Papua New Guinea
I have to admit I was a little freaked out that I'd be travelling to Papua New Guinea for work. Between the Hep A shot, the Typhoid shot, the Malaria pills, and the unknown of staying at a worker camp in the middle of nowhere, there was a lot to worry about. Fortunately it wasn't that bad and certainly turned out to be a worthwhile experience.
When we landed in Port Moresby, we were instantly blanketed with sufficating humidity and the smell of people who don't shower. We had to walk to the domestic terminal where we went through several primitive security check points before we could check in. There, I realized that the "airline" we were flying on was solely for the purpose of flying people in to work on the site we were going to visit. We had a brief hour-long flight on a small plane from Port Moresby to the Moro airstrip, which consisted of a dirt landing strip set in a valley in the middle of the rain forrest. We got off the plane and were ushered into a room where we were given site safety inductions. Our customer met us and from there we had a thirty minute drive on a winding dirt road surrounded by trees, trees, and more trees. Just outside of the airport area was a tiny village with a few huts and people sitting around. It was interesting to see the pigs hanging out with them - pigs are incredibly important in that culture. Pigs are used as currency to purchase wives and apparently they are rather domesticated. They all have names, though when it's their time, they are beaten to death with sticks and slowly roasted in deep pits lined with leaves.
When we arrived at the camp (also surrounded by trees) we were each given our room keys and a bar of soap. My accomodation consisted of a small shipping container outfitted with a queen bed, desk, chair, tv, and my own toilet and shower. Apparently most rooms had to share bathrooms, but since I was in the female block I had my own. The place had definitely seen better days, but there was a roof over my head to keep me out of the rain so I couldn't really complain. We arrived just in time for dinner in the mess hall. Food there was an interesting experience. Our beverage options consisted of orange drink, red drink, or green drink. It took us all a couple days to work up the courage to try the green drink. The food was edible but definitely had its moments.
We spent the first day there at the customer's processing facility where we did a site survey to determine what they would need to upgrade their controls systems. The next day we drove around the area to another processing facility and were also shown a bridge that was built to connect the pipeline across a very deep gorge. It was very beautiful country, but definitely earned its title of RAIN forrest. It rained pretty much from 3 pm - 8 am every day we were there. I found it interesting that the only way into that area was by plane or helicopter - no roads connected with any real cities, just to the other facilities and camps. Anything they had in these facilities had to be flown in from far away.
The highlight of the flight was flying over the Great Barrier Reef and getting to see what it looks like from above. It was impressive to see this long string of beautiful formations amongst the clear turquoise waters. We will definitely have to plan a trip up to that area.
Overall, the trip was much better than I had been expecting. It certainly made me appreciate everything I have though, and it is very good to be back home. I could do without the rain though!
Here are some more pictures of the trip: