"B is for Bilum"
With a repeat transit overnight stay in Honiara at the King Solomon Hotel, everything was familiar with the same friendly staff greeting me. After dropping the bags off in the room, I made a return visit to the handicraft vendors and found myself a handmade "bilum" so I can keep blending in with the local culture. Back at home, yes, I know, it looks a little bit more like a "man purse" -- so say what you need to say, haha. But, here, I've received a few compliments on my man purse/bilum by the locals, so I dig on it. And, it is very common for the men (and women) to wear a bilum in the front to carry small items.
B is for Bilum:
And there'll be plenty more bilums at the Goroka Festival, as they will incorporate a Bilum festival into it: https://www.facebook.com/PNG.Bilum/
As the article concludes, if you want to fit into PNG life quickly, don't carry a Western bag, buy yourself a bilum from a market mama ! And so I did.
Then, strolling back to the King Solomon, I run into Marianne and her mom, Vickie, again (met them last week). With my Uepi Solomon Islands tank top, the tan, and the bilum, she laughed and said I'm looking more local. Must be the man purse !
By the way, during our goodbyes in Uepi, I asked for their signatures on my themed shirt of the Going Tribal trip -- the Trump tank top. With either reluctance or refusal, I explained you can write what you'd like, I just want to have fun with it and have the funny memories for later. Our Swiss friends refused to sign the shirt, despite my assurance this isn't an endorsement, but rather a souvenir for me ! Haha, no way Jose, this Schweizer isn't signing Mr. Trump's shirt. (very nice people, I'm just having fun) But, as you'll see in the photo, the others had good fun adding some names to "The Man, The Myth, The Legend", adding "The ********" and "The ******". The spirited political sentiment was welcomed, and made good fun for all. Love it !!
As I told my diving friends in Uepi, I felt the need to make a return visit to the Cowboy Bar to see the same Filipino live band. Was cool when the guys each came over to greet me and ask me to sing one with them again.
And you guessed it, I'm back on stage singing one with the band ! I tried to do "Pour Some Sugar on Me" Def Leppard (Doug & Heidi, you would've been proud of me !), but they didn't know the song. bummer. But we agreed on Eric Clapton, "Cocaine" and it went great ! So much fun.
Then, onto the Sportsman Bar and hang out with the local guys playing the darts tournament & billiards. Old buddy Gravis was nowhere to be found and his phone number didn't answer -- so no problem, make new friends. So I end up hanging out with 2 guys for what transpired into 4.5 hours, almost 3 in the morning. Don't remember their names -- as it wasn't a common name and once again a little hard to understand sometimes - as English is spoken but Pidgin is their more primary language of choice.
After the bar closed, we hit the roads and were cruising around and eventually made a stop at the beach and market -- took a photo to capture the memories of the night, and busted my heel open on the sharp rocks. Realized that it's bleeding, ahh that sucks. One of my Solomon friends offered to spit on it -- such a nice guy, what a giver. Nahh, I think I'm fine without your saline irrigation.
The next morning takes me to my departing flight out of the Solomon Islands - for my first entry into Papua New Guinea ! The lovely efficiency I've come to know with Air Niugini was present at the check-in counter, with one employee checking in the entire plane -- that was a slow and agonizing process. But the time went by fine as I talked with a fellow traveler on her way to Manila via the same flight, and she shared her stories about her occupation as a staff member on a 180' luxury yacht for a California family. That's got to be a cool working experience for someone at that early stage.
Well, here I am in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea ! I'm staying just one night at the Airways Hotel before my flight tomorrow to Goroka for the sing sing festival. This place is very nice, and I've decided I'm going to actually follow the advice given at multiple stages, to not go roaming around these parts. Enough bad stories have made me a believer.
The hotel property has an gated/guarded entrance that immediately gave me the feel of an international Embassy building, complete with a security guard and rifle at the entrance. And they refer to the hotel property as the "compound". Yeah, I'll chill out here, take no risks, and rest up before the busy time ahead of me at Goroka. I suspect there'll be plenty of opportunities for cultural adventure in the several days ahead of me.
Onward to Goroka . . . . . of course, with my Trump shirt and man purse . . . .