It took me nearly 20 hours to get from Bangkok to Mount Hagen in the western highlands of Papua New Guinea, travelling via Singapore and Port Moresby. My first impressions of the country’s third-largest city were of crowds and bustle, despite the lack of tourists who flock there during festival times. Their positive effect, though, was felt; I and my small group of fellow foreigners were warmly welcomed with customary waves and smiles from the locals as we drove through the town and up to our mountainside hotel.

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