Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Palau - Big ol' Jet Airliner

The trip home was an adventure in and of itself. We left Palau at 1:30am on a Saturday morning after packing in darkness as the power went off in all of Palau. (Thankfully, the airport has its own generators). Next stop was Guam for a 3 hour lay over. We slept on the floor until we found out we had access to Continential's Executive Lounge. After Guam came the "Island Hopper". Four stops on specks of land in the Pacific with the duration of each flight being approximately 2 hours. We stopped in Chuuk (or Truk), Pohnpei, Kosrae (all in the Federated States of Micronesia) and finally Yokwe-Majuro, Capitol of the Marshall Islands.

We left Yokwe-Majuro and flew to Hawaii where we spent the next 48 hours. Left Hawaii for L.A. then home to San Francisco. 9 airports in nearly 72 hours.

Rich on the Chuuk Airport runway.

Capitol of Micronesia

The Rock of Pohnpei

This picture was taken as we were sitting on a wall watching them refuel. Luckily we were moved to a much safer place by airport personnel.

Here is where they moved us

Rich dubbed these folks, "Our fan club". Similar group of people waiting at each of the island hop airports. We thought they were following us around.

"Our Fan Club"

Capitol of the Marshall Islands

Honolulu view from the hotel

The ocean view. Waikiki beach starts to the left

View of Diamond Head and Waikiki

Palau - Waterworld

Palau is a aquatic wonderland: Diving, snorkeling, fishing, spear fishing, skiing, tubing.... If you are a water baby then this is your paradise.

Rich posing on Dave's unnamed boat that took us everywhere. I still think it should be named "Sweet Lips"

Rich kneeboarding

Me skiing. Camera switched to sepia for some reason

Rich fishing

Me catching

Great snorkel spot. Dave gashed his heel pretty good on the arch during an attempted dive.

Beautiful Coral

A cave we drove the boat into

Tying her up at sunset

Palau - Our Host, DS

DS is the best host one could ask for. He opened up his home to Rich and I for 2 weeks and had us on the go our entire stay. We left the island feeling we'd done just about everything you could do. So here is a tribute to DS, aka The Mushroom.

DS at "work"

DS's apartment is on the top floor and....

...has views like this:

"The Mushroom" in his natural habitat playing...:

... a little Rachett and Clank:

You da man, Sir DS. Thanks for the awesome trip! 2 more years!

Palau - Sam's

Sam's Dive Tours are the folks we did all of our dives with. Talk about a perfect day: Head to the dive shop around 8:30am. Grab a cup of coffee and get your dive gear sorted. Load the boat and out to the dive sites you go. After the first dive we would lunch on an island. After the second dive we'd head back in and grab a cold mug full of beer and wait for Dave to pick us up. I could live every day of my life in this manner.

From the Bar:

Flags from all over:


Next to Sam's was a Taiwanese fishing fleet. You could watch them off load the fish they're raping from Palau's waters.

View of the dock:

No words necessary:

Monday, August 29, 2005

Palau - Peleliu

Our last 2 dives of the trip were off the state of Peleliu, one of the last islands to the south that make up Palau. The dives were Peleliu Cut and Peleliu Express. They call it the express because the Pacific Ocean and the Phillipine Sea meet at the point of Peleliu and the currents can run really fast. This is probably the wildest dive you can do in Palau.

One of our dive guides, Jim. He is Palauan and is a wealth of knowledge. He drove the boat to Peleliu:

Peleliu is also known for one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific during WWII. The first George Bush faught as a pilot in this battle. There is a wreck to the north called "The George Bush Wreck". According to the military George, heriocally, torpedoed a Japanese ship. According to the locals the boat was not a Japanes military ship but a local boat that wasn't involved in the battle. Like father, like son. But, hey, at least he participated in the battle and wasn't hiding out in Alabama, snorting coke.

After our dives we toured the island and some of the battle scenes. First stop was:

Our guide was named Tangee. Tangee is a native of the island and has worked for many years creating the museum and studying the history of the battle. Here is Tangee standing in front of the museum. The museum's previous use was a Japanese communication center:


Below is a picture of a hole in the communication center courtesy of the U.S. military:

A picture of a picture showing the island after the battle and what the same scene looks like today:

Japanese flag from the battle:

Hari Kari sword:

U.S. Tank

U.S. star on the back of the tank:

Japanese gun at the entrance of a cave:

Rich going into one of the Japanese caves:

A picture of some artwork in the museum depicting a US soldier called Shell Shock:

There is a memorial for both the U.S. and Japanese just below a ridge called "Bloody Nose Hill". Many, many deaths occured during this battle. I was looking at the memorial and those that received the Medal of Honor and I notice an Alabama boy. He was killed in the battle:

Palau - Nightlife

For the evening adventures Palau has some great dining establishments and karaoke bars for your adult beverages and burning need to sing songs to casio tunes. Why, Rich's version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" was considered by the locals the most melodic thing to grace the island's shores in ages.

On my '97 trip I met a Phillipina girl named Teng. She is a long time friend of DS's and I. I promised her I wouldn't wait another 7 years before coming to visit, though.

Teng's no longer a girl but a grown woman who is married to a gentleman that has recently opened up a resort called The Plantation. It is a really nice place located in the middle of a neighborhood. Very peaceful. We spent a couple of our evening hanging around The Plantation's pool and had a blast.

Here is the entrance to The Plantation. It is modelled after a traditional Palauan Bai.

A walkway down to the pool.

Here is a shot if me having a the local brew, Red Rooster, by the pool.

Sitting by the pool and visiting:

Rich learning to be on guard when taking a pic with DS. Wet Willy will get you!

en we were leaving The Plantation I snapped this shot:

Our first and last meal in Palau was at a restaurant called Dragon Tei:

Dear Hazel, our bartender at the bar next to where DS docks his boat. This was the place where the monkeys lived.

This picture if funny to those who were there