"Papua New Guinean capital" Top 5 Page for this destination Port Moresby by Ramonq

Port Moresby Travel Guide: 79 reviews and 151 photos

Isolated city

Flying into Jacksons International Airport is quite spectacular. Verdant mountain ranges encircle the harbour city. Nature dominates the scenery as this low-rise city of a few hundred thousand inhabitants live on the hills covered with lush tropical trees and bushes. As I left the airport, I noticed that most developing tropical cities have the same characteristics. Lots of people walking on the streets or sitting idly on the footpaths, rain or shine.

The road from the airport to the city centre (Poreporena Highway) is smooth and well maintained. I can also see the strong influence of Australian colonialism. As one approaches the city, many of the financial institutions commonly seen in Australian towns, are housed in generic mid-rise glass towers and I suspect that they also used the same architects that designed the those boxy uninspired buildings in Canberra. The one that stood out from the pack was the Bank South Pacific which proudly emblazons fantastic Papua New Guinean artworks on its facade. All buildings in Port Moresby should be like this!

The streets of central Port Moresby is typically Third Worldish. Footpaths are obstructed by vendors and idle onlookers, normally men (must be unemployed). They are also awashed with red stains which I thought were blood spilled from a previous night's bloody brawls. They turn out to be spits from chewing betel nuts, a national past time in PNG. I also saw those red stains on the carpeted floors of office buildings!

The people

But what struck me most about Port Moresby was the fantastic array of interesting faces, many sporting red teeth and tongues owing to chewing betel nuts. Most Port Moresbians come from various regions of PNG, from the highlands to the coastal areas and the outlying islands Apparently, the locals can easily distinguish where one comes from, just by looking at their faces. There are really dark skinned peoples (Bouganvillians) and stocky ruddy curly haired ones (Highlanders). There are also a lot of brown skinned ones with straight hair (Manusians from the islands) to fair skinned ones (mixed).

I did not see anyone wearing traditional attires anymore since the Port Moresbians have now adapted to modern urban ways. There are a few that are so Westernised (Australianised) that one cannot perceive any cultural affiliation to a particular tribe.

PNG calls itself "the land of the unexpected" and the people cannot be easily stereotyped. There are arund 800 languages (not dialects) in PNG! Apparently most Port Moresbians speak about 3 native languages and the nationally recognised Pidgin. The educated ones speak English very fluently. These are the people that are now dominating the boardrooms and government institutions of modern PNG.

I have met a lot of local Port Moresbians (the educated classes) and they are very friendly and urbane. I have been warned of the high crime rate of the city, which have made me paranoid about approaching strangers. But my experience has been the opposite. Yes, some of the mean suburbs remind me of the rough areas of Nairobi or Johannesburg and you should never walk around these areas at night on your own. Unemployement is rife and many who are fresh from the hinterlands have still not adapted to urban ways. Its quite overwhelming to see the contrasts between these two societies. The barrier between them are barbed wires, rottweilers, and security guards in the affluent areas up on the hillside suburbs. Sad to see, but this is the reality of many developing countries. Yet despite all the horror warnings, I walked around the city (during daylight) and explored the various areas without much incident.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unexpectedly fascinating people
  • Cons:Crime
  • In a nutshell:City of the Unexpected
  • Intro Updated Feb 16, 2006
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Reviews (18)

Comments (13)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Oct 27, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    have enjoyed your pg thanks...a place Ive always wanted to visit but before coming to the UK PNG was forever having uprisings and unrest...expats having come home as theyd run over someones chicken or child...life for a life with machetes around..and then Bouganvilles probs...but hopefully one day will get there! you didnt go do the famous walking track! difficult with that betelnut as throat cancer stats are a worry, hopefully its decreasing!

  • Nov 22, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    Ramon, I lived, worked and studied abroad in Australian cities, Manila, HK, KL, Singapore, Seoul, Suwon, Ichon, Taejon. Keep the animal instinct of survival when faced with adversity. PM is the free-est city of all. I love PM.

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
    Nov 16, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    Great page on a city that usually gets even worse press than Johannesburg! I have only had time to write up my experience of betel nuts at the PM airport - maybe you'll inspire me to crack on with my PNG pages! Regards Cathy

  • muguruki's Profile Photo
    Oct 15, 2010 at 4:00 AM

    Mmmm, Thursday night in the Pondo Bar aye! I must say you wear louder shirts than me.

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2010 at 2:48 AM

    Hello, Ramon! Thanks for your description, it's amazing!

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Jan 11, 2009 at 6:13 AM

    nice tips!

  • fabrice's Profile Photo
    Jul 26, 2008 at 2:26 AM

    interesting trip , crime must be high at night , the situation might be quite different in little villages inside the country

  • JessH's Profile Photo
    Sep 30, 2007 at 11:45 PM

    Hello Ramon. Very nice page here with some great photos and good info... PNG is definitely on my wishlist for future travel. I enjoyed reading your tips; my ratings are definitely with you. Greetings from the desert / Jess in Dubai :-)

  • sprdak11's Profile Photo
    Jan 17, 2007 at 10:35 AM

    Interesting travel page. Best wishes.

  • ZiOOlek's Profile Photo
    Jan 2, 2007 at 12:02 PM

    Great pics from PNG.:) Would be great to see the architecture with local twist.:) Have a wonderful trips in New Year.:)

Ramonq

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