Monday, July 27, 2015

Its Time - Back Home

After working around the world over the last 12 odd years, we have now headed "Down Under" and arrived back home - at least for a while.  Whilst we are both still working on Papua New Guinea work, our location is back in Melbourne - with family and grandchildren.

Our time in New Guinea has been interesting. It is one of the more beautiful places we have had the opportunity to experience but has governance and other issues which will make advancement of the country as a whole, difficult.  The people have interesting views and beliefs which I think would take a lifetime to fathom let alone understand.  The culture is an interesting mix of primitive beliefs combined with a strong religious faith all mixed up with a growing modern understanding of their place in the world.  This mixture of beliefs and understandings has made the work undertaken in this country the most difficult we have encountered over the last 40 odd years of working life - but also the most interesting (once frustrations are managed).  The teams we worked with over the last 5-6 years have been brilliant and the varied ethnic mix across the team has been great (from our local team members, to the normal expat mix  (Brits, Ozzies, and the Yanks) with some Russians, Cubans, Asians (Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Filipinos, Chinese etc), Europeans and East Europeans - a real mixture.

We have had great experiences and meet wonderful people and now need to undertake the difficult role of fitting in back home.....and I do believe this is one of the more difficult periods of an expat lifestyle.  To make things even more interesting we have decided to sell our existing place and have bought a new home.  So lots of changes coming up.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ian and I have now been in Papua New Guinea for roughly three and a half years.  Its been a tough project, with lots of issues, plenty of demands and, as always, a series of experiences which we would never have dreamed on having when we were married all those years ago.

PNG is a truly geographically beautiful country, but it is a third world nation, which is still trying to work methods of retaining its culture and developing into a true liberal democracy.  Sometimes I actually wonder if the two will ever be really compatible.  The huge gap in wealth, education and benefits, between the movers and shakers who mainly reside in Port Moresby or overseas and those that remain in subsistent farming villages throughout the country is huge and continuing to increase.  It is hard to see how this gap will decrease anytime soon.  Even those politicians with the best of intentions (and many do not fit into this group), have a difficult time managing the demands from the political groups, the NGOs and aids groups and the demands from their extended family and clan groups back in their home provinces.

Even so, the project works forward; with many work-stoppages associated with demands for the Company to provide services which should be provided by the government.  After almost four years Ian's work on the Komo Airfield has almost come to an end (he will then move over to the Hides Plant Site work).  THE major milestone was achieved on Friday with the landing of the first flight - the world's largest plane - an Antonov.

The airport took 3 years, 4 months and 24 days of site work; moved 9M m3 earth with ADTs hauling  1.3M km; 2.3M km of transporting and placing 400,000 m3 rock; layed 400,000 m2 of hotmix pavement; 3,900 km of runway grooving (enough to travel from Sydney to Pert; with the construction team enduring 50 Billion litres of rain (that would fill the huge site to a depth of more than 9.3m and submerge the captain in the Antonov cabin; and with a fire truck that is green (huh, I thought fire trucks were supposed to be red!?)!  

So we now have about 12 months of work left to finish the pipeline and the plant site before moving on to the next experience in our lives.  In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy the wonderful sunsets, which are amongst the most stunning we have ever experienced.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Port Moresby

Almost 1 week since arriving in Port Moresby. As with most third world countries, the capital city tends to be a big mixture of people from all over the country with an added sector of expats. Some of these are long timers, from a variety of nations. All this makes shopping very interesting. Three main supermarkets are available to project people, one has a wide variety of canned and bottled goods, one a very good butcher (meat from New Zealand and Australia) and one is just plain handy and a bit hit and miss on what is available. End result this weekend was spent visiting supermarkets or working.

The apartment I have been allocated is a bit of a mixed bag. Older style, comfortable but other than the historic place we had in Spain is the oldest place I have lived in for about 30 years. That said, it should be fine, size is good and once I get it to feel like home it will be quite comfortable.

The big win on this apartment is the views are fantastic. The hotel is situated half way up a hill over looking the Ela Beach and the wider bay around from the Port. The picture shows the view from the right at sunset.

From the left is an equally stunning view, which includes a lovely island and a jetty which is used by locals over the weekend. It was great watching all the kids diving in from the end, and the families having such a good time together. The tide is very low during the right time of the day and the locals go out at least 300 meters and still seem to only be at waist depth. Work is going well and the new week will see me on a business trip back to Brisbane. Looks like I'll be building up a few flyer miles over the next couple of years

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Now for the Next Stage - Moving On

Well after a couple of years based in Brisbane Australia, it is time for the next adventure. Whilst Ian will remain in Brisbane for a while longer, I am moving on to Port Morseby, New Guinea for a couple of years. I suppose one of the issues with working these projects is the number of times we find ourselves in different countries - at least this time we will be in the same hemisphere with only two to three hours flying time between the two areas.

The last couple of weeks in Brisbane have been interesting to say the least. Just before my original sail away date, the city and the state of Queensland was hit with floods which really had to be seen to be believed. The area under water was equal to the country areas of France and Germany combined. Houses smashed with water going through at speeds not to be believed. The damage will take months / years to repair. The house we have in Brisbane is just out of the immediate city area and on a hill - so we were very lucky. Many of our friends were affected with loss of power - but were in apartment blocks - high enough up that they were not affected by water damage. Lots of visitors and several meals were had at the Springhill address to cover off immediate needs until everyone found longer term beds, internet and cooking facilities. Things are quieter now in the CBD but the water has reached the south of Australia and is causing trouble in Victoria. Our wishes and thoughts are with all those country areas now being inundated in that area.

Anyhow, its time to get back to the packing. PNG is a beautiful country and should be a wonderful place to spend a couple of years. It will be interesting to see the progress and potential the governance will make over that time with the benefits it will get from this project. Hopefully it will be strong enough to apply those benefits to all its people.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Christmas and a Wonderful New Year

Well, we are close to the end of another year. Boy they go fast these days - shows we are getting older and time is getting shorter. Ian and I had Christmas in Melbourne and were able to catch up with Lauren and Tim and just after Christmas, Anthony, Jenny and Luke. A quiet Christmas but a good one.

Luke is chatting away and delighted us all with his excitement around his new Thomas the Train rail set. Unfortunately it was way too short and we returned to Brisbane yesterday.

So now starts preparation for 2011. I am off to PNG for at least two years whilst Ian is still due to stay in Brisbane.We expect to still get together regularly as we expect Ian to have quite a few business trips to Port Morseby.

Therefore the next couple of days will be sent trying to pack both the items I need to take with me and those items I will leave for Ian to bring up over the next few visits.

Hope everyone has a great New Year and a Wonderful 2011 - keep safe

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Palm Beach - Near Cairns

In September we took off for a week at Palm Beach. It was a week spent with Anthony, Jenny and little Luke whilst Lauren and Tim joined us for about 4 days. A terrific family holiday.

Luke, who has several months of swimming lessons had a great time in the pool. No fear and as per the photo seemed to think there were no reasons for all the safety warnings.

Luke, and his dad, Pa and Uncle Tim spent a lot of time playing with the ball. Mum joined in to play "jumping into the pool for dad to catch me" which Luke thought was great.

We celebrated Lauren's birthday whilst in Palm Beach. Lots of walks down the beach and then celebrated father's Day at one of the local restaurants. Great time - particularly as everyone lives in different states and we don't get together very often. It was also great to spend some time with Luke where he could really get to know us all a bit.

Hamilton Island

By February, the Project we are working on was up and running. All bids reviewed, all contracts in place and work started. It had been a busy and full-out period since Ian had joined me in Brisbane and we decided we needed a couple of days off to rest and relax. It was also our 35th wedding anniversary which did deserve something more than just a dinner out with a glass of wine. so Ian had booked a surprise trip to Hamilton Island. this island is off the Queensland cost and part o the Whitsunday group.

We had a wonderful suite on the top floor of the Reef Hotel.
Great rooms , great views from two lovely balconies. the island had terrific restaurants and we both ate far too much. It was rather fun getting around as the island traffic system was based on golf carts - which Ian tried very hard to "hoon" around in.

Being there also gave us the idea of having a full family get together at somewhere similar later in the year.