Air Niugini Economy Class POM-CNS

Belated trip report (part 5)!

Bored. Bored. Bored.

7 hours stuck in any airport is boring. 7 hours stuck at Port Moresby airport is excruciating.

The international terminal had finally finished its upgrades since my last visit, which was awesome. But the thing is, my flight didn’t open for check in until 4-5 hours before departure. Which meant several hours sitting around the check-in area doing nothing. Boredom.

Eventually check-in opened and everything was quick. Immigration and security was also quick. Thankfully. With the new renovations, airside now had a number of duty free and souvenir shops, as well as half a dozen cafes. Huzzah! I even managed to find something to eat. I’d hoped to get something more substantial, but all I could find was a salad. And more caffeine. Always more caffeine.

The flight was thankfully on time and shortly after take-off we got an early dinner. Some rice salad thing (which had feta in it, so no go), salad, crackers, and juice.

20160307_172819Supposedly a VGML, but the rice salad thing had cheese in it. I ate the side salad.

We landed on time back in Cairns, and I made my way through immigration quickly. Had some stuff to declare at customs, but that too went relatively fast. Due to flight schedules, I had to spend the night in Cairns before flying home in the morning. I had planned to get a proper dinner in town, but it turns out that my favourite restaurant (the Turkish place on the Esplanade) had closed down. I wanted to cry. So I went to the Woolworths down the road and bought some random stuff, went back to my hotel, and ate dinner in front of the tv. Yes, I’m so adventurous sometimes.

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Air Niugini Economy Class GUR-POM

Belated trip report (part 4)!

On mah way home!

Diving was awesome!

Got to the airport a little early after the transfer from my resort in Milne Bay back to Alotau. There’s a little cafe/shop at the airport which sells soda and candy etc. I just got some water and sat around outside the terminal. It’s pretty small, and you don’t really want to clear security until your flight is called. Checking in was quick and easy. Security pulled me up on my camera gear for some reason. I don’t know, took about 20 minutes to clear security anyway.

Flight left 40 minutes early. Seriously. I already had a 6 hour layover in Port Moresby, and now it’d be closer to 7. #FML

Got the same juice tub and cookies I got on the flight over. Didn’t bother with either. Wasn’t hungry, and I already had my bottle of water from the airport.

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Again…

Landed early. Was then stuck with my bags for 7 hours waiting for the flight back to Cairns. Boredom ensued.

Air Niugini Economy Class POM-GUR

Belated trip report (part 3)!

So the domestic terminal at Port Moresby didn’t get the upgrade like the international terminal did. Not surprised. But due to the late arrival of the flight from Cairns, my transit time in Moresby wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Made my way to domestic pretty quickly and checked in easily. Security screening was its usual chaotic mess.

The little cafe that they have airside sells water and snacks. I bought a couple of bottles of water, figuring that I’d get dinner at the resort later that evening. Spent the next hour trying to find a wi-fi connection that worked. I failed.

Flight was on time. Shortly after take-off, the standard Air Niugini snack for domestic flights came out: juice tub and cookies. Gave both to my neighbour.

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I drank the water that I’d bought at the airport that you can see in the seat pocket.

Flight actually landed early into Alotau. Then things got messy. My resort transfer didn’t arrive. There were some arguments at the airport over what I was meant to do. It all worked out in the end and isn’t really relevant to this story…But ugh. Sometimes travel is a pain in the arse. I didn’t end up getting dinner until about 9pm, put it that way.

Air Niugini Economy Class CNS-POM

Belated trip report (part 2)!

Because my flight from Townsville landed quite early, I had a bit of a layover in Cairns (4 hours) before the flight to Port Moresby left. Air Niugini check-in doesn’t open until 2.5 hours before departure, so I was stuck hanging around Cairns international for 90 minutes before check-in opened…*yawn* Landside in Cairns international is dead. I was bored very, very quickly. Eventually check-in opened and everything was straight forward.

Fun times ensued…The fire alarm in the terminal building went off when I was in line for security screening. Everything in the terminal came to a screeching halt for about 30-40 minutes while they found the culprit. We didn’t have to evacuate, but we were basically standing around doing nothing while they found the source of the alarm. It took ages for them to eventually start screening again. So boring, and you get no phone signal in that part of the airport, so I couldn’t even Facebook. Doom!

Once through security, there’s not much going on airside. A few duty free shops and a cafe and a pizza shop. The cafe had coffee, but not much in the way of vegan or gluten free food. The newsagents sells paleo bars, so I bought a couple of those which were edible, and sat around waiting for the plane. Which was 45 minutes late. Shocker, I know…

After departing a bit late, we were on our way to Port Moresby. Made up a bit of time along the way. Shortly after take-off we got brunch.20160226_123538No VGML: pasta salad with mayo, ham, a bread roll, and an ice cream…lol

I would survive. This was predictable. My plan was to just wait it out until I got to the resort in Milne Bay for dinner.

Landed a bit late, but I had enough time up my sleeve to make the connection to Alotau, so not a problem. Immigration was really slow, even for PNG. And customs officers seemed more interested in standing around having a chat than in clearing the 3 plane loads of passengers that had just arrived. Not a surprise. PNG runs on island time…

On the road in…Papua New Guinea!

This was a long awaited dive trip to Papua New Guinea. I’d booked a couple of weeks at Tufi Dive Resort over the Christmas-New Year break. My workplace closes down entirely for 2 weeks, so we all tend to take off on holidays for the shutdown.

Why Tufi? Nothing in particular I suppose. The trip reports I’d read seemed to be more or less positive. And it offered the opportunity for some cultural experience – one of my primary reasons for wanting to visit PNG in general. I have no doubt there’s better diving in PNG if you are on a liveaboard, but I left booking this trip until quite late in the game, and there was no availability on the boats by the time I started to look. Turned out ok.

Getting to Tufi required landing in Port Moresby, and then getting a connecting domestic flight to Tufi. I didn’t see much of Port Moresby on the way to Tufi as I had a tight connection and pretty much just went from the international to domestic terminal and got a bottle of water.

On the way home, I took the advice of the travel agent and numerous friends who’d previously travelled to PNG, and headed to the Airways Hotel for the 7 hour layover between my domestic flight from Tufi to Port Moresby and my international flight back to Cairns. Easy enough, and they’d reliably informed me that if you bought a meal at the hotel, you could use the pool facilities for nothing. That’s changed – apparently if you want to use the lounge chairs, towels, or the pool itself, there’s a casual usage charge of 50 kina (about $28 Australian dollars – which is obscene). I paid it out of sheer boredom. Just my luck that it started raining about an hour or so after I got there. In the end I just moved into the hotel’s coffee shop and sat around drinking the local coffee (which was surprisingly good) until it was time to go back to the airport. I ate lunch there, which was just a small fruit salad, as everything on the menu was pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches. They had cakes in the fridge as well, but obviously they were off limits for me due to the dairy. So ultimately, the layover at the hotel was a little more expensive than anticipated, but I suspect it was still better than hanging around the airport for 7 hours.

Tufi itself was very hit and miss with regards to the food. They were informed well in advance of my dietary requirements. I’m not sure if someone didn’t get the message in the kitchen, but the first couple of days I ended up being served stuff smothered in butter. And getting pasta which contained egg and wheat. After discussions with management, they got the no dairy thing. Continued to get gluten throughout my stay, so it meant occasionally getting food I couldn’t eat. And on top of that, the servings I got were tiny. Like seriously, I got about half of the food of everyone else did, even if I had been eating the pasta. And when you’re doing 3 dives a day, you do actually need to refuel. As an example, say everyone else got steamed vegetables, mashed potato (made with milk and butter), and a large piece of steak for dinner, all I’d get was the small serving of steamed vegetables. I got nothing substituted for the food I couldn’t eat that they were serving everyone else for the meal. What I got also consisted of almost zero protein or carbs, just a few forkfuls of vegetables (literally some days, that is not an exaggeration) – I honestly considered myself lucky if I got a small amount of white rice, which is horrid enough on my stomach. I was basically in a bad mood almost the entire trip because I was constantly hungry, and not getting any real protein and very limited carbs. Not impressed. I wasn’t the only one complaining about the food either, so that says a lot. To be fair, the food itself was actually pretty good, there just wasn’t enough of it.

IMG_5391_smlLooks good, right? Smothered in butter. I was just about to put it in my mouth when I smelled it. The frustration begins…

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The sauce was ok, but I couldn’t eat the pasta. Could I get anything else as a substitute? The offered to get me ramen noodles. Seriously?

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This is what eventuated – plates with about 3 forks worth of vegetables, and nothing else, while everyone else was getting plates full of fish, chicken, red meat, and things containing dairy.

Breakfast most days consisted of fresh fruit, a little bit of dried fruit, and some nuts. Until they stopped putting out the dried fruit and very few nuts because they’d run out, so all I got was a couple of slices of apple or pineapple. For a tropical resort in PNG, there seemed to be a shortage of fresh fruit, which seemed a little odd. They actually resorted to putting out tinned fruit for breakfast at times. I honestly don’t get it – they grow it here, literally in the resort grounds in some cases (there’s close to a dozen mango trees, most of which were dropping fruit at the time), how hard is it for the resort to get us some? Lunch was steamed or boiled vegetables, randomly served with or without rice. This was the worst aspect, I never got enough food at lunch, and I don’t normally eat that much to start with. Dinners varied slightly, but was basically just a simple vegetable soup as a starter, and vegetables with a tomato sauce and pasta (that I also couldn’t eat). Normally people end up putting on weight during dive holidays because of the good food. I spent a not insignificant amount of time hungry, and actually lost weight. The resort bar sold snacks, but I’m sure nobody will be surprised to learn they consisted of things like chocolate and potato chips (that were full of gluten and milk solids in the seasonings), so I couldn’t even buy those to make up for it. They did have some salted peanuts for sale, which I did resort to in the end, because I needed more to eat. But that made me slightly ill due to the iron content (partly why I’m vegan in the first place, I need a low iron diet). For the amount of money I paid for this trip and the resort (Papua New Guinea is not a cheap travel destination, I can’t emphasize that enough), I was kind of disappointed at the quality of the food.

IMG_5381The small bowl of fruit salad that I got for dessert – every night.

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On a couple of occasions (literally), I got an ok lunch.

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The one good feed I got on the entire trip was on buffet night.

The plus side was that the diving was mindblowing.

IMG_5677Diving in paradise. Just a shame about the food…You can’t win them all!

Airlines of PNG Economy Class TFI-POM

Long day.

Left for Tufi airport quite early to get the flight back to Port Moresby. Simple enough. But then a really long 7 hour layover in Port Moresby before my connecting flight back to Cairns. Crappy flight schedules, but it is what it is.

The flight from Tufi left on time, but we flew to Port Moresby via Poppondetta, which added a little time to the trip. Nice flight though.

On board, we were served a little tub of apple juice on the Tufi to Poppondetta sector, and then a tub of orange juice and scotch finger cookies on the Poppondetta to Port Moresby sector. Honestly, after the lack of food at Tufi, I actually drank the juice out of desperation. Ok, it wasn’t quite that bad, I had a bottle of water on board that I bought at the resort, but I did want the sugar hit at that point. I gave the cookies to someone else on the flight to eat.

IMG_5700_smlThe two “refreshments” served on the two sectors between Tufi and Port Moresby.

Landed on time and ventured off for my 7 hour layover in Port Moresby. Ugh. Can not reiterate how much that airport sucks.

Airlines of PNG Economy Class POM-TFI

Bahahaha. I’m shocked! I had a 90 minute international-domestic connection in Port Moresby. Did I make it? Ha! Course I did.

After clearing immigration and customs, I headed for the Airlines of PNG domestic transfer desk. They tried to hit me up for excess baggage, which I was prepared to cop, as it was only 20 kina ($10 Australian for 4kg over). But when I went to the customer service desk to pay for it, there was nobody there. When I went back to tell the check-in agent, she just let it go. PNG’s infamous lack of customer service works in my favour!

Anyway, the domestic departures lounge is pretty bare. There’s a tiny shop selling drinks (water, coke, etc.). I got some water.

Walked out to the plane, and took off on time. Once in the air for our 35 minute flight to Tufi, we were offered refreshments. Which was a small tub of orange juice and a packet of scotch finger biscuits. I hate long life juice, and the biscuits were off the table for gluten, dairy, and egg. Such is life.

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I could have drunk the orange juice, but I didn’t.

The landing into Tufi is absolutely spectacular by the way!

IMG_5373It’s a hard life…