Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea

Click on photographs to enlarge - far superior

Joyful children saying good-bye to me on the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea

At the opening ceremony of a General Store on the remote island of Tsoi, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

You know there is an entire other side to my nature that never gets an airing living in Europe what with my serious writing and covering all these classical music festivals and competitions. That of the adventurer and explorer of remote destinations. How domesticated I have become!

I was looking by internet chance recently at the marvellous pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting the Solomon Islands in Melanesia some years ago. These snaps have put me in a state of frightful and aching nostalgia for my own youth spent wandering the islands of the South Pacific. I wrote a literary travel book about the island provinces of Papua New Guinea which was well received everywhere - even by the Prince of Wales who wrote to me.

It is such a tragedy that mainstream publishers are simply not interested in publishing books on truly remote destinations inhabited by people of fascinating, exotic and instructive cultures. Being ruled by the marketing department, publishers cannot guarantee sufficient sales to commission a book. As they wish to 'stay in business', that is all that needs to be said I suppose.

Trade routes and treasure dominated European exploration of the Pacific. The goals were the spice islands of the Moluccas (modern-day Maluku in Indonesia) and a theory that in the South Pacific lay a vast undiscovered southern continent crammed with gold, spices, and other trade products. The North Pacific is scarcely mentioned in current travel literature apart from anthropological texts.

For years I have been wanting to complete my originally envisioned trilogy on the Pacific. Having dealt in some detail with Melanesia, I have pretty well abandoned hope of ever getting the remaining volumes on Polynesia and Micronesia published. This is despite constant efforts and submitting many detailed proposals for books. They are all based on really remarkable stories of historical exploration and possible exciting contemporary adventures. If Captain Cook did not visit the islands you wish to write about, you may as well forget the idea of interesting a young commissioning editor in your South Pacific or North Pacific project.  

I am assured by publishers that literary travel as a genre (as it used to be known in the great days of travel writing) is in terminal decline. The genre was never intended to be a guide book to a region but that how travel writing seems to be evolving - that and personal motorbike adventures. People seemingly no longer want to read and learn about places they cannot visit but only places they can. A complete reversal of times past.  

Two beautiful children from New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. The blonde hair is natural, heightened by the bleaching effects of sun and sea

Ah well...if you would like to look up some images I took in Papua New Guinea a while back and more about the adventurous book I wrote entitled Beyond the Coral Sea: Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific (Harper Collins, London 2003, Flamingo 2004 and short-listed for sadly the last Thomas Cook Travel Book Award in 2004). It has been in print now for almost 15 years - a record I am very proud of in today's financial climate where travel books have the half-life of a container of yoghurt.

Mine was the first non-specialist-anthropological travel book on the Bismarck Archipelago of PNG for 100 years - since Richard Parkinson's Thirty years in the South Seas (1907).  It looks as if it will be another hundred before another!



http://www.michael-moran.net/pages/books/beyond_the_coral_sea/images.htm


Print and Kindle Editions with Reviews:




https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Coral-Sea-Travels-South-West-ebook/dp/B008CBDJQQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1514643288&sr=1-1

Published in Polish as Za Morzem Koralowym (PIW 2008)




This is now only available from the author at mjcmoran@wp.pl


A colourful catch on the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea

My friend another musician on the beach at Sohano Island , Buka Passage lying between Buka and Bougainville - Papua New Guinea

The exhilarated author Michael Moran on the burning slopes of the erupting volcano Tavurvur, Rabaul, New Britain, Papua New Guinea 2003. Now that was an adventure! The heat almost melted the soles of my boots.


A carving by the great New Ireland  (Papua New Guinea) Master Carver Edward Sale from the island of Tabar contemplates the Polish winter with some pain and anger

You may have come across this recent story, the content of which I found deeply shocking, even horrifying, although unsurprising in view of my studies and travels there.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2305638/Two-women-tortured-beheaded-using-witchcraft-murder-teacher-police-looked-unable-help.html

And I was shocked to read of the rape on KarKar Island (April 21st 2013 ) The following describes the horror:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2312416/Papua-New-Guinea-gang-rape-U-S-academic-32-attacked-armed-men-hacked-hair-bush-knife-tied-husband-naked-tree.html


The author Michael Moran on KarKar Island in 2002 - happier and more peaceful times. Such a beautiful part of the world and such friendly people. I find the present violence hard to understand.

It seems Papua New Guinea has become very dangerous indeed. I must say I really did not find that at all - quite the opposite in the Island Provinces but then I travelled there eighteen years ago. But the Island Provinces are not the Highlands. PNG is an enormous place.

In my book Beyond the Coral Sea: Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific (London 2003 - and still in print) I seriously, rather than sensationally, examine in great detail the fascinating subject of witchcraft and sorcery in Papua New GuineaSuch beliefs still live strongly in many hearts despite the predominantly fervent Christian society that prevails. Often both beliefs are held in tandem by certain individuals.

I am sure the media reports are accurate but by their very nature unfortunately give a greatly distorted and myopic view of the country as a whole. It is a picture greatly at variance with  the majority of warm, hospitable and friendly Papua New Guineans I met on my extensive travels. Melanesian culture is one of the most ancient and most harmonious on the planet. The island provinces are superb in their untouched beauty.


Canoes drawn up on the beach of the tiny fishing community of Manuwata, Trobriand Islands. Milne Bay Province

PNG is an enormous place and cannot possibly be considered as culturally homogeneous. That is the problem. An inappropriate Westminster style of government has been grafted upon a culture made up of a huge number of significantly different tribal groups lumped together in a governable, utilitarian blanket concept known as 'Papua New Guinea'.



In my book Beyond the Coral Sea: Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific (London 2003 - and still in print) I seriously, rather than sensationally, examine in great detail the fascinating country and island cultures of Papua New Guinea. 

I wrote this book specifically about the rarely described Island Provinces of Papua New Guinea (as opposed to the Highlands). I was so proud the book was short-listed for the 25th and final Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. 

The great Polish travel journalist and humanist Ryszard Kapuściński had planned to visit these provinces shortly before he died.


Reviews 

of 

Beyond the Coral Sea: Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific
(London 2003 HarperCollins, Flamingo 2004)



If you are at all interested in a more balanced view of this extraordinarily culturally diverse and beautiful place, please do not make severely negative general conclusions concerning the country from what you read in today's press, appalling as these events appear to be.


Repairing nets on the beach at Kuiawa Island, Trobriand Islands. Milne Bay Province

For my Polish readers the book has been translated into Polish with the title Za Morzem Koralowym (PIW) and is available at the Bookshop of the Muzeum Azji i Pacyficu in Warsaw, Allegro and direct from me if you email me.



Teraz dostępna tylko od autora

I wrote this book specifically about the rarely described Island Provinces of Papua New Guinea (as opposed to the Highlands). I was so proud the book was short-listed for the 25th and final Thomas Cook Travel Book Award in 2004. 

The demise of this prize is a great and unremarked loss to the world of travel writing. It made some attempt to maintain high literary standards in this peculiarly English  genre. Now we swim in a welter of mediocre travel writing (with a very few notable exceptions). Publishers steer well clear of travel authors today. Anything trivial, 'quirky', egocentric or on a motorcycle (or all four) is in vogue with little or no serious, detailed cultural or historical input concerning the vast areas travelled and the people who have inhabited them for hundreds of years.

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