Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Teop people

Rebekah and I have decided that we would like to work with the Teop people to help them translate the Bible into their own language. All of Bougainville is wonderful and very beautiful, including the Teop area and people. I have put a few photos of the Teop people up on the internet for you to see some of the beautiful people that I will be getting to know in the future. Click on the title of this post to see the photos. I have also put the link on the panel at the side, so you will be able to click to look at the photos any time.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Photos of kids at Buka

Here’s a selection of photos of children that I took in the west Buka area. Remember if you want to see a photo a bit better, you can click on the photo and you will see a slightly larger version.

First few photos are of kids at Hitau Island.



It’s common for fairly young children to carry babies around.


Man! What a huge, toothy smile!!


The people of Hitau Island gave each of us one of these huge shells.


This is Priscilla, who was my little friend at Petats Island. She really took to me and followed me around, and sometimes held my hand while walking somewhere. She hardly spoke a word to me. I think maybe she didn’t know Tok Pisin yet and only knew the local language.


These final three photos were taken at Matsungan Island a few minutes apart. Some of these kids were from the highlands.


An older boy with a younger boy.


A bunch of kids.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Glorious sunsets

It always seems to be my luck that I am on the east coast and don’t get to see the sun set over the sea and since I am not a morning person, I don’t get up early enough to see the nice sunrise over the sea on the east coast. So I was happy that for once I was on the west coast on this survey trip at Buka and had the opportunity to see nice sunsets over the water. Here are a few of the sunset photos I took.





Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dangerous waters: There are sharks

When we arrived at one island on our survey trip, we found some people at the shore, cutting two sharks that they had recently caught.

Small hammerhead shark:


Baby shark:


They cut off the fins to sell as they can get good money for them.

Shark fin soup anyone?


Fins on top of the hammerhead shark.


It’s a strange world, with combination of modern technology and traditional materials. Here’s a traditional canoe that has familiar looking fishing gear, yet in the background you can see a modern boat with outboard motor, in the top left corner of the photo. (Did you know that you can click on the photos to see them bigger?)

Monday, July 19, 2010

The basics of life

Food, shelter, a toilet, and a place to wash are some of the basics of life which we relied on other people to provide for us when we were on the survey trip. I’ve already talked about the food, so now for the other three.

Our living arrangements were very varied. Sometimes we stayed in a house that was made out of modern materials and was fully screened, so we didn’t need to use our mosquito nets. Other times we stayed in a traditional bush material house.

We stayed in bush houses similar to this one in some villages:


The toilets in most places had been provided by World Vision, and were little huts, with a concrete floor, and a ceramic toilet bowl with plastic seat and lid, over a pit. Thank you to World Vision and everyone who donates to them. Not only does their work benefit the locals, it benefits the foreign visitors too! Two places we stayed had even better toilets – one was a fully functioning flush toilet, and the other one was similar, but you just had to fill the cistern manually.

Here’s the inside of a western style house:


We didn’t have any showers with hot water on the survey, but the best shower was like a normal shower, just that it was only cold water that came out of the shower head. Everywhere else, we had a bucket filled with cold water, and a dish to pour the water over ourselves. The shower rooms had varying degrees of privacy – from full privacy, to fully open (no shower room). A lot of the places had just a simple, small square frame with tarp around it as the walls. I have a skirt that I can wear to cover myself while bathing, which means I don’t need to worry if we don’t have a fully private shower room.

This is the house that had the flush toilet and normal shower:


Good, clean drinking water was available too – also thanks to World Vision who provided water tanks for the villages. I shouldn’t give all the credit to World Vision however because Care International, Red Cross, Caritas and Ausaid are some of the other aid organisations that work in the area too and have probably also provided water tanks and toilets.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Survey trip food

We were so well fed during our survey trip. Often we were served two huge meals each day, and a snack at midday. Our tummies were working overtime digesting all that food, and I wasn’t hungry too often!

The food was served buffet style – all spread out on a table in different bowls, and we could fill our plate with whatever we wanted and however much we wanted, and of course we were always encouraged to take lots and come back for more!


At every meal there was usually rice, two minute noodles with greens, fish, sweet potato, taro and cooking bananas (savoury ones). Sometimes there was shellfish and I tried a few different kinds. I’m not a big fan of seafood, but most of the shellfish were okay. There was just one – a big one – that I couldn’t swallow – it was a bit gooey and gutsy. I threw that one out for the dogs, but I think the chickens actually got there first.

Here are some photos of the kinds of food we were served:


We were only served mud crab once – on our last morning of the survey. It was really nice.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Garamut drums


This picture shows a garamut drum at Kahule village on the west coast of Buka. Many parts of PNG have these or traditionally had them. At Kahule, only the chief is allowed to make these drums and he has passed the skill onto his future successor, who will only be able to make one after the current chief dies. It is made out of one piece of wood and the inside is hollowed out using a special tool.


This is the chief sounding the drum. He hits the side of it to make the sound. He is sending a message to the community that the visitors are here and they should leave what they are doing and come to help us with our work (maybe not quite as detailed as that though!). There are different messages that can be sent depending on how the chief hits the drum. For example, if he hits it in a different pattern, he could send the message that someone has died. It’s a great way of communicating a message to a lot of people without using modern technology!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Men’s house at Novah 1

Novah 1 men’s house:


The village of Novah 1 on the west coast of Buka still has its men’s house, and they have managed to adapt modern culture into their traditional culture, while still retaining tradition too. In the past women weren’t allowed into the men’s house or even to walk near it. Now women are allowed in, but tradition culture is upheld by having a section that only men are allowed in. The women’s side is larger than the men’s side, and the men are also allowed in the women’s area.

This picture shows me sitting in my proper place. The men’s area starts at the decorated pole, and also on the other side of the small wall/bench seat. (Note also, shiny yellow truck in the background! Infer: some people here have money).


If a woman crosses the boundary and goes into the men’s area, she and her family have to give a pig to the chief, otherwise I think the chief is entitled to marry her. There are garamut drums (slit gongs) in the men’s area, but nothing in there is secret as it is fully open for all to see inside.

When people have a feast and eat pigs, they eat them in this men’s house. The keep the jaw bone of the pig and stick it between a post and the roof, as a reminder, and they can count how many times they have eaten pig in that men’s house.

The men’s house is mainly used for community discussions and the people told us that it is good to have women present too, because it’s good to have their input in discussions. They said that the men’s house is a ‘resource centre’. I guess their definition or understanding of ‘resource’ is different to mine, as I didn’t see any resources inside the men’s house! Perhaps they are thinking of people as resources.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Matsungan madness

When we visited Matsungan Island, it seemed like everyone was in a fun, silly mood, which made it a little bit frustrating for me doing my questionnaires, but they were great people. One time when I asked a question about who speaks certain languages, a voice piped up in reply, “Me too”. I looked over and saw a Malaysian man sitting there, which was funny. The whole crowd that was with me started laughing hysterically and it took a while to get back to business. Later on when I was walking around the island he saw me and we had a short chat. It seems like he is a bit of a joker.

Mariela was taking photos of kids and young people, and I went over to join her, and as I approached a teenage boy came up to me, put his arm around my shoulder and posed for Mariela to take a photo of me. I got into the spirit of things and look a bit crazy in this photo too.


It was actually a bit weird for a second having a young man put his arm around me, as that is not culturally appropriate behaviour for PNG. I think this guy might have been a bit high on betelnut and/or something else.

Here are some more photos of people being crazy in front of the camera at Matsungan. (Mariela took all of these except the last one, which I took).




Friday, July 9, 2010

Sweet tea

I usually drink my tea with milk and no sugar, but the people of PNG like it to be sugar laden. When they say they have two spoons of sugar in their tea, they are talking about dessertspoons, not teaspoons!

When I’m in the village, I drink this sweet tea too and I quite like it. It’s totally different to white tea with no sugar though. I call it my ‘village drink’ because it’s not really what I call ‘tea’. I drank lots of cups of this sweet tea on our west Buka survey trip. Here are a couple of photos of me drinking my sweet tea.



Too much sugar all the time can cause diabetes, and in Tok Pisin it is called ‘sik suga’. I mentioned in an old blog post (here) how Sugaman welcomes you to Bougainville at the airport. This time I managed to get a photo of the sign and here he is:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stuck boat


There is a boat that is stuck on the reef off the west coast of Buka where we were travelling. It is quite a funny story. It’s a Malaysian boat, registered in Panama and its name is ‘Le Feng’. Anyway, they had engine problems so they were drifting and not able to control their movements, and the wind or a storm brought them to settle on the reef. I can’t quite figure out how it happened, the propeller is fully out of the water, as you can see in the photos. A lot of the boat that is usually under the water, is out of the water, so it is an unusual sight. In the photos, the whole area of the boat that is red is normally under the water, and it’s only the black part that you would normally see.


Anyway, it has been sitting there for 3 months or so now, and there are still some Malaysian staff on it, plus some police, to make sure that they don’t get off the boat as they don’t have visas. One of the men apparently wants to marry a woman (any woman) from Matsungan Island, presumably so that he could stay in Bougainville.

This is the boat as seen from Matsungan Island:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Scotland in Buka

There is a place on the west coast of Buka called Scotland! It was in the area that we were travelling in, but we didn’t visit it unfortunately. There is a health centre there that people use, and there used to be a school there, but it closed in the 1970’s.

The funny thing is that the place was not named after Scotland. It came about from a corruption of the name for the place in the local language. The people called it ‘chi kotolan’, and it seems that the early explorers had hearing difficulties and wound up thinking it was called ‘Scotland’. So now it has that name. The original name, ‘chi kotolan’, means ‘small beach’, because at its coast, there is only a small bit of sand.

Here’s a photo I took of Scotland from the boat as we were passing, you can see the small beach and a few buildings.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Survey team and work

The purpose of my trip to Buka this time was to be a part of a language survey team to find out about some languages and dialects on the west coast of Buka and on islands off the coast. The team consisted of myself, Bonnie (USA) and Mariela (Argentina). Here are the three of us travelling on a boat during the survey.

L to R: Bonnie, me, Mariela


Our work involved doing many questionnaires and taking a list of words in the local dialect everywhere we went for later comparison. We also had some recordings in local languages to see how the people could understand other dialects. We did questionnaires on the following topics: language use, contact patterns, church, school, community education levels, and culture. We each had certain jobs to do, and it was my responsibility to do the language use and contact patterns (eg. travel and movement outside of the language area) questionnaire. It was hard work, especially when I had to get the figures for immigration and emigration, as there was a lot of people who have moved to different areas or come in from somewhere else.

Here are some photos of me hard at work in the villages.



Having a bit of a laugh with the people

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG)

I was lucky enough to be in Buka for the swearing in ceremony of the new president and the second house of representatives for the ABG. It was far from boring! There were lots of song and dance items presented by the various language groups in the Bougainville region. The politicians’ speeches weren’t boring either, in fact I thought they were rather inspiring.

One of the cultural items:




At one stage when we were standing around watching the dances, the police shooed us away, saying ‘Hide, hide’. We didn’t do much other than just move along a little bit, then they told us all to sit down, which we did. The police were actually enforcing culturally appropriate respect for the next group who were coming out. There were some ‘born-chiefs’ in this group and they wear traditional ‘upe’ hats. They stay in their houses in the bush all the time and you would never see them walking around town. Women aren’t supposed to be near them and should show respect to them, so that is why we were told to hide and sit down. The men grow their hair and the hats are only held on by their hair inside it. I’m amazed that some of the ones that are on a bit of an angle don’t fall off!

Here are some of the men with the upe hats.



It was a really hot sunny day, and we wanted to be in the shade, but still see everything, so we ended up joining others who had crawled under a stage that the dignitaries were seated on. I turned around and took this photo of the people behind me under the stage:



The people of Bougainville are hoping that this new government will prepare Bougainville for independence. The earliest that they could gain independence is in five years, but it could be 15 years away at the latest. My friend Ailyne told me that three things need to be established before they gain independence: weapons disposal; economy; and good governance. Mining is Bougainville’s best option for economy, but that was what caused the civil war from 1988-2000. The new president, the honourable John Momis, is considering re-opening the mine however, in consultation with the landowners. The local newspaper recently said that independence for Bougainville is still a long way off.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Port Moresby adventures – Luxury Hotel

We were at the airport very early on a Saturday morning, all checked in, with our boarding passes, and I was having a doze while waiting to board our flight, when suddenly my doze was interrupted with an announcement that our flight to Buka had been cancelled and rescheduled to 4am on Sunday morning. They had already taken our luggage off us and everything, so we were told that we were to go to the arrivals area to pick up our luggage again.

Since we were only in transit in Port Moresby, we didn’t have a place to stay for the night (the previous two nights we knew we had to stay there and had bookings for accommodation), so we went to the Air Niugini customer service desk and spoke to them. They put us up in a hotel for the night, since it was their fault that we had to stay another night in Moresby.

Oh, it was so exciting! We got to stay in a fancy hotel and we were excited by everything, including the free toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser and body wash). Air Niugini paid for our lunch and dinner there too. The three of us wanted to be together, rather than in separate rooms and requested that, but since Air Niugini was paying a certain amount for each of us, they added that up and gave us a room that was worth that value, so we got a really nice room. They called it a ‘suite’. It had a widescreen TV and cooking facilities. There was a sliding door that went out to the swimming pool area.

Here is the pool and dining area:


We really enjoyed our two meals there, and I was happy to be able to see the last quarter of a Geelong AFL game after dinner.

We had a HUGE double bed, plus they put in an extra bed too. The double bed was really more like a triple bed, as it fitted 3 pillows along the top. I had never seen a bed that big before. Here’s a picture of it.


This is Mariela and me relaxing on the couch, posing for the photo.


You can see the widescreen TV, lounge, dining table and kitchen in this photo.



This night in the hotel was a huge contrast to what our living situation in the villages over the next two weeks would be!