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jorgesanchez Palikir - A travel report by jorge
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Palikir,  Micronesia, Federated States of - flag Micronesia, Federated States of -  Pohnpei
8620 readers

jorgesanchez's travel reports

The Transmicronesian journey

  25 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4
The Micronesian Islands appear in the map as insignificant points, and because of that are rarely visited. Travellers prefer Fiji, Cook, Samoa or Tahiti. Yet, they are very rich in history and anthropology, apart from being unbelievably beautiful.


Dazzling archipelago Seventy Islands in Palau
Dazzling archipelago Seventy Islands in Palau
I reached Tokyo after a long train journey crossing Siberia and then by ship from Nahodka to Yokohama. I was almost broken and planned to work in Japan, and then continue my around the world journey. But I sensed very strongly an unpleasant “dejà vue”; I felt like losing my time in a country that I already knew very well, therefore I resolved to spend almost all my money left in a cheap Continental Airlines pass which permitted me to fly during one year to the following islands: Guam; then Saipan in the Northern Marianas; Koror in Palau; the Caroline Islands of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia; Majuro in the Marshall’s, plus Honolulu in Hawaii as final destination, where I hoped to find a job. At the beginning I had the intention to hop as soon as possible through these diminutive islands that I judged unexciting, to reach Hawaii. Fortunately, the friends that I made, their original customs, the singing of tropical birds, and the whisper of the wind during the starry nights, contributed to make me feel in the seventh heaven and change my mind, and thus get acquainted with the rich history and traditions of charming people in that ignored part of the world. There was a time, not long ago, when all the Pacific Ocean was a “Spanish lake” until other Europeans developed their navigation skill and could compete. Still today many names in the Oceania Geography are Spanish: Marquises and Solomon Islands (both archipelagos baptized by Don Alvaro de Mendana in the XVI century), Marianas Islands (in honour of our Queen Mariana of Austria), Caroline Islands (after our King Carlos III), Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, Torres Strait, etc. From 1571 to 1813 the Galeon de Manila (Manila Galleon) was the Queen Elizabeth II of those times, the ever greatest ship in the world; it was known as “Mountain of the Seas” and during its yearly journey from Acapulco to Manila and back, it called in Guam, which was the first Island that I visited in Micronesia

Favourite spots:
Chamorro children in Agana, Guam capital
Chamorro children in Agana, Guam capital
GUAM was very dear to me because of the call in it of the Magellan expedition around the world; there is even a monument in his honour in Umatac. I expected to arrive to a primitive island and was amazed: the highroads had nothing to envy to those of Italy, Germany or Spain! Everybody has a car in Guam, nobody walks. The Chamorros, or local inhabitants, are all fat, walking with difficulty because of the abundance of food and money in the island. Soon I made friends who invited me to their houses because the Chamorros speak a language containing 70 % of Spanish words and for them I was a remote relative. They told me that before the arrival of the Spaniards they had four castes, like in India. Thanks to their generosity I could visit the US Army base Andersen, in the north, taste the Tuba (local liquor made with coconut) and eat the breadfruit. Beaches are beautiful in Tumon Bay, and the Nature and waterfalls of the island are gorgeous. After one month I continued my journey to Saipan.

What's really great:
Saipan traditional village
Saipan traditional village
SAIPAN. Japanese fly to this island to get married, which is much cheaper than in Japan, and to visit the tiny Island of the Birds, where in front of it there is a plaque devoted to the Japanese soldiers who preferred to commit suicide instead of surrendering to the USA troops during WWII. I visited the jail where, presumably, Kansas pilot Amelia Earhart was arrested before being killed by the Japanese in 1937 (the only thing that we know for sure is that she disappeared after leaving Lae, in Papua New Guinea, in direction to USA with her airplane). Between Saipan and TINIAN lays the Marianas Trench, the deepest in the world, with 11.000 metres. I travelled there by boat and walked to the place from where departed the airplane Enola Gay, the one that threw the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima. In Chalan Kanoa, Saipan, I stayed in the magnificent hotel Marianas Trench. The owner was so helpful that gave me a room for free when he saw me sleeping in a park. After Saipan I flew to Palau.

Sights:
One of the “Abai” in Micronesia where travellers sleep for a present
One of the “Abai” in Micronesia where travellers sleep for a present
PALAU. I landed in Koror, a not very interesting island, hence I took a boat to Angaur, the Island of the Monkeys, crossing the Seventy Islands, one of the three most scenic and beautiful archipelagos of tiny islands in the whole Ocean Pacific (there is another one between Honiara and Gizo, in the Solomon, and the third one is located around Vavau, in Tonga). During that boat journey I was exulted. Once in Angaur I asked for the chief, and after giving him a present (a Russian matrioshka), as is the practice, he showed me an Abai to sleep. Every traditional Island in the Micronesia has an Abai, or meeting house, where people join to talk internal affairs and lodge visitors. Every night all the young natives take a lantern and go to catch enormous eating coconuts crabs. When you walk in that pleasant island you have to be careful with your cap, glasses and pencils in you shirt pocket, because the monkeys are thieves and will rob you while you are walking. After two weeks I flew to Yap.

Accommodations:
The only bank in the world with the money in the street!
The only bank in the world with the money in the street!
YAP is the most traditional island in Micronesia. Women walk half naked in the streets and enter the supermarkets, and all men, scarcely dressed with loincloths, carry always with them a straw bag containing hundreds of betel nuts that they masticate and spit everywhere, every time. In Colonia, capital of Yap, I saw stone money in a bank in the street. With those stones of aragonite (calcium carbonate) snatched from the Rock Islands of Palau, locals can buy possessions or pay as dowry to get married. Today they have been devaluated owing to an Irish adventurer of the XIX century, David Dean O’Keefe, who extracted larges quantities of them and became rich; he even bought an island (named O’Keefe!) in front of Colonia and got married to a native girl. I tried to visit a small island called Rummung, but the chief did not allow me to enter, and even refused my matrioshka, for being a foreigner from another “island”. For them, everybody lives in an island. One week later I flew to Chuuk.

Nightlife:
Nature of Moen, one of the 11 Islands forming Chuuk
Nature of Moen, one of the 11 Islands forming Chuuk
CHUUK is a paradise for divers because of the many Japanese warships sunk during the WWII in its lagoon, the greatest of the world. Looking for a convenient bower where to spend the night I met some foreigners who invited me to share their dormitory. They were Peace Corps, or very nice Americans who teach English to the natives. But after two days I got bored in Chuuk; diving and snorkelling was indifferent to me. I heard that in the other side of the lagoon there was an island called Tol where the natives play the flute with the nose, but my economy situation had reached the top bottom level, and to eat I had to climb the trees to catch coconuts. Furthermore, I was in typhoon season, it rained every day and the mud made me walk with difficulty. Without realizing it, my mind started to machinate: “Rain rain, mud mud, hungry hungry, rain rain, mud mud, hungry hungry, food inside the airplane! food inside the airplane!” And then I walked to the airport to take the next plane to Pohnpei.

Hangouts:
Ruins of Nan Madol, considered the Venice of the Pacific
Ruins of Nan Madol, considered the Venice of the Pacific
POHNPEI is the oddest island in Micronesia. It has the enigmatic ruins of Nan Madol, erected with blocks of basalt weighing up to 50 tons. Nobody can explain yet how they were cut from the quarry, transported for kilometres and erected in a perfect way forming 92 islets. The nature in Pohnpei is fabulous; you do not feel in a small island but in the centre of a continent because of the high mountains and the powerful rivers. Indeed, if King Kong would exist in Pohnpei he would feel at home. There are five kingdoms in Pohnpei: Kiti, Sokehs, Net, U, and Madolenihmw, and their kings have power in politics. I hitchhiked to surround the island when the President of the country picked me up! He was going to the funeral of the Queen of Kiti and invited me. I willingly accepted. The King was sad, dejected. I gave him a matrioshka as my condolences and he, in correspondence, offered me a head of dog for lunch, but I gently declined and ate an omelette instead. Some weeks later I flew to Kosrae.

Restaurants:
Extracting the juice for the Sakau ceremony
Extracting the juice for the Sakau ceremony
KOSRAE. I landed one Friday in Kosrae and tried to visit the island when I was severely admonished. In Kosrae, Friday is a Green Day and everyone, even foreigners, have to do any ecological work such as planting, cleaning the beach, etc. I agreed and entered a garden with some natives. When they observed me climbing up the trees and collecting tangerines with enthusiasm, they were satisfied and let me alone. Luckily they did not catch me eating the tangerines and hiding the best and juicier in my bag for the dinner. Afterwards I was invited by the community of Utwe to the rite of Sakau, also called Kava in Melanesia. It consists in a narcotic drink obtained from the root of the pepper and served in a coconut cup. When you are given the cup you have to drink only a little and pass it over to another member. First time I did as the Georgian “tamada”, who before drinking says a gracious toast, but noticing that it was not appreciated I did not repeat it. Some days later I flew to Majuro.

Other recommendations:
Sunset in the Marshall’s. Another unique and lovely day is gone. Adios!
Sunset in the Marshall’s. Another unique and lovely day is gone. Adios!
MAJURO. The plane landed in Kwajalein before proceeding to Majuro, a sinking atoll where its people are suffering for the Evergreen Effect; soon they will have to find another place to live. Marshall’s is included in the Oceania “Biblical Belt”, Sundays are holy and the cars stop when the churches bells ring. Mormons are very active and recruit natives with the theory that they descend from the Lost Tribes of Israel. One week later I flew to Honolulu stopping in the atoll of Johnston, but the US Army did not allow me to get off the plane. Finally I landed in beautiful Oahu and my Micronesia journey ended

PS:I know that this is not an orthodox report. My first thought was to write it about Pohnpei only, with restaurants, clubs, etc. But then I read whereisliz motto and agreed with it. I too want to encourage people to travel. If you have the dream to travel around the world, then go! 1000 times go! even if you do not have much money! Many unexpected factors will help you along the way

Published on Monday October 3th, 2005


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Fri, Jun 23 2006 - 08:18 PM rating by karmapd

This report is great! I got interested in Micronesia through "Island of the Sequined Love Nun"by Christopher Moore. It seems like a fantastic place to visit, and I can't believe that not more people do.

Very good pictures, very good reading. Thank you!

Thu, Oct 06 2005 - 02:15 AM rating by britman

Yet another excellent ***** report...the break with the Globo proforma report format is a refreshing and sensible feature of your report

Wed, Oct 05 2005 - 12:14 AM rating by gloriajames

Hiya Jorge!!
Bravo!!! A well written report and from a traveller's point of view. Simply love your style and ease of writing. Truly one of a kind! Cant wait for you to publish a book on all your travels!!
Your ardent fan!!
Gloria
PS 5* now appears to be underrated!!!

Tue, Oct 04 2005 - 08:34 PM rating by eirekay

Jorge, I think we all rush to read your reports - they are such a delight! This one is no exception!
Eire

Tue, Oct 04 2005 - 07:51 AM rating by rangutan

travel related ***** the best example
originality ***** written from the heart
style (of writing) ***** some poetry too :-)
grammar ***** no mistakes found
length ***** ultimate
use of GLOBO headings / format ** should be 5 different reports
usefull tips ****
pictures ****
tourist hub or remote place ***** most remote, unique
extras **** I like the "getting there" parts too, specific
------------------------------------------------------------------
AVERAGE: ***** excellent
------------------------------------------------------------------

Tue, Oct 04 2005 - 07:51 AM rating by magsalex

Another quality report Jorge!

Tue, Oct 04 2005 - 06:47 AM rating by davidx

Glad to see you haven't 'gone off' during my trip to Peru! This is right up to your usual standard. Congratulations.

Mon, Oct 03 2005 - 03:58 PM rating by mistybleu

Jorge, another wonderful report.

Misty

Mon, Oct 03 2005 - 02:13 PM rating by akhila

This report (like most of your other reports) is an excellent narration of an exotic place, wonderfully illustrated. THANKS for sharing!
Globo should have a special category for your reports....even ***** is too less.

Mon, Oct 03 2005 - 01:13 PM rating by whereisliz

Dear Jorge-- I was enjoying your magnificent report, and was so surprised to see you reference me in the final paragraph! Please know that I would have given this report the highest rating, even without that kind compliment. Thank you so much for being such a great contributor to this community!!

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