An Afternoon Stroll On New Year’s Day

Seagulls on the beach…

I did something different on New Year’s Day – 1st January, 2012. I walked the length of the Esplanade in Cairns, Australia where my family resides.

My first walk of the year you might say. Quite exhilarating.

‘A penny for your thoughts…’ – in a reflective mood.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon and dusk was approaching fast when I took the long walk past the marina, lovely lush green trees and lawns, people fishing and jogging and others just enjoying the peace of the 1st day of 2012.

A drink in the cool of the afternoon.

I took photos along the way which I always do wherever I go because you never know what your camera can capture.  The light is the big thing with taking photos – anytime, anywhere. So this walk was no exception.

Part of the marina…

I took in the sights and sounds of the seafront as I strolled along the cemented walkway.  I guess my photos will remind me of those captive personal moments. It was a spur of the moment decision and I was glad I did make the decision to walk. Don’t do that in Port Moresby – a pity really but nevermind.

Looking out at the boats moored at the marina.

A walk is a great way to reflect and this being the first day of the new year, 2012, I thought about possible resolutions that I can adopt. I wanted to be as realistic about these resolutions and that is difficult to fathom sometimes because each day is different. Besides implementing the resolutions is something else. One has to be committed and really be honest about what is real and what is perceived in terms of setting the resolutions in the first place. Well, a reflective walk in my humble opinion is an excellent start.

Fishing on New Year’s Day – that’s a first for me. Didn’t see anyone haul in catch.

I thought of the year that has just passed, 2011, and realised how fortunate I am to be able to fly to Cairns and spend time with my family and also to get some much needed relaxation.

Wish I could do this at Ela Beach.

That’s not to say that my corner of Port Moresby isn’t up to the task of being a relaxing place but sometimes a change of scene – to get away physically and go to another place is just the tonic one needs to recharge one’s batteries. Also looking back I acknowledge how much life has changed or is it I that has changed much?  I think both but under different circumstances throughout the  year 2011. One thing I was sure of and that was the 2012 is going to be a really great year on many fronts – I could feel it in my spirit.

Reminded me of the Catalina planes that used to land on the sea near Samarai Island in the 1960s to pick up and drop off passengers. We called them ‘sea planes’.

We don’t realise that our lives, and we only have one, are so tied up in what we call work or our ‘day jobs’ that often times we forget that parts of us die a natural death everyday because we neglect those parts. We need to air them out every now and then starting with our minds.

I was fortunate to capture this. I was hoping I’d be able to take an interesting shot and sure enough here it is – the seagull on take off…

What are these parts of us? These parts are the more spiritual aspects of our lives or us such as company, laughter, pleasure from walking, views of places we think we know but we don’t and so on. It is only when we stop to take in the views, the features that we miss that familiar things take on a totally different meaning – it’s like we are seeing them for the first time.

The sea was not too choppy for these guys in this dinghy, I think.  Took my mind back to life in the islands of Milne Bay.

Take time to think about the people we live with, interact with, work with etc and what happens is that we suddenly see them in a different light – we suddenly find the parts of their lives we can connect with. This is that opportunity for realisation that no man/woman is an island. I promised myself to do this – to see each person I meet as a blessing and likewise.

Diehard fisherman in the setting sun over Cairns, Australia.

I began to think about my family and the things I need to do to connect with them this year. Of course, as you and I know, somethings are easier said than done.

But without falling into a cliched existence one must make the effort to make things happen such as finding the parts of our lives that have fallen through the cracks, fish them out and dust them and give them a brand new lease on life so that we can focus on the progressive and add value to our own and others’ lives.

The rays of the sunset behind the tall buildings creating a silhouette – some call these kind of rays ‘the fingers of God’.

On my way back to the poolside and the families who were gathered there to celebrate the first day of 2012, I stopped by a sweets and icecream shop and shamelessly indulged my sweet tooth with some creamy delectable morsels.

Irrestible meringue with vanilla icecream and cream…it disappeared so fast I actually contemplated a second one – devil!

There were others who stopped by this icecream oasis to indulge their sweet tooth too. 

It was so peaceful and private to just sit there and enjoy something without gawking eyes,  flies and dust.  

I had tea and thought about growing up on my beautiful island home in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. We used to have to clear the breakfast plates so fast on New Year’s day in the 1960s because we need to identify  places in and outside the house to hide in as it would be ‘dui’ time when it’s high tide and the men would run into all the houses looking for women and girls and carry them kicking and screaming down to the gelegele (beach) then throw them into the swimming pool. This is a natural sea water pool near the jetty.

This was absolutely delish, I practically inhaled it! It was that goooood…

We also used to have all the cake, scones, buns and fresh bread we wanted on New Year’s day as we would have been baking on New Year’s Eve ensuring that we had everything baked before midnight.

At midnight, 12 sharp, the noise levels would be defeaning as people beat saucepans, drums and anything that could make the loudest noise to herald in the new year.

We would run down to the beach to light the ‘osiri’ (dried coconut leaves). Against the dark skyline, the lit and flaming osiri on the beaches of neighbouring islands and the mainland was a sight to behold. Am not sure if the lighting of the osiri is still practiced on New Year’s Eve annually now.

Beautiful tree lined walk…

I had never had the misfortune (fortune) to be carried out kicking and screaming to be thrown into the pool. There were loads of laughter and fun when this happened and everyone always embellished their own experiences.

Looking back on those days, what a journey I’ve made – this is the 21st Century and I am in a foreign land and the place is very quiet. Almost forgotten ‘dui’ time.

Peaceful…

I find so  much pleasure in taking photos of the things I come across on my walks or trips to various place within and outside PNG. It helps me to remember the memorable moments in my life then later to sit and re-live the experiences when I feel like I need a pick me up. This is why I carry my camera everywhere I go even if I was just going somewhere close. I don’t want to miss a thing.

The ‘Lagoon’ in the heart of the city of Cairns, Australia. A haven for water lovers of all ages. The fish sculptures are amazing.

My pictures tell a story about one special moment or moments that make up that unique experience for me.

Children of all ages in the pool. They were there when I left and still there when I returned. Could have been a good place to initiate ‘dui’ time, not!

The children were still in the pool when I returned from my walk. I also ran into two people were looked really familiar – one of them was a school mate whom I have not seen since we left high school in Milne Bay – now that would be over 30 years! 

I felt so blessed and free.

Village Huts Has Gone Online!

Sign at the Gateway Hotel, Port Moresby on the launching of their website.

I was a guest of the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) at the Gateway Hotel in Port Moresby on Thursday evening, 22nd March, 2012 to witness the formal launch of the website for Village Huts. A good number of guests attended the launching  as well as members of the TPA Board including the Deputy Chairman of the Board and the CEO Mr Peter Vincent and TPA staff and media representatives.

Countdown...the Deputy Chairman of the PNGTPA Board 'launching' the website.

From what I gathered at the launching, Village Huts is a small team of big thinkers who are doing a brilliant job in amassing information on ‘village guesthouses’ and accommodation throughout Papua New Guinea that will suit any budget but mostly for backpackers and others wanting to conquer new territories in their quest for adventure on a shoe-string budget.

So far they have gathered information for 80 guesthouses and the challenge now is for us to find others to add to this growing list no doubt. The aim is to get to 200 if possible. The website and the database are certainly going to place PNG at the top of the list for budget accommodation in the Pacific Islands.

I was amazed at the many places the owners of VillageHuts.com were able to cover. The photos of places the team visited were absolutely awesome.  The guesthouses found in PNG according to the photos come in different shapes and sizes but no doubt they are now in the public domain not within PNG only but on cyber space for the whole world to see.

Village Huts has built and will continue to build a nationwide database with information on budget accommodation in PNG, that will be current, reliable, certified by world standards and community-based.  For the adventurous in heart, the possibilities now for finding information about accommodation in PNG has got easier with innovative approaches such as Village Huts.

Fear not, for there is sufficient and affordable room in PNG!

Some of us who joined TPA for the launch of VillageHuts.com. From left to right...Air Niugini, PNG Dive Assoc., yours truly, Art Stret Gallery and a friend from the Land of the Long White Cloud...

This is another amazing journey for those who dare to be innovative and are not afraid to scale the heights for success, all in service for mankind. Thank you Village Huts for discovering the best in PNG and are creating awareness for a country that has a lot to offer for tourism.

I truly believe that if we make travel possible for ourselves within PNG, other people will look at us through this lens as well. My 10 points this week go to TPA for a great product and for putting PNG squarely on the map for budget accommodation.

I guess we are not far off from adding home-stays and the development of our own brand of B & Bs (bed and breakfast) and more affordable tourist accommodation in PNG. Bring it on!

Perhaps we can develop a game called ‘find a guesthouse’ and as we find one whether in a remote village or in a small town we can add it to the growing list that Village Huts has been building for us.

A celebration of yet another feather in PNGTPA's cap. Well done!

Congratulatons Village Huts and TPA for another inspiring development in PNG  tourism!

Eating Spirally Curly-licious Things

An action shot! spaghetti bolognese (bolognaise) in mid-flight to the mouth.

I had dinner with a colleague last week at the Crowne Plaza Cafe in Port Moresby when we feasted on spaghetti bolognese. For me this was the Cafe’s top offer of the evening! But obviously am biased because I enjoyed the dish so much. The spaghetti was cooked to perfection and the bolognese sauce was beautifully seasoned. I’ve never enjoyed the dish as much as I did then.

I first tasted spaghetti bolognese, Italy’s great culinary gift to the world – actually cooked and ate it at Cameron High School many many many moons ago when the high school had it’s first ever open day. Parents, guardians and the whole new township of Alotau was invited to the event. I couldn’t remember anything else on that day except for loads of people and our cooking group trying to get the spaghetti cooked right and the sauce well-seasoned under the hawke-eyed supervision of our Aussie-Italian teacher who shall be called Mr A.

That was the first time any of us girls had ever heard of the beige coloured long brittle sticks like spikes on a stonefish only longer and slightly thicker and the meaty sauce that went with it plus on top of that a near impossibility trying to pronounce the name of the dish! Mostly we giggled when asked what it was which  meant that the onus was on Mr A to pronounce the name of the dish. Am sure he must have been mighty ticked off by that but he never showed it only glad that we cooked it according to his liking and, sold out in no time.

We were amazed at how pliable these ‘spikes’ became when dipped into hot salted boiling water and after about 10 or so minutes in the pot they came out looking wobbly and spirally which meant they were cooked. On their own, the spaghetti tasted like nothing we’d ever tasted before. Come to think of it now, the spaghetti tasted like wet flour – almost tasteless. The meaty sauce made a world of difference to the taste of the the complete dish. At that time, to a Milne Bay lass,  anything cooked without coconut cream must taste gross.

The sauce was made up of pounds of well-seasoned mince meat ala Mr A.  As I remembered the dish was a hit with everyone and soon we ran out of it. This was a great reward. Running out of this foreign -sounding dish with a foreign sounding name was amazing.

Am sure we sold out because people must have gone for this funny looking funny sounding dish for the novelty of it or perhaps because they were simply hungry. In any case we sold out which was everyone’s goal for the open day especially for those students involved in cooking and selling cooked food.  Maybe we sold out because all the teachers and some of the expat workers from Alotau town  ordered our spaghetti bolognese. There was a big expat community in Alotau and our teachers were mostly Australian.

I think one of the weirdest things I remembered about the dish at high school was that we couldn’t eat the spaghetti bolognese with a spoon! None of us at that age (13 and 14 year olds) had mastered the delicate art of eating with a fork. So who got the last laugh – I bet it was Mr A – our cooking supervisor! And oh, he wasn’t the Home Economics teacher just an Italian with a passion for spaghetti bolognese that underpinned his passion for teaching and hence we benefited from his spaghetti bolognese-making expertise. I am eternally grateful for this bit of non-curricula lesson.

Delizioso!

That high school open day cooking experience had awakened the unstoppable inner culinary adventurer inside of me and now I look forward to tasting new dishes and cuisine wherever I found myself in a new country  or a new place even here in PNG.

Thank you Mr A for adding to my list of the weird, wonderful and strange sounding strange tasting dishes, the awesome spaghetti bolognese.

Samarai Island: Once A District Nerve-Centre

The south side of Samarai Island. The sight of a lone man in his canoe – still the main mode of transport for many people in these islands.

It was a short trip to Samarai from Doini Island – less than 30 minutes. I had never seen the island from this side before.

The Kwato Mission boats, MV Osiri and MV Labini would berth here some Saturdays bringing shoppers from Kwato and the famous homemade Kwato bread and buns. These were a popular hit as the ladies always returned to Kwato with the large empty bread basins.

Simply known as Government wharf - where all the Government workboats used to berth.
Many happy memories of this wharf especially when the mission boats, MV Osiri and MV Labini would berth here for Kwato islanders to do their shopping at Samarai’s two main department stores – Steamships and Burns Philp and many other shops such as the hardware store.
 
The natural swimming pool at Samarai - you can jump into the pool from Government Wharf.
Samarai was the District headquarters for the Milne Bay District before the advent of provinces. It was a hub for many islanders and a government nerve-centre for Milne Bay District in the south eastern tip of Papua New Guinea.
 
The once iconic Anglican Church on the main drag to the town centre. Sadly, it is falling apart. Once gone, a part of our history and heritage will go with it.
To a little girl growing up on the neighbouring island of Kwato in the mid-60s, Samarai had everything from a post office to two hospitals, two prisons, two clubs (mind you the two of everything meant one for whites and one for natives) but one bank, one dedicated hardware store, one bakery that turns out beautiful Samarai bread (the ones that come close to this size of bread could be found at Brumby’s bakery in Vision City in Port Moresby), a fresh local vegetable market and so on.
 
Samarai was an exciting place to be. There were lots of colonial government officers mainly Australian and a number of mixed race families lived here too.
 
We used to visit the dentist on Samarai a couple of times a year – arrrrgh that was a visit no kid wants to make but such was life for 7-8 year olds in the early ’60s.
 
The Robinson Memorial, stands at what could have been a traffic intersection (mostly pedestrian traffic perhaps).
 
This memorial stands on one of the main drags leading to the many lovely colonial residences and the Samarai cricket ground. Many of these houses were built like the ones you can still see today in Cairns, Australia.
 
The message on this memorial is not politically correct now but it must have been in those days or how else would they have got the message etched on the thing in the first place. As a young girl I never paid attention to the message until much later.
 
I don’t know why this memorial still stands with its politically incorrect message. To my knowledge no-one had tried to remove it from this beautiful island. I dare to think now that perhaps its historical heritage value is considered more than by removing it.
 
In fact I think this is a classic example of a memorial that could be regarded as offensive, yet it tells a story of what times were like then. Particularly the colonial mentality that reigned supreme in those days.  How different would Milne Bay have been or for that matter PNG if this message were to have continued into the 21st Century. I dare not think about that. The value now would be in tourism mostly and something to see when at Samarai or in these islands.
 
What remains of the memorable Burns Philp department store. We used to buy Paul's icecream here. I even bought a book on Greek mythology in this store. Those were the days.
Samarai was self-sufficient. It had everything we needed in the islands and more. There was a bank – the Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac) which was situated in the heart of the town and a tea shop where meat pies and coca cola were the popular items on the menu. 
 
Samarai was the place to be on Saturdays for grocery shopping, native vegetables, smoked fish, cooked chestnuts in coconut, Logea aigaru (unique green leaves that are found in Milne Bay and absolutely delicious when cooked in coconut and as an accompaniment to smoked fish) and many other exciting bits and  pieces such as icecream, apples and meat pies not to mention Buntings biscuits (white) and navy bread biscuits. My faourite sweet biscuits in those days were called ‘MilkyWay’ and ‘Tea Cake’.
 
This island was a heavenly treasure trove for us ‘other’ neighbouring islanders who were fortunate to be on Samarai on Saturdays, ANZAC Day and Kaihea (cultural festival) events.
Memorial Hall at Samarai. We would congregate here after the ANZAC Day march around the island led by the PIR Band. Those were the days.
 On ANZAC Day (25th April) school children would gather to march around the island led by the Pacific Island Regiment Band. This was an exciting time for us. We’d come over from Kwato to join in the celebration. Everyone would congregate infront of the Memorial Hall for speeches etc. We’d also sing hymns and the one I especially remember is “O God Our Help In Ages Past”.

 

We came from Kwato Island to join in the commemoration. We would join the parade with the Pacific Islands Regiment (PIR) and march along the identified route which brought us back to the Memorial Hall. I didn’t quite understand why we had to do this but it felt good to be marching in our Brownie uniforms. I was fascinated with the bagpipes that the PIR carried and played as we marched to the tunes.
 
A plaque (photo on the right) honouring the fallen in Gallipoli reminds us that war is not a cool thing then and now.  I could not recall ever having seeing this plaque but that’s probably because we only went anywhere near the Memorial Hall only when invited or when there was a good reason to be anywhere near it such as the ANZAC Day commemorative events.
 
Remains of the main wharf where many a tourist cruise liner would berth such as the Bulolo or Malaita. I was really sad just standing there and looking at this. Oh, if I had a couple of million Kina to spare....
I dug into my memory bank and recalled that hundreds of copra bags full of copra waiting to be shipped would be piled high on one side of the main wharf. We’d look for the dried coconuts that fell out on the side – they made such a lovely snack!
 
Looking across to Kwato and Logea - silhouettes against the early evening sky.
Walking down to Government Wharf and our boat to take us back to Alotau, I felt a pang of homesickness. Well, even a grown-up feels that from time to time. We are all captives of the tranquility of these islands. Especially the peace it brings especially when the day is done and one is in a reflective mood which I admit was my state of mind as we strolled towards the boat.
 
We assembled at Government Wharf and boarded our boat. There was no-one I knew I could wave aioni (good bye) to. Kind of sad. We pulled away from the wharf and as we set the course for Alotau we passed the main wharf and what used to be the Steamships wharf and all I could see was critical infrastructure falling apart and no-one seems to be doing anything about it.
 
Views of the seafront where the Samarai CBD was once the hub of financial, economic, and social activities. 
 
The main wharf and old Steamies wharf - alongside eachother. What a tragedy? or can we still save this heritage site?
 This seafront was a hive of acivity in the ’60s and ’70s which made Samarai Island the place to be. Even during the early ’80s and ’90s. It was a meeting place for all sorts of people I reckon – and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Samarai was such an iconic place then.
 
Would we be able to rekindle that illustrious past maybe in another way and make it once again the hub every province needs. Each province needs more than one hub to get services to remote areas of the province.
 
Looking back at the once awesome nerve centre of Milne Bay, I struggled to hold back the tears.
 “Back to Samarai the island of my dreams….” courtesy of the Island Sounds resonates with all those who came to love this idyllic little island, once full of life.
 
In the distance, only a few posts remain of the walkway that led to the 'restroom' over the water.
So the visit to Samarai was a painful reminder that we seem to let our history and heritage fade before our very eyes. We seem to take what was really good and practical in the past so much for granted and which we can use and turn to our advantage in our current development plans and activities. We seem to go for new things rather than building on the ones we already have. Samarai is a very real case in point.
 
It is still worth a visit if you are in Alotau and need to stretch your legs or do some island-hopping over a weekend. Samarai is worthy of a stop.
 
I believe there is time for a major resucitation and facelift. Let’s get government services back to the smaller islands in the southeast of Milne Bay by making Samarai a critical stopover place. It is bound to grow from its hibernating roots if given even a dog’s chance, to revive itself with the help of those who loved the island and still do.  Perhaps the ‘Samarai Island diaspora’ is an excellent start. What sayeth ye?
 

From A Doini Island Bungalow

The view of the jetty from one of the bungalows.

 The bungalows on Doini it seemed are named after the neigbouring islands eg. Sariba, Logea etc. I can’t recall the name of the bungalow I took this photo from but anyway the bungalows are on a class of their own in terms of the standard of cleanliness, design and comfort – actually quite luxurious.

The bathroom had a unique feature - a clam shell for a wash basin - now that's something new. Very innovative.

 This bungalow was quite spacious and I reckon it can take a group of say six or seven people. Perhaps a family at Christmas time when the pineapples and mangoes are in season or any other time. In paradise it’s all good.

Looks so comfy and inviting - just like the turquoise sea outside
Would I like to lay my weary body down on a bed like this? Out here in the tropics? The answer is a resounding yes!

 Looking around this big room brought back memories of home on Kwato where polished floor and clean beds were a common feature in every home. Every Christmas we’d gathered in the family house on Kwato. Those were the times when I wished this festive season could be suspended in time and school a future away.

So spacious and well, comfy.

 There are so many lovely features of this bungalow and am sure the others have too. I really admired the design and the wood work and panelling. If I were to live in one of these bungalows I will be the happiest person around. The bungalow had all the mod cons.

The fridge and the stove with the wooden cover to stop seawater or sea spray getting to the stove top. Very sensible.
One of our fellow daytrippers decided to take a swim in the sea and although I was tempted to do the same, I was, let’s say, ill-prepared.
Who could resist a swim along this beach? Couple of our group took a refreshing dip in the turquoise waters.

Some more views from the verandah of the bungalow. The sea has an alluring thing about it – call it magic perhaps – but one can never tire of looking out to sea especially on a bright sunny day. There is nothing that can obstruct the view all the way to the horizon.

Simply lovely.

As with all short trips, all too soon our visit to Doini came to and end. On the way down the jetty to our boat, this boat arrived with a whole bunch of school children. I realised that like us, they will have the whole place to themselves.

No they are not boat people - but a boat load of school children

I realise that a couple of hours on Doini wasn’t enough time to see all there is to see of the island and, am sure, more. However, we certainly will remember this place, without a doubt.

One of my colleagues had collected bits of coral and shells to remember Doini by. I took my photos and he collected his own island momentos.

After Doini, Samarai Island was our next and last stop on this day trip so we had to get a move on or else we’d loose the daylight and that would have been a waste. So we said our goodbyes to the ladies in the dining room and kitchen area and headed towards the jetty. 

Heading out towards Samarai Island in the distance.

As we pushed off the jetty and away from Doini Island, my thoughts turned to Samarai.  I haven’t visited the island in yonks and wondered what the island looked like then. All my favourite spots.

The breeze once again on our faces and the sun warmer outside en route, I looked at this chap (one of our crew) sitting at the front of the dinghy and I couldn’t help thinking about the freedom we were experiencing. No fences, no looking over our shoulders just freedom to enjoy another beautiful corner of Papua New Guinea.

Doini Island Amid Turquoise Seas

The turquoise sea was so inviting – snared a couple of tempted ones on board to enjoy its magic.

The warm weather and the warm seas were so tempting as we approached the long jetty. What an eye-opener! This was Doini – at last. As a child Doini could well have been on another planet.

Could see the long jetty from the boat - beyond my expectations. Sooooo beautiful.

Everywhere I looked I could just see sea and a couple of sea gulls. I just took in the view and was overcome with a feeling of well-being. Here we were in the islands…sun, sand and sea.

Our good samaritan - the bird stayed put and didn't move.

Although hungry, we took the time to look around and took in the sights and sounds of Doini. I was most impressed with the layout of the resort. Just drank it all in…enough to drive away hunger, albeit momentarily.

I think an evening spent here would be really something – especially if the moon came out. The inspiration to write another song would encounter no difficulty in my mind.

Walking up to the main reception area. Impressive.
The main dining area and reception...there were no others except the eight of us. The ceiling panels were are major attraction and I reckon the best subject for dinner conversation

 The four ceiling panels were designed and painted by one of Milne Bay’s iconic artists, Sam Luguna. Absolutely briliant. I think he had to do a panel at time. One would need strong neck muscles. These are indeed brilliant works of art and what a strategic location in which to have them displayed.

A closer view of one of the panels. The other three panels also depict cultural symbols of other parts of PNG.

Luguna has his own art gallery in Alotau town and welcomes people who are interested in Milne Bay arts and crafts and of course his own brilliant artistic works.

Lunch beckoned with this impeccably laid table. It is the Doini Island hospitality.

 Well, after exploring the surrounding bungalows we settled down to a well-earned lunch.

A welcomed break from our island hopping. What a place...a hidden gem amid turquoise seas.

I will post some photos of the bungalows and more views of/from the resort. 

Getting to Doini on a fine day like this one is easy. Early morning flight to Gurney (Alotau) International Airport, then to Driftwood Resort, then on a dinghy that has a canopy so don’t worry about sunburn, then a little over an hour’s journey southeast through the China Straits and Samarai Island then you’re on Doini Island. The length of the boat trip would depend on how calm the seas are.

Whatever day you choose to visit, Doini Island beckons…….

 
 
 
  

En Route To Doini Island

I am not sure which villages these are but I think it is towards Boiduhana, Logea Kalo

We left Kwato around midday and once again glided across on glassy seas   towards Doini Island. I’ve never been to Doini Island believe it or not before this day trip so I was equally as excited as my fellow daytrippers.

The photo above is of Logea Island across from Kwato Island. Logea is the island that inspired Uncle Robert and late Cousin Nasona to pen the song ‘Discover the Island’ found on one of Salima’s albums. It does conjure up in one’s mind the moonlight nights on these islands,
 
‘”Have you ever been to eastern shores of Papua,
Discover the island, across the China Straits…”
 
Then it goes on to say…
 
“As we reached the island and walk along the shore,
Side by side we walk holding hands beneath the island sky, 
Then we stood together beneath the golden moon and you lean to me and whisper,
Whispering the words, saying I love you”…
 
Eni kapole saha sabidi.

We cruised past the island of Logea (bigger than Kwato Island). The tip of the island north-facing – that is Logea Pwata. The white sandy shores are a common feature on these islands except the southern part of Logea which boasts of soft black sand.

I had never seen this part of Logea and took this shot of the kunai grass on the hill.

A kunai grassy knoll...could one imagine a guesthouse or a seafood restaurant on this location - what great panoramic island views this location would command.

I was amazed as we cruised by this part of Logea Island towards Gonubalabala. Now this is an interesting place, Gonubalabala, because one of its attractions apart from its natural beauty, is a ‘cleaning station’ for manta rays. Apparently this is a must see feature. Unfortunately, it must be seasonal because we didn’t see anything, and this was early November, 2010.

Gonubalabala - white sandy beach but no manta rays...too bad. A view from our boat.

We were looking forward to witness this awesome sight, the cleaning manta rays, but alas it was not to be. The fish were nowhere to be found so we cruised on to Doini Island which was our destination.  Anchored off the shore at Gonubalabala was the M.V. Chertan.

Imagine a snooze on M.V. Chertan on a lazy afternoon - that would be something...

We slowed down just to take in the view, feel the sea breeze and just enjoy being out on a boat and ‘discovering’ for ourselves new ‘destinations’ as we commit them to memory to share them with family, friends and colleagues when we return to Port Moresby.

Approaching Doini Island…aaahhhh what can I say…just beamed from ear to ear…

So you see, before you convince yourself that Port Moresby is PNG, think again! You will be pleasantly surprised to find that this land of islands and mountains is not only a treasure trove, but as one commentary stated ‘a naturalist’s wonderland’, and a sure place to spend that holiday you’ve been saving up for.