Another great weekend here in Palau.
Starting on Friday we got out of work at 1pm, and since it was so sunny and clear out I decided to take out a kayak by myself and go out for a row. It was very creepy being out in the still bay water all alone with nothing but a small kayak keeping you away from all the fish and corals beneath you. It helped me get over my fear of the unknown for sure, because going through those areas where you can not see the bottom was moderately unsettling, but you just take a big breath and go. I reached my destination and found an awesome clam farm and still water to relax on. It was an awesome bay surrounded by limestone islands. After a few splashes in the distance my anxiety told me it was time to leave. The row was along a limestone island with lots of green flora and corals to see. Good times. When I got back I took a much needed shower and then it was time for HAPPY HOUR!!!
After happy hour I ate a burger in about 1 minute and then ate a lot of fries, and folded my laundry then passed out..
Saturday was waterfall day!!!
However, the day started off at 5am with the Palau Olympic day run. Kate and I were the only CMU'ers to dare run the 8k that morning. We woke up to the lovely sound of rain pouring on the streets, but knowing Palau, it would clear up shortly. We jogged down to the national gymnasium to sign up. The warm up was probably the most ridiculous thing I have seen/done. This small Palauan woman went up and started leading us in an aerobic workout filled with sidesteps, clapping, and dancing. And of course in the background was: "It's raining men". Did I mention it was on repeat? For 10 minutes!!?!?! The old Palaun men loved it despite being off beat the entire time. After the warmup the race began. Was a nice jog, was able to keep pace with the navy cadets stationed in Palau so huzzah. The weather cleared up and we were treated with a nice sunrise along the run. Kate won the woman's division and I probably got 12th in the Mens. But lets get to what was important about the run...FREE TEE SHIRT!!!!!!!!!! We ate, and then left.
Now onto what made Saturday EXTRA special..
So Palau, in addition to having their famous rock islands peppered throughout the Pacific, there is a large Island, Baedelbob (Ba-bel-bob) filled with tropical rain forest and rivers and such. There are two waterfalls that are moderately popular, so we decided to take a day trip to visit these.
We met Joel, a lawyer on contract here in Palau. He offered to give us the tour very generously. Thank you Joel!!!
We followed the road (the only road in Palau) to the first destination, Ngatpang Waterfall
We got off the main road onto the dirt road and then started following the trail to the river. This was my first time ever in a jungle (as opposed to a forest) So I was in awe of all the lush fauna around me. The steps were steep, but after a 5 minute hike, we got to the top of the water fall. It was an alright view, but Joel explained the good view was at the bottom. We stared across the top and realized the path led through the waterfall, and we had to cross the river, 5 meters away from the edge! There was NO room for error, but luckily the water never went past your calf at the deepest parts.
On top of the waterfall:
Right when you crossed the top:
We trudged through the top of the river and then down the other side and was greeted with a disgustingly beautiful scene of a waterfall. We then slowly walked toward the falls themselves, watching out for all the rock holes. There was this old broken down hut there too, which was pretty neat. Enough talking, here are pictures:
The old hut thing:
This is one of my favorite pictures I took from the day:
We then moved onto stop number two: Ngardmau Waterfall.
This waterfall required a bit more of a hike, but was a much more popular destination spot in Palau. We arrived at lot and started trekking through the woods. The first obstacle was a set of two railroad tracks dating back to WWII times when the Japanese used to mine the island for bauxite (aluminum ore). The coolest part about the tracks was all the roots from trees that just consumed the tracks. Made for some cool pictures.
Starting the hike:
You would follow the tracks till you reached another clay path. This clay path took you to the top of a hill where there were some WWII old houses (I'm assuming for the Japanese workers) and an awesome distance view of our waterfall destination. Everywhere you looked all you could see was green jungle canopy, but peeking its head out in the distance was rapid water following off the edge of a cliff.
You then descent from the hill into the jungle where there was a river. The part we were walking down was unlike any I've seen. It was like waling on a giant boulder, but there were holes where the water would flow into creating swimming holes, and then lots of rushing rapids. We stayed on the calm side which was practically dry rock, and followed it down into the more typical river portion.
You then had to climb into the river and follow it till the end. The scenery was breathtaking. You looked up and there was a roof of green canopy only letting in streams of sunlight which lit up the river beautifully. There were also vines and lots of trunks of old trees just hanging over you as you walked down. About 10 minutes in, the water level started to rise and at one point was about waist high.
But right afterwords we got to the path out of the river and was greeted with the most gorgeous waterfall I think I will ever see. The water was clear, the sun was out, you could go down and stick your head in the water, go behind it, look up at the cascading water. I think I spent about an hour just soaking in the wonder of it all.
We then sat for a while and munched out on snacks we brought and then proceeded to travel back. We stopped at one of the swimming holes for another dip and then headed back home to Koror. We then all took a much needed nap and slept well for the night.
Sunday was rainy and cloudy all day, so we stayed in and watched movies, played games, and prepared ourselves for ANOTHER work week here in Palau.
Now I am back in the office coding away on the test software. Hopefully I can get it functional by the end of the week. It actually just got me thinking, yes the waterfalls were beautiful, but beauty in the world is more than waterfalls, and sunshine. Hopefully this software can get this country more funding for their underfunded schools. No picture can match that. (corny ain't I?)