Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year in Papua New Guinea - Hamamas Niu Yia Olgeta!

Here's a New Year's Eve entry reposted from 2010.

It's hot, dark and still along the Sepik and Karawari River banks. Then the first beats are heard in the distance. Garamut drums are carrying the message from village to village: "Hamamas Niu Yia Olgeta!" Happy New Year to All!

In Papua New Guinea's towns, truck drivers pull over at trade stores to buy a Coke or a beer. At midnight they reach into their vehicles to honk their horns. Cheers can be heard from nearby houses where families and friends have gathered: "Hamamas Niu Yia Olgeta!"

Tomorrow may be a good day for a mumu.....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas: Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas go long yu!

Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas go long yu!

That's "Merry Christmas" in Tok Pisin, the common language spoken amongst Papua New Guinean language groups.

It's a busy time of year but here are a few quick notes about the holiday season in Papua New Guinea.

Stores in Papua New Guinea's towns use many more meters of glittery tinsel garlands per square foot of sales space than stores in North America.

Imported grapes and apples are a Christmastime treat.

Birth records do not exist in much of Papua New Guinea. Christmas is often used to keep track of approximate ages. It is common to ask someone's age with this question, "Hamas krismas bilong yu?". It translates as: "How many Christmases do you have?".

Posted by Mary Jane Murray at 9:47 PM

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tumbuna Sing Sing, May 2011

May 19, that's the date of the 2011 Tumbuna Sing Sing, a cultural festival in Papua New Guinea's highlands.

Tumbuna means from the time of the ancestors. This event is a truly authentic Tumbuna Sing Sing, based on traditions handed down from generation to generation.

I will be there with a small group of travelers. We will have the opportunity to closely observe the sing sing dancers' preparation for the traditional cultural event. Faces will be painted. Pounds of necklaces will be wound around necks. Feathers will be carefully unwrapped from protective leaves and positioned in fantastic headdresses.

Drumming, dancing, chanting, laughing--the day's sights and sounds will excite us and exhaust our camera batteries. At the end of the day, our best memories may be of our interactions with tribal dancers, villagers and elders

The Tumbuna Sing Sing is just one day of our 14 day Papua New Guinea itinerary. We will visit the land of the Huli Wigmen in the Southern Highlands, the renowned Wahgi Valley in the Western Highlands, the riverside villages in the Sepik River lowlands. A rare experience is our two night stay in a comfortable rural guesthouse.

A few spaces are available on this trip. Details are here:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mount Hagen Cultural Festival, August 2011

The dates are set. The clans will gather on August 13 and 14 for the 2011 Mount Hagen Cultural Show.

If you want to be one of the few hundred overseas visitors to experience this renowned sing sing in Papua New Guinea, you should make reservations soon.

Space in hotels and on flights is limited. People who try to make arrangements close to the dates are usually disappointed.

I already know I'll be there. I'm scheduled to escort the Vista tour, one of Trans Niugini Tours' highly regarded Mount Hagen Cultural Festival itineraries. This will be a highlight of my year

The 12 day Vista itinerary features the Mount Hagen Show and Papua New Guinea's contrasting iconic regions: the highlands and the Sepik lowlands.

We will spend our days amidst mysterious and colourful cultures, visiting villages, marveling at nature. Our accommodations will offer an artful combination of tradition, comfort and genuine hospitality.

Details of the 2011 Mount Hagen Cultural Festival Vista Tour are on Trans Niugini Tours' website: http://pngtours.com/tours/vista2011.html

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Papua New Guinea's Independence Day

It's early morning of September 16 in Papua New Guinea. People are waking up to Independence Day!

Red, black, gold and white, the colours of PNG's flag, will be worn in specially created bilum bags, meri blouses, laplaps, highlands caps and even commercially printed t-shirts.

There will be sing sings, mumus, football games, boat races and parties.

PNG's national anthem will be heard throughout the country. Care to join the singing? The lyrics are below.

Imagine yourself pausing near a wooden flag pole set in front of a very basic school building in the Sepik lowlands. Students stand tall in straight rows. The young teacher raises his hand and counts to three. Deep breaths are taken and then sweet voices sing, "O arise all you sons..". The red, black, gold and white flag is reverently hoisted. At the top, it catches a bit of a breeze. These are moments too special to photograph.

Papua New Guinea's National Anthem: "O ARISE ALL YOU SONS"

O arise all you sons of this land
Let us sing of our joy to be free.
Praising God and rejoicing to be
Papua New Guinea.

Shout our name from the mountain to seas
Papua New Guinea.
Let us raise our voices and proclaim
Papua New Guinea.

Now give thanks to the good Lord above
For His kindness, His wisdom and love
For this land of our fathers so free,
Papua New Guinea.

Shout again for the whole world to hear
Papua New Guinea,
We're independent and we're free,
Papua New Guinea.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baggage Weight - a PNG Practical Matter

The following post was originally blogged in 2008.

A highlight of many trips to Papua New Guinea is flying in a small aircraft over green covered mountains, rocky outcroppings and meandering rivers. There are few roads in Papua New Guinea.

On most flights between the remote lodges, each passenger is allowed one soft-sided or duffel type bag weighing up to 22 pounds or 10 kilograms plus one small camera bag type carry-on weighing up to 11 pounds or 5 kilograms. With a little planning and paring down, travellers, sometimes surprisingly, find this baggage weight allocation is more than adequate.

Travellers who do not pack within the guidelines may find themselves in the embarrassing situation of needing to unpack and scale back at the side of a grassy airstrip as a pilot waits to start the plane's engine.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010 Mount Hagen Cultural Festival - "Heading to the Show

This previously posted entry, "Heading to the Show", is brought up to top of this blog now in anticipation of the August 2010 Mount Hagen Show.

Space on Mount Hagen Cultural Show trips is always limited. If you act quickly, you just might may be able to book for August, 2010 Go to: http://pngtours.com/tours/highlights2010.html

"Heading to the Show"

The organizing committee calls it The Mount Hagen Cultural Show. Tour operators call it the Highlands Show or the Cultural Festival. The highlanders call it The Sing Sing.

Beyond Papua New Guinea's major centres, few homes have electricity. Televisions, DVD players, computers, satellite receivers and cable service are rare. It's easy to understand why many Papua New Guineans consider the Mount Hagen Sing Sing to be the entertainment highlight of the year as well as a traditional cultural gathering.

Highlanders hike the trails from their villages to the road and catch a PMV to Mount Hagen for the show. PMVs are the not so rapid public transit of PNG. The vehicles used are customized trucks with benches bolted into the floor and a canvas awning lashed overhead.

Many of the highland roads are unpaved. Most are in poor repair. The PMVs are crowded. The journey may be bumpy and uncomfortable, but spirits are obviously high. Passengers join in chanting and singing as they travel towards Mount Hagen for show weekend.

Once in Mount Hagen, these out-of-towners stay in the homes of wantoks as they call fellow clanspeople and relatives. Days are spent at the Sing Sing. Evenings are spent with friends and family, telling stories and catching up on news.

While overseas visitors arrive by airplane and are accommodated in hotels, they share the anticipation of the show and the exciting experience of the Sing Sing with the Highlanders.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

2010 Mount Hagen Show - Space Available for the Sing Sing!

Space is always limited for travel in Papua New Guinea during Mount Hagen Cultural Festival time. This spectacular gathering of the clans is also referred to as the Mount Hagen Show or the Mount Hagen Sing Sing.

Have just discovered that there is aome limited space avaiable for the August, 2010 Mount Hagen Show and am excited to pass that information along to you.

The details of the itinerary are here: http://pngtours.com/tours/highlights2010.html

This trip has three nights at Ambua Lodgs in the midst of the Southern Highlands' land of the Hulis, three nights at Karawari Lodge perched high above the Karawari River and the Sepik River system and three nights in Mount Hagen---that's the entire show weekend in Mount Hagen.

The well designed trip also has two nights in Port Moresby to accommodate international arrival and departure flight connections.

Papua New Guinea's most iconic areas, its best remote lodges and the entire show weekend in Mount Hagen---space on this itinerary won't last long.

Go to http://pngtours.com/tours/highlights2010.html or email service@pngtours.com and ask for details of the Highlights Tour.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mount Hagen Cultural Show - August 2010 Singsing in Papua New Guinea

The Mount Hagen Singsing, also known as the Mount Hagen Cultural Show, is one of the "1000 Places to See Before You Die". It is held in August in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

If you are interested in experiencing this renowned tribal gathering in 2010, contact Trans Niugini Tours at service@pngtours.com There are a few spaces available.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea frequently causes us to think in unexpected ways. Take, for example, the country's participation in quickly approaching Earth Hour.

According to the Post Courier, one of Papua New Guinea's daily newspapers, Earth Hour will be observed by many businesses in Port Moresby, the country's capital. It is likely that the some lights will be turned off in the larger provincial towns too.

As for the rest of the country, going without lights for an hour is not a widespread option. Most Papua New Guineans who live in rural areas do not have electricity.

I just did some quick online research and it looks like 1.6 billion people in the world live without electricity. That's nearly a quarter of Earth's population.

As we flick off our lights for an hour in an effort to bring attention to the heavy footprints being left on the planet, we might want to give some thought to the homes in Papua New Guinea and other countries where lights are never turned on.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


While Papua New Guinea has never sent an athlete to the Winter Olympics, the country is proud of the athletes who have competed at Summer Olympic games. Papua New Guinea sent a team of seven athletes to the 2008 games in Beijing.

On that team was Dika Toua, a female weightlifter. Toua is as charming, as pretty and as dedicated to her sport as Lindsey Vonn. Toua's popularity in Papua New Guinea may surpass Vonn's popularity in the USA.

By the way, travelers who are drawn towards Papua New Guinea as a destination, those people who like to take a step outside their comfort zones, may be interested in this: my piece about experiencing Winter Olympic sports at previous Olympic venues. While there is information for adventurous travelers of any age, it was originally written for an e-zine aimed at boomer women.

The title of the article is "Beneath this Boomer's Bosom Beats the Heart of...a Wannabe Olympian". Here's the link: http://bit.ly/a9UQJP

Monday, January 25, 2010

Start Enjoying Your Trip Before Leaving Home

"I admire the members of the group who prepare, dream and start enjoying the trip long before the first day on the itinerary. Their early entry into the spirit of travel in Papua New Guinea increases the return they receive on the time and money they invest in this big trip."

Below is the link to the rest of my piece about getting ready for a "big trip". It's in the 50+ Fabulous e-zine.


copyright (c) 2007 - 2011 Mary Jane Murray