In the week that Port Moresby was voted 3rd least liveable city in the world it seemed appropriate we went to Lae. A local resident of Lae described going to Port Moresby as a “breath of fresh air”. This gives you a flavour of Lae.
Our journey there involved a short flight from Port Moresby which was delayed by about an hour, then slowed down by numerous crew announcements before we took off! Following the safety announcement they were at pains to point out that it is illegal to remove any safety items from the plane. Upon arrival we transferred to a “Guard Dog Security” bus with metal caged windows and three guards, radios etc. It was pitch black but the roads, as we had heard, were full of potholes, parts of the trip seemed almost cross country!
Our hotel was quite nice and also had security guards on every door plus ones with dogs on the perimeter. There was a pet hornbill which Sandra loved but it was a bit ferocious and ungrateful when she fed it some pineapple! There were also some creatures called cuscus. They were a cross between wallabies and bears, with a dose of sloth (as they seemed to sleep all day).
We did have a swim in the hotel pool which was nice apart from branches of a nearby coconut tree crashing down in the wind. We had arranged for towels to be sent to the pool but after 20 minutes they still hadn’t arrived and we were a bit stuck. In the end after asking 4 separate people we walked back to the room soaking wet! On the way we passed 2 of the people we had asked and they gave us the towels. We hatched a cunning plan, we would hold on to the towels and use them next time. Unfortunately when we got back to the room they had taken the towels from the bathroom. Doh!
We visited the 2 schools which was very interesting and met some lovely people and hard working students.
Lae in daylight was also interesting but according to local knowledge is supposed to be one of the most dangerous places in PNG. Speeding accidents are out of the question as driving is limited to a max of 10mph as everyone negotiates a route through the potholes. Only 4x4s, vans and lorries in evidence. It is a supply port for the interior (highlands) and saw quite a lot of action in the second world war.
One of the supermarkets had burnt down recently and there had been widespread looting particularly of the beer section at the back. The supply of warm beer kept many people happy for some time!
A 40 minute flight meant 5 hours travel time with airport transfers and delays so we arrived tired and in Phil’s case very irritable in Port Moresby. Phil had a fairly major paddy when his car wasn’t at the airport as arranged or at the office car park as rearranged and promised. However it was Friday night and a glass of sparkling wine and a beer put things in perspective.