Tuesday, February 9, 2010

PNG Price Index (my version)

Well, you have heard that things are expensive here in Papua New Guinea.

The following is a list of items that I bought and their prices. As meals are provided by the company, this list is not comprehensive, but nevertheless, it can still serve as a limited guide to compare prices.

Prices are in Kina. 1 Kina = MYR1.20. For other currencies, visit Universal Currency Converter to convert Kina to your currency.

  • Toilet tissue (4 pack) - 6.75 (12 Dec 09)
  • Sunsilk shampoo (200ml) - 8.05 (12 Dec 09)
  • Facial tissue (cheapest brand) (100's) - 2.95 (29 Nov 09)
  • Protex Active bathing soap (90g) - 2.00 (26 Nov 09)
  • Colgate Coolmint toothpaste (175g) - 6.25 (26 Nov 09)

  • Spritzer mineral water (1.5l) - 3.20 (12 Dec 09)
  • Berri fruit juice (2.4l) - 15.00 (18 Dec 09)
  • Lipton tea bags (45g/ 25's) - 5.05 (3 Dec 09)
  • Sunquick orange juice (840ml) - 12.60 (3 Dec 09)

Food Items
  • Julie cheese crackers (800g tin) - 19.10 (10 Dec 09)
  • Maggi instant noodle (80g) - 0.90 (10 Dec 09)
  • Daddy instant noodle (80g) - 1.20 (06 Dec 10)
  • Eggs (65g/ 10 pack) - 9.35 (10 Dec 09)
  • Bread (600g/ loaf) - 3.70 (06 Feb 10)

  • Loytape (18mm x 15m) - 1.50 (3 Dec 09)
  • Manilla card - 2.50 - 3.00 (3 Dec 09)
  • Arch file - 10.00 (29 Nov 09)

  • DVD
  • VCD

Electrical appliances
  • Pensonic adaptor - (26 Nov 09)
Household items
  • Basket (plastic) - 7.55 (30 Nov 09)
  • Clothes hanger (plastic, 12's) - 9.85 (29 Nov 09)
  • Petrol (per litre) - 2.85

Friday, February 5, 2010

Part 3: Laid Back Sematan

Sematan holds a special place in my heart.

We were travelling by bus from my school in Kuching to Sematan for a holiday excursion. Sematan had only gravel road then. I remembered seeing the sea and the waves for the first time from inside the moving bus. We had not yet reached our destination, the site of our camping ground. The site was nestled among coconut trees, in a small coconut plantation away from the town. I was so excited at seeing those beautiful pounding waves and at the prospect of being pounded. It would be fun. I had always been fascinated by the giant waves of Hawaii. On that first trip to Sematan, I was 17 or 18 years old.

(Did we stay in the huts on the left among coconut trees back in the early days? I can't remember the scene.)

We were just camping there, enjoying the beach and the sea. Some were doing the cooking. Others were playing games or strolling along the beach. I was taking photos and hoping to collect sea shells, after having had enough of the waves. But there was hardly any shells to collect. As night fell, the water receded further and further out into the sea.

I could still remember listening to the song "Sad Movies" by Boney M while lying on the floor unable to sleep. It was such a romantic and sentimental song. For many years, whenever I listened to that song, sweet and nostalgic memories would transport me back to Sematan, to the time when that song played in my ears. We stayed in a simple wooden hut. There was no shower in the house, just a simple cement water tank in a dark bathroom.

I could not sleep well that night. I woke up early the next morning. By that time the water has receded very far out into the sea. I strolled towards the edge of the sea, hoping that there was sea shells to collect. It was then that I found the further I went, the more beautiful the beach. Looking back towards the coast, I realised the expanse of the beach.

There was an old caretaker taking care of the huts then. From him, we beg for coconuts.

Twenty years had gone by when I visited Sematan beach the second time. The old man has gone. So had the simple hut. Or was it that I could not find it? I searched up and down the beach but I just could not remember where we stayed. I had lost the old photographs, and have no reference. I only remembered that there was a stream flowing beside the hut where we stayed, forming a barrier to prevent us from going across. I did find a stream, but not the hut. Has time taken a toll on the old hut?

(Was the wooden hut where we stayed on our camping trip by this stream? There was no hut here 20 years later)

(Talang-Talang Islands in the horizon)

(The main road to the town. We stayed at the lodging hotel on the left)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Part 2: Rustic Telok Melano

(This post was first written for www.worldisround.com in 2004. Time has passed, and what was true then may no longer be so. For example, the bridge across the Kayan River in Lundu has now been completed. The bus station in front of Kuching General Post Office is also no longer there. So read this as a travelogue from a time past. Some amendments have also been made.)

So where do tourists visiting Telok Melano and Tanjung Datu stay? Actually, the villagers (not all of them) are involved in the home-stay programme. Tourists can book their accommodation through the village head or directly with villagers who are involved in the programme. Tourists can also just go to Telok Melano and then approach any of the houses to ask about the home-stay programme.

At Telok Melano, drinking and bathing water is obtained from the mountain. Electricity is from the generators. Usually, a few families would share a generator and electricity comes on from about 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight. According to our host, the government actually spent a large sum of money to build a mini-hydro station to provide electricity. However, water to turn the turbine was strong enough for one or two hours only each day. It was eventually abandoned.

The beach and sea of Telok Melano is beautiful too. It is definitely much more beautiful than Tanjung Aru Beach of Sabah or Sematan Beach, especially to the west of the village. Arriving from Sematan during high tide, the boat that took us there berthed in the sea about a hundred foot from land. The water that greeted us was clean and clear and the beach sandy and beautiful. It was a big different from the beaches at Sematan. I would have jump into the water for a swim had we not go for the trip to Tanjung Datu immediately afterwards.

At low tide, the beach stretches far out to the sea. It's gentle slope and clean sand is so much more beautiful in the evening sun. There is a small stream to the west of the beach where a Chinese family lived. The reflection of coconut trees in the calm stream brings out a beautiful scene. Looking at the village across the wide expanse of beautiful, sloping beach really takes your breath away.

Telok Melano is also an excellent place to collect sea shells. They are not exactly very big but they are certainly varied, colourful and beautiful. My wife did not seem to have had enough of sea shells at Sematan. She was picking more sea-shells here and she was telling me the sea shells at Telok Melano were so much more colourful and beautiful. We were told that larger shells could be collected at very low tide. Unfortunately, very low tide was in the night when it was too dark to see. There seemed to be more shells on the eastern shore.

(We put up at this lodging house at Sematan, before leaving for Telok Melano the next day)

(Leaving Sematan bazaar for Telok Melano)

(View on the way to Telok Melano from Sematan)

(Pulau Talang-Talang Besar and Talang-Talang Kecil)

(Kampung Telok Melano - the modern building in the centre was a school)

(Coming in to land at Kampung Telok Melano on our arrival)

(View of Kampung Telok Melano in the evening - I love the emerald green sea)

(We stayed here)

(Our host living room)

(Our homestay room)

(If you love collecting sea shells, you can find plenty of them at Kampung Telok Melano)

(Chit-chatting with our host when it was too dark to stroll around)

(Sunrise at Telok Melano)