2008 Papua New Guinea Trip

Page 4 - Madang


Jump to Page: 1. Cairns, 2. Goroka Market, 3. Goroka Tour, 4. Madang (this page)


Explanation of this web page: We travelled to Madang, Papua New Guinea where our family had vacationed 35 years earlier.  This is part of a larger trip explained hereClick on any picture below for a REALLY high resolution version!


In the picture below, we are in Goroka Airport about to board the Air Niugini plane seen below on our way to Madang.  The flight from Goroka to Madang is about 20 minutes in the air, a tiny flight.


A picture facing backwards in the airplane.  Howard (my father) is on the left, and Howard's four grand children are in the back far right of the picture.  Ari Echt-Wilson is beaming a big smile into the camera, Eli is facing sideways with iPod on, and Nathanael and Katie are in the last row.


Here we are descending into Madang Airport.  It's GORGEOUS in every direction with little islands and beautiful coastline.


Another picture as we descend into Madang Airport for landing.


A picture of one of the larger islands below us in Madang as we descend.


Another picture (I can't resist, it's GORGEOUS down there).  Notice the white sandy beaches and the lawns and homes, Madang is beautiful.


I accidentally caught this wrecked Japanese landing barge from WWII in this picture.  A few days later we took a small tour and drove to this wrecked barge by car.


On the ground in sweltering heat in the middle of the day at Madang Airport.  We are staying at the "Madang Resort" which picks us up for free at the airport.  All the hotels will pick you up for free because there are no taxis in Madang (not regulated so prices vary wildly, not reliable, no phone numbers to call to get them to come pick you up!)


The picture below is taken at the small marina immediately next to (maybe inside of?) the Madang Resort.  There is a major industrial marina about 2 km away, this is just for scuba divers and expeditions out of Madang Resort and such.  There are water taxis that don't regularly stop at this dock, but if you wave them down they will come over and you can negotiate for a few Kina (a few US dollars) any island destination.  The water taxis run all day so it's pretty convenient.  Just to be clear, the water taxis are open boats with a single outboard and seats, **NOT** the luxury cruise ship pictured below.  :-)


You can stay at four hotels in Madang, they are within a few feet of the water.  The Madang resort has rooms that actually are out OVER the water.  Here we are wandering around in our first few hours at the Madang Resort looking at the nice rooms.


Below is a room map of the Madang Resort (you can walk end to end in this resort in 3 minutes so it isn't as large as it seems on the map below).  The rooms are broken into categories "Standard" (217 Kina/night or about $80 USD), "Deluxe" (367 Kina/night or about $135 USD), "Executive" (501 Kina/night or about $184).  There are also some other "Presidential" and "Executive Presidential" categories.  The rooms numbered 58 - 71 (see "A" on the map below) are all "Executive" and are shown in the picture DIRECTLY above looking out over the water and are definitely the best deal at the Madang Resort.  Don't let the confusing map fool you, all the rooms 58 - 71 are totally equivalent (for example room 66 and 67 have matching water views with side by side decks).  The rooms numbered 54 - 57 (see "B" on the map below) are "Deluxe" rooms and are slightly on a hill and have views of the water peeking between the Executive rooms and are also a good choice.  The standard rooms are rooms 1-17 and are VERY basic, they do have air conditioning and are safe and relatively clean, but do not have water views, are small, and rarely have any decorations on the walls so they are about the equivalent of cheap Motel 6 type accommodations or even lower.  BEWARE: there are lots of rooms at the resort that are mis-labeled so you pay more but don't get water views!!  So for example rooms 40 - 48 are "Deluxe" rooms but not worth it because they are small and have no water views, so I wouldn't recommending these rooms.  Also a note about rooms 523 - 532 around the fake lagoon -> I don't like these.  It looks better on a map than in reality.  They have a 8 foot tall sea wall to keep the ocean waves out and it obscures the view of the ocean waves (you can see the ocean in the distance).  I'm not sure what they were trying for, but the fake lagoon does NOT have a nice beach, it isn't useful to swim or wade in because it's surrounded by an 8 foot wall that is not pretty, and the view from the rooms isn't that great.


Below shows the main swimming pool at the Madang Resort, which is gorgeous.  Over the far wall is an 8 foot drop then the ocean is crashing up against the sea wall.  It is a salt water pool.  Rooms 49 - 53 are pool side if you like that sort of thing.  You can see their entrances on the right side of the picture below.  Again, a beautiful pool, very pleasant, spectacular tropical views.


Here is a picture from my deck (from room 71 of the Madang Resort).  Howard Wilson (my father) drinking a rum and coke at the end of the day as the sun sets in Madang, Papua New Guinea.


Here is our clan at night sitting in the front reception area of the Madang Resort.  This was a common occurrence for us because the taxi service is so unreliable in Madang.  It's probably best to rent your own car in Madang if you want to leave your hotel more than a few times.  After 6pm is ESPECIALLY hard, during the day the hotel might shuttle you around for free but if you want to go out at night it can get very hard.


There aren't a lot of good maps of the Madang area, so I created and scanned a few in.  Here is a Google Maps link to various places in Madang: Brian's Madang Map Locations.  Below are two scanned maps with the four hotels you can stay at marked clearly (CLICK ON THE MAPS BELOW FOR REALLY LARGE VERSIONS). The only four places to stay in Madang are: 1. Madang Resort, 2. Madang Lodge, 3. Coast Watchers Hotel, and 4. Smuggler's Inn Madang.  All four are within a few feet of the ocean.  The Madang Resort has the nicest rooms but only second best food.  The best food is found at the Madang Lodge (chef Paul Payne is quite good) and the Madang Lodge is a little cheaper to stay out but still have beautiful gardens and is very safe (so Lonely Planet prefers the Madang Lodge).  Coast Watchers is a little further down the list, and unfortunately Smuggler's Inn Resort in Madang is NOT ACCEPTABLE.  Smuggler's Inn used to be a world-class resort in the 1970s and still has a wonderful location, but it has been utterly neglected, is run down now, and I wouldn't recommend anybody stay there.  I hope somebody buys it and fixes it up again.    Here is a map of Madang, Papua New Guinea.


Another map of Madang, Papua New Guinea.  This one I found on the wall at one of the Madang Resorts and took a picture with my camera.


Here is one more random map I found on a wall somewhere in Madang that had some things pointed out.  It shows the location of the Japanese War Wreck Airstrip, the Jais Aben Resort, the Japanese War Memorial, and some other local sites.


Below is a picture of the Madang Smuggler's Inn front reception area.  We stayed at the Smuggler's Inn in 1972 and it was very nice, but it is now run down and the people working there look and act confused and lost all of the time.


Here are the room rates for Smugglers Inn Resort Hotel in Madang, Papua New Guinea.  It also shows the Smuggler's Inn phone number is 852-2744 but if you call they probably won't pick up the phone.  It will ring in their front office, but for some reason they don't pick up the phone a lot of the time.  They also don't have a website, and don't have an email address, which explains why they don't have any customers and the business is collapsing.  I asked them for a brochure or a copy of this price sheet and they didn't have anything to give me, so this is a digital picture of the one stapled to their wall in the front lobby.  I would *NOT* recommend staying here until somebody buys and cleans up this hotel and runs it correctly, you would not be happy here.


Another brochure from the Smugglers Inn Resort Hotel in Madang.  This one says their address is Smugglers Inn Resort Hotel, P.O. Box 303, Madang 511 Papua New Guinea.


The famous Smuggler's Inn Sea Horse Shaped Swimming Pool!  When I was 5 years old in 1972 I learned to swim and dive in this swimming pool, here it is 35 years later.


Below is a picture SCANNED IN from 1972!!  It shows the same perspective as the above picture, same unique pool.  I think that's me below (Brian) in the yellow "floaties" (Water Wings) learning to swim.  :-)


Here is a pole carving, this picture was taken in 2008.


Another picture taken in 2008 of the Smugglers Inn intricate pole carvings.  This is traditional Papua New Guinea artwork and carvings showing men and women on poles.


The following picture is SCANNED IN from 1972!!  It shows the above pillars actually being carved by the craftsman.  Notice that the original carving had the male organ explicit and large (which is VERY traditional in Papua New Guinea carvings like this), and that over the last 35 years it was removed.


Below is the very corner of the Smuggler's Inn Madang property showing how some of the rooms look out over the water and it's a water front hotel.  There is good snorkeling on this beach I'm standing on next door.


Same spot facing north (away from Smuggler's Inn Resort in Madang).  This is our group about to go snorkeling in this spot.  Some of us were here 35 years ago in this same spot, this is where I first learned to snorkel when I was 5 years old.  The green grass area on the point in the distance is "Lion's Reserve" (said a sign).


The following picture is an OLD SCANNED IN PICTURE from 1972!!  I believe this is the identical spot, right next to Smuggler's Inn.  Below you can see us kids snorkeling in the same spot 35 years earlier..


Below is back to modern (July 30, 2008).  Below Eli is in the white shirt running his fingers through his hair.


This spot is directly across the street from a Madang school (primary school?) and the local kids would come across and play in the water.  They were very friendly, helping us find the reef and good spots.  Below are our group looking silly in their snorkels while a local boy looks on in amusement.


At about noon I think the school let out a bunch of grade school kids (like age 7 and 8 years old) and they came over and played in the water.


A few yards away here I am standing in "Lions Reserve Beach" in Madang.  On the far right you see the Smuggler's Inn in the distance and you can even make out the Madang Lodge even further down.  We walked from the Madang Lodge to this beach along the road in about a 10 minute walk.


Katie Hoffmann with some local school children in Madang, Papua New Guinea.


A local kid looking over his friends as they play in the ocean in Madang, Papua New Guinea.


We had dinner several times at the Madang Lodge Restaurant.  The chef (Paul Payne) is pictured below, he was SUPER friendly, gregarious, and would come out and talk with us and recommend things.  The food was excellent and we loved the atmosphere.


The deck at the Madang Lodge restaurant where we ate several meals in Madang.  Our group really liked the food, all the way from the excellent fish and chips up to various Thai delicacies.


A picture from my room at the Madang Resort.  In the morning the water taxis were loaded with people heading from the small islands to the mainland.  In the evening around 5pm they all were going the opposite direction loaded with people BACK to the little islands.


A close up of a water taxi in the morning.


Eli standing out on our deck (room 71, Madang Resort) in the morning. 


Here is the insides of room 71 which is an "Executive" room at the Madang Resort.  It was nice.


Looking the opposite way.  Ignore the ironing board and clothes everywhere.  :-)


Howard (my father) and I sitting on the back deck having a rum and coke.


This was taken later from a water taxi, but shows the location of our room 71 from the water.


Click the "Play Movie" button below to watch a short 15 second YouTube video of waves crashing under Room 71's deck (in the Madang Resort).  For WINDOWS ONLY Click Here for a MUCH HIGHER QUALITY Windows Media format movie.


Random other nice picture of the view every day in Madang, Papua New Guinea.


Another picture out the deck one morning.


The is what the outside of rooms 58 - 71 look like.  There are two identical mirror rooms in each little "cottage" and if you rent both rooms you can unlock the door between the rooms so it is more like a "suite" consisting of two identical mirror image rooms.


This is the view from the "Deluxe" rooms 54 - 57.  You can see the windows on the rooms to the FAR RIGHT in the panorama below.  The ocean views are on the far left of the picture below.  These particular rooms are an Ok value (good combination of view and nice room and a little cheaper than the "Executive" rooms).


I took this next picture on the way to breakfast.  I don't know why the soldier pictured below was carrying an automatic weapon in the Madang Resort, but it looked like he stayed the night before and was leaving to go somewhere.


The front hallway reception area of the Madang Resort.


A larger picture of the circular entrance driveway to the Madang Resort.


We went to the Madang Lodge (different than Madang Resort see map here) for a little snorkeling and lunch.  Below is the Madang Lodge restaurant.  The snorkeling area is DIRECTLY out front of the restaurant deck to the right in the picture below.


Here is the Madang Lodge restaurant deck.  Howard (in the blue shirt) is looking over the snorkeling area.


A random picture back into the gardens at the Madang Lodge which are very pretty and well kept.


We were debating how to get into the water or whether it was safe when these little local kids shamed us by walking up and down the cliffs playing and making their way along the coast for fun.


Here the local kids are swimming across the entrance to the little lagoon out front of the Madang Lodge heading to the other side, where they scrambled right up the rock cliffs and kept moving down the coast.


Standing on the wall outside the Madang Lodge getting some snorkeling gear together and ready.


Mark is standing on the diving platform (how you get into the water).  It's very deep right here so safe to jump into the water.


Click the "Play Movie" button below to watch a silly 8 second YouTube video of Brian jumping into the water to snorkel.  For WINDOWS ONLY Click Here for a MUCH HIGHER QUALITY Windows Media format movie.  This shows the easiest and best way to enter the water here.  Climbing out of the water later I cut up my feet and legs a little on the coral.  It would be a good idea to bring a pair of "wetsuit boots" or something to protect your feet when climbing out.  The coral was very sharp.


Here I am after climbing out.  A couple waves pushed me gently into the coral as I was getting out, and it caused small cuts in my legs and hands.  :-)  Coral is sharp!!


The next morning, we got up (yet ANOTHER picture from my balcony) and decided to take one the water taxis (pictured below) out to Siar Island, Papua New Guinea.


Here is a close up of the morning water taxis.  We took these in the "reverse commute" to most of the locals where we headed back OUT to the islands during the day instead of into the main land for work.


At this point we're in a water taxi heading to Siar Island, and we passed this OTHER water taxi which shows the kind of boat we're sitting in.


Open water on the way from Madang to Siar Island in a water taxi.  The trip took maybe 10 minutes and cost $20 USD round trips for our 9 people.


A traditional Papua New Guinea outrigger canoe in the ocean, with the Madang Resort in the background.


Siar Island is one of many little islands in the area, every island seems to have a house or two on it.


Here are couple TINY islands just outside of Madang.  Notice the house on the island on the right.


Here we are landing at Siar Island, Papua New Guinea.


As we landed the family that owns the island came up and greeted us and placed the mat down on the sand for our bags to sit on.  The oldest guy in the family that owns the island is "Simon Tewa" who came out and greeted us, then had his son show us around the perimeter of the island.  The family will rent you a primitive hut (no running water) to stay the night for a few dollars but we were just there for the day.  They were SUPER nice, we didn't make advance reservations, we just showed up to spend a day on their private beach and snorkel.  It's a beautiful location.


Below is a picture of Simon Tewa, owner of Siar Island, Papua New Guinea.


An outrigger canoe sitting on the beach at Siar Island.  Later we asked permission then took one of these outriggers out for a paddle around.


The main beach at Siar Island.


I asked to walk all the way around the perimeter of the island, and it took about 20 minutes.  Simon Tewa had his son show us around.  Below is wreckage from an American World War II plane on Siar Island.


The following picture is SCANNED IN from 1972 of the same spot!!  We were here 35 years ago, so this shows the airplane wreckage less decomposed.


Back to 2008, the picture below shows us circling the island led by Simon Tewa's son.


A little further along our perimeter walk of Siar Island is this christian grave that says "1952" on it.  Our guide said it was part of a German cemetery.  A little further along there was a rock wall surrounding an area that Simon's son said was a cemetery the Japanese had forced the locals to clear (building the rock walls from the cleared land) and forced the locals to dig all the graves.


A close up of the 1952 Christian cross grave marker on Siar Island.


Further along (almost all the way around) is this Japanese bunker.  I didn't go down into it because I feared creepy crawly things down there.  :-)


Ok, enough World War II tours, time for some tropical paradise snorkeling!  Below you can see some of our family on the far right snorkeling and some of the local Siar residents playing on the left.


I *think* this is the guest house on Siar Island you can rent for a few dollars a night.  It's rudimentary, but this is a GORGEOUS location and very exclusive!  If you stayed here, you would be the only guests on the island.  Bring your own food and water, this is a 10 minute water taxi ride from town and you can't guarantee getting a taxi when you want.


Mark Hoffmann popping up to look around while snorkeling.


Here are a few of our family staring at fish and coral reefs snorkeling at Siar Island, Papua New Guinea.


I like the following picture of swimming flippers in the air as the swimmer dives down to get a closer look at some coral.


Click the "Play Movie" button below to watch a short 15 second YouTube video of Eli and Cheryl snorkeling by me in the water.  For WINDOWS ONLY Click Here for a MUCH HIGHER QUALITY Windows Media format movie.


The owners of Siar Island put out white injection molded plastic chairs and tables for us.  I thought it was kind of an interesting contrast to everything else natural and rustic and Siar Island.  :-)


We had previously asked the water taxi to come back and get us, and right on time (about noon) they showed up to pick us up for our ride home.


The water taxi ride back to the mainland, out in open (very calm) water.  Notice one of the three water taxi operators sitting on the bow very relaxed.


As we return you can see Madang Resort there.


Even closer view of the coastal ocean front Madang Resort.


YET ANOTHER picture of the same thing.  Sorry, it's a little repetitive, please skip ahead.  :-)


We decided to eat lunch at the "Eden Restaurant" in Madang, which is really QUITE EXCELLENT Chinese/Singapore food.  Below is a picture of our 11 person family sitting down to order.  The Eden Restaurant is hilariously right on the beach but has no windows in the building!  :-)  It is right at the edge of a country club. 


The food was OUTSTANDING, below you can see a few of the dishes served at the Eden Restaurant in Madang, Papua New Guinea.  Ari is smiling into the camera.


The menu from the Eden Restaurant in Madang lists "Singapore Mee Hoon", "Hokkian Noodle", "Wonton Noodle Soup", "Fried Kway Teow", "Pad Thai", and it's all delicious and each lunch is about 12 PNG Kina ($5 US dollars). 


Here is the back of the menu showing some rice dishes.


In the afternoon we hired a tour guide (through the hotel) to drive us outside of Madang on a quick tour of some World War II sites and just to see the surrounding country side.  Our tour guide was "Busy Bee" who was friendly and did a great job for us giving us both good history information plus local insight.  Below is the van we drove around in, Busy Bee is driving.


The fence on this farm below is made out of Marsden Matting which is used to create temporary aircraft landing surfaces.  It is also known officially by the military as pierced (or perforated) steel planking or "PSP". To make runways in World War II, the Americans would lay this down and bolt it together.  Since there was so much of it left over as junk after World War II the locals make all sorts of things out of Marsden Matting such as the fence below.


We have had a long day (it's our last full day in Madang so we packed in a lot of activities) and the kids are plumb tuckered out.  Below they are all asleep in the tour van.


But they perked back up when Busy Bee stopped us at an American Sherman Tank just outside of Madang.  That's Busy Bee on the far left, and Nathanael trying to drive the Sherman tank away.


Still has tire tread on this Sherman Tank from World War II in Madang.


A close up of the control console of the Sherman Tank (not much left).


I'm not sure the story here, but we stopped just for a second at this graveyard.  Busy Bee said it contained graves of missionaries that were killed by the Japanese when they took over this area of Papua New Guinea in World War II.


We stopped for coffee at the "Jais Aben Resort" (entrance sign pictured below).  It says phone: 852-3311.  After I left, the Hoffmanns (my sister and her family) stayed here for a couple more days.  Jais Aben is about 20 km north of Madang, you can see it on this Google Map of Madang Locations.  My sister said it was a wonderful place to stay, really scenic, peaceful, with great snorkeling right at the resort or a world class dive shop and instruction.  Other people we met said this is one of the cheapest places to get scuba certified with great instruction.


A picture of the Jais Aben dive shop.  In Tok Pisin, "Aben" means "place".  I think "Jais Aben" means "place of relaxation" or something like that.


A picture of the SIDE of the Jais Aben dive shop so you can see how it is right up against the ocean with boats ready to launch.


A few feet between the Jais Aben dive shop and the main restaurant is this dock with boats that come and go.


We had a cup of coffee here in the Jais Aben restaurant, you can see the beautiful backdrop and all the possible locations to scuba dive and snorkel right here.


Some locals meandered by in this canoe filled with bananas.


Jais Aben maintains a cage with a few interesting birds like a cockatoo up on a perch.  Here it is pictured below some of the birds, maybe crested pigeons?  Barry Beil tells me they are most probably Victoria Crowned Pigeons (Goura Victoria).


The view as we drove away from Jais Aben showing the pretty scenery surrounding it.


Back in Madang proper, here is a World War II Japanese gun in Madang, a little rusted by still interesting.


A close up of the Japanese Gun in Madang.


An amazing Banyan tree right by the Coastwatchers memorial.


The Coastwatchers Memorial in Madang.  The "Coastwatchers" was a World War II organization of about 400 soldiers.  It was a loose a guerilla group that often operated behind enemy lines in WWII in the Papua New Guinea area.  Their main purpose was to provide early warnings and observations on enemy movements in the area.  There were several famous incidents involving the Coastwatchers, one of the most famous was when a Coastwatcher (Arthur Reginald Evans) observed future US president John F. Kennedy's boat being sunk (PT-109) and dispatched native scouts in dugout canoes which resulted in saving the PT-109 crew.  The memorial below was built in 1959 and dedicated to their memory.


Below shows the ocean, the Coastwatchers Memorial, and on the right the Coastwatchers Hotel in Madang, Papua New Guinea.


The plaque at the bottom of the Coastwatchers Memorial in Madang says:

"The Coast Watchers Light
     In honour and grateful memory of the
Coast Watchers and of the loyal natives who assisted
them in their heroic service behind the enemy lines during
the Second World War in providing intelligence vital
to the conduct of allied operations.
    Not only did the Coast Watchers transmit, by
means of teleradio, from their jungle hideouts information
which led to the sinking of numerous enemy warships, but
they were able to give timely warning of impending enemy
air attacks.  The contribution towards the allied victory in
the Pacific by the small body of men who constituted the
coast watchers was out of all proportion to their numbers.

Erected by public subscription and by
the commonwealth government in 1959."


"The Fallen Coast Watchers" - a list of people who died?


A Tok Pisin plaque of some kind.


Katie and Nathanael standing just short of some really big surf right near the Coast Watchers memorial in Madang.


A close up of the front reception area of the Coastwatchers Hotel in Madang, Papua New Guinea.


In a short break before dinner, here are the 4 grandchildren in paradise with very limited time left in Papua New Guinea and Madang.  And they are laying on their beds listening to their iPods.  That's Katie and Nathanael.


Spinning around there is Eli rocking out.


Where is Ari?  Oh yeah, she had to stand in the bathroom in order to recharge her iPod *AND* listen at the same time.  Remember it is an island paradise out on the deck and Ari is actually standing in the bathroom and listening to music she bought in the USA.  Kids!


Time to leave Papua New Guinea for another 35 years, here we are checking in at the Madang Airport.


As we took off, we passed over the Madang Resort seen below.  The room I stayed in is pointed out in red in the picture below.


Howard and Virginia Wilson looking out the window saying goodbye to Papua New Guinea.  They lived here for two years in 1972 and it took them 35 years to come back for a short visit.


The pilot dips a wing so we get one final view out the window as we depart Madang, Papua New Guinea.


Landing in Brisbane, Australia, Howard, Virginia, and Brian rented a car and drove a few kilometers to see the Beils (friends and neighbors when we lived in Papua New Guinea 35 years ago).  Here is a picture of the rental car which seems to have the steering wheel mounted on the wrong side of the car. 


From left to right that is Howard Wilson, Virginia Wilson, Beverley Beil, and Barry Beil.  They are in the Beil home outside of Brisbane, Australia.


The Beil kitchen and dining room.


The view out the Beil's front door on their property.  If you look closely you can see ocean water from their front door.


And then it was up in the morning and home to the USA.  All Done!!


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