Thursday, July 30, 2009

Last post from Palau

So today is the last day or work, last day here in Palau, fin, finish.

Last night was a very interesting story.

Firstly it was pouring and I volunteered to go to the burger truck and pick us up dinner while Brandon did laundry and mi packed. Deanna calls us and tells us we can get into this party at a hotel. We of course decided to see what this was all about. Once we get there we find that they turned the room in the hotel into a private club, filled with lights, fog, food, drinks....ALL FREE!!!!. gah, -cheapness....overload.....shutting down.....

When we walked in all the Koreans stopped and looked at us. It was a perfect awkward turtle moment. They came over to great us, and once again: MI SAVES THE DAY! She explains everything in Korean to them and they smile shake our hands and enthusiastically invite us to join them. Some guy put on a dance show while we gorged away at the food and drinks. We danced and it was just so unreal. A night like that would have costed hundreds of dollars anywhere else but we were lucky enough to get it for free.

Deanna gave us all goodbye gifts which was very very nice of her. I got a turtle bracelet. Its so nice.

I went home and PASSED out.

Today they are throwing a lunch here in at the MOE for Yixin and I. should be fun.

What an amazing summer. The experiences and people I met were unlike any I have ever had before. I will remember this summer for a long time.

I feel like a changed person, in a good way. I see things slightly different now and I feel ready to get back and face the challenges of Senior year.

See everyone back in the states!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

final week

You know how Palau says goodbye?

A week filled with rain and wind. Wind so strong you can't go out on a boat to the rock islands...:'(.

Ah well, back to my final report.

T-minus 3 days?


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Last Weekend!

So this weekend was the last...

Here was the rundown:

Friday was the end of the education conference. My last session was given by an Israeli woman living in Palau who is trying to stop shark fining in the area. They explained that they were going to give presentation in the schools to spread out knowledge of shark's importance in the local ecosystem...There was a guy in a shark suit...

Then the closing ceremony was filled with Palauan dances, singing and food! Was awesome!

Shark Suit:

Palauan Dancing!:

Then Friday night we decided to throw our own CMU party in the apartment. Lots of games, sho chu, and taro wine roulette...(ask me about it when I get back). at the time of 12am we decided to go swimming at long island. It was so much fun swimming in the warm waters of Palau in the middle of the night.

Saturday was going to be our 2nd to last trip to Baebeldob (the last being to the airport). We first visited this Japanese monument that was built pre-WWII. However, this one is not taken care of. So there is moss and vines growing all over it. It was a very creepy, but cool, site to see. Sorta felt like aliens placed it there as a landing beacon...haha.

We then traveled more up north to Ngarmelagui (NAR-ME-LA-GOO-EEE). There we found an old plane crash site and an abandoned pineapple factory. Random aye? Apperntly the pineapple factory was started by the Japanese to make canned pineapple. Anyway more rusted gears and furnaces taken over by jungle.

We then headed up north to the most norther tip of the island, Ngaard (nard). We left the paved road and arrived on the lovely dirt roads of Palau. We saw these stone monoliths which have no explanation, which is what makes them so cool. they are sorta like Easter Island, no one knows why they are there, but they mean something to the ancient cultures. Then we headed even more up north to a destroyed Japanese Lighthouse. coolest thing EVER. It was all collapsed and jungly and had the most beautiful view of...well...nothing but Pacific Ocean.

Japanese Monument:


Pineapple Factory:

Stone Monoliths:

Look, I could touch them...

Pretty view!:



Eating Local Sashimi

Thus ended our lovely Saturday. We bought some bootlegs and headed home to relax.

On Sunday I still had my certificate from the open water swim that I won. Brandon and Kate and Deanna went to the Hair Salon at PPR (best resort of the island). And Mi and I frolicked on the beach/pool/hot tub. It was then time for....BRUNCH. By far the best brunch of my LIFE. All you can eat Sashimi, fish, eggs, soup, desert (which was all delicious)...ANNNDDDD All you can drink Mamosa...for only 25 dollars. Yes please.

After a looong brunch I fell asleep on a hammock and then Mi and I played in they water some more and then headed home to relax.


After a long meal


Was an awesome weekend again, and I think its now: 5 days till I start the voyage home...I am not looking forward to it, but it will be nice to head home. More on this later.

Have a nice week!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Education Conference, small steps

Yes, there was a total solar eclipse here.
Yes, I missed it.

So this week is the education conference. We are currently half way through it.

The opening ceremony was a lot of fun. As always it started off with lots of food. All the teachers, principals, secretaries, and computer people swarmed the coffee and doughnuts and fruit. Then it was time to begin to conference. They started off with the national anthem. and let me tell you, the Palau anthem is how national anthems should be. Pretty, built in harmonies, and matches the country's feel perfectly (its very very long...they have all the time in the world to sing it...haha).

Then there were chants (yes chants) and speeches given by certain chiefs and directors of the MOE. They then gave reports on various areas of the MOE. My favorite part was the school breakdown, and whenever they announced each school all the teachers from the school would stand up and cheer and be like "WE'RE AWESOME! Y'ALL SUCK!" haha. not really. But I bet you that's what they were thinking. Some schools had like 3 teachers...and that was it. For an entire 1-8th grade school. While the main school had about 40 people. They then gave out teacher of the year. She cried, and won 2500 dollars and they decorated her in flowers. I think its a very special thing here to get a reef of flowers cause everyone said "wooooooooow" when she got her flowers.

After some more...reports. opening ceremony was over. I went home to work on my presentation some more.

This morning I woke up at a lovely 6:00am and got my things together.

My presentation was a simple how to use MS word and excel. The room was PACKED. It made me so happy. I made them laugh with my LOVELY American charm and wit...hahaha. Not that much, but they seemed to have fun as I joked about things. Was I saving the world? no, but if you can teach the teachers MS word, they can teach their students, and in the job market here in Palau, knowing how to use Microsoft is the KEY to getting a good paying job.

Saving the world? no, but making small steps.


Its much scarier on an island in the middle of the pacific.

Thank god I packed flashlights. It was so dark and dogs were barking, the wind was howling. But I had my laptop and my flashlight so it was all good.

I am currently planing for my presentation tomorrow at the education conference.

Um, t-minus 9 days?


Sunday, July 19, 2009


So reader's digest version of my weekend:

Saturday => ouch, hangover. Rain rain rain. re-did my resume!! ^_^...zzzz...

Sunday => Scuba with Mi!!!

Blue corner again! Better than first time. Saw a school of barracuda fish!!! F-ton of sharks. Turtles! Napoleon Wrasses! Tuna that was so big we thought was a shark at first...And more schools of tuna.

New-Drop off. Coral, coral, coral, sharks, coral, fish school, coral, sharks, I <3 scuba.

Snorkeling at Clam City. => Tried diving without gear, got to 10m. Dangerous but if you breath out on the way up you're lungs won't over expand.

Got back home. Went souvenir shopping. Haggled with local business, got great deals! jooooooo.

boot leg movies...zzzz....

Work week, sun, tan.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Coolest run ever

So yesterday after a relatively uneventful day at work I went for my usual run to Malakal Hill. I was running on the bridge that goes right by long island park and was looking out at the water. Then I heard a loud splash in the water, and saw a fin in the water. I was certain it was a shark and went to have a closer look. Then what I saw took my breath away. In the water were 4 sting rays circling right along the rocky shore. The fin was actually the tip of the wing of one. Three of them were about 3 feet across, brown with white spots. The last one was HUGE, maybe about 1.5 meters across and was white with brown spots. They looked like were flying in the water, it was the coolest thing ever. I stopped my run and just stared at them for 5 minutes. I saw that they were circling around and I decided to SPRINT back to my apartment and get my camera, because rays are generally rare to see. Especially a group of 4. I sprinted back and forth and return to the same spot and was amazed to see that they were still circling in the water.

I took a few pictures and then they turned away from the shore and glided out to the water. I then ran to the point at long island park. And to my surprise they gave me one last show as the glided by in deeper water. It was like they were saying goodbye (probably not, but it felt like it).

So yesterday was kinda a down day at work, the skies were cloudy and was a pretty lame day. But it just goes to show how unexpectedly you can see something beautiful that can make your day...(gah, im such a cheese ball)


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Looking down

So I realized yesterday I have this very bad habit of looking down while walking. If I would only look up more I can look less depressed and see whats around me. *note to self* look up some more.

The past two days at work have been very uneventful. I am working with the English Specialist (person who makes the English standardized tests) and teaching her how to use our software some more. She is very nice and very thankful for what we've done.

Next week they have an education conference here in Palau and they asked Yixin and I to give seminars on whatever we want. I am going to give one on how to use excel as grade books. Paaarty.

Mi gave me lots of her Korean Pop songs on her computer. So much fun! I recommend checking out "Nobody" - Wonder Girls, so bad but so good.

About Two weeks left here in Palau. Still have to get my rent money back and buy souvenirs for everyone!

Have a great Thursday everyone!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Another epic weekend

Ok, I know you are getting sick and tired of hearing this. But I just had the greatest weekend in paradise.

As I said, it was Kate's birthday on Saturday so we planned to spend the night at an island resort known as "Carp Island". We went with a group of Palauans and Deanna, a fellow worker at the MOH. The Resort was at the south of the rock islands near where we scuba dived at Blue Corner. We made one pit stop to see a sunken WWII airplane, and old markings on this wall. The weather was really crappy in the morning, but Palau has this amazing ability to be beautiful even in a downpour. On the way there we had to stop because the rain got so intense, but it was fun being tossed around on a small boat in the middle of the Pacific.

We got to Carp Island and the weather cleared up. It was just beaches and beaches filled with hammocks, little cottages. We all just relaxed on the hammock and enjoyed the breeze for about 3 hours. It was time for lunch provided by the resort. We met some Europeans there and other random tourists and divers. However before lunch there was an impromptu wedding! Two Canadians were getting married on the beach. We all gathered for the 5 minute wedding. It was strange being that no family was there except for a bunch of strangers. But everyone has their own way of celebrating. picture break:

After lunch we went on a hike through the island. It was an awesome hike. We saw this huge tree on top of this huge rock. Its roots spanned ran down the entire rock. It was so cool looking. There was also this path made entirely of old shells. We assumed that it was like that because the tide used to go over the entire island. It was really eerie walking on the skeletons of old hermit crabs. Then there was this clearing of this weird plant that grew like spikes...

After the hike we said goodbye to the Palauans that came with us. At that point it was low tide and I went for my own walk across the sand dunes that built up. The sand was soooo soft, at some points, too soft that I sunk to my knees. It was kinda like quick sand. I walked across the first beach and made it around the corner to arrive at a completely empty HUGE beach. The sand stretched out so far because it was low tide. I had an awesome hour absorbing the beauty of the island and watching birds fly by. I saw star fish, lots of sea cucumbers, and crabs. I just saw in the sand for a while staring out into the ocean. picture break:

After this it was time for dinner aaaand an impromptu brownie cake for Kate! yay. We then proceeded to have wine and sho chu to celebrate. Next thing I knew we were all in the water swimming under moonlight. haha. Lots of fun until the sand bugs started to bite. We went back to land and I layed in the hammock for another hour or so.

The next morning it was time to go scuba diving! Mr. Song and the crew picked us up and we went to our first destination: "German Channel". the channel was man made by the Germans during WWII to allow big boats through the reef. There was supposed to be a few Manta rays down there, but we were unlucky. We saw lots and lots of coral fish and eels and star fish. Fun time.

After the dive we braved the storm that was occurring as we made the bumpy trip back to Clam City, our next snorkling stop. We saw huge corals and lots and lots of giant clams.

The last scuba stop was my favorite scuba ever, the Chandelier cave! The cave had 4 air chambers in it, so anyone with open water certification could go in it. It was INCREDIBLE. We had our flash lights and explored the underwater cavern. Huge stalactites everywhere. We went up in the air chambers and it was just the most unreal thing ever. I can't describe it in words, but it is a memory I will have forever. The highlight of the scuba trip by far:

When we got back, we had some dinner and passed out and got ready for our last day in the rock islands: Peleliu.

Through work we were going to Peleliu to visit the elementary school, but also to get a tour of all the old WWII ruins. Peleliu was where all the WWII relics exist and they are extremely well preserved. We got there and got a personal tour of all the relics. Tanks, bunkers, monuments, Japanese hiding caves, buildings, even torn down trees from the original bombings. Everything was just sitting there. It was incredible knowing that such a small quaint fishing town now is all that is left after so much violence happened so recently. Enough talking, pictures:

When we got back to the elementary school from the tour we were fed a Palauan meal of Crab, Coconut, fish, aaaaaaand, Fruit bat soup!! I first filled up on the crab and coconut and then Kate and I tried the fruit bat. I tried the wing meat, tasted like slimy chicken. I gave the rest to Yixin.

om num num num num num num:

I then passed out when we got back, aand let the 4 day work week begin!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day Off

So yesterday we had the day off of work because of Constitution Day here in Palau (nothing happened).

I woke up nice and late and decided to take a long walk through the island of Meyuns which ended at the really expensive resort: Palau Pacific Resort (PPR). (It is where Dr. Hills took us to dinner and where the open water swim was)

The wind was really strong yesterday becasue a storm was moving in. It was really cool walking alone through the Palauan Neighborhood while the wind was howling. As always tons of people offered me rides to where I was going, but I insisted on walking. I got to the resort and got a hair cut from the salon there. Now it was only a 10 dollar haircut, so I expected a quick buzz, but no. It was the real deal of shampoo, a 40 minute detailed cut (which is NOT what I am used to). But it was a pretty good hair cut (and only 10 dollars!!!!!!).

Afterwords, I asked the lifeguard where there was a nature trail, and he pointed me in the right direction. (My boss mentioned it to me). So I took the hour long trek through beach->jungle->rocks. It was not that intense, but it was relaxing. When I reached the top of the hill I saw the storm was making its way in. In Palau you can actually see the rain in the distance and see it coming. I decided it was time to head back.

When I got back I spent the rest of the day watching more tv shows on my laptop and relaxing...ahhh

This weekend it Kate's Birthday so we are taking a trip to Carp Island, a private resort island filled with nothing but cottages and hammocks. Then Sunday is another scuba day with Mr. Song. Kinda excited!



Tuesday, July 7, 2009


So part of our project is not just to build a software for the ministry of education, its also to fully train all the staff on how to sustain it. That means we need to make sure when we leave, they are fully independent to take care of it and fix any thing wrong that happens. This is very tricky because we need to make our product as error-proof as possible, we also need to think in advance problems that can occur.

This is the current stage of our work. We are holding a meeting today at 1 with all the test creation people to go through our manual.

Last week they used our software for creating a report for the national PAT (Palau Achievement Test). They finished the report in 2 days. It usually takes them till *OCTOBER* to finish. It was pretty exciting seeing it work in a real situation.

Tomorrow is Constitution Day here in Palau. NO WORK! yay! Hopefully we will be going on a scuba trip.

Alright, back to preparing for our meeting.


Monday, July 6, 2009

home sick

So yesterday homesickness hit me pretty hard.

However, since there was not much to do at work I decided to leave a bit early and go for a walk. I walked past downtown Koror toward the big island. It helped me clear my mind. On the way I stopped at the local bootleg video shop. The video selection was HILARIOUS. Most of the movies were the ones playing at 3am on the sci fi channel. But they had their fair share of pretty decent stuff. I bought a 28 in 1 DVD filled with cartoon movies. Simpsons, Futurama, Emperor's New Grove. Im kinda excited.

Nothing else going on here in Palau for the week. Just enjoying the weather and experience as always, but sometimes you do miss home a bit.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

scuba trip

4th of July = nothing here...went out for some burgers and shouted "merica!" to each other and that was about it. Kinda a down day from my stand point.

Sunday however, we went on an AMAZING scuba trip to Blue Holes and Blue Corner. Rather than goign into boring details I'll just share my favorite moments.

Blue Holes were these massive holes in coral gardens that went to 30m deep. Incredible feeling sinking down and looking up and seeing nothing but blue. We saw a file-clam, which does this weird electric thing. Lots o-fish and coral, and amazing underwater structures.

Blue Corner is Palau's Aquarium as many people put it. Just schools and schools and schools of fish everywhere (including gray reef sharks!!!). I had one swim a foot away from my face. At one point we just clipped into the reef and sat and watched the fish swim around us. There was a Napoleon Wrasse that came to visit. HUUUUGE FISH. About 6 ft long and just stared at us. It was awesome. Then a school of tuna was just sitting there (you know that scene in finding nemo with the school of fish doing impressions?, it was like that). But then at one point they just swam right into us! It was awesome.

We had lunch on this AMAZING long sandy white beach. It jutted out so far into the water but then the tide started to come in, and the water went up to your calves. And then a shark swam by my feet, it was awesome. They were also filming a survivor challenge on it! We saw them set up everything, it was pretty neat.

We then stopped at Jelly Fish lake again so Kate can go experience it. Same O' Jelly fish waiting for us to frolic.

I'm going to steal pictures from online that I found:

Where we went diving:

School O' fish:

Blue Hole:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I love mother nature...


It was beautiful all this week, and then once the weekend hits she decides that rainstorms are a necessity. Oy, but being that today is Friday...Indian Buffet at Taj!!!!!! As always the TCinGC crew, along with Laura, stormed our favorite Friday lunch buffet and stuffed ourselves with AMAZING Indian food and nan bread. I am so full right now, it hurts to breath...

We are officially certified scuba divers! We all passed the exam and we were invited to go diving this Sunday!!! Now instead of diving off a random beach, we are going to a real dive spot. We are going to Blue Holes and Blue Corner, which some consider some of the best dive sites in the world. Google them for some more information.

Tomorrow is July 4th here in Palau. It will be interesting to see what July 4th is like when you are out of the country. I think we decided on doing some exploration on the big island by renting a car.

Lastly we are bug bashing our software, fixing all bugs we find. I fixed the high school issue cleanly and now the software works for all grade levels.

I hope everyone has an awesome July 4th wherever you are!!!!

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Coding race and scuba pictures

So our software is launched!!! yay!!!

They are using it RIGHT NOW to create test reports and find out which schools need more funding/can create reports for the US gov't. We turned a 2 month process into a process that takes little over a week. Go computers!

However it only works for grades 1-8, since the high school uses their own separate now I am quickly coding up a solution to this before it is time to have a meeting with the high school teachers in two days! Power coding!

A massive ton of pictures:

...I think you get the idea...