[USA], Saipan [Northern Marianas, USA], Palau, South Korea and Taiwan.
We are Birgitte and Erik with our two children (5 and 7) - Johanne and
Half an hour to
get through emigration; many were surprised that they enforced the
return ticket inspection, and had trouble finding it. Our hotel, Sea
Passion, had the majority of the guests today, so a bus for the
and a bus for us. The hotel had an envelope for us all – thank you, Sea
Passion, so we were quickly in bed. The rooms are not only nice – they
are very nice with lots of space. Our room was the ‘mountain view’
kind, cheaper, but still it had panorama windows over the harbor.
135$/night + 40$ airport transfer. We
for breakfast. It was raining
with breaks now and then. The hotel had a swimming pool and a small
beach, where we snorkeled. There were fish and smaller corals. Later we
crossed two bridges into town, did a little shopping and on the way
back stopped by the IMPAC office and booked the Jellyfish tour for
tomorrow. Very expensive, and IMPAC is even cheaper than some of the
others. Totaled 385$ for us, [90$ adult, 50$ child, 3x35$ Jellyfish
fee]. From the bridges or beaches, you see many smaller fish – all the
time. A sandwich and some snorkeling at the hotel and then afternoon
nap after the snort night. Dinner at a very good place, Palm Bay
Bistro. A grilled fish and grilled chicken. Our 12 year anniversary –
everybody happy. Rained a lot going home, so took a taxi the short ride
wonders – the
Jellyfish Lake – only found this one place in the World, a small lake
in the rock islands of Palau. It was partly cloudy. We were picked up
by a bus with Japanese and at the IMPAC office there were even more.
Hmm. All equipment was included, and we supplied our stock. People were
divided out in boats, by the activity they were going to. Our boat
included Win as our guide and another Japanese guide for the 14 other.
No problem. The boat slowly left the harbor and powered up the two big
motors. The rock islands were right around you – lime stone rock with
jungle, as small drops in the ocean. Similar to Halong bay in Vietnam.
Passing a beautiful ‘natural arch’ and a cave at water level with an
old Japanese canon. Our first stop was a snorkeling spot. Johanne and
Anders were by now ready to swim on their own, close to us and we
enjoyed it immensely. I saw twice one of the half meter long Napoleon
wrasses. Good coral and many fish. Next was the Jellyfish lake. The
entrance was at a dead end in like a horse shoe bay. We deposited
Johanne’s passport and our 3 tickets and walked up a rocky (coral) path
and down on the other side. About 10 minutes walk. Another group was
leaving the lake when we arrived, so we were the only ones at the time.
The lake is maybe 200 x 200 meters with the Jellyfish to the west in
the morning and to the east in the afternoon. We were quickly
surrounded by them, often bumping into them, feeling something soft
touching you. We were all thrilled and snapped lots of pictures and
films. No problem with the children who loved it. Much too early, it
was over and we had to go back. Win said there was 4 other similar
lakes close by, though much smaller, and not open for tourists. Leaving
on the boat, we saw a sea turtle in the clear water. Lunch was at a
lovely sandy beach in beautiful surrounding – Japanese lunch packets
and burgers for the children. We even had time for a snorkel trip here,
and there was a nice drop off here with big schools of fish; Win saw a
shark down the drop off, but I didn’t though I was looking intensely.
Crystal clear water, so I could see quite far down. After lunch, much
of the Japanese were left in a small bay where sea kayaks were hidden
and the rest of us went to a snorkeling point with lots of corals.
Birgitte had never seen anything like it, and I am about to agree with
her (though those in Marshall also were great). Many different kinds
and it was forest like – do look at the pictures from there. It started
to rain, and after picking up the kayakers we went to the last stop,
the Milkyway. A lagoon with white/blue water because the sea floor was
made up of clay from the limestone and tree leafs in the bottom. All
(except me…) were covered with the white mud and the Japanese had very
much fun of it. Next everybody jumped into the water to rinse it off,
and it was lovely warm. End of trip – we returned in much rain – back
at 16:30. A wonderful, wonderful trip that I cannot recommend enough. A
Carp Island Resort. I had
found this place using Google Earth, and it quickly turned out to a
place we wanted to go. Close to Peleliu and in the far south part of
the rock islands. It costs 110-130$ for a cottage and boat transfer 25$
per adult each way. The staff were very responsive when booking online.
There is transfer in the morning and late afternoon, and it takes about
45 minutes with speed boat. It mostly caters for divers with Japanese
as the majority making up their clients. It still is a good place to
relax and all staff speak English. The water is very shallow with sand
and there are no corals, except a boatride away at the reef.
theatre – from
Sept.-Nov.1944. The 10.000 Japanese defenders dug into the ridges and
applied heavy casualties to the Americans. Episode 5-7 of the Pacific
(Stephen Spielberg) is about the landing on Orange Beach, the fight for
the airstrip and the long struggle to dig out the Japanese from the
Bloody Nose Ridge.
We had not really booked anything from Koror, thinking that since
Peleliu was just across the channel, it would be easy to arrange from
Carp. Writing with Amy, the organizer in Koror before coming, had said
so. So I talked to Diana the night before, and she arranged a boatman
to make the transfer, and she would do the land tour. The price was
2x30$ for the boat and 2x40$ for the tour. It was high tide, so we
could take the short way across the channel and to the north of
Peleliu. Diana was waiting for us and after buying lunch at a
nondescript store, we first went to the Japanese army headquarters.
Later in the museum, we saw pictures of the area around the airport –
totally leveled and this was the only standing building. Overgrown,
with bomb-holes in the roof. One area was with big vault doors, where
people would hide during air-raids. Next we crossed the overgrown
airfield (I guess the reason for the attack). I could see from pictures
that it used to be like an A with the point at Orange beach, and Bloody
Nose Ridge at the end of the runway. Next we saw a Japanese tank, some
American tanks and moved up in the ridge. There was a canon in a cave
pointing out towards the ocean at the west end. We could walk around
and there were caves everywhere. Three war memorials are close to the
highest point – U.S. Marine Corps monument next to the horse shoe
valley that was the hardest to conquer since the Japanese had the high
grounds all around. In the pictures below there is a 'now' picture and
a picture from the war here from horse shoe valley. Further op the
place of the last stand where Col.
Nakagawa did seppuku on November 24 and after some stairs on the
highest point a U.S. Army memorial and views of the whole island. Many
caves were visible and I looked into one of them to see the remains of
a canon and several sake bottles. Amazing it could be so difficult, for
such a small place. The ridge was not very high and the island very
small. The pictures of a barren island, everything burned down was also
quite different from the green island now. Next was Orange beach where
the assault had taken place. It looked like a superb beach, strange to
think of all the blood spilt here. Next to the memorial, there used to
be a huge field with all the graves. Diana said they had all been moved
to the Philippines - ? Her mother owned the land here, and they thought
about making some cottages here. Lunch at the nearby dock, where the
dive boats also came in for lunch. Some of the best diving sports are
here nearby like the ‘washing machine’ where the Philippines sea and
the Pacific meets. Swimming in the harbor with the children, a 10
minute rain shower and then to the museum. Diana had tried 3 times
during the day to have a caretaker driver over there to open up.
Actually quite interesting with many artifacts and pictures from the
war. Several veterans that had died after the war had donated their
pictures and albums. Around 15:00, it was time to return to Carp
Island, and since it was low tide, we had to sail quite a bit to the
west to get to a canal that was deep enough. The sky was blue and gray
and the water a turquoise green – beautiful.
Beautiful sunset. Found out that there is actually WiFi at the resort
waitress – there had been a
quake in Japan. We order our dinner. Next time she passes by: there is
a tsunami coming at 18:30. They turn their TV to a local channel. There
is a Tsunami warning – all Palauan on coastal areas are to go to higher
grounds. And it is a bit later - at 19:25 that it is coming. We had
arrived back an hour ago from Carp island – an isolated island 1 hour
away by speed boat. Thinking if we would have had the information if we
had strayed there today. The staff are obviously nervous. The
restaurant is right at the harbor with the serving area over the water.
We quickly finish our dinner and halfway run to the hotel where we
stayed before going to Carp. Shops were closing down and people were
entering the back of pickup trucks to go to higher grounds. Sirens are
sounding every now and then to tell people to turn on their TV or
radio. We had asked the hotel if we could go with their airport bus for
the evening flight to Manila, and it was OK. They were obviously also
nervous, but they have 5 stories, and were going to the higher floors.
The bus should leave in 10 minutes (18:30) leaving us time to get to
the main land where the airport is before the tsunami. I updated my
Facebook status, waiting. 18:35 no bus. The staff had called for the
bus several times, and gave up and put us and other tourists in their
two vans. A quick mail to my mother that we were on our way now, and an
update saying the same (didn’t get updated though, anxious friends).
The capital, Koror, is on a small island and we had to get across a
long bridge to be safe. Going through the city is slooooow, many people
are traveling. 40 minutes left. The traffic eases up, many cars stop
uphill in town, no need to leave Koror entirely. The children and very
uneasy. Anders is talking all the time about the tsunami and if we can
see it soon, his way of reacting, by talking. Johanne is not saying
anything, but clutching our hands hard. We cross the bridge and we are
safe. We all ease up and the airport seems normal. We talk to some
other tourists that say that at their hotel restaurant everybody were
still sitting at the restaurant and their hotel was not doing anything.
Guess it always will be this way that situations are handled
18:35. Tsunami. Maybe. We are on the way to Manila in the Philippines
and back to the first world going to South Korea in the night. Thinking
of what would have happened if it had been 5 hours earlier when we were
doing a 3 hour kayaking tour, just the four of us to a small beach in
the rock islands of Koror. The water was wonderful and turquoise with a
beautiful sky. We all enjoyed paddling to a nearby island and being
there all alone, just our family, swimming and snorkeling. The last day
of summer and swimming, since we were going to Korea and spring
temperatures. The tide was high and we just had a few meters of beach
on the island. What if the tsunami had hit here?
The tsunami did not come. It went mainly east of Japan towards the
American coasts. But it could have. We all remember the 2004 tsunami,
where also many Danes died in Thailand. Thank you, all who cares and
prayed for us and we think of those that were in the wrong place in
Japan. Now we’ll see how it is in Japan in a week.
We traveled on a 'round the world' ticket from Star Alliance - using
the dream tool found on http://www.staralliance.com
- select the 'book and fly' tab, press 'Start now', click the world
map. A up to 16 legs costs about 4000$ for an adult and 3200$ for a
child, but if you are visiting several islands, it can also quickly add
up if buying single tickets.
There relevant guide books are the following, where I have all three.
The Moon has the best maps and also covers all tiny islands around
whereas the Micronesia and Palau is the latest with most updated hotel
and restaurant info. Papa Mike's is good for getting an idea of what
Palau is about. You can find the Pilot Guides from Micronesia
on-line and it includes Guam.
The Pacific is the obvious film choice with 3 episodes about Peleliu -
landing on Orange Beach, the taking of the airstrip and bloody nose
ridge. You'll find my e-mail on my main page -
questions or comments are