One of the amazing things to do in Madang is of course a visit to a village. Yes an actual village where people live in huts without electricity and running water. Our hotel helped arrange everything for us, on a half day tour with a private guide chauffeuring us around. He gave us a thorough explanation on every single question we had about Papua New Guinea, and you bet did we ask.
Before visiting the Balek village, we stopped by a side road market to pick up some fruit and beetlenut. Me and Morten wanted to try one, but we ended up forgetting by the end of the day. As you can see in the picture, to get a high from the beetlenut you will need 3 ingredients. The nut, the white powder and the stalk. Together they give you the feeling of being high. Our guide stopped doing it because he always ran out of one of 3 items. Children in Papua New Guinea are given their first taste of beetlenut by the age of 6, already becoming addicted at such a young age. Parents don’t give a second thought of how damaging the side effects are.
The women in Papua New Guinea is the one who has to do all the heavy lifting. Raising the children, preparing food, cleaning the house and carrying groceries. The women carry up to 25kgs on their heads, starting training from a young age. You would think that because the men are strongest sex, physically, that the heavy lifting was done by them. Not in Papua New Guinea.
Getting closer to the village we could see how quiet and relaxing the surroundings were. Beautiful green mountains on each side, palms soaring up to the sky. It truly looked untouched. The first village we visited was the Balek tribe. The Balek tribe consists of 3 clans, forming one tribe with around 300 people. In Papua New Guinea 90 % of land is private property owned by farmers. The knowledge is passed down from generation to generation. Because there are no official government documents of ownership over land area, this cases a lot of conflict. Mostly just talking and bickering.
The water in the village is crystal clear, coming down from the mountains. A woman sits by the river cleaning tomatoes grown in their backyard, ready for eating. She is waiting for the eels to come out, which she hand feeds. It was an incredible tranquil thing to experience. Sometimes I still look back to this day and wonder what my life would be, if I left comforts behind, and became more at one with the universe.
The villagers of the Balek tribe takes great pride in keeping it clean. To quote “we have to take care of our home”. He explains that the city people have no regards for the amount of trash they produce, or care where the garbage and plastic bottle end up. The villagers don’t like it, because it’s contaminating their home. They spend a great amount of time encouraging others to help pick up trash, to keep it nice and clean. The bottles collected are brought into town and sold.
This adorable woman who didn’t speak a single word of English came over to give us a taste of a strange fruit.
We walked across the road to a botanical garden. The garden is naturally formed with crystal clear pond created by natural formations. The water comes down from the mountains, with a river going across the street and into to the village. Beautiful trees, lush mountains surrounding the garden, paprika growing in the trees and a family of tiny turtles. I was sold with the word turtle. The turtles come here to give birth to their babies, and this is where they spend the rest of their lives. The locals leave them be, trying to hand feed them everyday, almost like a pet. Except the turtles doesn’t care for human interaction. I’ve said this so many times already, but I truly loved the quiet way of life around here.
After our little visit we had one more stop before heading home. One experience I’d been dreaming about for so long. A sing sing! Read my Sing sing – a show of bursting colors to find out how and what it was like to experience a cultural performance.