I was surprised to see some photos in my anthropology book and could not take my eyes off their vivid cultures. Ever since then I had yearned the voyage to Papua New Guinea (PNG). PNG is big, has lots of cultures and consists of so many islands, therefore in order to know it well tourists had better come here again and again. If you are in luck to visit PNG, here are some tips you had better know.


1. PNG is a Oceanian Country

It is located in Oceania
Many people are misunderstanding that PNG is located in Africa. But it is one of the Oceanian countries. Geographically, it is to the north of Australia and  the distance from Australia is just 150 kilometers across the Torres Strait. You may be surprised because it’s closer than you think. You only need 1.5 hour to get to Port Moresby from cairns for flight. In addition the good news for me, Japanese, is that Air Niugini has 6.5 hour direct flight from Tokyo.


2. Has the world’s second largest island

PNG consists of almost 10,000 islands. The mainland of PNG is the island of New Guinea, and it is second largest island to Greenland in the world. Its size is 78.6万km2; almost the same size as Chile. The island is divided among two countries: Papua New Guinea to the east, and Indonesia to the west. There are many islands in all sizes, so there is a exceptional case that one resort occupies one island; Loloata island


3. Official language is English 

You may be astonished to hear that PNG is home to more than 800 languages; nearly one-third of the world’s total. Lingual diversity makes local people found it difficult to communicate with people in other linguistic group. So ‘Tok Pisin’ and ‘Hiri Motu’ have developed as common languages. Due to the influence during the period of Australia’s rule, English is widely used in TV program, radio and newspaper, and became their official language. I think many tourists feel happy to hear that.


4. Spirits of Wantoks 

Historically there is an unique indigenous system called Wantoks (one-talk). It consists of an indigenous population who are belong to the same tokples (talk place). In its community, villagers has a strong sense of belonging to their own group. All its members are equally treated and must help each other. And their protection and security are ensured in its community. On the other hand, once Wantok is dishonored from other community, fights will be easily held. Even in Port Moresby, the capital, this spirit is regarded as the important thing.


5. Cultural diversity

All the people are surprised to know its wide variety of cultures. Thanks for precipitous mountains, flourish jungle and isolated islands, Their culture is well preserved. One custom, one tradition and one language are very different from others; each group has own style of drawing, dance, fashion, music, architecture and so on. So depending on the destination tourists visit, they can meet the different PNG, and enjoy PNG life in a different way. It is said that Some of sacred arts inspired Pablo Picasso and Taro Okamoto.


6. Sing sing – Big festival

Some tribes are open minded for cultural tourism and sharing own tradition with others. It is so hard to know about all tribes because there are more than 1,000 groups. But there is a good solution. Through ‘Sing sing’, a gathering of a few tribes, we can be a witness of several cultures at one time. Among those sing-sing The Mask Festival for East New Britain, Hagen Show for Western Highlands Province, and Goroka Show for Highlands region and people in lowland are very famous.  I’ve never participated in the festival. But already I plan a previous voyage for this interesting festival.


7. Yummy Mumu

A Mumu (pronounced ‘Moo-Moo’) is a traditional way of cooking. The preparation for Mumu starts from digging the hole. Next wrap food like potatoes, yams, chicken or pork and bananas in herbs and banana leaves. And then surround the package with lots of hot stones and cover with soil. Food are steamed And yummy Mumu is done. It is a big dish and it takes long time for preparation, so it is served in ceremony and for special visitors.


8. Beautiful Bird-of-Paradise 

photo by Mr. Darren Bellerby

photo by Mr. Darren Bellerby 

PNG is a bird watchers paradise. More than 700 bird species are populating, 90 species migrate, and some endemic species Like Goura cristata inhabit here. We can also see 38 species of Bird-of-paradise only here in PNG. (Globally there are 43 known species.) The funny dance for courtship of this bird is too famous. A raggiana bird-of-paradise is drawed on their flag, and is related with identity of local people.


9. Marin sports

One of the advantages of the island country is easily going to the beach. Tourists can try marine activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, Kite Surfing and fishing.

There are dive points all over the country. Points are various, so everyone from beginner to experienced divers can enjoy diving. You can see many fishes even skin diving with a snorkel.

A thousand miles of coastline and consistently good waves make PNG famous as a destination surfers long for. Those surfriders can ride on the nice swells between 3 – 6 foot, sometimes which get up to 6-8 foot and bigger.


10. Fierce battlefield during World War II

The New Guinea campaign was a series of battles that took place during the Pacific War. Empire of Japan invaded this beautiful country. Many soldiers shed their blood, and many villagers became sacrificed. The scars of the war are remaining here. While The Kokoda Trail is famous as a tourist spot, here was also a location of the 1942 World War II battle. Through these kinds of battle sites and remains like cannons and vehicles, We need reconfirm The horror and mindlessness of war, I think.

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