Saturday, December 26, 2009

Internet Service Providers in Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Before coming over to PNG, I was using Malaysia's broadband service, Streamyx.

The cost:
  • Monthly Fee = MYR60 per month or about K50 per month (all in, with no charges for line rental)
  • Access Speed = 384 Kbs
  • Data Limit = None, with unlimited download and connection time
Compared to Malaysia, the internet service and access charges in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are very expensive.
The following information was obtained from the PNG ISPs websites on 20th December 2009:

Plan Access Speed Monthly Base Fee Free Data Excess Charge per MB
ADSL – 200MB 128/64 K120.00 200Mb K0.36
ADSL – 600MB 256/128 K260.00 600Mb K0.34
ADSL – 1.6GB 512/256 K500.00 1.6Gb K0.32
Once-off installation charge of K200
Plan Prepaid Amount Prepaid MB Excess MB Allowed Excess Data Per MB
D40NET K18.00 40MB 40 MB PGK0.44
D110NET K45.00 110MB 110 MB PGK0.40
D200NET K75.00 200MB 200 MB PGK0.38
D400NET K140.00 400MB 400 MB PGK0.36
D800NET K240.00 800MB 800 MB PGK0.32
- K25 one-time non-refundable registration fee
- Datec computer set-up (Port Moresby, Lae) K110.

Prepaid Data Speed kbps Monthly Fee Excess Installation Fee
200 Mb 128/64 K120.00 K0.36 K50.00
600 Mb 256/128 K280.00 K0.32 K50.00
1200 Mb 512/256 K410.00 K0.28 K50.00
Dial-Up - Megabyte Plan
Plan Mb
Monthly Charge
Excess Rate per MB
Megabyte 20 Unlimited 20 K 18 60 t
Megabyte 50 Unlimited 50 K 40 55 t
Megabyte 100 Unlimited 100 K 75 50 t
Megabyte 200 Unlimited 200 K 120 47 t
Megabyte 400 Unlimited 400 K 200 44 t
Megabyte 600 Unlimited 600 K 270 40 t
High Speed Wireless Broadband Plans - Standard
Plan Plan Mb Monthly Charge Excess Rate/ MB
64k - 100 100 K 225 50t
64k - 200 200 K 250 48t
128k - 300 300 K 300 45t
256k - 300 300 K 350 45t
256k - 600 600 K 450 40t
256k - 1200 1,200 K 650 38t
512k - 2400 2,400 K 1,250 35t
- Excludes GST
- Installation fee of K400 plus GST will be charged
MB Kina
Webmeg Starter Pack
60 K 50
Web Instant
60 K 45
Webmeg Top Up Pack
60 K 45
120 K 85
250 K 165

3 Monthly Accounts 6 Monthly Accounts Annual Accounts Reg. MB Limit/ Month
Account Type K114 K216 K408 K40 30
Account Type K240 K456 K876 K40 100
Mail Box Only - - K24 K20 -
Registration cost is K44.00 (inclusive of VAT)

All ISPs internet services are provided through Telikom infrastructure. Charges for Telikom landline are as follow:
Exchange Line - Expatriate Residential
Installation fee K50.00
Security Deposit W/O credit assessment K500.00
Security Deposit with credit assessment K250.00
Line Monthly Rental K 7.00
Handset Monthly Rental K1.77

Monday, December 21, 2009

FAQ From Friends About Working in PNG

1. Questions Asked by Friends about Working in Port Moresby

Q: Have you got your table tennis team already?
A: I cannot even find a partner! So, please come. Bring along lots of table tennis balls (but don't get caught by Customs). It is very expensive here. It costs over 22 Kina for 3 balls.

Q: We all feel you must have a very good pay/prospect in PNG. That was why you quitted with such a short notice and flew off in a hurry, while forfeiting your year-end bonus.
A: Actually, my bonus was minuscule, smaller than peanut. So it was affordable (eventhough it was smaller than peanut, forfeiting it made me nuts). Over here, the local clerks could get an average increment of 50 Kina for a fortnight's pay (they are paid every two weeks) or 100 Kina for four weeks. 1 Kina = RM1.20. I guess the pay here should be good.

Q: How big is the upcoming hypermarket?
A: I don't really know. The latest information I got from Malaysian workers working at the site was that it was more than three times the size of the new Sing Kwong supermarket in Sibu (also 3 times the size of the current hypermarket).

Q: By the way, how much is the approximate remuneration for a candidate without diploma? with diploma? with degree? with professional qualification?
A: I don't have access to the information on salaries. Ask for a salary that will make you smile.

Q: Is PNG time the same as Malaysia's time?
A: It is two hours ahead of Malaysia's time. For eg. when I am in the toilet in the morning, you are still sleeping.

Q: Is the weather in PNG hot (in December)?
A: At the moment, it is summer. So, it is hot like in July in Malaysia. I was also told that humidity is lower here. It is also very dry. The first thing you notice while flying into Port Moresby is the barren hills, without trees and green grass. You can see it from the photos somewhere in this blog site.

Q: Is it easy to get infected with dengue fever/malaria?
A: Dengue fever/ malaria in Port Moresby is uncommon, just like in Sibu. Like Sarawak, malaria is only found in the interior.

Q: Are groceries in PNG expensive?
A: Yes, it is expensive. They are usually 2 - 3 times more expensive than in Sibu, but cars are cheap. If you want to be rich, go into business. You can make a killing without killing anyone. For example, a tray of 10 small eggs (65g) cost 9.35 Kina. Bring your hens over to PNG and you do not have to do another day's work.

Q: What are the common sporting activities there?
A: Among Malaysian expatriates, they play badminton. Many play golf too. Membership here is cheap, and I was told it was only about 2,000 Kina. You can also buy cheap second hand golf clubs in Brisbane, Australia (typical Malaysian). If you need to do some apple-polishing, then join the golf club. You can afford it here.

Q: Are there any entertainment?
A: There are cable TV stations.

Q: Any lenglui there or not?
A: Dark skin lenglui are really difficult to find. I don't know why. Yellow skin lenglui are all married. Sad.

2. Questions About Working in the Timber Camps and Sawmills

Q: How do I apply to work in PNG?
A: Send your resume to the company head office in Sibu, stating your name, the position applied, your work experience, your expected salary, your age and very importantly, your telephone number.

Q: How far are the timber camps/ sawmills from Port Moresby?
A: Roads are not linked, so nobody knows the actual distant. All transportation to the camps/ sawmills will be by air (either Air Niugini or company privately owned planes, depending on the locations). If you are flying on company planes, you shall land at the airstrips at the camps/ sawmills. I was given to understand that one sawmill was situated on a beautiful beach in Alotau (South-eastern part of PNG).

Q: Are sawmill/ timber camp workers insured?
A: Yes. The company will buy you Group Personal Accident (GPA), Group Term Life (GTL) and Hospital and Surgical Scheme (HSS). Should you die, you shall not be able to exhaust the paper money that will be burnt at your grave.

Q: What about language skills?
A: You need to be able to communicate in English. Surely you don't expect to communicate with the locals using sign language. How do you say 'fuck you' in sign language?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Last Meals in Sibu before Departure Part II

This is Part II of my last meals in Sibu. I continued this from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, as I disconnected my internet access in Sibu on the afternoon of 23rd November 2009.

23rd November 2009 - Seng Bee Cafe, Lanang Road

I discovered this place very late, i.e. in late 2008 only. CTT told us that the beef kampua here was great. The business was owned by an ethnic Chinese but the cook was (probably) Malay or Indonesian. There were actually two sections to this cafe, one non-halal and one halal. The beef kampua was at the halal section. The cook who dished up the excellent halal beef kampua made excellent Sarawak Laksa too, probably the best I have in Sibu. It was creamy and yummy. So, I had both for breakfast this morning with CTT.

23rd November 2009 - Aborted Lunch - Wan Siang Cafe
My planned lunch at Wan Siang Cafe with TSC at Lanang Road did not materialise. The owner of Wan Siang Cafe stir-fried excellent Malay style mee goreng. I can testify that even Malays cannot prepare such excellent mee goreng. Just when I was about to get moving to Wan Siang at about 12:15 p.m., the sky turned cloudy. I had to call TSC to cancel the lunch date.

24th November 2009 - Another Aborted Lunch - Sing Kwong Food Court
My planned lunch for today at the new Sing Kwong foodcourt with TSC was cancelled, again because of cloudy sky. My favorite food here was the Bak Kut Teh and the stir-fried sambal noodle. The owner of the sambal noodle stall onced promised LKF and me that she would teach us her skills, after we commented that her sambal noodle was so good. We however never took up the offer.

24th November 2009 - at a corner restaurant at Bukit Lima Timur Road
Four of us, CTT, TSC, LKF and me, came together for one last meal as a farewell dinner for me at a restaurant at Bukit Lima Timur Road. I forgot to take a picture of the restaurant but I was told that this was a very popular place. There were a few stalls here, and we ordered roti canai, pork satay, fried noodles, etc. The pork satay was very good, and TSC sapu almost all the satay and the sauce.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finally, I Am Leaving Sibu

[This blog was drafted on the day I left Malaysia on Wednesday, 25th November 2009]

I woke up early, at 5:40 a.m. I tried to continue with my sleep but could not. So, I decided to do what I must, i.e. to go through the checklist of items to bring. By 8:00 a.m., everything was more or less ready. I watched satellite TV for a while and decided to have my last kampua mee at 9:30 a.m. at the kopitiam in front of Tiong Hua Road Market. Then, it was back for a last bath.

The taxi arrived at 10:15 a.m., 15 minutes earlier than scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Arriving at Sibu Airport just before 11:00 a.m., the check-in counters were choking with passengers. I did not queue up immediately because I wanted to weigh my check-in bag first to ensure that it did not exceed 20 kg. It did not.

Flight MH2715 left Sibu for Kuala Lumpur as scheduled at 12:20 p.m. and touched down at about 2:00 p.m., and by 2:30 p.m., I was at the arrival hall at the main terminal building (MTB).

My flight from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Port Moresby (POM) was at 10:40 p.m. I had 8 hours to explore the MTB. The arrival hall was on Level 3. After 1 hour, I had explored the lobby area. Then, I went up to Level 5 to the departure hall, and spent the rest of the time there, waiting for Air Niugini check-in counters to open.

As I was taking photographs at Level 5, suddenly two familiar figures passed by me. Those who knew them would recognise them from the photograph.

While exploring the departure hall, I realized that there was no security check on the luggage. The luggage was checked in straight away. I called CTT and TSC back in Sibu and neither could offer any explanation. So, I asked a security personnel and was told that unlike the domestic check-in at other airports, no luggage screening was done here. It would be checked after the luggage was checked in.

The wait was long and boring. Tugging a 15 kg check-in luggage with a hand-carried bag restricted my movement. I could not check in my luggage as the Air Niugini counters have not opened. Other airlines have opened theirs. I had actually wanted to explore all the five levels at KL International Airport. I moved around Level 5 only. During this time, I exchanged MYR346.80 for USD100, more expensive than my first purchase of USD back in Sibu.

It was not until about 8:30 p.m. that Air Niugini counters finally opened for business. There was a small crowd, consisting of Papuans, Fuzhouese, Cantonese, mainland Chinese, families with young children, etc.

There was one lady, at another counter, who was told that her passport has less than 6 months' validity, i.e., it was expiring in January 2010. I thought what tough luck for her. She must have paid over RM1,500 for the one way ticket. With two children in tow, the amount paid would have exceeded RM4,500. Just like LCC when he checked in for Bangkok with less than 6 months' validity - he was refused permission to check in. As I left, the lady was still there.

I left the departure hall for Gate C33, passing through Immigration and going down to Level 4 for the immigration exit stamp. Then, it was a short wait for the Aerotrain to arrive, the mass people mover system at KLIA, to bring passengers to Satellite Building A, where the actual departure gates were located. I arrived before 9:00 p.m. and went straight to Gate C33 and after a thorough luggage screening and body check, cleared through the airport police check. As I was entering Gate C33 to the seating area, I was asked by a policewoman where I was heading. I replied, "Gate C33". I was told that Gate C33 had not opened and I must wait outside. Well, you see, I cleared through the police check for Gate C31 for Singapore, instead of Gate C33. The two gates were side by side. What a country bumpkin.

As I was waiting outside, the lady with less than 6 month passport validity appeared. How did she convince the check-in counter staff to issue her the boarding pass? Then, she was on the phone, speaking in Fuzhouese. Must be from Sibu too!

Two ladies, both with a child, started talking. The communication was initiated by one of the woman's son, who was trying to befriend the daughter of the other woman. Soon, both mothers were talking.

The woman with the son was working in New Ireland (not the Ireland in Europe but in PNG), and she was saying there was hardly anything there. Port Moresby would be much better. There were a lot of restaurants in Port Moresby. She said she was from the state of Sabah (in East Malaysia), whereas her husband was from the town of Banting (in West Malaysia). The other woman replied that she was from Banting, and was going to PNG to visit her husband during the school holidays.

Gate C33 finally opened for business at 10:40 p.m. The air hostesses and stewards arrived soon after. Not one of the air hostesses was attractive, with none being slim and beautiful. Some looked like grandmas and nannies. Was that a contributing factor to the lack of tourists to PNG? (Please do not flame me for this comment).

At 11:00 p.m, it was announced that the flight to Port Moresby was rescheduled to 2:10 am, 26th November 2009, due to an eruption of a volcano.

We were given a voucher for refreshment, valid at either Noodles or Burger King. I chose Burger King. The value of the voucher was MYR13. You take more than the value, you pay for them. I took 1 Double Cheese Burger (MYR13.90, I cup of Sprite (MYR3.50) and potato chips. I was told to pay MYR1.00 extra only.

After the light refreshment, I thought of re-entering Gate C33 seating area to take a nap. However, I was denied entry. The gate would only open at 1:00 a.m. Seats outside the gate were mostly taken up, so that ruled out sleeping. It was then that I decided to pen this blog on paper.

While sitting at a quiet corner writing, there was a power blackout. Hmm! This was KL International Airport. Looked like power outages were not only occurring in Sibu!

At exactly 1:00 a.m., feeling very sleepy, I dragged myself to re-enter Gate C33. The scanning machine was undermanned. I was the first to re-enter. This would be the third time my luggage was being screened and I being frisked by airport police. I was given customs and immigration cards to fill.

Finally, the plane took off at 2:17 a.m. It was a Boeing 757. The pilot was apologising for the delay and explained that due to an eruption of a volcano at Medan (in Indonesia ? or was it Madang in PNG?), the ashes would be in the path of flight PX 0395, hence the delay as a safety precaution.

There were a few occasions which I might have fallen asleep in the plane before the late supper was served.

I kept myself awake until after the supper. By then, it was 3:08 a.m. (Malaysia time) already. I dozed off at about 3:25 a.m. I have not slept for the past 22 hours.

At past 5:15 a.m., I woke up. The sun had risen and sunlight was entering the cabin through the window.

I tried to get back to sleep. It was futile as I could only catnap because of the bright sunlight and uncomfortable sitting position. When I went to the rear of the plane, passengers were lying on their back sleeping on the empty seats. Why didn't I thought of that? The hand rest could be pushed upward to allow passengers to sleep on the row of empty seats! Too late for me! Breakfast was served at 8:18 a.m, Malaysian time.

The plane landed at about 9:15 a.m. Malaysian time, or 11:15 a.m. local time.

Jacksons International Airport was small, with one wing for domestic flights and one for international flights. There were only 3 or 4 parking bays for planes. It was about the size of Miri Airport and looked old. It has no staircase but ramps leading to the ground floor to the Immigration counters.

Instead of picking up the luggage on arrival and then going through Immigration, it was the reverse here. I queued up at the line for those with visa (the longest queue), then picked up my luggage, queued up once more to exchange my US$ to PGK at the sole moeny changer, Bank South Pacific, and queued up the third time to go through Customs.

The custom officer really meant business. He asked me what was inside my bags. I said clothes and some documents. Then, he asked me to open up my bags and he went through my belonging. The department was really concerned about smuggling. I was through only when he was satisfied.

From arrival until exiting the airport, it was a slow and long process. By the time it was over, it was almost 12:00 noon local time (or 10:00 a.m. Malaysia time).

My "predecessor" was there waiting for me as I exited from the airport. In about 7 minutes, we arrived at my new employer's compound.

Within it were the office block, staff quarters, a big sport complex with three badminton courts, a gym and separate spa for male and female employees. Behind was a hypermarket.

I was then led to the guest room where I would be staying for one night before moving into the new staff quarters on Friday, 27th December 2009.