Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Palau - The Kayak Trip, Part One

In the last weeks before I left Palau in 2004 some Peace Corps friends and I took a self-guided kayak trip from Koror to Peleliu, the southernmost island in the lagoon. It's about a 25-mile trip, but we took 5-6 days to do it so the pace was really relaxed.

I've long remembered that trip as one of the highlights of my life, so I promised myself to repeat it if ever I found my way back to Palau. And so we did.

Unfortunately the kayak company has developed a bit and found new ways to get money out of their customers. All I wanted was the kayaks, we would provide everything else. But upon inspection of the maps, we saw a big skull and cross-bones over one of the reefs we wanted to cross. The short story is that they would not allow us to paddle across the reef and required us to pay $60 each for a 15-minute boat ride around it. This was a sour, frustrating note to begin the trip (especially after we went past the reef and the waves were about 6" tall.. grrr...), but we moved on.

I suffered a big blow to my ego the first night by being unable to start a fire (it had rained hard for a couple hours that afternoon, if I am allowed an excuse. Yes dad, I know I'm not). The next morning I suffered a bigger blow to my tongue - see below.

[A turtle apparently came up to nest while we slept a few yards away]

These structures are all over the Rock Islands and serve as great lunch spots for the dive and tour boats cruising around. They - and the 16 Koror State Rangers who patrol and clean them - are funded by the required $25 Rock Islands visitation permit. There are also composting toilets at most of them, which is pretty cool.

[Oats and raisins are prohibitively expensive in Japan, so that was an easy choice for breakfast every morning]

Partial blame to the pineapple, partial blame to the Atomic Fire Balls my parents randomly included in a care package, and maybe partial blame to more salt and sugar than I am accustomed to in my diet. But my tongue got wasted this first day of the trip. It stuck with me the rest of the trip, swollen and sensitive and not happy at all with foods that weren't liquefied or really soft.

On the first morning we kayaked to a place called Milky Way. It's buried in a cove and the bottom is volcanic ash (or so a tour guide told us). Hundreds of Asian tourists go there every day and rub it all over themselves. There was a hottie Japanese tour guide there who we would do anything to impress, so we figured this would be a good idea.

[Welcome to underwater photography, Dave (p.s. it's hard)]


nchan said...

yay! super excited for kayak expedition pics. i also want to relive the kayak expedition when i go back to palau. sad about sam's trying to wring money out of us, though. i'm assuming you weren't able to get the "local" discount this time?

Dave said...

I was able to get the local discount on most everything else, but you know how Sam's is. I had trouble getting their local discount when I LIVED there. We paid $45/day - or $180 - to rent the kayaks for four days. I thought that was a little steep, but I was fine with it. But then being forced to add on the extra $60 for what was obviously just a scam really angered me. Maybe I'll write Ron a letter about it...

Anonymous said...

Ohhh, sexy legs!!!

Dave said...

Think how good we'd look together, Anonymous.

(Those are Vaughn's legs, but mine are better.)

Son of Higashi said...

Thank you! Anonymous.

Dave said...

Vaughn, you stay away from my Anonymouses!