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10 Mar 2018

Boracay, The Philippines

 

Boracay Island is our first stop in the Philippines. It is always fun to be greeted by the local community when visiting them.

 

I chartered a motorcycle type taxi with a sidecar setup for the afternoon - $15.

Depending with whom you speak or which review you read it is either the best or the worst.  I mean just last year Conde Nast Readers Choice rated it the best in the world and Travel and Leisure calls it "your idea of a desert-island paradise."

An unbelievable number of bloggers and just normal reviewers call it the ultimate dump and grossly overcrowded.

My verdict - it is a dump with a few sublime spots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 









04 Mar 2018

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

We are back to Papua New Guinea and visited Rabaul which WAS the capital city of New Britain an island just east of New Guinea. About 500,000 people live on this island. 

In 1994 two nearby volcanos erupted at the same time. Thanks to an early warning system virtually all 50,000 residents were evacuated and saved. The same cannot be said of the city itself which was destroyed under two feet of volcanic ash.
Most have resettled along with the capital itself.
The first stop was a visit to Tavurvur Hot Springs near the foot of Mt. Tavurvur. 
We were driving slowly on a bumpy dirt road. The vehicle in front of us just listed and stopped when it lost its tire. The driver said he thought that might happen because only one lug nut was holding it on. Expect the iunexpected when traveling in the third world.
  
We signed up for a much more adventurous tour than we thought and were actually on the steep, slippery, rocky volcano climb. Then it got worse in my flip flops trying to negotiate sharp lava rock. I just made it half way. Allyn kept going of course.
 
 
 At night we went to the Baining Fire Dance, a formal  ritual of the Baining tribal men. It is only performed on very special occasions such as birth, death and harvest. Apparently the arrival of a cruise ship is a very special occasion.
 








02 Mar 2018

Gizo, Solomon Islands

 

East of Papau New Guinea is Solomon Islands (not The Solomon Islands) where we have spent the last two days. 

Yesterday we were rained out of Guadalcanal. There is not much there anyway except for a nice WW II War Memorial.

Today is Gizo, the second largest town in Solomon Islandswith  just over 6,000 inhabitants. It is on Ghizo Island, and yes they are spelled differently.

 

 

 

 

The people here seem so much happier and in a better place than the Papau New Guinea group. They were smiling, singing, not malnourished and all seem to have some place to go and something to do.

 

 

I mean it is not The Ritz, but it was really lovely.

This area of Solomon Islands has had a history of headhunting, so much so that local tribes joined together to obliterate the Gizo tribe. It ceased about 1899.

That event led to Ghizo Island being declared as a property of the state, rather than the usual customary ownership prevalent in much of the rest of the Solomons.

One of the cruisers bought a little trinket, accidentally left her iPad, and boarded the tender (a tender is a cruiseline lifeboat that the ships use to transport people between the ship and shore when anchored) to head back to the ship. Moments later the vendor saw it and ran back to the tender to return it to her. Impressive.

 

 

Notice the food in their local market. (See yesterday's blog).









28 Feb 2018

Katava, Papau New Guinea

 

 

 

Different days call for different activities such as culture, education, shopping and even eating. Today the beach was calling.

 

 

 

I chartered  ($2) Allyn a yacht to head across to a small island that had great snorkeling.

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Many medical researchers consider Katavans as having the healthiest people on the planet. There is practically no acne, diabetes, cardiovascular disease leading to stroke or congestive heart failure, dementia or blood pressure problems among the native Kitavans.

They think it is diet because it is not related to genetics as genetically similar groups who eat an abundance of industrial food appear to be susceptible to the degenerative diseases of the West. Also exercise is not a likely cause of the exceptional health on Kitava as an average Kitavan is only slightly more physically active.

The Kitavan diet comprises an abundance of foods that have a low glycemic index rating and that are rich in soluble fiber, magnesium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

 









27 Feb 2018

Alotau, Papua New Guinea Part 2 of 2

 

Papau New Guinea info - It occupies the eastern half of New Guinea which is the second largest island in the world behind Greenland.

Only 18% of the people live in urban areas. That is flip flop of USA for example where over 80% live in urban areas.

They have 852 known languages.

Although they are close to the Equator, they get snow.

 

 

 

 

We were lucky to spend significant time in Shanniah Loihai's (our guide) own home to actually see how they live as well as hear about it. Keep in mind that this is an industrious hard-working entrepreneurial family, yet they have no electricity, plumbing, or water. The kitchen is on a dirt floor. The outdoor fire area is where hot cooking is done. 

 

They just built the bridge across the little river to accommodate tourists like ourselves. They used to just traverse the water which gets many feet hight in the wet season.

 

 

They installed a deluxe outhouse for guests that they will be bringing by.

 

This is the neighbor's house.

 

Her brother is doing wall renovation.

 

The family has a coconut drying facility where they take the coconut, shed the skin, cut it open, dry it, take out the meat and sell it. It takes about 500 of them and a couple weeks of labor to generate a few dollars.

 

This is a cannibal sphere. They are carved out of palm. The jagged points facing in are to pull the enemy person in by his long hair. The sphere is then plunged into the body. It makes for a nice fresh meal.