I Shall Now Tease You

Posted in At Sea, Madang Happenings, Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on April 25th, 2010 by MadDog
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It’s no trick at all to figure out when I’m completely stuck for a title for a post. It makes even less sense than usual. Though I am  going to tease you today concerning some amusing posts which I will have coming up in the next week, don’t get your hopes up too much. No, the war in the Big A is not over, nor are any others that I know of. Aliens have not landed to my knowledge, but I’m still hoping. The only interesting news is that we absolutely must buy a new car. Eunie has now “mentioned” for some time how nice it would be if we had a car from which the fenders were not falling off and I’m becoming more and more inclined to agree with her. On an insane whim we stopped off at Coastal Automotive to see, perchance to dream, if there was anything remotely within our price range. Well, there was a red Nissan Twin Cab ute there which is like the younger sister of the one we drive at present. Since Eunie will resolutely not  drive anything but a red car, my fate was sealed.

I reckon that if we sell all of our PNG stocks, get a good price for the rust bucket and I can remember where I buried the cash in the back yard, we’ll be only about K10,000 short. We decided two years ago that we would never again borrow money for anything. Eunie won’t let me sell the Harley, bless her heart. So, we’ll fall on the mercy of our corporate account for a couple of months and pray for a miracle. All that just to work up to this sunrise, which is a lulu:No, we’re not to the teasing yet, though I will have some very nice underwater shots over the next few days.

This image is in support of my philosophical sermon for today which  is titled, No Matter How Bad Something Is, If You Can Practice Utter Denial, You Can Probably Make It Better.  This is the same advice which I give when poor desperate wretches come to me for marriage counselling. This proably explains why my success rate is so patheically low. When I snapped this image as a Vlaming’s Unicornfish (Naso vlamingii)  darted past me, I thought that it was a complete waste of valuable pixels: However, when I saw the image on the screen, all washed out and motion-blurred, something snapped in my mind, an all too often occurrence, and I denied utterly the possibility that the image had no merit whatsoever. So, kiddies, what do we do when this happens?  (All together now . . .) We make ART! In a mere five minutes I created something. What it is, I cannot say. However it is distinctly more than it started out. I appears vaguely as if it is a rocket-propelled fish. Hurrah! NASA, eat your heart out!

Since we’re in fail mode, I’ll underwhelm you with this excruciatingly ordinary, plain Jane starfish. Honestly, if I were a starfish so devoid of charm as this one, I’d simply hide under a rock and await the Rapture:Hmmm . . . that’s more or less what I’m doing now. Oh, well.

Still no major tease, so don’t get confused. I didn’t have time the other day to work on these two panoramas which I shot on Orion.  This is, as you might well imagine, is The Library:There’s Justin Friend lecturing my gorgeous, platinum blonde wife, Eunie.

And, this is one third of the stunning spiral staircase wrapped around the elevator in the central “Light Well” of the ship:Pretty flash, eh?

Okay, now I’ll deliver The Big Tease. Don’t get too excited, because if you’re not an Australian, New Zealander or Papua New Guinean, you may not begin to quiver with anticipation. Sunday morning was ANZAC Day. I’ll trouble you to look it up if you don’t know what it means. Let me just tell you, however, that here it is a big deal indeed:I could never be mistaken for a war enthusiast. To me it seems to be the stupidest thing that humans have ever dreamed up. Nobody has yet explained to me why we have to keep doing it. However, in this part of the world, as in others, naked aggression made war unavoidable. It was about defending against the rape and murder of entire cultures.

People here are rightly proud of the part that they played in defending themselves against seemingly overwhelming odds. Eunie and I felt privileged to be invited to participate. I’ll probably do a two-part post on the ANZAC Day memorial and following festivities during the next week.

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The Orion – Best Hotel in PNG

Posted in At Sea on April 23rd, 2010 by MadDog
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I’m still not clear about what my Facebook pal Justin Friend’s job is on Orion,  a luxury cruise ship which usually tip-toes into Madang at dawn and scurries out at dusk. His primary duty seems to be to live up to his surname. It seems that he organises a million things that would never occur to me. Anyway, yesterday he organised a visit aboard Orion  for me and my gorgeous wife, Eunie.

The joke aboard Orion  is that, when in port anywhere in PNG, it’s the best hotel in the country. Well, I’ve not been to all of the hotels in PNG, but I’m inclined to say that it’s no joke. From glitz to service, especially service, I’ve seen nothing to compare with it since I stayed in the Hanoi Horison Hotel. A place such as that would normally not be on my itinerary, but I booked a room on the Internet for US$80 per night.

Here’s a shot that I filched from Google Images of Orion  strutting her stuff:She’s a single constant-speed engined ship with a variable pitch propeller, two double-jointed rudders, and bow and stern thrusters. She can turn in her own length. She was purpose built (and, man, is she built! ) for getting into and out of small, interesting ports. She spends much of her time cruising Antarctic waters. I’ll give that a pass.

The bridge was like Disneyland to me. They have so many wonderful toys to play with:Note the golf ball knobs on the controls.

The crew is primarily Filipino and the engineers are Russian. Orion  was built in Germany. She’s simply the biggest Mercedes Benz that I’ve ever seen. This is the deck bar. I can imagine myself schmoozing here with the rich folks. I’d have to go browsing through the used clothing shops here in Madang for a new wardrobe:There is also a huge lecture hall. I’m dedicating myself to wangling a cruise on Orion  as a guest lecturer. There must be something  that I could talk about. I used to do cruise guiding and lecturing on the Melanesian Discoverer  until the tourism industry collapsed and the boat was sold.

Here is the dining room. No matter what I was wearing, I’d feel like a bum in here:Everything is so perfect, that it seems as if it’s not quite real. I kept expecting to hear a director yell, “Cut; that’s a wrap.” and see a crew of stage hands come in to tear the whole thing apart.

Well, somebody’s got to cook all of that delicious food, some of which we consumed at a sumptuous luncheon buffet:It all happens in the galley, which was very businesslike. There was no screaming chef, at least I didn’t hear him scream. He was a very dignified looking fellow, German as I remember. By the way, Orion  has two  captains who take turns commanding the ship. That seems comforting to me.

It never occurred to me that cruise ships might have elevators, but that just goes to show what a bumpkin I am:

Orion’s  elevator runs up the middle of a huge circular well in the centre of the ship which also features a stunning spiral staircase. The entire top of the well is glass, so the natural daylight, and moonlight I guess, illuminates the three deck high area. Everything is incredibly shiny and colourful. Yet nothing comes off as gaudy.

This is the kind of atmosphere you can expect everywhere aboard Orion:The Walter Mitty in me imagines me in a black tux with a burgundy cummerbund and bow tie to match, a Walther P-38 bulging in my armpit, and a mysterious and beautiful spy whispering secrets in my ear beside this staircase on Orion.

The watchword on Orion  is service. The boat usually sails with a passenger to crew ration of about one to one, which seemed incredible to me. Justin was particularly proud of this notice board. Note the grid of little squares:There is a picture of every passenger there. Crew are required to know the names of the passengers at any table which they serve. Justin mentioned that one of the most common questions of the passengers is, “How do they all know my name?”

That’s class, baby! If this ship were really a woman I would fall deeply in love with her in an instant.

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