Madang is located in the Northern coast of Papua New Guinea. It’s one of the biggest cities along with Port Moresby. In this region alone there are roughly around 200 languages spoken. Madang is great for diving and cultural experiences, it’s famous for bird watching. It’s one of the more tourist friendly places in PNG, being one of the easier destination for independent traveling.
We made the mistake of not planning anything before arriving, but luck would have it, that we stumbled upon Kalibobo Village on booking.com. With flights leaving almost everyday with Air Niugini, it’s easy to book the tickets yourself. Most hotels in Papua New Guinea offer free airport transportation, due to taxi’s being highly unreliable. Together with the opportunity of booking your own flights and accommodation, it should be easy to get around without a travel agency. One thing to note is that there is only 4 hotels/resorts to choose between in Madang. Kalibobo Village is part of Madang Resort, leaving two more options for accommodation. The region is big while the city center is very small.
The majority of the population live on neighboring islands, using boats and homemade rafts carved out of wood, as their main transportation. The city is considerably more quiet on Sundays because people attend church, and spend the day relaxing with their families at home. As we walked around, friendly faces greeted us with a smile and “hi, hello how are you?”
Papua New Guinean’s are famous for their excellent carving skills. Vendors line up their beautifully wooden carved pieces outside hotels, for tourists and locals to buy. The locals are more interested in buying spears, knives and shields for battle, while tourist often buy wooden sculptures. What better travel souvenir to bring home for showcasing, than a wooden carved battle shield? I’m sure that will get the conversation going around the dinner table, with your crazy uncle pretending to be a warrior and you telling crazy stories from your time in PNG.
One aspect I truly admired with the people in Papua New Guinea, was the social interaction that happens daily. In western societies we spend the majority of our time on social media, our eyes and hands glued to our phone. Constantly mentally stimulated with sounds and pictures, often going a whole day without having an conversation IRL. It was beautiful to watch how the Papua New Guinean’s interacted with each other. As I mentioned, Sunday is a holy day meant for relaxation with the family.
A group of men have gathered down by the boats while the women buy fish and beetlenut. On weekdays the city is filled with people coming from the highlands and the mountians, ready to trade fruit and other merchandise.
There was one thing I noticed in Papua New Guinea, no one uses a baby stroller. The child is carried on the mothers hip, or with a baby wrap. Already before the age of 1 the child has to learn how to hold on to the mother, because she is carrying food and clothes in her hands.
Curious eyes followed us as we walked by. Friendly faces greeted us and more than once were we approached, by curious passerby’s who wanted to know where we were from. To our surprise, most of them knew Norway was a country in Europe, and that it was very cold. It seems like the people enjoyed our visit, and gladly posed for a photo. Our guide in Madang explained that people are trying hard to show that Papua New Guinea is a safe destination, with tourism being a major source of income for the country.
One of the locals approached me to take a photo together.
Most tourist coming to Papua New Guinea are often in their 30s and 40s, working as volunteers, christian missionaries or simply here for the unspoiled nature. Me and Morten being very young, with visible tattoos, we attend to attract a lot of attention wherever we go. Especially as a woman, people tend so stare more than they do with men. This was one of the people who were drawn to our body art, and wanted to know where we’d gotten all our tattoos from. He himself was a tattoo artist, and showed us the tattoos he’d done with his homemade tattoo gun.
Want to know my advice for planning a trip to Papua New Guinea? Read my 17 things to know before visiting PNG.