I don’t know how it happened but I somehow ended up in Papua New Guinea. And to make it even more random, I attended the FIFA Women’s U-20 Soccer Cup World Finals in this country…
How I ended up in Papua New Guinea
It all started when I attended the 2016 World Domination Summit in Portland Oregon. I know the name of the event sounds weird but it’s basically a gathering of like-minded people who chooses to live a life of non-conformity. The event focuses on many topics from personal development, travel, online business, creativity and many more.
Anyways, I met a guy there named Daniel Berry that lives in Papua New Guinea. After talking to him for about 30 minutes, he invited me to come visit him in his home country. So obviously, I said sure because that sounded like an awesome idea.
Arriving in Port Moresby
Fast forward five months later, I’m on a Qantas flight from Brisbane, Australia to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. I was a little worried arriving in this city having heard of its reputation of being very dangerous for tourist.
My friend Daniel was still Australia by the time I arrived in Papua New Guinea. It will be another two days before he arrives in Port Moresby. Because of his absence, he arranged his parents to come pick me up from the Port Moresby Airport. He has also contacted his friend to take me around the city for the next two days.
After getting picked up by Daniel’s amazingly welcoming parents, I got settled down in their place. (A very luxurious place!) They then contacted his friend Leonard to pick me up and take me to the FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup Games being held in Port Moresby.
In my head, I was thinking how completely random this series of event turned out to be. At this point and time, I was nearing my three month mark of my one year travel around the world trip. So far, I’ve gone to places like the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia. Somehow, I ended up in Papua New Guinea and I’m about to watch a FIFA World Cup Game. I don’t even watch or play soccer back in Vancouver! The randomness of these series of event has left me dumbfounded.
First impressions of Papua New Guinea
As Leonard drives towards the stadium picking up his friends along the way, this whole event suddenly reminds me of my life when I was between 18-22 years old. Everyone is just so carefree and enjoying the moment. Talking about stupid things that doesn’t make any sense or have no purpose whatsoever. Sometimes, I envy people like that because I am so future oriented that I have trouble living in the moment and just enjoying what’s in front of me.
While glancing outside the street, I noticed how chaotic it can be. You almost feel like a prisoner in your car and the moment you step out, someone will possibly harm you.
Leonard told me that extorting expats and foreigners is a common tactic in Port Moresby. He said it’s not uncommon for police to stop you over for no reason and demanding a large amount of bribe.
The soccer game begins!
We get to the stadium and find our way to our seats. Leonard’s gang of friends pour in and suddenly we have 20+ people sitting together and are friends with one another. Quite honestly, I always feel weird and awkward in this kind of situations because I don’t know any of these people yet they just take me in as part of their group to enjoy a soccer game.
The first game was for the third place spot and it was a match between USA and Japan. I was shocked how amazing the Japanese players were and relentless at keeping the ball on the USA side of the field. The game ended up going to overtime with Japan beating USA in the end to take the third place cup in the tournament.
Observing the locals
There was an intermission before the final match between France and North Korea so I took the opportunity to line up and grab some food to eat.
While lining up, I can’t help but feel paranoid being surrounded by so many native Papua New Guinean.
The media certainly does a very good job at painting them to be very bad people that will harm you without hesitation. I can definitely see them staring at me since I am not a local.
Upon arriving at the food stand, the Asian guy who I presume is the owner, gives me the food I ordered then immediately shuts down his operation. This causes the many local Papua New Guinean not to get their food and they’ve been lining up for over an hour!
I’m not sure if this was blatant racism…but I’m sure this still exist at some level in this strange country.
The finals and first impressions of Papua New Guinea
After grabbing my food, I went back up the bleachers to get seated and watch the final match between France and North Korea. The match was definitely intense with the French players constantly physically dominating the North Korean players. However, after the first period, I noticeably saw the decline in performance by the French players.
Because of the constant pressure delivered by the North Koreans; eventually, the French players morale was obliterated causing them to lose in the end.
During the ceremony, the North Koreans received their first place trophy. Awards was also presented to exceptional players in the tournament. In the end, the tournament ended with an amazing fireworks show that I can only describe as magical. I felt like it was a celebration to life and I have suddenly become a soccer fan.
My first night and impression of Papua New Guinea
After the tournament ended, we walked towards Leonard’s vehicle. He strategically parked it somewhere gated because parking on street corners is a big no-no in Port Moresby. Safety is a huge concern and if we weren’t attending a FIFA World Cup game, there would be little police protection in the street. We definitely would not be able to walk outside like we did.
My first impression of this country is that it definitely has a huge amount of opportunity for making money if you are an expat or investor. However, you also must be willing to feel trapped and caged during your entire time here.