January 29, 2010

Farewelled the "Kopex" town

After an overnight trip to Duke of York Islands, we are back at Kokopo.
This was the last day at East New Britain and we strolled around the town.

When I first visited here in 1995, there was few permanent buildings. No Kokopo Beach Bungalow, No Rapopo plantation; ANZ bank was operating from barrack-type house.
Now it is one of the fastest growing towns of South Pacific - it has many new permanent buildings, big shops, warehouses, as well as historical buildings - one of the oldest Catholic Churches in Papua New Guinea, Modern History Museum .....
Kokopo Market was very busy with people selling and buying the food, cloth, basket etc...
Unlike other big towns in Papua New Guinea, people mind their own business and very safe.
We wish Port Moresby is safe like East New Britain ....
After several days of re-discovering Rabaul & Kokopo, we reluctantly left the "Kopex" town.

Vunapope = "place of the Pope" is one of the oldest catholic missions in Papua New Guinea .
The cathedral has been refurbished recently.

Queen Emma portrait at the Kokopo Museum.

Japanese Fighter "Zero" at Kokopo Museum.

January 26, 2010

Duke of York Island Adventure

On the next day, we have set sailed for Duke of York Islands. Duke of York Islands are group of 13 islands lie between New Britain & New Ireland on the St. George's Channel.

Today's main destination was Mioko Island, some 45 minutes boat ride from Kokopo. After we left our bags, we have departed again for snorkeling, and then fishing on the way. Not long, Dominic has caught a big Barracuda !!

After the marine activities, we have done a nature walk from the tip of the island to the Guest House. Mioko Island is where Queen Emma has set up her first plantation in 1878 and remains of her resident & Pool can still be seen in the jungle. (Photo below: remain of Queen Emma's swimming pool)

The flat walk can be done by any age group, and is full of attraction, history, tropical flowers, houses and curious local people etc...

The village life is very simple, people don't have anything luxurious yet have everything to live.
The trip was adventurous, heart-warming & educational.

Duke of York can be visited as a day trip if you want a modern comfort & hot shower, but if you really want to feel the village life and its hospitality, it is worth visiting by a overnight trip.
The next day, sea was very calm. When we are leaving the Duke of York, dolphins were chasing the boat and jumping as if they are saying "Goodbye and please come again !!"

January 24, 2010

Village Tour our of Kokopo

We have visited a village called Menebonbon outside of Kokopo.
The village is 45 minuets away from kokopo on the hill side towards the tip of Gazelle Peninsula and have living with substitant agriculture with Copra/Cacao as cash crop.
When we visited, villagers were busy cutting the Copra (dried Coconut). The cut Copra is dried in an oven in the village and later sold to the Copra factory in town before being exported to overseas.
After the "factory inspection", we have moved to a nearby house. The ladies were already preparing the today's lunch called "Aigir."
Aigir is traditional dish in Rabaul area and it is similar to the "Mumu" in a way that they use heated stone for steaming the food, but it is unique in its own way and ingredients.
The biggest difference from Highlands "Mumu" is Aigir use full of Coconut Milk.
Heated stones are placed on top of the Banana leaves and coconut milk is boiling up.
Then you add Taro, Chicken, Aibika, etc... and cover it up with the Banana leaves.
After 30 minutes or so, delicious Aigir is done !!
Sweet taste of Coconut milk is absorbed in all the ingredients and all I could say was "Oh, its beautiful !"
The village is situated on the hill looking down Warangoi Bay (on the other side on Tokua Airport) and blessed with nature. When I carefully look around, I could see Avocado, Paw paw, Cacao, Star Fruit, Coconut... everything was there.
Village visit experience is something you should not miss in Papua New Guinea, and I can say that Menebonbon is one of the "secret treasures" of Rabaul/Kokopo.

January 22, 2010

Rabaul - Volcano Town

Rabaul was once called "the most beautiful towns in the South Pacific", until 1994 when the twin volcanic eruption ruined the entire town.

Since then, Government & Business Houses moved to Kokopo and no new building has been built in Rabaul. Most of the existing buddings have been collapsed because of the ash and subsequent effect of acid.

Rabaul township was first developed by the Germans. German Flag was raised at Matupit Island on 3rd Nov 1884, but the capital was in Kokopo. After they found that Kokopo does not have deep port to cater for a big ship, they have developed a new town with the big harbor - Simpsons harbor and named the town "Simpsonshafen".
Simpsonshafen was renamed as Rabaul after Germans have defeated the World War 1, but the town kept developing as main export town of Copra.
The Town was ruined by 1937 eruption which killed more than 500 people at nearby Matupit island and again by the World War 2.
But people who loved the "Frangipani" town came back and rebuilt the Rabaul.
With the mighty power of the mother nature, we are not sure if Rabaul will come back again to its beauty or not. However, with people still love the town and work hard to rebuild the town, I am sure there will be a hope.

January 20, 2010

Trip to Rabaul No.1

I have visited Rabaul last week.
Staying at comfortable Kokopo Beach Bungalow, I have visited Volcano town, Remains of German Colonial time and Japanese War Relics, and very nice villages on Mainland and Island.

Enjoyed the safe Town, comfortable Hotel, tasty Food & hospitable People.
I will post the trip report in next couple of days... should not be missed !!