The Journey to PNG

Leg 1

On March 31 we were excited to begin our journey to Papua New Guinea and our new home. 26 hours later we collapsed at a hotel in Brisbane, and realized that we still had 25 hours to go.

Our first flight was an easy hop from Saskatoon to Calgary (March 31st, 2:40pm.). The plane was old and small but we were randomly assigned the extra leg room section up front so it was nice. In Calgary it started to get less pleasant. We had to submit our bags through US customs and we were met with TSA agents that seemed very angry that they were stationed in the god forsaken wilderness we call Canada. To make it worse, since we were moving we had all of our electronics (2 laptops and a PS3), our sweaters, 2 carry-ons, a laptop satchel, and a camera bag, so we took up 8 bins in the security screening! When we got to LA we had 2.5 hours, and thought that we wouldn’t have to go through security again since we’d already cleared US customs. But, the powers that be at LAX didn’t think to make it easy to get between terminals and we had to exit the building and re-enter, waiting in line for an hour to clear security again. Surprisingly the TSA agents and airport personnel in LA were quite pleasant compared to Calgary, possibly because they weren’t worried about being attacked by bears. At our gate, we were called up – we hadn’t thought to get Australian travel visas since we were just staying overnight. The flight attendant informed us we needed them, but was nice enough to do it for us, for free.

Matt attempting to sleep while waiting to board at LAX


Our flight to Brisbane was 14 hours, but wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. We were with Qantas, which is the main Australian airline. The customer service was awesome, and the entertainment options diverse. The TV screens and seats were just slightly bigger than usual, and there were a vast number of movie options. It was also possible to access the internet using plane WiFi, for a fee. Later on we spoke with an Australian who was shocked when we said that Air Canada was an “above average” airline. He said it was the worst ride he had ever had. We think he’s just spoiled.

   On descent into Brisbane 

Our luxurious double-decker Qantas plane

We had to go through customs again in Brisbane, and then headed to our hotel. At this point it was 7am on April 2nd (3pm April 1st SK time), and I had been up for about 30 hours, with only 5 hours of sleep on the LA to Brisbane flight, with Matt being up about 8 hours longer. As soon as we got to the hotel Matt went to sleep, but I went to a mall to buy adaptors for all of our electronics.

  I guess they don’t go ‘beyond’ down-under

Tastes like the tears of my ancestors… 

The Australians laugh at our puny walk light man.

Leg 2

The next morning I was awake around 5am, and Matt had been up for hours, so we found a small diner that was open early for breakfast. Then, back to the airport, and onward to Port Moresby. In Australia, you also have to fill out a customs card for leaving the country! Then, through security again – by this time we were experts at packing/unpacking and getting through the screen as fast as possible.

In Port Moresby, we had to clear PNG customs. They opened all of our bags, since my tea tins and jewelry making supplies looked suspicious. But, they were nice, and we got to keep all of our stuff, although upon opening again all of our clothes smelled like hibiscus. The heat was intense as we left the airport  and the humidity was no help, it felt like everything in the city was moist to the touch.

Evidence of our discomfort

We immediately bought sim cards from Digicel, the main cellular carrier in PNG. While I was dealing with that, the transport driver for our hotel was hassling Matt to hurry up, he even came into the kiosk and harassed the girl who was setting up our phones! We weren’t sure why, since we were the only ones he took to the hotel…

Leg 3

The next day, it was back to the airport and off to Goroka. Jacksons International airport, the hub of PNG, is quite small – much smaller than the Saskatoon airport. Probably partially due to the fact that there are no walkways like in Canada, the planes are all small prop planes and you just walk to them outside. Our final flight was only an hour, and was a Canadian Dash-8. The plane was apparently previously owned by IcelandAir, as evidenced by the logos, Icelandic signage, and safety brochure.

                       Interesting décor at the airport

Our plane from POM to Goroka, like the  rest of PNG, was stuck in the 90s.

Leaving POM, looks like paradise!
First view of the highlands

A river snaking through a valley in the highlands
Our first view of Goroka on landing

The airport in Goroka is literally a shack with a gate. There is a table that they throw your luggage on, then you show your luggage tags and boarding passes to the guards and they open the gate.


The airport in Goroka


After an exhausting, three day journey, we finally arrived!


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12 thoughts on “The Journey to PNG

  1. There were so many interesting things in this post, but I seriously can’t stop laughing at Bed, Bath and Table!!! hhahahah. Anyway, great post!

  2. HAHAHAHAHA bed bath and table. that doesn’t even make sense. they might as well say bed, bath, table, chairs, and a couple other things. hahaha
    thanks for the updates. i’m loving these posts

    • 🙂 I think people probably thought I was weird for taking the picture haha – but they’re the weird ones for having that store 😉

    • I didn’t think the artwork looked Icelandic. But I think it’s meant to show off the cultural heritage. We thought it was interesting and that people would want to see it 😉

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