Ubii Extra

30 08 2010

Some more photos not fitting into any specific category yet worthy of some sort of attention.

Many-mouthed plant

This shot of camp was taken after sundown from the edge of primary forest. It was much darker than it looks.

Camp at dusk

Baby in a bag (2)

Folks awaiting minor medical attention

Flower/Forest Interface

The shower was a short distance from camp. Part of a mountain stream was dammed and cut bamboo placed to direct the very chilly water.

The Shower

Having a rest. Mai trying to look tough again!

Fog Descends

A hunchbacked freak unfairly snapped on his way to wash the crap out of his beard


Kaikai (that’s food that is)

17 08 2010

Elvis frying bananas (with Mai, and slightly smaller Mai)

Food – kaikai. Kaikai – food. Let’s be honest, it’s not the most bestest thing about PNG.

Kitchen store - Bananas & various tubers large enough to bludgeon an horse to death with (African Yam, Taro, Sweet Potato)

Our cupboards at Nagada are full of Tulip pork luncheon meat, Globe corned beef, and other crimes against taste & decency. Mind you, if you don’t mind the odd flap of intestine, they’re quite passable in noodle soup.

Bisket choice in Ubii. As you can see, the marketing emphasis is on how strong you will soon become

In Ubii, half the store room was devoted to Ship’s Biscuits. Basically flour & water. Thick, surprisingly filling, and occasionally dusted with flavoured salt called ‘chicken’ or ‘beef’. I preferred the chicken ‘Snax’ for breakfast and ‘navy bisket’ to go with beans or noodles.

Me scoffing some nosh inc. cup of tea & chilli sauce (it's too sweet, but my tabasco ran out)

Standard fare with dusting of curry powder

The food in Ubii, although more or less the same meal every evening for 5 weeks, was pretty good.

Sersyline preparing greenery

The Ubii-ers had planted good gardens around the camp and fresh green beans, cabbages, brocollis, and leafy stuff were available.

A Cuscus (actually I think it's a possum)

One day, the lads went hunting with the old banara (bow & arrow) and came back with a cuscus.

A cuscus (this is more cucus-esque)

It was lobbed on the fire. I have to say that the smell of it’s burning fur made me want to hack my head off, and I never quite got over it. As the gang gnawed greedily on its flesh, I nibbled a few tiny bits. The meat was tougher than the England Manager’s job, which is saying a lot. Also, I was worried about the weaker of my two front teeth. Actually, the taste wasn’t too bad, but for me it wasn’t worth the effort. Suddenly, Globe corned beef with flappy intestines became appealing.

Moomoo (pig cooked underground with various veg)

Altogether more appetising was the moomoo, a pig wrapped in banana leaves and placed atop hot rocks and covered in hunks of veg and then covered again with leaves and left to steam/roast for half a day or so.

Pork feast

I’m sure you’ll agree this post would not be complete without an arty shot of a kettle.

An arty shot of a kettle


14 08 2010

Some photos of the folk to be seen around Ubii.

My Favourite - Great Smile

I don’t remember this little girl’s name, but I love her smile and pose – the bush knive, the little bag. This was taken on the ridge over-looking Ubii, partly obscured by her elbow.

Late Night in the Kitchen

Brothers With Knives

Another favourite – Mai & Neru looking tough. I didn’t ask them to pose like this – as soon as I got my camera, they instinctively got into position as if pre-planned.

Camera-shy Sersyline

Sersyline is my other gall assistant, but she’s very shy and normally runs away when the camera comes out.

Martin in the Lab

Martin is our leaf-miner man. Shame about that bag.

Baby in a Bag

This is little John sleeping in a bilum hung on the side of the house, as is normal.

Me with Community Leader, Tonsep

Tonsep had a quite-possibly broken wrist, or rather, he had it broken for him by his wife who hit him with a stick after an argument.

Tonsep's wife and sons (pre-argument)

You may recognise Mai, Tonsep’s son to a previous wife, and John, the littlest one. On the right is Vojta. John & Vojta are named after John (BRC parataxonomist) and Vojta (Professor, BRC Boss, and my supervisor).


Mai (again) and others during a party night in which a pig was moomooed (cooked underground) and we danced to music.

Ubii Siblings

Wok (that means work)

12 08 2010

Wok started in the 1st secondary forest sub-plot, handily situated adjacent to camp. Looks like I won’t be losing weight here, I thought (Correctly).

Vojta in the midst of sub-plot 1F

Our collectors (ol wokman) were hired from the community and were ready to roll after quick tutorials, their minds focused on collecting gallers, miners, caterpillars, ants & spiders from foliage, trunks, epiphytes, well everything really.

What is a gall?

We worked the understorey first, then low storey saplings, then tagged trees (not in one day of course). This sub-plot took about 3 weeks to complete.

Sub-plot 1F (demise thereof)

Back in the lab, plant vouchers, miners, caterpillars, and galls required sorting and the latter three had to be prepared for rearing.


Field Lab / Rearing Barn

I became known as ‘gall-man’, which sounds more like ‘goll-man’ in the native tongue, which sounds a bit like Gollum…

Gall assistant, Gibson, putting an emerged insect in a vial (rearing galls behind)

I had some teething issues with assistants (from the local community). The first two had not reached a sufficiently high grade in school so were not confident reading & writing English, required for form-filling.

...and a Parasitoid

A gall

Even Gibson, a grade 8er, surprised me when he described the colour of a twig-gall as ‘pink’, when in fact it was light brown. Ooh we did laugh! Little anomalies aside, things went well and our rearings produced plenty of parasitic wasps (the live one in the picture was about 3mm long), and midges, thrips, & coccids.

Walli Brus preparing a leaf frame, and Walli Martin (Walli = Brother)

Lab banter was of a high quality and often the industrious atmosphere was popped by prolonged shrieks of laughter and shouting.

Markus working hard

... 5 minutes later

And sometimes the drooping sun shone through the mist and the light outside would perform lustrous magic on the vegetation, and for a minute I would be enraptured. Then I would forget all that and kill another insect. Science init!


To Ubii Camp

8 08 2010

Enough fun, time to go to work! As soon as the singsing had finished, we were busy getting supplies ready to take to our new camp, an alleged 1.5 hours walk over the mountain ridge, which proved accurate.

Preparations at Kotet (Vojta mid-pict)

The route was pretty much straight up the side of the mountain, up and along it’s spine, and then steeply down the other side into the forested valley.

Looking back on Kotet

It was mercifully short distance-wise, but there were some tough sections, especially the descent where footing was uncertain and energy-sapping.

Atop the Ridge w/ Carriers & Brus (umbrella) & Elvis (2nd left)

In the bottom of the valley, a tiny clearing was visible and this was the location for our field camp. News was that the good people of the local community had already christened it Ubii (Oobi) Camp.

Ubii Setting (bottom middle)

I emerged from the surrounding forest to a camp already full of people. Practically the whole community helped carry something or other, women, children and men alike.

Ubii (from left) Haus Kuk, Quarters, Lab

The camp comprised a kitchen (haus kuk), sleeping quarters for BRC staff (with 3 rooms), and a field lab, all very well constructed by the community as commissioned.

Bridget & Co relax after the walk


Official Opening

8 08 2010

The day after the welcoming, we were treated to an official opening ceremony.

The Preacher Espousing

There were a frankly ridiculous number of speeches of prayers, thanks and good-will, and all the while we were sat on a bench without shade…

Music & Dancing

Then at last, some entertainment

The little one at the back

Each of us then received a bilum (traditional bag)

Receiving a bilum

Finally, a spirited singsing group performed throughout the night until dawn

Massively impressive headwear

Dawn, earth churned up by dancing feet

I can’t take credit for the final 3 photos, they are Vojta’s

Kotet Welcome

7 08 2010

From Yawan, 1700 m above sea level, we made a half hour walk to Kotet, the village where our gang was to stay a few nights. The path, curving round the mountain side, provided some excellent vistas en route. However, the sun was surprisingly strong and my pasty limbs suffered as a result.

Walk to Kotet

It was evident that the villagers had planned a proper welcome and, as we’d caught them a little off guard, we had to wait a bit until they were ready to receive us…

A 'gate', but not the 'gate'

A makeshift ‘gate’ had been erected, adorned with cut flowers and boarded up with banana leaves. When ready, the leaves were cast aside and we were welcomed in, each receiving a garland of orange flowers, and a singsing group sang backed by kundu drums as we processed inside.

Taim bilong singsing

Singsinger (and future caterpillar assistant)

Nice hat

Binatang = Insects

Finally, we were seated on a bench and speeches were made by Tonsep (village leader), Vojta (BRC bossman), and Markus (BRC team leader).

The Gang (minus Vojta who took photo)

Then, although uninvited, the village Lutheran preacher stood up and extended a welcome to us, albeit in his own rather shouty preachy style, so it felt more like being scolded by teacher!