Days 1,007-1,013: The Lae Delay

04.10.11-10.10.11: Well I haven’t gone anywhere but by jingo it’s been a fun week here in sunny old Lae. Ah, it’s not as bad as everyone makes out: the town may be ugly as sin but the guys here at Steamship (Swire) Shipping have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome.

Alex here has taken me under his wing and over the last few days I’ve been treated much better than a hapless ginger wayfarer could possibly deserve. There’s only two drinking pits worth mentioning here in Lae — The Yacht Club and the Golf Club — and as Swire owns a speedboat at the marina and Alex is the el capitaine of the Nice Walk Ruined, the SP lager was flowing free. Although both places do have a completely irrational anti-hat policy. Grr…

During the day, I’ve been at the Steamships offices scrubbing away at the googles looking for a delightfully clever way to get around the Pacific, and the plan is good. If I can just get a couple of shipping companies onside, I could have 90% of the Pacific Nations done by January 12th 2012, leaving just Palau and Micronesia for me to fret about in the new year. Fingers crossed…!

The Papuan Chief has arrived in Lae, but it won’t be leaving until Saturday 14th October at the earliest. That being the case, Rob from Steamships challenged me to a round of golf at the weekend. Although “challenge” is probably not the best word to use in this case: I’m so bad at golf my only salvation came from the fact that everybody in the clubhouse was too busy watching the rugby to bother pointing and laughing at my utter crapitude. But it was a nice walk.

Otherwise, things have been fairly quiet over the last few days: there was a massacre up near Goroka on the Friday before I arrived — tribal warfare of the type you really wish they wouldn’t publish the gory pictures of in the newspapers — and so Lae is feeling pretty subdued. Having said that, the annual Morobe festival takes place next weekend and the Highlanders are massing on the fringes: the population of Lae is set to triple overnight.

I’m still not quite up for walking around the streets here without a chaperone, especially waving around my camcorder because, well, quite frankly, you never know. I’ve got this far without being mugged…

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.