Keith's blog post 2
30 July 2011 | Kavieng, and Manus Province, Papua New Guinea
First and foremost, a big part of the reason for some of the special things we've encountered is that Steve and Manjula made a bold decision to sail from Australia to Indonesia the long way around, taking a little traveled path. Almost all cruisers take the direct route, bypassing Papua New Guinea (PNG). Nearly all the cruising literature speaks of the dangers of the area: theft, harassment, and worse. Even though most of those issues involve the more populated areas of PNG, the warnings have been sufficient to scare a lot of cruisers away. Steve and Manjula decided to avoid the mainland and island hop their way around PNG. I met them in Kavieng, New Ireland Province, on the island of New Ireland. If you would like to track our stops, or look them up on Google Earth or Google Maps, from Kavieng we went to the following islands: New Salamon, Ungalik, St. Andrews, Pam (pronounced Pom), Johnston, and the Hermit Islands.
There were many memorable things about that first day in Kavieng: we checked in with Customs (a guy named Patrick in a one-person office in the middle of a gasoline refinery), we went into the city to buy food for this leg of our journey, and I got introduced to the wonders of betelnut and the Pidgin language. Betelnut is a slightly intoxicating and addictive root that they mix with lime and mustard and chew. Nearly everyone there, men and women alike, had red lips and red teeth from chewing betelnut and the ground is full of what look like blood stains because everyone spits it everywhere! It's not a good look! One of the very unique things about PNG is that there are over 800 languages spoken in the country. Most of those who have gone to school speak at least a little English. Otherwise, the only common language they have is Pidgin, which is a weird derivative of English. So, all over Kavieng there are signs often in Pidgin. My favorite was a sign advertising coffee and th e Pidgin word on the sign said "kick-start-em-day" (not how it was written, but that's the phonetic result); that cracked me up.
After our day in Kavieng, we lit out the next morning for our island touring where I was anticipating great skin diving, a chance to meet some of the villagers along the way, and lots of time relaxing on the boat. One of the things you quickly discover is that whenever you anchor the boat near one of these remote, inhabited islands is that you are immediately met by a flotilla of dugout canoes fitted with outriggers (all made by the villagers from local trees). Men, women, and children all come out to look at the boat, look at us, talk to us, try to trade fruit or vegetables for things they need, etc. Just staring and making no effort to talk is also a favorite activity apparently.