kokoda track 1
kokoda track 2
kokoda track 3
kokoda track 4
kokoda track 5
kokoda track 6
oro bay 1
oro bay 2
New Ireland is not far from volcanic New Britain Island but there a world of difference in between these two islands. There are no volcanoes on New Ireland. So the beach is white and the air is clean. In fact the beaches are full of eroded corals from the reefs off the coast. The water is warm and clear and very inviting for a swim.
We arrived on New Ireland by banana boat from Kokopo. At our landing we instantly liked the place and decided to stay and camp there on the beach for the night.
At first we were alone and enjoyed the serenity. Then a group of school kids on their way home found us. The news spread fast and soon we were surrounded by a whole smiling village population.
South coast New Ireland
Our camping spot
Straight away on our first night we learned a lot about New Ireland and the life there from the friendly people on our beach. Things, hard to imagine in our western home countries.
There are hardly any jobs. And there are hardly any people working. When you are born in PNG you can survive without money and still live a good life. Land is available from the government on application. Building materials for houses can be found for free in the forest. Food grows in the village gardens all year round: sweet potatoes, taro, bananas, mangoes, pawpaw, peanuts... Fishing in the tropical waters is mostly successful. And fresh coconuts invite for a drink and a healthy snack at the same time. So what do you need money for?
Of course, people who dont work have a lot of time. This time is always spent with friends. Often just sitting around talking and chewing betelnuts. Or, if two tourists are in the vicinity, it's just the most natural thing in the world to offer them company and share some stories on the campfire. We had great company that night again and by talking to our new found friends we learned about life in PNG:
Having so much time, no worries about food or housing, a healthy diet, being constantly surrounded by friends and spending most of their time in the sunshine makes PNG people a very relaxed, fit and extremely social folks. It makes such a big difference if people actually have time for you! For us busy westerners is was at first a very unfamiliar sight to see so many people having nothing to do. Also all the attention we attracted could easily feel disturbing. But once you're used to the fact that having nothing to do can be a good thing and that attention is just an expression of honest interest in socialising, once you realised that sitting together with strangers sharing stories is great entertainment for a night - you start to relax, feel safe, feel welcome. PNG is just perfect for that.
On the PMV to Namatanai