A few months ago I had the privilege of meeting Vlad Sokhin, a documentary photographer here in Port Moresby. As a member of the PNG Photography Association, I was very happy to be part of the group that turned up to meet him and view some of his work. It was a very educational and also interesting to find out what documentary photography was about and of course meeting Vlad in person.
Here dwarfed by Vlad, I couldn’t imagine that in 2013 I would be standing in the shadow of this iconic person. Winner of over 10 prestigious awards.
Vlad showed us some videos he had taken in Portugal, and a number of countries in Africa and elsewhere. I was fascinated at what his lens conveyed in pictures many ordinary lives of extraordinary people. I left before we got to Vlad’s photographs on specific themes here in Papua New Guinea.
I wish Vlad all the best in his future photography endeavours here and abroad.
Vlad is working on a project here locally in Port Moresby and environs so I wish him the best in that project.
This is my third post on my brief visit to Bali for the Asia-Pacific regional meeting on Global Ethics in tourism.
We managed to make it to the cultural evening. Upon arrival at the festival we were whisked through to our seats before the event begun. Apparantly, this was no ordinary cultural evening. It was a culmination of several cultural events which you can read about in this article in the Jakarta Post.
This was the Opening of the 33rd Bali Art Festival with the theme ‘Desa, Kala, Patra’. We were so fortunate to be invited to this grand opening.
This was the explanation of the ‘Desa, Kala, Patra given by Mr Putu Wijaya, the Balinese playright of international renown at the inception of the Bali Art Festival a few years back:
“For the Balinese ‘Desa’ (space) is essential to indicate origins, links and directions. By tracing their space the Balinese discover their linkage to their homes, origins, ‘braya-pisaga-semeton’ (society, neighbors and family) and even with their guests. The space is also linked to ‘kala’ (time). Night and day, morning and afternoon, today and tomorrow can change, take form and make those links to time perfect. Finally ‘Patra’ (identity) also means situation and condition, instigating that space and time can be harmonized with what is taking place.”
“‘Desa-kala-patra’ is a value and at the same time, a universal approach. That it grows in the soul of the Balinese people, does not make it the sole property and right of the Balinese. Bali is only one of its choices, because this island is a meeting place for different races and ideologies from all over the world. ‘Desa-kala-patra’ comes to life not because it is discussed, taught, and made a doctrine, but because it is practiced. ‘Desa-kala-patra’ is like a formless soul that freely resides within the bodies of the Balinese without them being aware.”
After the President’s speech the concert began.
I am so glad we took the trouble to at least look culturallly appropriate, especially with the VIPs there and the President. This was a bonus and although I was not sitting too close to the stage I managed to take a few shots with my Nikon D90 which went with me wherever I went. I didn’t want to miss any great opportunities for taking nice shots.
What fascinated me was the attire. The men in long-sleeved batik shirts and the women in exquisite fabrics that adorned their beautiful figures – these were figure-hugging and very elegant. They had beautiful hair adornments and the men wore Balinese ‘turbans’ on their heads.
My limited Bahasa Indonesia captured some of the official speech by the President and others but not entirely – guess am out of practice. Nonetheless, the presence of the President at this festival was very important to everyone and especially the organizers. His presence no doubt gave the opening event a very high profile and to the planned cultural and artistic events for that festival period.
I was sitting too far away from the centre of action but managed to capture some of the beauty of the concert as it unfolded.
The setting was so apt. We found ourselves facing a temple which was appropriately decorated. A fitting backdrop to the performances that followed.
Group after group took to the stage and entertained the audience. I was in 7th heaven! This is the life, I thought to myself.
We were given more small boxes which contained fruit and traditional sweets as well as bottles of water so we did not go hungry during the concert which took several hours.
I really felt looked after.
The performances began with the unmistakable haunting sounds of the Balinese gamelan orchestra. These are instruments that resemble zylophones and there were the gongs.
I was fascinated with the dancing and the epic story that was related through dance. The colourful costumes, the dances and the atmosphere was sobering.
I couldn’t help wondering how we could showcase some of our stage plays written by PNG playrights such as Kasaipwalova, Tawali, Kaniku, et al and how we should stage these in the villages and communities througout PNG.
One thing for sure during this visit, we were very well taken care of. Balinese hospitality knows no bounds. What a gracious people. What a privilege indeed.
On our way back to our hotel, the Grand Bali Nusa Dua, I reflected on the cultural extravanganza just witnessed and I realised that the opening of the festival showcased the profound spirituality of the Balinese.
This is the second post on my visit to Bali last June – a year ago. My, how time flies.
On Friday evening (on the day we arrived in Bali), we were told that we have been invited as participants to the regional meeting to attend a cultural festival which will be opened by The President of the Republic of Indonesia.
This was news to us as we were not told earlier when we checked into our hotel – the Grand Bali Nusa Dua. We also had not received copies of our programme in Bali for that weekend apart from attending the inaugural Global Ethics on Tourism meeting at a neighbouring hotel.
We only found out when we sauntered into the Melia Hotel Bali about 4.00pm or thereabouts. This hotel was the location of our regional meeting the next day, Saturday. The announcement that we were going to a cultural festival that evening was really a surprise and a half!
Thank goodness we are from Papua New Guinea which has a blessed word-of-mouth culture and are not so hung up on a written programme so we had no problems as we switched on to our coconut wireless and asked around to find out what we were supposed to be doing. One thing we realised we had to do was wear something decent and dignified as we were going to be in the presence of so many VIPs and in a manner speaking we too were VIPs that evening at the cultural festival.
We scrambled to find suitable attire for the occasion. We looked around and at eachother and wondered whether we should attend or not. We could have laid on the excuse that we did not have the right kind of clothes for the event or we could have decided simply not to go. However, I reckon since we were the only ones from the Pacific Islands region and besides we were Papua New Guineans, such excuses are lame and embarrassing. So we bit the bullet and decided we were certainly on that bus to the festival. We might learn something valuable about Balinese culture – that made up our minds for us!
We had to think on our feet – there was no time to return to our hotel so the best thing we could do was purchase batik clothes. Batik is generally accepted as ‘formal’ wear so that was easy – but where to get batik-wear was the million dollar question. Thank goodness there was a souvenir shop at the Melia so we went in there pronto! After getting in and out of several outfits we settled on a blouse for me and a shirt for my colleague. At last we were set and felt confident that we can now join the other more formally attired fellow participants.
A very valuable lesson for the future – advise all participants of the programme apart from the programme of the meeting proper for which we had traveled over 8 hours (including the overnight stop in Singapore) from our country via Singapore to participate in.
We joined the others were were already assembled at the hotel entrance and waited for our bus to arrive.
By the way, we found out that we were not the only ones looking for something descent to wear to the festival and that made us feel better. Another delegate to the meeting was also looking for something descent and more Balinese or Indonesian to wear. We didn’t feel too bad then.
As we waited for the bus I spared a few minutes to take these shots.
This hotel is bigger and grand than the Grand Bali Nusa Dua but I wasn’t disappointed at all – just glad that I could wonder around and take some shots of the Melia Hotel Bali.
I’m always fascinated by hotels especially the architecture and the materials used. The Melia was no exception. I guess hotels anywhere always try to find the edge that induces tourists and those like us attending conferences and so on to feel like the hotel is a ‘home away from home’ and in some instances that is the case. I find that hotels in Asia actually fit into the category of ‘home away from home’ come to think of it.
Our bus eventually arrived and as we clambered onto the bus, I wondered what the rooms at the Melia were like and what the rate per night was.
En route to the festival we were served an early dinner in woven baskets on the bus. This was a novelty for me and I marvelled at the simplest things which the Balinese do as they extended the hand of friendship and hospitality wherever we went during our brief stay in Bali.
This was also unexpected but I was pleasantly surprised as lunch was a fair few hours ago on the flight to Bali from Singapore. Oh yes, my colleague and I were upgraded to Business Class in Singapore so you can imagine what lunch was like especially on a Singapore Airlines flight – one word “sumptuous!”
The journey to the festival went smoothly and once again I felt so privileged to have been there and to have enjoyed the cultural programme besides even though we were not made aware of it when we arrived. I guess it was clearly a case of being at the right place at the right time.
I’ve added the Melia Hotel Bali to my list of possible hotels to check out next time I plan to visit Bali.
This is Part I of a couple of articles I wanted to write on my weekend meeting in Bali, Indonesia almost a year ago. I was one of the participants at the regional meeting on tourism ethics.
I attended the regional meeting on Global Ethics in Tourism June last year. The meeting was jointly hosted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization and the Indonesian Government on the alluring and beautiful island of Bali.
Papua New Guinea was the only Pacific Island represented at this regional meeting.
Upon arrival at the Ngurah Rai International Airport (sometimes known as the Denpasar International Airport) we were whisked through customs and immigration formalities and onto our bus. Denspasar is also the capital city of Bali.
It was a very hot day but being from Port Moresby we rose to the challenge. In the bus, the aircon kicked in soon after so we were saved from having to change our clothes yet again in less than 6 hours!
In Bali for that weekend’s meeting, the Grand Bali at Nusa Dua was our home. You can read about Nusa Dua here.
I was once again struck by the seeming chaos on the streets where more than one person is riding pillion on a motor bike – hundreds of them darting in and out of the traffic and in between buses and cars as we wove our way towards Nusa Dua beach.
I wondered how often there were accidents. My recollection was that very few but once in a while when an accident happens it is a very big thing and quite saddening as it is preventable!
My colleague and I were accommodated in the Grand Bali Nusa Dua and grand may be a bit of a misnomer but the rooms were so spacious I could have my whole family sleeping in this one room.
The rooms were cool with no views to speak of but I was very comfortable. The aircon was working and that was what I needed at the beginning and end of each day.
I took quite a lot of photos upon arrival at the hotel and realised that I was in tourist mode. In fact one of the great things about this job is that you can be ‘on duty’ and be a tourist at the sametime. An enviable position to be in no doubt.
I also went for a foot massage which is my favourite thing whenever I am in Southeast Asia. It is a soothing sort of thing to do and it kind of introduces me gently to the rigours of meetings or shopping whichever I happen to be in that country for.
I went to the spa before the evening’s programme. I was glad I did because that was the only time I was able to enjoy being pampered. Oooh lala.
Our meeting was scheduled for all of Saturday (which was the next day) and over the weekend so there were not many guests in our hotel. The meeting was held in another much bigger hotel and most of the other participants were accommodated there.
I was trigger-happy and my Nikon D90 was working overtime.
The hotel grounds were so beautiful and tranquil. I was glad we stayed here. But then again there are so many hotels large and small spread across the Nusa Dua beachfront and no doubt other beaches in Kuta and Legian, as well as all over the island of Bali. This was a tourist mecca.
Wooden houses, floors and so on hold a special fascination for me but we were here to discuss the global code of ethics in tourism and I wondered whether the use of large amounts of wood in hotel construction was going to be sustainable in the long run. Food for thought.
I took quite a few photos around the hotel because I’ve never been in this hotel before and secondly, because I wanted to capture some of the spirit of the place.
The stone sculptures are everywhere but again I did not have the time to ask.
There was no time to ask and also there was a slight language barrier. I think the Conference organizers hired university or secondary school students to man the number of ‘help desks’ set up to fascilitate our hassle-free stay at the hotels where the participants were staying and most of these kids could not speak English or if they did it was spoken haltingly.
That wasn’t a problem on the whole but I could not ask many questions outside the usual stuff like asking for directions and when the bus will arrive and so on. I found these help desks very comforting – a lot of people engaged to ensure that we did not want of information. My attempts, haltingly at Bahasa Indonesia did help.
One of the things I loved about the hotel was that it was open on all sides. Which meant there was a free flow of fresh air.
The breeze flowing through large windows and doorways, reminded me so much of the South Pacific Forum Secretariat in Suva.
We left the Grand Nusa Dua on Monday morning when hotel staff were back at the posts and the hustle and bustle of preparations for a number of meetings in various wings of the hotel.
The new week had begun and soon our meeting was a blur in the past and tranquility of the weekend.
The weekend meeting in Bali was a wonderful way of ending the week – part of it was spent in Port Moresby.
During our short stay in Bali and as part of the social and cultural programme of the meeting we were treated to a number of cultural performances. It was one of those memorable times I’ve spent in any one place where it was short enough to take in as much as I could take in of the place thanks to my faithful Nikon D90 and the other was long enough to enjoy what the place had to offer.
Fairfax Harbour is probably one of the best natural harbours in the country and in the Pacific Region. I shudder at the thought of more of the seaviews disappearing so fast so we miss out on the harbour views when driving into downtown Port Moresby nowadays. We used to be able to see the sea but slowly construction of many new buildings and the extensions of the port along the waterfront is obstructing this view that we used to take for granted. It will be gone forever and it is beyond the control of so many ordinary people in Port Moresby who would want to get a glimpse of the harbour on their way downtown or back up towards the hinterland.
Soon we’d have to go up Port Road or Paga Hill to be able to take in unobstructed views of our beloved Fairfax Harbour.
The evening started off with heavy rain. It was a little daunting also trying to find Finger B which was where our boat was moored. It took me 15 minutes to finally find it with the help of a couple of helful RPYC security guards. Of course me not been a member of the RPYC made it difficult too. Anyway, I finally found the place and was greeted by two friendly and helpful ladies.
I braved the drizzle walking down the length of the pier to get onboard but what a lovely reward at the end of the walk. Of course climbing up the stairs in rain was a bit of a challenge with the ever-present hazard of falling into the sea should I get a foot wrong going up. But I mustered all the strength and skill recalled from my early years growing up on Kwato Island and the many times we had to get on and off the mission boats come rain and shine got me up the ladder and on to dry deck.
I met others who were already there and was soon holding on to a cool glass of orange juice. As we sipped our drinks and slowly got to meet the others the rain subsided and it was calm and dry. This was something different – to be on a boat in the harbour sipping a cold drink and meeting new people on a rainy evening. Of all of them, I had met only three (3) people prior to the cruise. I was delighted to join our BSP friends and this small gathering on board.
Not long after the rain cleared, it was decided we should cast off. So we were going on our evening cruise after all. The rain had not dampened our spirits and expectations to cruise around the harbour this evening.
After a brief explanation on the boat itself and a fine one too, the Captain gave us a safety briefing and then we were off as we slowly edged our way out of the marina. A great sense of freedom, adventure and well-being came over me.
The sea was calm but a little breeze to remind us we were on a boat and gliding gracefully over the water.
I couldn’t believe the fact that I was seeing Port Moresby by night from the harbour, and rarer still the opportunity to do so this evening. It was just a very nice feeling to be out and about without having to look over my shoulder. I must say the city looked beautiful this evening.
As the boat moved out into the harbour I was transported back to my childhood days albeit momentarily. When on school holidays from Cameron High School we would board one of the mission boats – either the Osiri or Labini – one or the other for Samarai, Logea and Kwato.
I used to feel rather cheeky arriving at night because no-one knew which school children have come home to the island for the school holidays until the following morning or at Church.
The reflection of lights on the water held a certain facination for me. And now I couldn’t help feeling a sense of deja vu. I decided to stand back and enjoy the views in the cool evening.
Looking back the way we came out of the Royal Papua Yacht Club marina and out in the open I focused my sights and my camera on the lights of Port Moresby.
Well, what do you know the city looked stunning with all the lights and the colourful patterns on the water from the many different coloured lights.
Dinner was served and soon we went downstairs to partake of the tasty morsels laid before us. One of the things I take for granted is that I am not seasick and the food was a welcome sight. After a few words of welcome and updates on BSP from the CEO we tucked in.
Later on I went aft to enjoy the sights of Port Moresby from the boat.
Port Moresby looked like a reclining lady in red, yellow and orange sequinns shimmering against a dark sky.
I went past a couple of big ships and then to Napa Napa and Motukea then infront of Tatana on our return to the marina.
The last time I was on a boat in the harbour was in the ’80s and was a passenger or spectator on one somebody’s boat watching the regatta or some sailing competition. It’s all so hazy now. But anyway, this was the first time I am out in the Harbour at night.
I look out on the harbour from my office day in day out and to be in it myself in the same place that so many container vessels use during the day was an awesome thought.
My camera was clicking all the time we were cruising around but the constant movement did not help but I think I managed to get some. I did the best I could but happy that I can actually take photos.
Thank you so much Mr Clyne and your managers for giving us the privilege to go on a harbour cruise and to enjoy Port Moresby at night this way. Thank you Captain Simeon for taking us out on the MV South Pacific and bringing us safely back home.
All too soon our cruise came to an end at about 9.00pm.
We were back at the marina and then it was goodbyes and I took my leave. Driving home, I thought about the cruise, about the MV South Pacific, about BSP and the food we enjoyed and most of all about seeing the lights of Port Moresby this way.
There ain’t no nicer way to enjoy the night air in Port Moresby than a wonderful cruise in Fairfax Harbour on an evening like this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My pictures tell a story about one special moment or moments that make up that unique experience for me.
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!
The City in the background. Crossed the bridge from South Bank. It was a relaxing walk and one I really enjoyed taking in the sights over the River.
When in Brisbane, one of Australia’s beautiful cities, it is a must to try the City Cat, many of these boats or catamarans ply the River and are a very convenient and inexpensive way to travel (no traffic!) or drop by one of its glitzy shopping streets in the heart of the city.
Walking along Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall, or the shopping hub of the city and for people like me – temporary visitors with a yearning to acquire something new for the wardrobe, kitchen or just taking in the sights and sounds of the City centre – can be a very pleasant after-work wokabaut.
Friday afternoon after work is a good time to hang around the Mall area albeit for a short time, unless one wants to stay on for the evening and the many other attractions, especially restaurants in the vicinity which come alive in the night.
I visited the fresh fruit juice stall. This is a real oasis for the thirsty. Walking around, window shopping or just taking in the sights on a Friday afternoon can leave you very thirsty especially on a hot and muggy afternoon.
I watched some rock ‘n roll dancing (took me back to the 60s). The dancing was to promote a new shop that opened along the Mall. There was a long line of people enquiring about jobs etc that I decided I’d watch the dancing instead. Much more interesting I reckon.
Some views on the wokabaut before I made for my hotel in Toowong, upriver from the City.
My Friday afternoon wokabaut was too short but long enough to celebrate TGIF.
I’ve been to Brisbane City many times in the past but on this particular trip I did a combination of things which added to my knowledge about the city and its attractions.
Travelling up and down the river was something new. Just as walking across one of the many bridges over the Brisbane River with a camera, window-shopping around Queen Street Mall, getting fresh fruit juice, the rock n’ roll dancing and so on. I was not in a tearing hurry to go anywhere except back to my hotel in Toowong.
I guess armed with a DSLR digital camera puts Brisbane City in a different light for me. How many more did I miss out on this walk? Perhaps next time a night time wokabaut may be the new thing to do.