Thursday, July 22, 2010

14 Days in Papua New Guinea

Adventure is leaving for 14 days to Papua New Guinea to climb one of the highest volcanoes in the world

(As I write this I'm in an airport in Singapore, a little tired after a 12 hour overnight flight. Whoever said sitting in the emergency row is better did not know what they were talking about. The arm rests are stuck in place and thus do not allow any horizontal mobility, which is key when trying to catch some Z's in the air! Anyways, they're probably a whole slew of typos and I'm trying to translate from French.. please forgive me this time.)

This is probably one of the least touristic places to go yet it seems like one of the most insane. I am en route to Papua New Guinea and I don't know if I've ever been this excited for a trip. As a kid my dream job was to be a zoologist and live in the amazon jungle with tribes studying the wildlife. This is not South America but living with tribes, traveling down the river and seeing the wildlife is exactly what we'll be doing... it makes my heart beat faster just thinking about it.

Casual tourism however is not quite common yet. The tourism industry as well as the infrastructure in this Oceanic country is so underdeveloped that each person who travels here could quite possibly be seeing unchartered territory. This is definitely not a party destination. Anyways, here is the itinerary I will be following for the next 14 days and can give you an idea of what sort of tourism is available in the country. Also, I won't have electricity most of the time so I won't be able to keep up to date with you all but I will try to log whenever I can to up date you on how the itinerary is going so far- problems, practical information, pics, scary shizzle etc..

Day 1 Wednesday July 21
Plane Paris to Singapore

Day 2 Thursday
Singapore to Port Moresby

Day 3 Friday- Port Moresby to Hagen
Only passing through the capital, taking one hour plane and then one hour on the road before arriving at Hagen mountains at the foot of a summit called Magic Mountins by the locals. We will be 2000 metres above sea level in the middle of the forest far away from the city and roads. Yet we will at this point still have the luxary of a room and hot water!

Day 4 Saturday- Hagen to Mount Giluwe
We leave Hagen super early in the morning for the village of Kargoba. From here we start the hike up the moutain, Giluwe and after 6 hours of walking and seeing a high altitude forest (sorry I'm translating the work of the guide from French), we will set up camp at the foot of our goal. Tonight we will be sleeping in a tent or perhaps a hut.

Day 5 Sunday- Mount Giluwe
Wake up damn early for the final trek to the top. Hard walking then descend all the way down until the village. From there we will take a car to the Magic Moutain Lodge.

Day 6 Monday- Paya Village, Kumul Lodge
Will first visit the traditional village of the Papua New Guineans typical of the region Hagen, then take part in local dancing ceremonies of the Malpa. After a quick lunch we hit the road for Kumul Lodge in the Enga Province. This lodging is run by the local community and is in the heart of the pluvial forest with many tropical birds and animals. Spending the night at the lodge.

Day 7 Tuesday- Tari to Kobe Tumbiali
Leave in the morning to Tari, a small stop in the Southern Highlands Province. The area is populated with Huli people, known for their famous ceremonies with crazy head garments made of bird feathers. The are also warriors. Here we will spend 2 days and go hiking in the surrounding nature.

Day 8 Wednesday- Kobe Tumbiali to Liru
Discovery day of Huli culture. Chill with the tribe, learn some secrets from the Shaman (hopefully go on mystical adventures ?), then spend the night at one of the homes of the inhabitants not far away.

Day 9 Thursday- Hewai Waterfall
Leave on an excursion to find the last secret of the Huli people. We will learn how they make their head garments and then on to a two hour rough walk to get to a beautiful hidden waterfall (!!! I love findign waterfalls when traveling!).  From there we will stay the night in a guesthouse in Kobe Tumbiali for our last night.

Day 10 Friday- Tari to Madang.
Take the plane in the morning to head to a beautiful city on the North coast. Here we will be staying in a small hut along the beach, known for its beautiful coral waters.

Day 11 Saturday- Jais Aben
A day dedicated to relaxing and snorkeling in magnificent environments around the lodge, situated in the village of Jais Aben.

Day 12 Sunday- Madang to Port Moresby
Visit the city a bit spend the night in Port Moresby (one of the most dangerous cities in the world!)

Day 13 Monday- Head to our  next destination. END OF TRIP

Monday, July 19, 2010

Indie Guide to Paris: Just Be- Cheap and cool bar discovery!

My last weekend in France leads to amazing bar discovery!

Most foreigners go to Chateau Versailles for the gardens, but did you know there is a little park next to it with a mini lake? Picnic and wine time before the big night out.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Indie Guide to Paris Eating: Les Enfants Perdus + Cafe Bonnie Review

 Perfect Date Idea in Paris
A great duo for a dinner date and a drink, if you're looking to splurge a bit and be young and cool at the same time. Two new places to be added to the Indie Guide to Eating PARIS.

(Cafe Bonnie left and les Enfants Perdus, right. In case these things are of interest to you, the pictures in this post are taken with the new Iphone 4. Not the best with flash, but def not bad.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Crazy Georgian Adventure Part Two

In the last post we left off with art exhibits, wine chateaus, and presidential helicopters going off to a mystery destination. Here is Part Two to my Crazy Georgian Adventure.

Part Two: Batumi + Saakashvili Summer Home
The First Lady, her kids and all of us get off the old Russian helicopter and jump into a series of SUV's to drop the teenage son, Edward off to summer camp.

EXTREME SUV CONVOY. Apparently security is measured in the amount of gallons of green house gas you put into the atmosphere. Given that we had 6-7 SUVs for 15 people, we were EXTRA safe.

It was quite a contrast to have this huge convoy accompanied by police roll through the Georgian villages. The villagers, cows and farm life came out to send us off to this mysterious camp.

THE CAMP. No one told me we were taking him to Michael Jackson's fantasy land. (ps.yo watch out for that deathstar unterseeboot on the prowl!)

Poor kid. Everyone came out to see who was arriving with such a flashy escort. 14 year old, first time at camp, tall and skinny and into sciences. Apparently he hates the security that's around all the time. I hope he does alright at camp.. After we jump back into the helicopter and head to the summer home of the Saakashvili's.

Head to Batumi, an amazingly beautiful coastal city with mountains. There are no sandy beaches yet, nor is the boardwalk quite developed, but it's in the process of being done and clubs are being built and renovated. Batumi, Georgia is my bet for number one up and coming party spot.

Cheesy kiss with the sunset. Waiting to have seafood dinner with the First Lady along the sea.

They roll in, police escort and we get in trouble for taking pictures. We have a lovely dinner in a restaurant called Goldfish, along the sea with the sun setting. It was perfect. I felt horrible however, when my chocolate craving kicked in and the simple task of stopping by the store on the way home meant breaking up the security envoy.. I explain to the First Lady and she completely understands because she can't live without chocolate either!

The next day at the Botanical Gardens. Sandra Roelofs is trying to hide Nikolai's video games for the photo. Boyfriend's dad and her are friends because apparently they're both Frisian, or something like that. She is really one of the nicest people you can meet and so pretty! She met Saakashvili at a summer school course on human rights. Makes me want to read her book, The Story of an Idealist. 

This trip is my first time seeing the Black Sea. It looks so beautiful how can there be relatively almost no life in there? After more family times and security guards, boyfriend and I break off and go search for waterfalls (one of my fav' things to do in hot, mountainous places).

 The trip through the mountains. Apparently there are not many tour companies yet to take people there so the only way to the waterfall is by car. Lucky for us (maybe..) that we had our own mini escort team to take us. They were Georgian locals who worked for the government so they knew their way around and I guess made travel much easier than when trying to do it indie styles...

It was great having help but there were downsides, such as no alone time or freedom to go exploring where ever we wanted, I really do love adventure.. Oh well, finally there we were too cold to jump in.

He looks like he's about to literally die from the cold. Brave soul takes the first leap.

Like walruses in the sun, we try desperately to dry off from the refreshingly cold swim. My people aren't made for these temperatures!

After, our guides took us to the oldest bridge in Georgia. Scared? Hell naw. They almost flipped their shizzle though when they saw us dangling our feet off the side of this unprotected area. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about not having an indie trip. On one hand, we would have had an extremely hard time finding any of this without them (still possible, just harder), but then again, isn't that part of the adventure..language barriers, getting lost, trying to get rides... I dunno

At least we got great pictures of the two of us which is always hard when we're alone. We get back into the car and head back to the President's home for seafood dinner along Black Sea and then the best part to come.. JET SKIIS!!!!!!

The view from our balcony. Behind the trees is the sea! The room we had had two balconies, beautiful bed, great shower and bathroom, a bidet (which I HIGHLY enjoy as a female), fresh fruit ready all the time. Holy shit, the room and the view along the sea made all the security almost worth it. Whateves, I cannot thank Ms. Roelofs enough for giving us the best birthday present a young couple could ask for.

Preparing the jetskiis. Man what a mother frackin' life of a president, eh. I would kill for this place! But still, it must be hard being the First Lady. Did you know that the wife of the president in Georgia is not allowed to have her own income or own job?!?! I would have a hard time being cool with that, but at the same time she has and she takes the opportunity to do so much good. Just in the next couple days Ms. Roelofs was inviting a couple classes of school girls from the mountains to let them see the city. She had went to the rural areas to talk about sexual education for females when the topic is still so taboo.

Finally, freedom to go exploring the coast and find cliffs to jump off of! But even in the water we had an escort, Georgian George. He wouldn't allow us to go off on our own. We spent the time racing in the water, trying to flip each other off and then jumping into the water while the sun was setting. Our time was limited and we would have to go soon..

We got the idea that it was time to peace out when our HELICOPTER came to pick us up. I'm sorry I can't stop capitalizing helicopter. It's just so damn cool!!!

Reluctant to leave one of the coolest days of our lives, we take one last jump into the black abyss of the sea. Even though it wasn't the Aladdin, poverty adventure I was used to I cannot express how happy and lucky I feel to even have had the chance to be Prince Ali. It got tiring sometimes, all the security and precautions and rules (kind of the antithesis of my personality). I guess in the end though, it really gave me some perspective, and made me truly appreciate my humble goal of creating the indie guides to the world so regular shmucks like us can travel and ball out without bling bling. Anyways, the First Lady said that when (when!?!)  boyfriend and I get married we can honey moon there. Great offer, but like I'd ever marry this chump :P

Speaking of Arabian tales, get ready for our Egyptian trip we embarked on that very night. Complete 180 from Georgia, this was one rough ass and difficult trip...
Haha the least of our difficulties would start with the misspelling of names at the airport. Mr. Paul Taulsen.

See also..
Georgia Part One: Of Castles, Helicopters and the KGB

This has nothing to do with the country I've been in, but it's my coup de coeur at the moment. Broken Bells, it is hip hop producer Danger Mouse with James Mercer of the Shins. Amazing collaboration, funky and sexy rock meets jazzy cool beats...

Broken Bells-The Ghost Inside.mp3