It was a rainy day on a cold November morning and my phone was vibrating furiously next to my keyboard at my workplace. I ignored it at first. It bleeped again, announcing that the arriving news MUST be read. Glancing around to make sure no one could see me checking my Facebook, I read the message and my jaw dropped open.
It seems a far flung country, halfway across the world, shrouded in keen mystery and wild nature has arrived in the middle of my grey office with an explosion of excitement and colour. This is Papua New Guinea.
The PNG Tourism UK Board had gleefully announced that I won the October True Traveller Blogging Competition across PNG UK Facebook and what’s more I won a Go Pro Hero 4 Silver Edition. It took all my energy not to start dancing on my swivel chair but I was soon distracted by another message. I would be a finalist to win a blogger ambassadorship and to go and visit Papua New Guinea!
Now this I couldn’t believe and I simply had to duck into the bathroom to shout out a muffled scream. Grinning from ear to ear, I sat back down again and contacted the tourism board to say ‘Gude’ (‘Hello’ in Tok Pisin, a language in Papua New Guinea). The winner of the blogger ambassadorship would be announced in mid-December so I simply had a month to kill.
But oh, what a month.
I devoured all the information I could find out about Papua New Guinea. It’s harder than you think. There’s actually limited information available considering the small tourism infrastructure in the country. This had me bouncing. Perhaps I could go and become an authoritative person on tourism in Papua New Guinea? You won’t know what life will throw at you!
But as much I tried to hoover up all the facts and figures possible, I would be stopped in my mission and gaze dreamingly at the wonderful and vibrant photos that showcased Papua New Guinea at its best.
Like this one.
Or this one.
Perhaps even this one!
You see what I mean? It all felt rather magical considering the world we live in today. The globe is getting smaller, we can travel between destinations effortlessly, communications are getting superb. But not Papua New Guinea. It all felt like the country was untouched, left timeless to preserve its rather pretty and utterly beautiful country. You could even explore like the first adventurers recapturing that epic wanderlust. Memories are truly made there of the complex cultures that has withstood in the face of encroaching science. Basically, Papua New Guinea is a whole other world.
So as the weather darkened in the wintry grey skies over the United Kingdom over the month, a little corner of my life was lit alive with the vivid natural bold colours of Papua New Guinea. I knew I would want to go to this gorgeous country in 2015.
Why? I’ll tell you…
24 Reasons Why You Should Go To Papua New Guinea
1. Attempt to Learn All the Languages
This isn’t going to be no mean feat. There’s actually 820 languages in Papua New Guinea and this is the highest number of languages in any country in the world. I’ll think I’ll stick to Tok Pisin.
2. PNG is a Megadiverse Region
Animals are completely different here in PNG than that in the same environments in the rest of SE Asia – marsupials instead of monkeys and cassowaries instead of tapirs. Always expect the unexpected!
3. Hiking Up Active Volcanoes
Appealing to the adrenaline junkie in me, perhaps a climb on Mount Kombiu is just enough to satisfy me. I could climb Mount Tavurvur but as it’s one of the most active in the world, that would just be suicidal!
4. Kokoda Track
The ultimate single foot path ever in the world hosting the best of coral reefs to be snorkelled and the graveyards of historic wartime sites between the Australians and the Japanese in WW2. This has become a pilgrimage for all Australians of any age. Seeing as I look like an Australian, this may be for me.
5. The Art of Flightseeing
As one of PNG’s past-time, the country is home to some of the world’s scariest but thrilling air strips giving tourists an experience of their lives. Not for the faint-hearted but perhaps I could convince myself to land or take off at either Ononge or Fane.
6. A Sliver of Natural Ancient History
The forests in Papua New Guinea are typical of the ancient Gondwana Landmass. This has me extremely excited as I loved learning about tectonic plates when I was younger!
7. Elves Lives Here
Elfin woodland can be found secretly at areas 3000m above sea level hosting relics of prehistory such as the giant long-beaked echidna. This mysterious place would feel magical and who knows, I’m not that far away from Lord of the Rings Country…
8. A Colour Sensation on the Eyes
A Rainbow of bold colours needs to inject my life with excitement and wanderlust. You can’t find any better than PNG to do the job for you.
9. Exploring the Sepik River in a Canoe
Remote Villages can be found along the long Sepik River showcasing PNG’s life at its very best. This is where Adventure really starts.
10. The Highlands and the Huli Wigmen
Immersing into the tribal cultures are best found in the Highlands particularly in the Town of Tari.
11. Swimming with the Rainbowfish in Lake Kutubu
These endearing fishes are your perfect companion as you laze in the sparkling upland lake.
12. Chilling in Port Moresby
As the capital of PNG, Port Moresby is a melting pot of all cultures and tribes together giving a unique taste of life in this sprawling city. I could even check out their Port Moresby National Park.
13. Port Moresby Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens in the rest of the world showcases the most exotic flora from other parts of the world. It would be intriguing to see what PNG thinks is exotic! Let’s bring out the camera for this!
14. Parliament Haus
Checking out this unique building styled with PNG motifs would have to be a big tick on my PNG travel checklist. Did you know that the world’s largest insect is housed here? It’s Queen Alexandra’s BirdWing.
15. Becoming a Bush tucker
Now I would love to learn to live off the land’s resources. Whether I’ll have to eat a wriggling big fat caterpillar, I may just do it…
16. Snorkelling The Dive Sites
Famous shipwrecks, weird sea life, the odd shark or two, you’re guaranteed to see more marine life here than you would in the Caribbean. If I could see a turtle in my long snorkelling quest for one, my life would just be a little more complete.
17. BirdWatching in the Tari Gap
You can find most of the world’s Birds of Paradise in Papua New Guinea alone. Their feathered plumes are so exotic and colourful that the Huli tribe often use the feathers to decorate their head-dresses. Who wouldn’t?
18. Touching the Torres Strait
As a huge migration point for human and ecological history, it would be brilliant to see the Torres Strait up close and consider how the world it is like today.
Known as the ‘Scandinavia of the Tropics.’ Surrounding by unblemished fjords and uncharted reefs, this is truly a wonderful place to explore.
20. National Mask Festival
Checking out the variety of masks interpreted by different cultures and tribes on their views of human life would be thought-provoking and inspiring.
21. D’Entrecasteaux Islands
The land that time forgot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dinosaur pop up there. Hopefully not my namesake, T-Rex!
22. Eating Mumu Style
I’m a huge fan of local foods. So this earth oven cooked food are reputed to be delicious but the jury’s out which one is better – Coastal Mumu or Highlands Mumu? I better find out…
23. Finding Love on Trobriand Islands
Well, I have travelled the world far and low for a fair few years now. Perhaps I’ll find a grounded wife in PNG… who knows! But The Trobriand Islands are nicknamed the Love Islands. If that isn’t fate, then what is?
24. No One You know Will Have Been There
Simple as that. You would just be heading into the unknown and if that doesn’t excite you, then it does for me.
So there you have it. I could go on much more longer why I think you should come to Papua New Guinea in 2015. But you should discover it yourself. I mean are you wanting to be any of the following?:
Looking for Adventure?
Inspired by Wildlife?
Immersed in Cultures?
Yes, yes, yes. Papua New Guinea has it all. And I hope to show you in 2015.
So I’ll say good luck to my fellow finalists for the Blogger Ambassadorship. Whoever of us wins it, that blogger will definitely show us the amazingness that is Papua New Guinea.
Now first, let’s get you sorted with your second Tok Pisin word of the day. A word which I’ll profess my appreciation to you readers for getting inspired by this article:
Have you been to Papua New Guinea? Share your experience in the comments below!
*A Huge thanks to PNG Tourism UK for providing me with the pictures for this article.