Thursday 16 January 2014

“Largest Market in Papua New Guinea”

If you are in Mt Hagen, it is worth a trip to the main market. It is a huge market with just about every kind of produce that you can buy in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. The main things for sale are all sorts of garden produce, live chickens, tobacco, women's clothing, and bilums (string bags). This is some of the best produce that you can get in all of Papua New Guinea.

If you have been in Papua New Guinea for a while, you should be fine going to the market on your own. If you are just visiting Papua New Guinea and don't know Tok Pisin, it would be good to go with a guide or a trusted local or friend who can help you. Mt Hagen is known as a place for pickpockets and it has rightfully earned this reputation. Keep your wallet in a safe place and have small bills ready to pay with (i.e. don't take out a big wad of cash when you pay for things). I kept my wallet in my front pocket, and I was glad I did as I felt a man grab my back pocket while passing me in a very crowded area just outside the market. Although there are a lot of pickpockets, there are few people that will seek to do actual harm to a foreigner, and in that respect you should be relatively safe. Many Highlanders look a little scary to foreigners, and they often stare at foreigners, but don't let that intimidate you. Most of them are very friendly and extremely hospitable. Just don't wear any expensive jewelry or carry a large camera or do other things that will call attention to yourself. Don't carry a lot of cash either.

The outside of the market is very dirty as most towns in PNG have not made trash collection a priority. Usually they just collect it into large piles and occasionally burn some of it. So be ready to see lots of trash.

The Hagen Club right outside the market is a great place to eat. The restaurant is open to the public, and it has one of the best hamburgers in all of Papua New Guinea. The Nasi Goreng is good too. You just have to go up to the metal gate and they will open it for you if you have a car. Or just walk up to it and knock.

I have gone on my own, with my wife and three young children, and with my parents, sister, and niece visiting from overseas. We live in Papua New Guinea and work in the next province over (Enga).

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