I scheduled for a trusted driver through my host who advised me on a fair price. With a means of transport, I mapped out an ambitious tour starting at the Pacific Adventist University where I explored around and even met the driver’s sister who worked there, then we made our way to the nearby Australian War Cemetery where the groundskeeper gave a free tour of the mini Arlington-esque memorial. Next, I asked to be dropped off at the Botanical Gardens and picked up at the neighboring University of Papua New Guinea after he finished his lunch. The school was teeming with activity and I was able to talk to a few students, even asking one to help me contact the driver. Then I asked to repeat the same drop-off/pick-up tactic at the National Museum, where I was able to walk to the National Parliament House and make friends with the security guards who asked one of the staff to give me a private tour. Next, I explored the National Library of PNG and found the driver nervously waiting for me along the road. Relieved at my safe arrival, I asked to visit the Chinatown noted on my map so I could compare it to the one in the Solomon Islands, but he explained that it’s quite small. I purchased a couple of items with him close behind providing security, then he suggested visiting the Koki Market, which is located next to a water village, but as we arrived, a gang noticed me, so I snapped a few quick pictures as he suggested we leave immediately.
You can cover a lot of ground and really customize routes with a good driver, but not all drivers are that flexible, and some are not even interested in making sure you have a good experience because they’re paid for their time. Make sure you negotiate in advance or have a good sense for their trustworthiness. Also, do not pay until the end of the tour.