1. The yellow men (you have to excuse me as I can’t remember singsing group names or where they are from)
Last weekend the Mt Hagen cultural show was held out at the show ground next to the airport over Saturday and Sunday. It is the biggest annual event in Mt Hagen. Different groups from the Western Highlands and other provinces came and displayed their traditional displays and performances. It brings tourists to Mt Hagen from all over the world. PNG being a country of diverse cultures, which has over 800 language groups amongst six million people makes sense why people travel from all over the world to see the show. The show itself was originally started back in 1961 to help enhance peace and harmony amongst the different ancient cultures.
2. Getting ready
So a group of us headed out to the showground early Saturday morning around 0700. The morning was an opportunity to see the different groups getting ready with their bilas (ornaments worn at dance) and practicing their singsing (traditional dance/music) before the singsing groups entered the main arena. It was a good opportunity to get photos and get up close up with the people. It was only 4K to get entrance to the outskirts of the showground.
3. Guys doing their singsing
As both Timon and I did not make it to the show last year. We were both keen on getting inside and seeing the actually show. For the average tourist it was 300K to get entrance, but for us being locals it was 50K. The 4K visitors could get onto the hills around the football ground and watch. But for us we could sit next to the main VIP stand and see the groups up close as they passed. Only thing was there was a wire fence and barb wire in front of us. But after all the ceremonies had been completed and all the groups were in the stadium we were able to go onto the football field and get up close with all the groups performing.
4. Hanging out with some mud men from the Goroka area
It was really good to see the groups up close outside when preparing, but inside it was a completely different atmosphere. I have seen different singsing groups before. But it was an amazing thing to be surrounded by six groups at once and they are all doing their singsing at the same time. It was again another good opportunity to get up close and get some photos (as long as tourists weren’t walking in front of me) but also to talk to some of the people. I have wanted to see some mud men for a while now.
5. Highlands ladies singsing group
For me I was quite amazed to see so many tourists. You rarely see any tourists in Mt Hagen. This year it was expected that there was around 200-250, the year before 350-400. They were from Holland, Germany, other parts of Europe, USA, Japan, Australia and of course New Zealand. The one thing that did stand out to me generally about the tourists was just their rudeness (maybe I am too use to living in PNG), I won’t explain why I think that is.
6. The skeleton men
After the show had quieted down, we decided to head back to town. The group we had driven in with had left around 12. So we had planned to get a PMV back into to town. We met up with a Christian photographer who was staying with MAF. The three of us walked a few km’s with a large crowd of people till we reached the section of road where the PMV’s were picking up people. There were a large number of people trying to get back to town or other parts of the province. We tried several PMV’s but no success, we walked further down the road and each time we tried to get onto a PMV it was just a mad rush of people trying to get into the van. There was no way we could get in one unless we got really physically. So we just kept walking down the road and eventually a PMV pulled up and a group of us got in and we were off back into town. Since we left the showground there had been a big rain cloud heading towards us, so we were glad to beat the rain. We made it back to the compound just before 1600. Interesting enough it is the first big event that I have gone to in Mt Hagen. I guess it shows how different it is to back home. It was a long day in the sun, but I really enjoyed it and it was good just to go to a big event. it was a great event to celebrate the diverse culture of PNG.