Ok so lets get something clear:
If anyone reading this blog gets a ton of money to spend on a vacation, you MUST MUST MUST come to Palau. I just had the most amazing nature filled weekend of my life. So lets start with Friday.
First of all...the Indian Buffet was EPIC. All you can eat delicious Indian food?...yes please. That night we were trying to figure out the plan for the weekend because we really wanted to go out and explore the famous Rock Islands of Palau, but at the cheapest price of course. We decided as a group renting kayaks for 10 dollars would be the cheapest option. After the debate on plans, Laura, a fellow employee of the Ministry of Health invited us to go see a film at the international Film festival that was going on at the local College. We arrived at the half full cafeteria to watch "shooting dogs." A very harsh look at the Rwanda Genocide. After a powerful film and some discussions we just decided to go the sleep and start the next day anew.
So Saturday we woke up at 10am to go get our Kayaks. We got the kayaks from this tour company that targets Japanese Tourists. We took them to the shore and set off. We went into one of the ocean inlets to find a gorgeous lagoon filled with corals and lined by trees. Off of one of the trees was a rope swing to jump into the water. The one problem was that it was low tide, so the rope was too high for us to climb up out of the water. Kate and I daringly climbed ontop of the tree where it was tied to fetch it. This was the scariest thing I've ever done. (well at least for me) One slip and it a bed of sharp corals and limestone waiting for me. Thank goodness nothing bad happened and we got the rope and I took that awesome plunge into the lagoon. After about another THREE (ouch) hours of kayaking we went back, took a much needed shower, and ate some much needed food.
We have picked out our favorite restaurant here in Palau, Its that cheap place with the fried rice? remember? It's called Emamelie (ee-ma-ma-lay). We went there to pig out on the rice and mixed vegetables. om num num num.
We went to the movie festival again and watched this weird Italian film called "Respiro" It was weird but interesting. I recommend it for the more patient film goer.
After the movie we figured we had another day off and then a FULL WEEK of work, so its time we get out to the REAL rock Islands of Palau. We decided that since the people at IMPAC (the Japanese tour group) liked us and considered us locals (gives us the local price.....50% off!!!!!!) we would take there 7 hour Rock Island tour on Sunday.
Time to sleep off the Sun Burn...
Brandon, Yixin, Mi and Myself woke up to go on the tour. (Kate had other plans to go biking around the main Island) We arrived and paid our 45 dollar tour fee and then 35 dollar jelly fish lake pass.
if you do not know about jelly fish lake in Palau. read this:
After our purchases the entire country of Japan arrived to go on the tour as well. Chaos ensued as the the Japanese owner was trying to help the many families and honeymoon couples get their snorkeling gear.
As soon as the boat left downtown Koror the true beauty of Palau finally revealed itself to us. Islands peppered throughout the ocean that we could never see came into sight. We were just in awe of the site of clear blue waters amidst rock islands painting with lush green trees on top. BEAUTIFUL.
Stop 1: Coral Garden.
the Coral Garden was off of Fantasy Island (I think its called this because the Island is surrounded by sharp coral making it impossible to get to)
Coral garden was home to finger-like corals with thousands of fish. I saw so many brightly colored fish swimming around me as I dived into coral gardens 1ft - 20feet deep. For my first real snorkel experience, it was incredible. My favorite part was just coming up out of the water and being greeted with beautiful scenery of untouched beaches and rock islands.
This is where we went Snorkling:
Stop 2: The Milky Way
The milky way was a lagoon with no corals or fish, it was a pool of muddy water with the calmest water in the ocean. The English speaking tour guide explained that since there is no current all of the limestone sediment stays in the water and sinks down. We dove down 8 feet and found that the bottom was this muddy white substance. It was a combination of mud and limestone sediment. Everyone smeared it all over there bodies because its supposed to be one of the best skin rubs out there. It was so cool...and an original Palau Experience.
Stop 3: lunch on a beach.
We ate lunch on a beach that was used for filming Survivor: Palau. It was awesome and we had fun taking jumping pictures and collected shells to bring home.
Stop 4: JELLYFISH LAKE!!!!!
Ok, first of all, they say that Jellyfish lake is the 8th wonder of the world. They are correct. It was the most unreal experience of my life. When we arrived at the dock we were told to be as fragile as possible with the jelly fish. We then hiked into the woods up a large limestone stairwell and then down the other side. Jelly fish lake looked just like any other lake in the world. But after putting on our snorkel gear and peaking underneath the water I flipped out. I did not expect it to be as spectacular as it was. There were so many jelly fish just aimlessly swimming through the water. Some were as big as your hand, while some where as small as your thumb. We started to venture off into the lake and the number of jellyfish surrounding us started to grow immensely. Before I knew it, I had to push them away by the top of their cones just to move some more. At one point I stood still in the water and Just looked down and around. The colors were fantastic. The water was this greenish-blue and the jelly fish were this pale-orange-tan-ish. You could literately touch the jellyfish and watch them scamper away. Despite its sometimes claustrophobic feeling, it was remarkable. It was a site you could find no where else in the world. I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life.
This is not my picture but there's only one lake so here's a picture of someone snorkeling in it:
Stop 5: Cemetery Coral Reef
Our last stop was a deep coral reef by one of the islands where there were many holes filled with large fish feasting on the coral. The colors of the coral was incredible and the fish were beautiful as well. I saw some huge Parrot fish and Mi and I joked when we "found nemo"...hahaha (trust me I hate myself as much as you do for that joke). We only spent 30 minutes snorkeling here because we spent so much time at the jellyfish lake.
On the ride back to Koror we stopped to see some interesting rock islands and old WWII cannons. Funny that us, a group of Americans joined the Japanese tour group to see old relics from WWII...hmmm. It did give an eerie tone to the end of the trip because we realized that amidst all of the beauty of Palau thousands of people battled and died for their country. We got back to Koror and bid farewell to the Rock Islands, but we knew that wouldn't be our last trip out there.
Back at home we all took much needed showers and got dinner at a local Korean Restaurant. I joked with Mi to talk to the owner in Korean so we can get a free meal. She talked to the owner for a bit about the program we are doing here in Palau. Then another customer of the restaurant talks to Mi in Korean about where in Korea she is from and then offers to pay for our meal...we were all in shock and greatly thanked them. It was awesome.
We then went to the internet cafe to share pictures and check e-mail and then finally go to sleep. What an amazing day.
Week 3 in Palau, here we go!
...pictures will be uploaded through the day at work :-P