Before we left on this "expedition", I think I was most concerned about PNG. You read that Port Moresby, the capital, is a dangerous, dirty city. Even 50 years ago, headhunting/cannibalism was still practiced in the Highlands on the main island. So, I just didn't know what to expect. I sure didn't expect what we found... A clean, modern appearing city (at least the parts we drove through) with paved roads, street lights and plenty of cars. After spending 3 weeks in the Solomons using water as our means of transportation everywhere, it felt like culture shock.
At our hotel in Port Moresby, they had an aviary that we could go into, to see and feed some of their beautiful native birds.
This Reggiana Bird of Paradise is their national bird, and is also on their flag. The tail feathers are used in ceremonial headdresses. They had a really neat courtship dance, but they only performed when we were outside the cage, so I couldn't get any good video.
On our way to the island resort where we stayed for the next week, we had a very interesting flight connection. We had two tickets for two different flight numbers on our jaunt to New Ireland. The first flight was a "milk run" that stopped in 2 small towns before we reached our interim destination. Before leaving the plane, we confirmed that we had arrived at Rabaul, where we were changing planes. We dutifully walked through the doors for arrivals, and then found the departures gate, where we and our bags where scanned before entering the lounge area. Since we knew we had very little time before our connecting plane was to board, we just stood along the wall near the departure gate. We were waiting for another small plane to arrive, to take us on to our final destination, when I heard someone at the gate yelling, "Kavieng"! This was our destination, so we walked up to the gate, had our boarding passes checked, and we were walked quickly out to... the plane we just got off! We smiled and laughed along with everyone on the plane who had watched the silly white people make a circuit through the 2 room airport before reboarding the plane.
The diving lodge on Lissenung Island (off the northern tip of New Ireland - less than 3 degrees south of the equator [our closest approach yet]) was fantastic compared to the spartan accommodations in the Solomons, and the diving was even better!
For those who want the proper name for those fish, they are Palette Surgeonfish, but everyone knows them as "Dory"!
I'll close with a short video to show the extraordinary diversity of teeming fish life on the reef.
Now on to Sydney!