Thursday, May 10, 2007

Asia Transpacific Journeys Explores Cultures Still Close to Stone Age Roots

Papual New Guinea / Island in the Clouds Looks at Peoples thru Song, Dance and Costume
Boulder, CO (PRWEB) May 10, 2007 -- Some of the last discoveries of human communities were made in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the 1930s. At the time of first contact, the tribes were living in thriving Stone Age agricultural communities and believed they were the only people on earth. Though some things have changed on this island in the past 70 years, many have not.
Asia Transpacific Journeys (ATJ) announces a new itinerary called Papua New Guinea—Island in the Clouds, that features the Tumbuna Sing-Sing. The departure is May 20, 2007. This is an intensive 16-day journey through a wildly diverse land with hundreds of distinct tribes speaking mutually uni
ntelligible languages (850 distinct tongues have been documented). These people still cultivate yam and taro, scavenge the forest for edible fruits and animals, and live in symbiosis with their livestock (women are known to suckle piglets).



Join the locals in celebrating the spectacular Tumbuna Sing-Sing. "Tumbuna" means "ancestors" in Tok Pisin (the lingua franca of Papua New Guinea). This sing-sing celebrates "Taim Bilong Tumbuna" (the time that belonged to the indigenous people, i.e. pre-European contact.)
"It's as though you are stepping back through the millennia, to glimpse human societies from 6,000 years ago," says Marilyn Downing Staff, CEO, of the company that has conducted tours to PNG for over a decade and that has delved into the heart and soul of one Asian and Pacific Rim destination after another for nearly 20 years.
"Our passion and pursuit on this journey is to witness the ways in which this intriguing jumble of people co-exist with complex tribal liaisons, mutually unintelligible tongues, wild cultural celebrations and ancient agricultural practices," says Downing Staff.

The land cost of $7,395 per person (double) includes Papua New Guinea's best eco-lodges, expert tour leadership, most meals including local beer, medical and evacuation insurance and more. Single supplements are $1,200. International airfare and internal airfare is additional.
Downing Staff says it's no accident that the costumes and masks of the indigenous people often resemble its fabled bird of paradise. Opportunities abound for bird watching and exploring flora and fauna, including cloud forest orchids, in addition to the fascinating anthropological immersion.

Guests fly from Port Moresby to four PNG destinations in this mountainous country. There is also a three-night cruise on the legendary Sepik River, home to the remote tribal Sepik people famous for their complex ancestor cults, rich artistic tradition and their extraordinary ceremonial houses known as haus tambaran.
Downing Staff advises to bring an empty suitcase. "Superb tribal art may be purchased from the source, particularly in the Sepik River region. "

Along the way there will be a stop for the intimate and untouristed Tumbuna Sing-Sing. Local tribes assemble for a spirited and colorful celebration and competition of dancing, costumes, and other tribal arts and customs. Sing-sings are a psychedelic smorgasbord of ritualized ancient theater paraded to vocal accompaniment. The chanting of each tribe is alternately haunting, happy or warlike, and ranges from dizzying whoops to subtle, wind-like murmurs. Participants take exceptional pride in representing their tribe's unique garb and rituals. Far from being a staged event for tourists, sing-sing competitions have a long tradition, and jealous losers have in the past been known to wage actual war on the winning tribe.

The tour leader is Ari Bond, born and raised in Southeast Asia and educated in Europe. He has led and managed expeditions for over 30 years on all seven continents, including numerous tours in Papua New Guinea.Asia Transpacific Journeys has been crafting private Custom Journeys and Small Group Trips to the Asia/Pacific region since 1987. Condé Nast Traveler (Aug 2006) has named one of Asia Transpacific Journeys' tour leaders a "Top Travel Specialist" for Myanmar for 2006. National Geographic Traveler (Oct 2006) has selected one of Asia Transpacific Journeys' trips as one of "50 Tours of a Lifetime."
Says CEO Downing Staff: "Our intimate, in-depth style promotes cross-cultural understanding, encourages environmental sustainability, and fulfills long-held personal dreams."

She notes that ATJ's regional expertise also makes ATJ the operator of choice for dozens of America's most demanding universities and museums. For 2007 ATJ's ever-expanding itineraries of Small Group Trips and Custom Journeys encompasses 20 countries in North Asia, South Asia, SE Asia and the Pacific. Some trips also support global conservation and cultural preservation.
ATJ's own non-profit Asia Transpacific Foundation, established in 1998, works with rural Asian communities to provide clean drinking water through locally made ceramic water filters. For more information please see www.asiatranspacific.com or call toll free 800-642-2742.