Monday, September 08, 2008

Palau Kayaking

Aww man, our last day in Palau. As always, when I travel, I so don’t want to go home today.

Planet Blue Kayaking

Today we enjoy more aquatic adventures, of the kayaking kind. Thanks to our friends at Sam’s Tours and Planet Blue Kayaking, we enjoyed a 1/2-day kayaking adventure.

Before I continue, I wanted to post a picture of Molly, our wonderful host on this excellent adventure. Today she’s wearing the Little Miss Giggles shirt she borrowed (from her daughter, who protested that the shirt might not be professional enough to wear to “work.” We should all have to work this hard.)

Today we had another excellent insider tour of the island. We learned some of the local lore, kayaked under and through some incredible rock formations, and even around a sunken World War II battleship.

During lunch, we enjoyed some additional, amazing snorkeling. The sea life here was about as varied as I’ve ever seen, but sadly I opted not to rent the underwater camera for a second day.

What amazes me is how much colorful, diverse sea life can thrive just feet away from beaches. It seems like nature would want to protect itself and make its greatest beauties harder for humans to find. But I guess Palau is a stunning example of just how generous Mother Nature can be.

Four Hands Massage

After lunch, we returned to the PPR hotel, where I had a massage scheduled at the property’s Elilai by Mandara Spa.

I had planned to try a massage at both resorts, but as you’ve probably gathered, we’ve been somewhat busy this week. So since this was my first free minute to have a massage, I totally (over) indulged and booked myself a four-hands massage. Many of the massage therapists in Palau are trained in Indonesia, and my two therapists were no exception.

These two ladies were totally in sync, both exerting identical amounts of pressure just where I needed it. Normally I like my massages at a “Rough Me Up” level, but my sunburn was a deterrent, and it was a pleasure to just enjoy a relaxing hour in someone else’s hands.

I absolutely cannot rave enough about how blissful the experience was. I came out of the spa, and one of my travel mates told me I looked stoned. Which is pretty much how I felt.

After a few tropical drinks on the beach, it was time for the group to convene and enjoy our final dinner.

Fruit Bat Soup

All week, our hosts had been great about introducing us to typical Palaun experiences, but I would say that Melson really went out of his way to make sure we had a touch of local flavor. He brought us the Betel nut, clams, fried donuts and a number of other one-of-a-kind experiences.

The one thing he had not yet delivered was the national dish of Palau.

Fruit Bat Soup.

But at dinner, Melson, who hadn’t let us down yet, delivered once again. And voila, here you see the result of fruit bat soup. In terms of flavor, the soup tasted pretty good. The bat itself tasted somewhat like Japanese eel (tastes like chicken!).

But since the soup is cooked with the whole bat, having to peel off the little guy’s hairy skin would probably make this an experience I don’t need to repeat.

At dinner, we finally got to meet Darin Deleon, our very gracious Palau Visitor Authority host, and the person that made it possible for all of us to travel on such a wonderful excursion.

The dinner was hosted by the Palau Pacific Resort, who even arranged to have a traditional performance for us. What a fabulous way to end our stay.

After dinner, we had a short rest before we were escorted to the airport for our 1 am departure.

(I was considering writing a scathing overview of the retarded procedures at the airport in Guam. Think dot matrix passenger manifests and highlighters, but I decided that the journey was just too lovely to ruin with a scathing end. Just know that if you fly through Guam, you may need to arm yourselves with a little extra patience and a fine-tuned sense of humor.)

And also know that any stop in Guam is 100% worth the process if you get to enjoy Palau on the other end.


ChrisOquist said...

Great report - looks like I might need to consider Palau next time I need to be far away and surrounded by soothing blues and greens..

(I was considering writing a scathing overview of the retarded procedures at the airport in Guam.... you may need to arm yourselves with a little extra patience and a fine-tuned sense of humor.)

Humor is often the best way to cope with these situations. On my trip to China this summer my girlfriend and I found ourselves at a tiny mountain airport called Tongren, about an hour away from the tiny village we were staying at, and the security guard actually poured out all our liquids onto the wooden counter he was standing behind and proceeded to ignite them with his lighter. Those that lit - dumpstered. (We were, by the way, the only passengers in the airport at the time).

We laughed so hard about it. After all.. a bunch of product and insect repellent are easily replaced - when's the next time you'll be on a trip like that?

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