Vemino & Madang, PNG

So I arrived in Jayapura, Indonesia and went strait to immigration to get a visa for Papua New Guniea (PNG). Signs were posted everywhere and the gentleman stated that it was at least a two day process. 50,000 Rupia (about five bucks), made the process magically take a couple hours. It took about another hour to get a van to the border and about 45 minutes to cross through two Indonesian checkpoints/borders. Then I walked through to a PNG border.

I waited a couple hours to get a ride to the nearest town, Vemino, about 45 minutes away. I met a very kind family who gave me advise, a ride, and showed me where to stay. Later they would spend the weekend showing me their town and the surrounding village. I didn’t plan on staying in Vemino, I was heading to Madang where the diving is! But after finding out that I couldn’t drive to Madang because there are no roads, we went to the “airport” and I was told there was a flight on Monday.

Before I had a chance to get discouraged, I decided I would make the best of this small town. Abby and Eddie, part of the family I met at the border, would be my PNG representitives. They turned out to be extreamlly nice guys who wanted absolutely nothing from me except friendship. This was very different from what I had experienced for the last four and 1/2 months in Asia. I also discovered that everyone I met from PNG was just like them. The first thing my new friends did was take me to their home to meet their family. I came at a bad time because the entire female extended family was washing. After getting decent, they showed me their pets.

This is Abby’s sister holding their pet cuscus (chances are this is the wrong spelling). This is a small baby but huge ones are found in the highlands.
Note the tail. It feels like a snake. It has very long claws on its fingers which feel clammy.
Eddie’s pet parrot. He taught it to talk and I think it sings Bob Marley songs.

This is a friendly family in one of the nearby villages. Her teeth are red because she is chewing beetlenut. Almost everyone in PNG does-I’m not exaggerating. They chew a beetlenut or two, take a piece of mustard stick (looks like asperagas), dip it in lime, throw that in your mouth and chew them all. The lime and mustard make it red and give you the dizziness. Most people spit like when your chewing tabacco. It took me a day to realize why the streets were lined with blood-like stains. The real veterans swallow.

When I took this picture the nice lady ran away. I thought she didn’t want her photo taken but she went to go get another family member to be in the picture…and then another, and another, and another, until this.

The longer I stayed, the more people joined. This is a pretty modern village as it is close to the town.
Vemino has some awesome coastline. I spent most of Sunday walking it and watching kids play, people fish and spear, and all of them just enjoying life.

Once in Madang, I hit the ocean. Although I could have spent the entire time just looking out at it from any of the places I stayed. The snorkeling was as good as the diving. Above is a school of baracuda.
Lionfish with cool colors in the background. This was actually a stormy day that I went diving.
Around Madang, there were these huge bats known to the locals as “flying fox.” They are out during the day and night flying and hanging from the trees. You can see them doing both in this picture.

Category: Travel
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