt Hagen and Goroka, which were hilarious compared to the real robbers I had in Capetown. So basically use your common sense since you are a tourist and you're bound to stick out like a sore thumb.

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I see one problem with your post Drew. It says you "worked" in Oz...

 

I thought you just travelled around with your cameras. :D:D:)

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After having dove on Star Dancer and at some Walindi sites, we arrived in Port Moresby at the airport. We were whisked away by "Loloata" island resort and traveled on the outskirts of town when we arrived and when we left Loloata. Whilst we were traveling home back to Port Moresby our driver took us slowly through some areas that were devestatingly poor. People were living in crowded shack conditions, mostly shacks of corrogated tin on bare ground with no electric or water. We were told people from the villages such as the highlands and garoke will come to live and see if they can find a job in Port Moresby. These people have nothing but the clothes they have on, they become desparate for food, water and will commit crime to survive, if it were you, what would you do?

I've been to areas in South Africa where people have the same problem "Soweto"

To change a culture there is one person at a time - plus throw aids into the situation. Everyday I think about these areas, I know that I've been blessed to come from a country that values education, that has a gov't that is less corrupt than many other countries.

Iv'e been to the middle East and seen the living conditions on the Nile river for instance where people still live in mud huts, bare ground, no electric, riding donkeys if they are lucky.

If you are from western Europe or North America or Australia, as well as some other civilized places, you should thank God you aren't living in conditions like other countries have, and maybe you should help "one" person who isn't as fortunate as you.

My rant and my 2cents!

All the best,

Caymanaic

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...Whilst we were traveling home back to Port Moresby our driver took us slowly through some areas that were devestatingly poor. . . If you are from western Europe or North America or Australia, as well as some other civilized places, you should thank God you aren't living in conditions like other countries have, and maybe you should help "one" person who isn't as fortunate as you. 

 

You raise a valid point. While it is reasonable as travelers to exercise caution in dangerous places (like Port Moresby), the danger itself often reflects the dire circumstances of local residents. We are lucky indeed, to even be in a position where our discretionary travel allows us to discuss going half a world away to enjoy our hobby/passion.

 

I've read ten or eleven books on PNG culture, history, etc., and its culture is IMHO somewhat uniquely "disfunctional." Many of the old cultural ways that worked reasonably well among isolated clans with limited contact/dealings with other clans a century ago do NOT work well in the modern world, and actually inhibit "progress" and natives' ability to productively adapt to modern life (in many ways, they'd have been better off if PNG had never been "discovered"). To mention just a few examples:

 

1) Traditional separation of responsibility between men and women (men being hunter/gatherers, women being gardeners and keepers of the home) worked well when there was actually game to hunt. Now, with little to hunt, many of the men still refuse to do "women's work", so the women still work terribly hard, while men sit on street corners chewing beetlenut with their buddies...

 

2) The traditional sense of clan, and distrust (often bordering on hatred) of other clans, makes cooperative work environments difficult. When someone elected to office fires his subordinates to replace them with "wantok" (people from his clan who speak the same language, or "one talk"), whether his clansmen are qualified or not, it is little wonder that getting things done is difficult.

 

The multitude of clans now represented in Moresby and some other cities (by youth drawn there from rural villages) may be gradually breaking down the "clan-centric" obsessiveness, but it will be a slow process, and it is hard to imagine a company like Coca-Cola opening a big plant or factory anytime soon to employ 1,000 people (from 100 different clans) and having it function in any reasonable semblance of order.

 

3) The age-old sense of the importance of equivalence/fairness in trade/retribution has evolved into an absurd system of "payback", in which a traffic accident could put your life in danger from clan members of anyone you may have hurt.

 

4) Disease (most obviously malaria, but also numerous others that have been eradicated in most civilized countries) has a decimating ongoing effect on both nationals (natives) and outsiders who might otherwise be inclined to develop business enterprises in PNG.

 

Some of these issues (e.g., disease) may be helped by outside aid and assistance (a huge part of PNG's GDP is already foreign aid from Australia), but some are cultural issues for which it is hard to envision realistic solutions.

 

In that discouraging context, it is heartening to see dive operators with conscience - Alan Raabe of MV Febrina, Max Benjamin of Walindi and Rob Vanderloos of Chertan come to mind - making a concerted effort to help their employees, as well as local nationals in the areas in which they operate, improve their situations. As Caymaniac mentioned, even if all we can do is help one person at a time...

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post-1734-1124331841_thumb.jpgpost-1734-1124332399_thumb.jpgpost-1734-1124331841_thumb.jpg14440_1123266242_File0081.jpg

You raise a valid point. While it is reasonable as travelers to exercise caution in dangerous places (like Port Moresby), the danger itself often reflects the dire circumstances of local residents.  We are lucky indeed, to even be in a position where our discretionary travel allows us to discuss going half a world away to enjoy our hobby/passion. 

 

  To mention just a few examples:

 

1) Traditional separation of responsibility between men and women (men being hunter/gatherers, women being gardeners and keepers of the home) worked well when there was actually game to hunt.  Now, with little to hunt, many of the men still refuse to do "women's work", so the women still work terribly hard, while men sit on street corners chewing beetlenut with their buddies...

 

2) The traditional sense of clan, and distrust (often bordering on hatred) of other clans, makes cooperative work environments difficult.  When someone elected to office fires his subordinates to replace them with "wantok" (people from his clan who speak the same language, or "one talk"), whether his clansmen are qualified or not, it is little wonder that getting things done is difficult. 

 

The multitude of clans now represented in Moresby and some other cities (by youth drawn there from rural villages) may be gradually breaking down the "clan-centric" obsessiveness, but it will be a slow process, and it is hard to imagine a company like Coca-Cola opening a big plant or factory anytime soon to employ 1,000 people (from 100 different clans) and having it function in any reasonable semblance of order.

 

3) The age-old sense of the importance of equivalence/fairness in trade/retribution has evolved into an absurd system of "payback", in which a traffic accident could put your life in danger from clan members of anyone you may have hurt.

 

4) Disease (most obviously malaria, but also numerous others that have been eradicated in most civilized countries) has a decimating ongoing effect on both nationals (natives) and outsiders who might otherwise be inclined to develop business enterprises in PNG.

 

Some of these issues (e.g., disease) may be helped by outside aid and assistance (a huge part of PNG's GDP is already foreign aid from Australia), but some are cultural issues for which it is hard to envision realistic solutions.

 

In that discouraging context, it is heartening to see dive operators with conscience - Alan Raabe of MV Febrina, Max Benjamin of Walindi and Rob Vanderloos of Chertan come to mind - making a concerted effort to help their employees, as well as local nationals in the areas in which they operate, improve their situations.  As Caymaniac mentioned, even if all we can do is help one person at a time...

 

Your examples are excellent, I personally saw that Max was trying to help. A credit to those who have noticed other people.

 

All the best,

Caymaniac

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I agree. The problems in PNG are complex and there are some excellent points made. The best description which helps put some of the issues into perspective is that it's akin to "Stone Age meets the Internet". We saw first hand how even foreign aid without real research into the problem does not work. As teachers, we asked to be taken to a village school: the teacher had heard we were nearby, and came to talk to us about getting resources. In the village, they can only afford to teach two grades, so many children get a sporadic education at best. The Aussie government, with the best of intention, sends masses of pencils and blank exercise books, but there are no other books. Getting anything heavy, like textbooks, to PNG, costs a fortune that they don't have. "Implementation" of the "new" education system had been going on for nearly 10 years, and obviously wasn't working. The teacher is assigned to a village school, where a different language is spoken than their own. The children are also supposed to learn to speak English and the village dialect, which of course the teacher doesn't speak. It all ends up in a bit of a mish mash of words and expressions, and few become fluent in any language. Sadly, the younger children were given beetlenut to keep them "calm". The owners of the resort we stayed at employed the locals, and made a real effort to support them in whatever way was practical. The isolation, lack of infrastructure, and misconception that Moresby has jobs and therefore a potential future for the young men that move there add to the instability. PNG needs a huge influx of cash to create a basic infrastructure and improve the education system, like so many countries in the world. The problem is, as in so many countries, where does the money really end up?

And yes, we should feel blessed to have so much. Most of us have no idea how many of the world's citizens have to live.

Cheers,

Marli

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Thanks everyone for your thoughtful replies...

 

Port Moresby is indeed in bad shape.

 

We spent a day in Port Moresby and week at Tufi which had phenomenal diving and some really outstanding opportunities to interact with the local culture.

I also experienced the Airways hotel which is a pretty nice place and had the fortune to meet a high ranking Australian diplomat who invited us to his house for dinner. This required a drive across the entire city at night which was a trip I will not soon forget. Being an ER doctor at a busy trauma center, I am used to seeing people who have been severely injured but nearly getting caught in a shooting in the middle of the city and seeing a poor guy lying on the side of the road in a pool of blood was really eye opening. the gang of angry locals and truckload of heavily armed police there was surreal.

 

Port Moresby was not representative of what I witnessed on the coast but there are other areas such as the highlands that are also pretty dangerous. All of this being said, the country has spectacular beauty, unspoiled reefs, and the experience of flying low over the Owen Stanley mountains in a 50 year old Twin Otter and over the pristine blue waters of the Solomon Sea was amazing.

 

I can't wait to go back.

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