Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea

I have spent just over a week on this island and I have had a fascinating time carrying out my research. Everyone is really friendly here and I have felt very welcome. There are many issues involved with the mine on this island and my research has involved looking into the suitability of the relocation housing. I will go into more detail about the housing in the next post. I have been staying in the mining camp which has been quite a luxury for me (free gym, swimming pool, good food, coastal walks). There is even an expat triathlon club out here! I have also been lucky enough to receive free accommodation in exchange for a research report. Lihirians are a nice friendly bunch, very ambitious and industrious. They have embraced the opportunities offered by the mine and many hope to continue up the ladder and embark on foreign travel. I did tell them though, that when you live on an island paridise like this, you may be disapointed with the rest of the world! One thing I will not miss, is the heat. Going for a run at 7am and still sweating half your body weight is not fun.

As part of my research I visited Malie Island (a short boat ride away) and the villages of Put Put, Kapit and Kunaiye on Lihir Island. Unless working for the mine, few people venture out this way, most heading to the dive resorts or Port Moresby so I have been able to see a different side of Papua New Guinea, one that is not tourist oriented. Lihirians have a lot of customs such as the mens house (Haus Boi) where only men are allowed (I was not permitted to enter!) and there have been issues with the new types of housing (stilt houses) allowing women to be on top of the men which is also forbidden. Catholic missionaries have visited the island over many years so you can see churches everywhere and crosses and shrines dedicated to Christ. Lihirians have managed to preserve many of their original customs however, which shows the strength of them.

The market in Londolovit town where I bought betel nuts for my field work

there seemed to be some kind of music concert going on which was quite good

This is the office where I worked

It's rainy season which makes the mountains look quite dramatic

Some villagers on Malie Island where I was doing field work

Some cool dudes

Sandcastles are international

Here are some Malie Island people making shell money, they trade this instead of the PNG kina

Haus Boi or mens house is a strong tradition in PNG culture
A bit of a shrine to Catholicism in Clement's (a village chief) house

Looking across from Malie to the mine on Lihir Island

Leaving Malie Island, not sure about that flag

Some cheeky chappies

How about this for paridise

These guys insisted I take their photo they are selling betel nut and mangoes. The betel nuts are the small green things on the left

One of the ladies I interviewed had puppies

Stanislaouse in the stripy shirt who was my really helpful guide and interpreter

A coconut tree that people climb without any ladders or any support to get the coconuts

The kid at the front was so desperate to be in the photo

A church, quite elaborately built

What a life, eh, admittedly this was a Sunday afternoon

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