Copyright ©1998 by Dan Philgreen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
PAPUA NEW GUINEA, MY SECOND TRIP, 1996
Sunday, November 24, 1996, 3:15AM
Air Niugini Flight 393, Singapore-Pt. Moresby
This trip has started out with a bit of a snag. It seems the travel agent forgot about the international dateline. I was supposed to overnight in Hong Kong. When I got to the hotel they were expecting me the night before, the 21st, but when I got there it was the 22nd due to crossing the dateline and loosing a day. After I got to the hotel I realized that the plane I thought was going to leave the next day was leaving in about 15 minutes. I raced back to the airport to try to catch it hoping it would leave late. It was late, but not enough. I missed it by probably 10 minutes. So, I went back to the hotel. I called the travel agent from the airport. She said I would be able to change the ticket, but both United and Cathay Pacific said no, so I had to buy another ticket for approximately $1150.00US. And instead of going straight from Hong Kong to Pt. Moresby on Air Niugini I flew Hong Kong to Singapore on Cathay Pacific and now I'm finally headed to Pt. Moresby on Air Niugini. (They fly to Hong Kong and back one day and to Singapore and back the next.) So, we'll see if we'll be able to get that money back. (After a nearly a year, United finally returned about $700.00; the cost of a Hong Kong to Pt. Moresby flight. They still are holding out on the necessary Hong Kong to Singapore flight. We're still trying.)
I'm in a major jet lag as I was up all night the night before leaving on the trip; only got to sleep for 15 minutes. Then Hong Kong is 11 hours different than Florida. New Guinea will be a few hours the other way, for a 9 hour differnce from Florida.
Tues., Nov. 26, Hauna Village on the Sepic River, Papua New
I was met at Wewak by Mark Aunkin and spent the afternoon talking to him and napping. Had a good night's sleep. The next morning I was awakened and talked to Bill Cristobal on the phone at 7:00AM. Then I was supposed to leave on an MAF flight to Hauna about 9:00, but turns out the guy was early so I had to rush off without a shower.
Came in here to Hauna in a Cessna 206 after stopping at two places including Ambunti to drop off passengers, which I remember from the last time I was here. Hauna now has an airstrip which was not the case 17 years ago. It is actually not right at the village, but about a 5 minute outboard ride down the tributary on a little island - the only flat, dry ground in the vicinity. (Marilyn told us later that at one point the river in its constant meanderings and changing of course was eroding the island, cutting away the end of the airstrip and threatening to completely ruin it. They used dynamite to blow up some ground and actually succeeded in changing the course of the river so it would stop eroding the airstrip! A bit more cutting of brush to change the angle of the airstrip and it was back to it's original length.)
Got into the village around lunch time. Shot stuff all afternoon over in the health center with some of the construction and hauling sand and gravel up from the river and a few other building projects. Then got some pretty good rest last night. I was awakened about every two hours by a bird outside, but still got about 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
This morning we went to Sanapian, a village down river a little ways where they had a little sing sing celebration. We traveled there on a barge made by putting plywood across two dugout canoes. I shot in their school, which is a satellite of the Hauna school. I'm about to take a look at the footage here on the TV set. There's an NTSC (American System) TV set and VCR here at the "Hauna Hilton." So, we're just waiting for lunch. It's raining now. We'll probably get some more construction activity this afternoon.
Friday, Nov. 29, 8:20AM, Hauna Village
I haven't done much with this journal yet. It's been hot, muggy. I've been doing lots of shooting. The little Sony VX-1000 camera has been doing a great job here. The footage looks wonderful. The Steadicam JR has been a great help on this project. It's making a tremendous difference in the look of everything. I'm starting to get the hang of using it. (The Steadicam JR is a stabilization device that enables smooth shots with the camera moving.)
I've done a lot of shooting of the work on the health center. Also the various other construction projects: working on the water system, hanging gutters, installing a septic tank, and a number of other projects. Building cabinets, doors, laying tile flooring. That's mostly what I've gotten done. Made a few little outings; to the little crocodile farm they have and a few other things like that. Yesterday we had a breakthrough on figuring out how to do Marilyn's video. She's just going to be walking around the village telling her stories in the places where they happened. With the wide angle lens and the Steadicam I'm able to follow her around and it's just working great. We did a little test yesterday and I was very excited about how this video is going to turn out.
I came here not really knowing what we were going to do. We were really unprepared. Marilyn wasn't here until a few days before I got here. So unlike last time, when everything was organized to the hilt and ready to go, this time there really was very little prepared in terms of thinking through how the video was going to be made or what it was going to be or what we had to do to make it happen. But, I believe we've got it figured out now.
Wed., Dec. 4, 1996, 10:30PM
Got into Ukarumpa yesterday. Had a productive time out in Hauna. Was so busy I didn't have time to work on this journal. We ended up shooting a lot of little modules of Marilyn telling stories in different places in the village. Here's more about the day we went down to Sanapian, the neighboring village, probably not more than about 5 to 10 miles away.
There is a school there that Shirley Kilosky, Marilyn's sister, helped start. The teacher there, who is from Sanapian himself, is going to school in Hauna. He was kind of the host for this day they put on the celebration and sing sing for the visiting Americans. I got some interesting footage of all the dancing. Then we made some pictures in the school. The fellow who is the teacher there is named Lawerence. While I was there he said, "I have something for you. Are you going to be in Hauna on Monday?" I said "yes." He brought me a nacklace with a little baby crocodile skull and some wild bore tusks. He said this was something that was given as part of a bride price. He wanted to give it to me for a gift. I don't know why he decided that I was someone he wanted to give a present to, but it is a neat thing. (and has been hanging on the wall of my editing room since)
Another very interesting shot we got was of Marilyn telling a story while sitting in a dugout canoe. She was paddling part of the time and there was a village woman in back paddling us around. I was sitting in the front with the camera on the little Steadicam JR. It was quite a remarkable thing to be able to shoot that way. It would not have been possible with a heavy camera and would not have been possible without the Steadicam.
The last full day I was there we hiked up the "mountain" that is nearby on the far side of the medical center. They said it would take about a half hour to climb. It took us at least an hour to get to the top. I shot some video of the view overlooking the tributary and the airstrip on the island below. It was quite a nice vista.
Earlier that last day, Michael, who was one of the original translators, was expressing some dissatisfaction for the way things were going and some mistrust of what we were doing and why we were doing this. He was accusing Marilyn of making this video to back to the United States and get lots of money from it. Well, that was not the reason we are doing it, of course, and Marilyn was very disturbed about the situation and decided we just could not go on until we got this thing resolved an had unity. The conversations went on for a couple of hours. Time was wasting, but what could we do? Well, finally I went to the bathroom and Marilyn had left the room for a while as well. When we came back, Michael had had a change of heart and apparently his conscience got to him or something. He broke down and was crying and asking us to forgive him. A couple of others who had been in agreement with him broke down as well. Everything got resolved. There were tears and hugs all around. But, it was an interesting thing. An evidence of spiritual battle that there was some satanic influence going on there; trying to "buggerup" as they say in Pidgeon. But the Holy Spirit prevailed in the end.
There was some communication breakdown and Marilyn had assumed that Shirley was telling everyone the things she (Marilyn) had communicated from the States, but that communication didn't make it to the people. So, they really didn't even know that Marilyn was even coming. They certainly didn't know that I was coming with a camera or that we'd be doing video, so unfortunately there was just not the preparedness on the part of the whole village so that everyone could understand what was going on and the reason we were doing it. Shirley has many talents, but she's not the organizer that Marilyn is and was in that village. So, the fact Marilyn was not there before I arrived made for a very different experience from the last time I came to Hauna when Marilyn had everything planned out to the minute practically as far as what we would shoot and when we would do it and so forth. All the people had been involved and indeed prepared a long time before I came.
So, the Hauna experience: hot, wet, many long hours of shooting. Very interesting and I hope the video will be very rewarding.
The helicopter flight out was fabulous! I just can't imagine a more interesting flight. Basically were in the helicopter all day long. I was dropped several times in villages while ferry flights were being made. The main mission of this helicopter operation was to get families that were in remote villages to the nearest airstrip where they could be picked up by Cessna 206 fixed wing and taken back to Ukarumpa. Most of these flights were about 10 or 15 minutes flying time from the vilage to the nearest airstrip where the 206 could get them, but to hike in or out of those villages the rule of thumb is that every minute in the helicopter equals about an hour of walking. So, some of these people work about an 11 hour hike away from the nearest airstrip. The helicopter makes life tremendously easier. In fact, most of these translator families have young children, so it would be virtually impossible for them to live in those villages without this help.
So, Bill would drop me off either at the airstrip or at the village, and ferry usually a couple of flights of cargo and people - kids, moms, dads - and then he'd pick me up and we'd go to the next area where ferry flights needed to be done. It took several hours flying to get back to Ukarumpa from the Sepic. A young Australian kid named Peter was in the back for most of the flight. He's an aviation buff and loved the flight as well. We flew over a couple of World War II wrecks; one a B-25 that is in remarkable. It's obviously a wreck, but the engines are still in it, the propellers are on it. It's sitting in a field far away from any way to get to it. Bill took us down circling around it hovering very close, about 10 feet off the ground. I got some close video. Then we saw another airplane which we think was a few pieces of a B-24 Liberator, but it had truck tracks going into it. A lot of it had been hauled off somewhere. Bill was very disgusted about that, feeling that the WWII wrecks have great potential as tourist attractions and yet they are being hauled out for scrap. He said that the Australian Airforce came in a few years back and airlifted a lot of wrecks out just as an excercize. It's a shame.
I got some great shots from the helicopter and of Bill flying and so forth. When I was on the ground in the villages I got some pictures of him coming and going. It's such a contrast to see this sleek, sophisticated vehicle embodying very high aviation technology in such a primitive environment.
With the wide angle adapter lens and the Steadicam I was able to get some really remarkable pictures inside the cockpit. Also, back at Hauna and at one of the other villages we took the back side door off and I did some shooting from the open doorway, which was very nice as well. And also a lot of fun!
The footage was especially dramatic in the mountains. Unfortunately the lighting was not quite as nice in the mountains as it had been earlier in the river area.
I put together an e-mail on Bill's computer this morning, but aparently there was some trouble getting things sent out and also getting things received, so I don't know if any e-mail is going to make it's way back home much sooner than me geting there myself.
Today I spent the day over at the hangers here at Ukarumpa shooting maintenance operations. They were working on the landing gear of one of the Cessna 402's, were preparing a 206 to have the wings put back on, and also some avionics work. Met a fellow named Ole (Oh-la) who flies for New Tribes mission. Quite a colorful fellow - a wonderful storyteller. He's from Denmark and a delightful person.
He was a special forces soldier. Bill said he has some wild stories of operations he did when he was in the military, such as being deposited from a helicopter onto an Iranian ship that had hostages on it at night.
I was shooting in the hanger this morning and up walks Kirk Franklin. (Who worked with me on come by here.) I was told he was going to be in the country up from Australia, but also I was told he was not going to be here at Ukarumpa, but he got off a plane, saw me, and there we were. So, we talked a bit and planned to get together before I leave.
Back in Hauna they had an NTSC TV set and VCR. I was able to watch footage most evenings and see how I was doing, which was an unexpected benefit. Bill Cristobal has an NTSC TV at his house and we've been watching footage there too. I had dinner over there the last two nights. Had a nice time visiting. We're making plans to do some air-to-air shooting, possibly a formation of up to four of the JAARS aircraft types here. It will be interesting to see how that develops.
Monday, December 9, 12:17PM, Port Moresby
I haven't had a whole lot to say into this machine because I haven't had much time to say it.
Things concluded pretty well out in the Sepic, but we didn't get a good ending for Marilyn's program. She caught up with me at Ukarumpa and we tried it a couple of times there. I think we finally have a take that will work. The aviation shooting went splendidly well. Got lots of good maintenance footage and some flying footage. The flying with Bill in the helicopter was a special treat. Had a fabulous day of flying - about 8 hours of operations.
One note: when the doors were off of the Jet Ranger helicopter the Steadicam was useless because of the wind. With the doors on, however, the little Steadicam worked great in the helicopter.
Saturday we had planned to do air-to-air shooting. Bill wanted to do a formation shot of all four of the types that are being flown by SIL in PNG, but after we briefed it a few of the guys were not totally comfortable, so we ended up doing single ship air-to-air of the Cessna 206 and Cessna 402.
Dec. 9, 8:00PM, Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong
The Air Niugini flight in an Airbus A310 was uneventful. Saw "Phenomenon" with John Travolta. Interesting movie.
Caught up with a group of people from the Hauna team at the airport at Moresby. A couple of them will fly on with me tomorrow to LA. Two of the ladies are going on tonight from Hong Kong to Singapore, then to LA and on home which will have them in the air well over 24 hours of flight time without a break.
I'm going to put down the names of some places here as I remember them:
Kainantu - the little town that is near Ukarumpa
There are a few places that I remember being last time here:
Popendeta, Amanab, Green River
This time (as on the first trip) I went into Ambunti, 110 miles downstream from Hauna. Hauna is 4 miles up a tributary. Ambunti is about 200 river miles or so up the Sepic River from the coast.
Some of the group tried to get out of Hauna as early as last Tuesday, but the day after I left they got stuck in Wewak and then got stuck in Pt. Moresby and ended up getting out on the same flight I got out on today. I had heard that it was really crazy and a lot of people were getting bumped off, so I was afraid I wouldn't make the flight today, but there wasn't any problem. We all got on.
The Sony VX-1000 like mine is available here in Hong Kong for about $2800. Also, the little Sony PC-7 paperback book size DVC camcorder is on sale here for $14,000HK, that's about $1,800US. Sony has available for it a .45x wide angle.
A few months ago they put a fence around the Ukarumpa center at a cost of nearly $200,000.00. It's been very controversial. Bill Cristobal was against doing it. He felt that it would just put off the problem for a little while and doesn't address the real problem. (He was proved correct when less than a year later some local thugs broke through the fence, forced their way into his house while he was away flying, and terrorized his wife and daughters and some visiting friends. The men stole some things and one had announced his intention of raping one of the girls and had taken her into a bedroom when something scared the men and they all fled. On their way out they accosted some other translators along the road and stole some things from them.)
Marilyn had the idea that they should pay the landowners (that is of the land that the center is sitting on) who are currently paid through the government by SIL. If they paid them directly $5 a month or so per house, then that would probably quell the whole thing. When they get paid once per year they kind of forget about it the rest of the year. If they had a monthly payment, they would be much more likely to be nice to their tennants and exert their influence in the community for others to do likewise. As it is there appears to be a lot of resentment.
I'm having dinner tonight at the Cam Fat restaurant off of Nathan Road. The pictures in the window looked appetizing. It's kind of a diner similar to the one I ate in when I came through here last time. They slapped the food down on the table just like the other place did.
I got to fly the 402 from the right seat for about a half hour on the Ukarumpa to Moresby flight which was a lot of fun. Bill was in the left seat.
Aiyura is the name of the valley and the name of the airport at Ukarumpa.
On the way in I stayed at the BP International House hotel which was a pretty nice, high quality hotel. I'm booked in the Kowloon Hotel on the way back here and nearly all the rooms were full. I'm in their hostel section. The room had the down-the-hall bath. You have to go around the corner for the bath as the one in the nearby bathroom has the shower full of stored items.
I didn't feel very secure leaving my stuff, so I'm carrying the camera and all the spent tapes with me as I walk around. I figured I could recover from the loss of anything but those items.
Saw a clever little camera called the Canon Ixus. Saw it in Singapore and I'm seeing it here in Hong Kong. Marilyn happened to have one. It has a 24mm-48mm zoom lens on it and is really tiny. It uses the new Advanced Photo System from Kodak. There are able to make the cameras more compact with that film cassette than they could with the standard 35mm cassette.
I had some discussions with Bill Cristobal and a few other people about the possibility of getting a computer edit system at Ukarumpa and even talked a bit about the possibility of us coming over for a year to do some training on that and get a program started.
My meal just got served: steak and giant prawns. It's on a metal platter and everything is still sizzling. A lot like the last meal I had in this town when I burned my mouth. I'm going to wait a little while this time before I start chompin'.
I strapped my suitcase and my other cases together with a luggage strap and put my closed up travel alarm on there which you cannot tell is a clock when it's folded up. I tried to make it look like it was a luggage alarm. Hoped that would be as much of a deterent as the real thing.
Hong Kong is still a fun place to shop. They've got the latest gadgets out of Japan on the shelves: cellular phones, video, cameras. Not quite the bargain place it used to be, but still they have the latest.
Bill Cristobal would like for me to get involved with amateur radio. He's doing so and there are some little radios and I see some for sale here in the store right in front of me on Nathan Road. They are tiny little transceivers - VHF FM. Bill has one from Yaesu that has a hot-wire mod. You just break one solder joint and that allows you to transmit on the aviation frequencies, which he has done to his.
The NTSC version of the Sony PC-7 they have for sale have Japanese nomenclature so the stores are putting little stick-on English labels on them. These are definately grey market items. (The PAL versions had factory English markings.)
It stands to reason that the in-viewfinder displays and menus would also be in Japanese. You couldn't fix that with a stick-on. I'll just wait 'till they come to the states. (Here they are about $2,500. In HK they could be had for about $1,300US)
Well, I just discovered that there are two Kowloon Hotels on Nathan Road and the other one is a first class establishment and is where I'm supposed to be with a guaranteed room. Instead I'm in a fleabag hostel. So, I may have $130 on my credit card for nothing. Right now I don't really care. These people seem nice enough and the bed seems nice enough, so here I will stay. Plus I already paid in cash. (They wouldn't take a credit card. Should have been an immediate red flag since the room was guaranteed with my credit card. I thought it was strange, but it didn't register. Lot's of things are strange in Asia and I was programmed to accept that.)
(When I stepped off the airport buss at the specified stop on Nathan Road, a lady asked me if I was going to the Kowloon Hotel. I said yes and she asked me to follow her. She assured me she worked for the hotel. She lead me to the hostel. I think it was a deliberate deception. There was a sign up that said "Kowloon Hotel" in the hallway of the upper floor of the building I - the hotel occupied only one floor - but the name on the receipt they gave me was different.)
December 10, 7:30AM
I slept about 7 hours. I'm awake and not going to be sleeping any more, I can tell.
Getting ready for this trip I bought a camera, Steadicam JR, battery packs, power supply/power cable, and also Dave Goldsmith helped me by buying a light kit. I ordered the tape stock by mail order as well. It was a bit nerve-wracking waiting for all this equipment to come and the battery packs ended up being the wrong ones. They were supposed to express ship me the proper ones and that was bungled up. They sent the right ones, but by ground. Finallly the third shipment made it with the right items. They came the day before I left, so I wasn't able to do as much testing of the rig as I had wanted. That also threw off my packing plans and I was up most of the night the night before leaving. On my last trip I managed to be packed a day in advance. I told myself I would do that every time from now on and attmpted such, but it didn't happen.
Just before getting on the bus at Ukarumpa to go to the airport I went over to the market they have each week. I shot a little bit of footage there. Also in a moment of weakness I purchased a bow and arrow and a quiver. I had gotten some arrows when I was here years ago, but didn't have a bow. I had to make a split-second decision: did I want to carry this bow and arrow all the way back to the States? I decided, well, for ten Kina I would give it a try. Seems I've done this several times on trips as I was about to head home.
I almost missed the bus while I was at the market. When I went back to the guest house they had taken my things in the van but left me behind. I ended up catching them on the road fortunately. When I got into the bus, Marilyn was on it and she said "Oh, they won't let you take that on the airline with those arrow points exposed." So, at the hanger, Bill found a cardboard tube that he put over the end of the bamboo quiver and taped the whole thing up. That was just right, except that it was too long to carry on. I tried to seperate it to make the pieces shorter. They ended up checking the arrows in the cardboard tube and I carried the quiver. We'll see how United wants to handle it.
I got to share in the devotional time at the hangers with the pilots and mechanics. That went really well and they seemed to appreciate that. Bev Praeter, a pilot who seems to be a very godly guy mentioned in his prayer during the prayer time that followed the influence of my parents in getting me interested in missions. That's something I hadn't planned on mentioning in my talk, but it just kind of flowed out. And that was the thing that touched him more than anything else; the example of parents influencing their kids for godly living and for missions. I believe the Spirit was helping me there.
Also during that time the fellows really seemed to grasp what I was trying to do with video and all these changes in my life. I attempt to explain that to a lot of people and it just seems to go flying right past them with little effect. I hadn't really planned on getting into that with these guys during the prayer time, but it again just flowed out and through some of the questions they asked they all seemed to grasp the gravity of the situation and the step of faith involved and they were really lifting me up in prayer for all of that.
I think during the time I spent with them shooting all around the hangers and so forth they grasped the potential for what I'm trying to do. They could see how it could possibly effect their work and their ability to communicate about it.
It's kind of funny - some of these songs they put in the airline entertainment program, usually they have a mixture of different kinds of things - I happened to be listening to the country channel for a while. I was skipping around because non of them particularly had much appeal to me, and I had listened all the way through the comedy channel, but this song by some female artist I'd never heard of before kind of arrested my attention. It was called "The River and The Highway." It was about relationships between people who are so very different from each other that they have a hard time running along together. But when the bridge crosses over it's a wonderful thing. I thought it was a really beautiful song and an interesting thought. Sometimes when I listen to things on these airline entertainment programs that I wouldn't normally seek out, I find little valuable song or whatever and it makes me think maybe I should be broadening my horizons some more in what I listen to.
It seems I'm always on the lookout for artforms, especially songs, that express how I see life or things that shed light on things I go through. It's a joyful thing when you find a song that speaks to you or expresses a feeling that you've never been able to quite get into words.
I just had a brainstorm about putting a little music video at the end of the aviation video and thought perhaps I could get friend Warren Williams to write a song about taking the Word or bringing the Word or something like that.
Another thing I need to do is go to Teen Missions and interview the fellow who is the main man there who is responsible in large part for making the medical center happen.
The exchange rate for the Hong Kong dollar is $1US equals $7.33HK. For the Kina it was something like 1.35 Kina to the US dollar.
It's almost 8:00 oclock AM. I'm feeling pretty good and anticipating entering jetlag land today. I loose about 14 hours and then gain a whole day. That's a weird thing with this dateline business.
We shot Marilyn's ending four times. Twice in the village in two different places and times. Multiple takes each time. We watched the one we thought was best, shot minutes before I left the village in the helicopter, and realized the audio was poor on the best take we had. So, we did it again at Ukarumpa. We found a nice spot down by the river. It was perfect. She did a good job, the lighting was great, and everything technically was fine. Then late in the day she realized she had left out a coupld of elements she really wanted in, so we went down again in the late afternoon and shot it. The light was not as good and it started to rain, so I'll just have to piece that story in just using the audio.
I tried to catch up with Elvin, Roger, and Tom last night to have dinner, but by the time I got over to their hotel (the one I had stayed in on the way over) they were gone, so I guess they gave up on me.
Marilyn gave some of the modules that we videotaped, including the ending, to a group of people, mostly women, at the guest house on Sunday afternoon. She mainly was trying to encourage the wives to keep on with their work and translations. She said that there were lots of tears when she shared that ending module, indeed I was moved and I had heard it several times already. So, I think we have the potential for a very powerful piece here. And it seems we were running into an awful lot of opposition in getting it on tape.
Something that Marilyn learned on this trip shortly before we left the village: When she originally came to the village there were 163 or 166 medicine men or witch doctors. They would attempt to heal the sick by calling on demonic spirits that would enter their bodies and posess them. Now there are only six left. The others have either died or become believers and forsaken that. They still practice healing using the plants and herbs and that kind of thing, but they now call on the Holy Spirit for healing. So there are six who remain who follow the old ways. The significant thing is that they can no longer become posessed in the village. They have to go four to six miles into the bush away from the village in order to become possessed. The power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the 500 believers in Hauna keeps the power of darkness at bay inside the village. That is a powerful story.
Another remarkable story Marilyn shared on camera was the time they ran out of fuel for the outboard motor on a canoe during a trip back up river from Ambunti. The young translation helpers - new believers, very innocent and child-like in their faith - prayed. They said, "Papa God, you are powerful enough to keep the stars up in the sky and none of them ever falls down. You are powerful enough to make this motor work without any gas. In faith they started pulling on the starter rope. The motor fired up and they rode for at least 45 minutes to the village with no gas in the tank.
This sounds pretty wild eyed and pretty far out there, but Marilyn was there in the canoe when it happened. They all knew it alway took five tanks of gas to to make it up the river from Ambunti (110 miles) and they only had four tanks of gas which had all been used up.
This is the kind of story you usually hear second or third hand and you wonder, "how accurate could it really be?" But this is a first hand account and there is no other explaination than a miracle.
We shot this story paddling through the village in a dugout canoe. I was holding the camera on the Steadicam out over the edge of the canoe, over the water much of the time. This is a shot that would be just about impossible to get any other way. It really looks good, I think.
I ended up having lunch Sunday with Marilyn and with Jim and Jackie Parlier at their house. They're back in PNG to work on the Managalasi Old Testament. I was planning to eat at the guest house, but no one else was going to be eating the noon meal, so they didn't cook one. Marilyn had been invited to Parlier's and she said, "Oh, just come along with me." So, I got a chance to be with them. Jackie gave me a copy of her book Jim had told me about called poking holes in the darkness. I asked her to sign it and she did so. I started reading it on the plane.
Their village was one I had been to when I was here 16 years ago. It was the one that required quite a hike along a mountain trail after landing at an airstrip that is very steep on the side of a mountain. You always land going up hill and always take off going downhill there. I recall it as being one of the most unusual approaches I've ever been a witness to from a cockpit. On final it looks like you're flying right into the side of the hill and at the flare you pull back a whole lot further than normal and actually flare the plane up the hill. A very unusual bit of flying.
As we flew to Moresby yesterday in the 402, Bill told me how the flying he does here in PNG is just the most enjoyable thing he could imagine. He's had opportunities to flying that's been more fun than anything he ever dreamed of. He was commenting on how it's so good to be where the Lord wants you to be. He said that before he got into missions he knew he was supposed to be in missions, but he took a job flying in Alaska doing a bit of a Jonah thing there. He said he was absolutely miserable the whole time.
One benefit of this fleabag hotel experience, or hostile hostel experience here in Hong Kong is that I'm getting a feel of what Hong Kong life is really like for most people here. Unlike the fancy hotel rooms, everybody is cramped into little rooms in these apartment buildings with stuff stored in the hallways. Not too far removed from life in the Russian flats I experienced.
The official exchange rate today is 7.73 to the dollar. I think I got 7.33 yesterday.
The place I stayed in, the "other" Kowloon Hotel, is right across from the giant Toshiba sign on Nathan Road.
December 10, 10:10AM
Made my over to the fabulous 5-star Kowloon Hotel to see if I could convince them to not charge me for last night since I guaranteed the room on a credit card, but they are going to charge so I'm not a very happy camper at the moment. So, the $70 room I stayed in plus the $130 room I didn't stay in made it a $200 night in Hong Kong. Yeah, I'm just ready to go home.
I was hoping this time in Hong Kong would be uneventful, but the adventure continues. That's it. I'm about cultured out at the moment. I think I'm going to have breakfast at McDonalds.
Just had a Sony DCR PC-7 offered to me for $9750 down from $11,500HK. The zoom lens works better than the one on the VX-1000. It apparently has 3 speeds and almost appears to be proportional. I couldn't quite tell.
McDonalds seems to be doing well here. They have one about every other block.
The PC-7 has a flip out screen. When you turn it facing forward, it flips the image the way a Sharp Viewcam does. It pivots all the way around for looking straight down at it for underslung shots and also so you can look straight up for overhead shots. When you flip it out, the viewfinder eyepiece screen goes black. There's no external power plug. You have to use an adapter that slips into the battery slot. The battery clips onto the side and forms part of the external dimension of the unit.
It has photo mode like it's big brother. It also has Super Steadyshot that seems to work exactly the same. The viewfinder image is quite small - smaller than the VX-1000. The flip out screen is pretty small too - smaller than the smallest Sharp Viewcam. Sharp is making smaller viewcams, by the way, that I haven't seen in the States, and also the Sony Hi-8 is available in a Viewcam form as well; smaller than anything by Sharp.
I saw the wide angle adapter. Sony has a .45X adapter for the PC-7. It was $1,800HK. The PC-7 compared to the similar form JVC DVC machine: The Sony is about an inch shorter, but slightly thicker in width. I think it's a more pleasing form factor. The controls are much more intuitive and more appealing than on the JVC unit. The loading mechanism is very similar to the VX-1000.
Another startling discovery: McDonalds orange juice here is really watery compared to at home.
I also saw the Motorola StarTac cell phone for the first time and compared it to the little Sony phone. I think Motorola's is the better unit. The buttons are covered when it flips closed. The buttons are nicer. Also, the unit is about the same size except in thickness - it's about 1/2 the thickness of the Sony. (learned later that both these are analog phones so will not work with digital PCS)
Discovered this morning that my suitcase is broken in two corners thanks to Air Niugini. I'll try to get to the airport in time to make a claim. (never did get any satisfaction out of that deal)
At the exchange rate, that price I was offered on the PC-7 was about $1,350US. At $1,800HK the wide angle lens is about $250US.
After my experience in London with the theft I'm a little paranoiod. This guest house place I'm staying in does not inspire confidence. The door has a skeleton key lock. I think if you just pushed on it hard it would break. So, I mentioned I had my phoney-baloney alarm system, but I have the camera and all tapes with me. Of course I'd be heartbroken if that penis gourd got stolen.
The building that this guest house and several other ones are in is the Mirador Mansion across from the big Toshiba sign on Nathan Road.
Dec. 10, 10:15AM
With four pieces of luggage I'm kinda maxed out to move in one go by myself. I've got the Haliburton case and the light kit piggybacking on my Samsonite with wheels and the camera bag over my shoulder. I can do this by myself, but it would sure be nice to have a second person just to watch the stuff. Security is at risk when you have to do this by yourself.
I'm sitting here waiting for the bus and in one of the electronics stores there is a video game demo playing on a TV set called "Wave Race" with jet skis - the standup kind of jet skis. That might work for Dave Nixon's movie. It says it's 1996 by Nintendo sponsored by Kawasaki Jet Ski.
Another shopping note: Hong Kong is a good place to buy big name sunglasses. If I had some time I'd shop for some myself.
The guest house rooms are about half the price, but you can't use a credit card, you can't make a reservation, and security is not too good. But if you're going to just stay in the room - just need a place to sleep while you're traveling light and can carry everything with you, it's not a bad option. All the hotels are supposed to be booked this weekend. No rooms available, but there are people on the streets trying to get folks to come to their guest houses, so it sounds like there are probably always rooms available. If they're available this week, they should be available anytime.
The "Airbus" is a good way to get to and from the airport. It's $12.5HK. Route A1 takes you to all the hotels in the Kowloon area with lots of good shopping around. A taxi costs about four times as much. And because you have to wait in line for a taxi, the bus really doesn't take much longer. It runs from 7:00 until midndight about every 15 minutes. Pretty good service. You can also use the A1 bus to go the Star Ferry terminal where you can cross the harbor to take the tram ride up Victoria peak. Wouldn't be a bad thing to do if you had a layover of, oh, I'd want at least four to six hours to be comfortable with that.
That PC-7 recorder is what I've been waiting for for a personal machine. It's so small, but has the DVC quality and the Sony Steadyshot stabilization. A nice zoom, wide angle capability. Seems to just about have it all. And small enough to easily slip into a little waist pack. Just the ticket for Disneyworld.
Got wind in the airport yesterday that there was a military coup in Kenya and that all the missionaries are being forced out. I'm eager to find out more about that situation.
12:50PM, waiting at passport control
I tried to find the Air Niugini agent. There was none here, but I found a Cathay Pacific baggage office and made a report of the baggage damage and they're sending that on to United in Orlando. We'll see if I get any action on this. I was getting a bit worried about the time and was tearing off looking for an elevator to get back down to the main terminal floor and wouldn't you know it, I discovered I'd left the bow and arrow somewhere and couldn't remember where. Went back to the last office where I'd been and there it was leaning against the counter right where I'd left it. Ended up having to check the bow and arrow because it's considered a weapon and a security item in the Hong Kong airport. So, I checked it but no excess baggage fee this time. It was about $100 extra leaving Orlando.
Made the sad discovery that the viewfinder in the VX-1000 is not full rastor. Also, the viewscreen on the Steadicam JR is not full rastor. (ie: these viewfinders cut off the outer edges of the image) I had instances where, using the wide angle, I knew I could see the Steadicam's viewscreen in the bottom of the shot if I was at full zoom out. I would bump in until it was out of the frame and even when the stabilization was in full vertical deflection the Steadicam screen was out of frame. But I still saw it peeking up into the bottom of some shots on one of the TV sets I watched footage on, which apparently had no cutoff at the bottom of the screen.
There is a 25 Kina airport tax when you leave Port Moresby. There is a $100HK tax when you leave Hong Kong.
My imigration agent's name was Lawrence Moe. Wonder if he has a brother named Curly.
Dec. 10, 2:00PM, United Flight 2, non-stop HK to LA, a 747-400
Taxiing for takeoff at Kai Tac Airport, Hong Kong
All my bags are checked through to Orlando with no excess baggage charge. I've got my shoes off in a window seat well behind the wing and an empty seat next to me. I can finally relax and I'm a happy camper.
Flight 2 is rolling.
Looking down, it's amazing how much land has been reclaimed around Hong Kong.
Oh, cool: our wingtips are leaving contrails.
This flight is scheduled to last eleven hours, thirteen minutes. Apparently they're looking for a pretty good tailwind since that's about an hour shorter than the normal schedule for this flight. They are only going to show two movies instead of three.
It's so wierd: we leave at 2:00pm, Dec. 10 and arrive at 9:15am on the same day.
We're flying over a huge city with a big airport on the water here. Looking at the map in the magazine I figure it must be Taipei.
Dec. 10, 8:55am Tuesday, on the ground in LA
Ten hours, fifty eight minutes.
The quila wood bowl was made by the Tamil people that live on the north coast of PNG.
Here's some e-mail that my family never saw. Nobody had e-mail down well enough at the time to get it downloaded and off the computer.
Hope you are doing okay. I will probably be home by the time you get this.
The shooting of the aviation stuff is going well and almost done. Have had
a good time w/Cristobals though this is a busy time of year for them just
as it is for us. It doesn't seem like Christmas season over here, though a
couple of houses here at Ukarumpa are decorated with lights. You wouldn't
recognize Ukarumpa. There are about 3 times as many houses here as 16 yrs.
ago. It's huge.
I'm looking forward to coming home. I have been working very hard every
day. I've shot about 22 hours of video and haven't had much time to relax
at all. I sure do miss you guys. Can't wait to be with you again.
Below is the message I sent to Mike & Rhonda FYI. I love you! See you soon!
Hi Mike & Rhonda!
Good to hear from you. Just got your message last night. There has been
some problem getting e-mail in and out of here. The laptop goes to the
capital (Port Moresby) every other day or so on the regularly scheduled
flights, but the last couple of trips they had trouble w/the connection
there so one day no transfer, the next try the power went out after about
half the messages got transfered and I guess that shut down the phone
system or something. Their traffic in and out of the country is about 400
messages in ea. direction per two days. Anyway, they need satellite comm
here but aparantly the sat. coverage is not available on some systems, so
what to do?
Haven't heard from Esther or the kids. Called Esther last night for a few
minutes just to check on her. She said Nathan was bogged down w/homework so
hadn't tried to mess w/the e-mail.
Things are going well. I got great footage out in the village and will have
two, possibly three videos to put together from that material. I've also
been shooting footage here at Ukarumpa, the translation center in the
highlands (elevation 5100ft.) Have gotten great footage of helicopter and
some fixed wing operations and lots of maintenance stuff. So will be able
to put together a killer show for the aviation guys. They have never had
anything that featured the maintenance and repair side of the operation so
they are excited about that. It will be fun to put together. I am just
about done w/everything but tomorrow we are going to do some air to air of
a couple of the airplanes.
The Steadycam has proven to be a very good choice. So much more valuable
than the virtual i-glasses would have been. I've been able to get tons of
shots that would not have been possible w/out the Steadycam. Only problem
is that my back gets sore (not my arm!) This may be from the battery pack
and not from the Steadycam. I can't tell. I feel nothing all day, but when
I take everything off and start relaxing then it hurts to stand up. So,
maybe I just need to build up the right muscles.
Marilyn Laszlo is anxious to get these shows put together. She is scheming
to find a way to get the money for the editing computer right away. So, we
may be in business a bit sooner than I expected. We'll see.
Will see you soon. I won't be surprised if I'm home before you get this
I got in to Ukarumpa yesterday. Was very busy shooting every day in Hauna.
Got the stories pretty well covered there. There will be a video about the
health center and about the school that Shirley is running. Then we did a
number of modules where Marilyn is walking around the village telling
stories. I think this will be very effective. Flew around w/Bill in the
helicopter yesterday and ended up here at Ukarumpa. He is excited about
having a video of the aviation program. It's nice and cool and dry here. So
nice after the hot damp Sepic region. Got bitten by lots of mosquitos
there. Hope I don't get malaria.
There was a problem w/my bookings getting over here. Seeems the travel
agent forgot about the international dateline and my hotel and Hong Kong to
Port Moresby flights were booked for a day early. Ended up having to go to
Singapore to catch a plane to Moresby. All worked out, but it added a lot
of stress to the travel and I was tired when I arrived in PNG.
I'm doing fine. Feeling good, though a little tired. I need to go shoot
something now. Were doing another short flight in the helicopter. Nathan,
you would love the helicopter. Stacey too. I have some great footage, so
you will get an idea what it was like. If you sent me any e-mail, I will
likely get it tonight. This message I'm writing Wed. AM will likely be sent
(from Moresby) tomorrow. They have to fly a computer on the regularly
scheduled Moresby flights to send and retrieve e-mail. The phone lines here
are too poor for e-mail transmission and they are having a lot of problems
- as we found out last night. I assumed that you could not get back through
after I called you. Was good to hear your voice though only briefly. I miss
you three! I love you. Must go now. Will try to send more later.
Wed., Dec. 4, 1996
Copyright ©1998 by Dan Philgreen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED