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  #1  
Old 30-12-2003, 11:05 PM
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Kaiap Orchid Lodge by Daniel Kumbon

"HOW do I love thee? Let me count the ways! Beautiful setting, excellent accommodation, lovely people and what a shower," are the words entered in the visitor's book by one Peter Crossett of Geelong Australia.

In the same year, an American couple, Jim and Cathy of Tucson Arizona, wrote. "A little bit of Heaven! Spectacular views, wonderful people, great food."

Lots of comments to this effect are made by tourists from the world over about a small lodge 2700 meters above sea level overlooking the Lai and Ambum Valleys in Wabag, Enga province.

The Kaiap Orchid Lodge started in 1978 on the advice of the late Andree Miller, author of Orchids in Papua New Guinea, is mostly built of bush materials and is staffed by the local Kamainwan clan.

I went to Kaiap Orchid Lodge for the first time in 1984, and could not quiet believe it.

Kaiap Lodge today:
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Old 30-12-2003, 11:07 PM
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Since then, I have been a regular visitor.

Kaiap is still a village with a difference.

At the time, nowhere else in Enga was there such a place.

The Lodge has outlived any other such project started by an individual or group and celebrated its 24th anniversary this year, making it the oldest guest house in Enga province.

Prompted by the success of Kaiap Orchid Lodge and the establishment of the annual Enga Cultural show in 1993, other guesthouses and lodges have sprung up like mushrooms in many Enga villages.

Dae Won Hotel, Wabag Guest House and The Mountain Lodge of Porgera are the only establishments located in an urban setting built many years after the existence of Kaiap Orchid Lodge.

Some of the new lodges and guesthouses are already proving popular among tourists and Engans themselves.

Peter Piaon (right) with locals and a visitor:
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Old 30-12-2003, 11:08 PM
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Most notable of them is Kumul Lodge on the border of Enga and Western Highlands Province, Enga Traveller's Inn at Teremanda village near Wabag Town and Kamas Christian Resort an hour’s walk from Wabag town.

Others are Lyonge Lodge and Wailep Village Resort located near Laiagam town, Meok Lodge located near Pausa High School, Mt Maip Lodge at Mulitaka and Porgera Lodge situated on the road to Paiela.

Three are built right in the jungles aimed at attracting bird lovers, bush walkers, biology students and people who just want to be in touch with nature.

These destinations are the Kumul Lodge, Porgera Lodge and Kamas Christian Resort situated on a mountaintop overlooking the former Sopas Hospital.

An elder from Kaiap village:
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Old 30-12-2003, 11:09 PM
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This fairly new resort is probably located way up in the clouds - even higher than Kaiap Orchid Lodge, which is located at an altitude of 2700 meters.

All these old and new lodges are largely the result of the vision and hard work of individuals or family groups.

For instance, Kaiap Orchid Lodge is the result of the hard work and perseverance of local Kamainwan leader, Peter Piaon.

The project has clearly set a good example to other villagers seeking an appropriate way to attract and benefit from tourism.

Here, travellers stay in a comfortable guesthouse in a remote mountain setting.

Food is prepared on a wood-fired stove.

Visitors in discussion in the dining room of Kaiap Lodge:
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Old 30-12-2003, 11:10 PM
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Homemade bread, roasted coffee and locally grown vegetables are all part of the lodge’s service.

"The atmosphere we try to create is one of friendliness and informality," said Peter Piaon.

"We try to create a little haven of perfect peace in which to relax."

Kaiap Orchid Lodge is alcohol free, says Peter Piaon, but it can be provided if visitors from far off places request for it.

Mr Piaon warns that if the proprietors of the new lodges and guesthouses do not control the sale of liquor, it might have an adverse effect on the tourism industry in the province.

And during major events like the Enga Cultural Show, tourists might want to sleep in Mount Hagen just to watch the events and return.

Villagers relax in front of the log fire:
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Old 30-12-2003, 11:13 PM
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The lodge houses a huge collection of artefacts from many parts of PNG ranging from intricately - woven Ialibu baskets from the Southern Highlands and ***** gourds from Teleformin in the West Sepik province.

From Enga, string bags, caps, kundu drums, stone axes and bird of paradise plumes adorn the interior of the lodge.

An extensive garden with more than 100 species of orchid has been cultivated on the grounds.

One species, Dendrobium Engae, is unique to the province and the provincial government adopted it as the flower symbolized on the provincial flag.

Four species of bird of paradise have been sighted from the lodge, so it is recommended that tourists bring their binoculars.

Villagers serving themselves locally prepared food:
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Old 30-12-2003, 11:18 PM
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There are 10 twin rooms and two double rooms.

There are no videos or telephones in the rooms, giving guests the perfect opportunity to escape from it all.

The lodge features a large log fireplace and a library of novels and magazines on various aspects of PNG.

"I will not put telephones or videos in the rooms," Mr Piaon stresses.

" I just want the lodge to be a quiet place for people who want to get away from it all.

“I want people to sit down, relax and see the views, see how the birds fly and feel the wind blow.

“I want the people to sit on the ridge and see the sun rise and set and see how the clouds cover the valleys below."

Mr Piaon hopes that the number of tourists he receives every month would increase.

Although that is not encouraging, it is still enough for a village style lodge to accommodate.

"It is not a big income earner, but it is something worthwhile for us villagers,” Mr Piaon said.

“You know, I enjoy providing this service in my village, my home.

“I was born here, grew up here and I want to see people coming to see my village.

“If guests feel active there are various walks to see traditional Enga houses, gardens and some aspects of traditional life.

To promote Kaiap Orchid Lodge, Peter Piaon and his Kamainwan people are planning to stage an orchid show in July 2004.

Members of the community are currently growing orchids to show them at the show, which would also involve cultural dancing, and other cultural activities.

"This event will bring the local community together," Mr Piaon said.

"We will have tea, cook a little food and bring ourselves together.

“In doing so, we hope to attract a little attention to show people, especially tourists that we are still open all these years."

To encourage PNG participation in the travel industry, the Travel Association of PNG introduced awards for contributions to the industry.

The first such award was presented to the Kaiap Orchid Lodge at a ceremony at the Travel Lodge (now Crowne Plaza) in Port Moresby.

This was a big encouragement for Peter Piaon and the people of Kaiap.

They want visitors to come to their villages and into their houses as well for they want to show as much of themselves to visitors as possible.

Being an Engan myself, I admire the work of Peter Piaon and all the other Engans who have established lodges and guesthouses in the province.

These people are doing something positive for the province in terms of promoting peace and harmony among themselves and benefiting from the tourism industry.

I guarantee that you will discover Enga - the land, the beauty, the lifestyle and the very nature of the 'real Engan' through the Kamainwan people of Kaiap and people from the villages in which other lodges and guesthouses have been established.

Ends//
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