January 2014 - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Summary: Things to do in Palau

8:46:00 PM
I've finally come to the last post I wanted to write about Palau. This is going to be a summary of my total impression of the island, and I'll try to make it as short and informative as possible.

All in all it was a nice place to visit, and we got to see some really unique and interesting sights. People were really friendly, and we felt very safe there even when we ended up sleeping on the ground outside our hotel when we arrived at 3 am on our first day.

For people wanting to visit Palau there are a couple of things one should be aware of first though. The thing I missed the most during our stay in Koror was that there wasn't a single beach in the vicinity, so unless you take a taxi or rent a car to go to the other side of the island (depending on where you live of course) you won't be able to fulfill your dreams of spending some relaxing days on the white sand. In our case, the hotel we stayed at was situated in the middle of nowhere, and the main reason we had chosen the place was because of their beautiful pool. But as it was off-season it turned out that the pool hadn't been cleaned for months and was filled with green water... Although the hotel in itself wasn't bad this obviously had a huge negative impact on our stay. To avoid ending up in the middle of nowhere and get your vacation destroyed you should be very careful when choosing where to stay. If you want to make sure you get a proper hotel I would recommend the Palau Royal Resort; they are located close to the city senter and have a private beach. If I ever get the chance to come back to Palau I'll most definitely stay there.

The second negative aspect of Palau is that there is not much to do unless you have money to pay for activities and trips (again a good reason to choose a hotel with a good locations and activities available on the hotel's grounds). There are some tour operators offering to take you along on great trips around Palau, which of course is nice if you don't mind spending around 100 dollars a day for such trips. It is not the best place to be a poor student like we were..

You could of course also rent a car and travel around (which isn't that cheap either), but if you stay in Koror you might just find yourself stuck at Cafe Berry due to lack of things to do. Free wifi is rare in Palau and Cafe Berry is one of the few cafes that offers free wifi along with your order. The password is changed every day, but is always something from their menu (at least during our week here) and included words like cappuccino and americano. Be aware that both locals and tourists alike come here just to use the wifi, and the Internet is often reaaally slow.

As for nightlife; Palau has strict rules about how late you are allowed to stay out, and most places close really early. We celebrated New Years in Palau, and this was the only day of the year where the bars were allowed to stay open until midnight. It actually turned out to be an awesome and very memorable New Year's celebration which deserves a separate post.. For now however, just keep in mind that Palau probably isn't your #1 partying destination for most of the year.

If you can ignore the negative aspects mentioned above (in other words: if you're not a backpacker on a tight budget like I was) then Palau will be a great destination for you. Palau is known as a mecca when it comes to diving, and we had an awesome dive trip to the Turtle Wall. I'm sure that people who visit mainly for the diving opportunities (and stay at a proper hotel) won't be disappointed.

Anyway, the rest of my posts about Palau can be found below! Although this post might seem a bit negative we did have a lot of fun during our stay, which I hope has been reflected in my other posts.



Related blogposts


Recommended Hotels in Palau


Palau Royal Resort by Nikko Hotels

Airai Water Paradise Hotel & Spa

DW 
Motel

Lighthouse 
Hotel

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Palau: A visit to the Battlefield of Pelileu Island

12:04:00 AM
Pelileu is a peaceful island southwest of Koror with around 700 inhabitants. It is hard to believe that this green and lush island was the site of one of the most fierce battles between U.S. and Japanese forces during World War II. The Battle of Pelileu took place between September and November 1944. Apparently the American commander of the 1st Marine Division had predicted that the battle would be over within four days, but instead it lasted almost three months (check out this page for more information about the battle).
One entrance to the 1,000 man cave
One reason why the war lasted much longer than anticipated, was that the Japanese forces had created a complex cave system inside a mountain known as Umurbrogol. A network of caves and tunnels enabled Japanese forces to stay hidden and strike back against the U.S. attack. But the Americans had superior technology, and the Japanese were ultimately hopeless against U.S. forces.
The 1,000 man cave
After the war the whole island has become known as the Pelileu Battlefield, and has been designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Because of this, one can still see traces of the war here and there on the island. It is illegal to bring any of the artifacts with you, so even empty bottles left by the Japanese soldiers can still be seen in the caves. Although the bottles are from the Japanese brewery Kirin, our guide told us that the soldiers only used them to carry water.
Kirin bottles left in the cave
Inside one of the caves
This cave is known as the "1,000 Man Cave", apparently because a thousand men were killed inside it. It's quite horrible to think about the terrible events that have taken place here.
Another entrance to the cave

Hidden hideout
I went with a Japanese group, and we also visited some of the memorials on the island made to honor the more than 12,000 soldiers who fell on the island. Luckily my Japanese good enough that I understand most of what was said, but it does happen also that I must ask my boyfriend to explain some details too.
Visiting a memorial stone at the local graveyard
We also visited the Pelileu World War II Memorial Museum, which is situated in a building that was used by the Japanese as a storage bunker during the war. The museum contains many artifacts from the war, both from the American and the Japanese troops.
The Peleliu World War II Memorial Museum
An old Japanese flag in the museum
A missile outside the museum
The Japanese Headquarters has been overtaken by nature
The main hall of the Japanese Headquarters
The building is still relatively intact despite the damages caused by the American attack and the many years that have passed by.
The power of nature
Leaves
There are also a large number of tanks left on the island. This is the pictures of a Japanese tanks:
A Japanese tanks
Closeup of the tanks

A plane in the middle of the forest

Hidden war machinery
A shrine that was erected by the Japanese some years ago. Apparently there are some controversies surrounding the shrine, as it was founded by some right-winged organizations.
A memorial stone

Another memorial stone for fallen Japanese soldiers
It was pretty surreal to walk through a landscape where thousands of people had to pay with their life during the war. Young men in their prime who never got to return to their families. I hope we have learned enough from the past to avoid another war like this in the future..

Leaving Pelileu

Related blogposts


Recommended Hotels in Palau


Palau Royal Resort by Nikko Hotels

Airai Water Paradise Hotel & Spa

DW 
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Lighthouse 
Hotel

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Diving in Palau - The Turtle Wall

4:56:00 PM

In addition to beautiful sights like the Jellyfish lake and the Milky Way it is also worth checking out some of the great diving opportunities Palau has to offer. Yuma and I ended up taking only a day trip this time, which was not enough to see all of the most interesting diving spots in the area but still a nice experience. 
Exploring the underwater world in Palau

If we ever come back to Palau would be cool to go diving at the places where one can see the remains of shipwrecks etc. There was unfortunately no opportunity this time, but we did see some other amazing things though.
Hi there ;)

Into the unknown
We visited a place that was known as the "Turtle Wall", which apparently is supposed to be good for novice divers like us. And the name did not disappoint: we saw quite a large number of turtles down there.! The largest of them was resting on a projection of the rock wall with a pair of fisherman on the back. I never thought we were going to see such a big turtle! The water was very clear and visibility was good so we could also see some small sharks swimming around in the distance.

Discovered a huge turtle!
I'm not really touching the turtle. But this illustrates how close we got to it..
Look at this beauty (and her/his two friends^^)! 
Huge turtle swimming by
The tour was carried out by the company Fish 'n Fins. They are one of the major diving companies operating in Palau. Although the trip itself went smoothly, I was quite annoyed by the fact that they demanded additional 10 dollars per person when we wanted to pay by credit card. It would have been fair enough paying 10 dollars per person if we paid each of us, but when we pay the bill together they should not take double payment (20 dollars) for a transaction that is only carried out once.. I would probably have written a better review if it had not been for this incidence. Although the extra 10 dollars is not much to nag about we did feel like they were using a rather cheap method to gain as much cash as possible from their visitors.

Boat arriving at the doc
The Fish 'n Fins Scuba Dive Center
Having lunch at the Fish 'n Fins Scuba Dive Center
Anyway, the dive in itself was a nice experience. There is not that much to do in Palau besides the activities offered by the various travel companies on the island, so trips like this one are definitely necessary if you want to get something out of your stay in Palau.!


Related blogposts


Recommended Hotels in Palau


Palau Royal Resort by Nikko Hotels

Airai Water Paradise Hotel & Spa

DW 
Motel

Lighthouse 
Hotel

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sightseeing in Palau: The Jellyfish Lake

2:38:00 PM

The so-called Jellyfish Lake is located on one of the 445 islands that together make up the Rock Islands. What is special about this lake is that it is filled with jellyfish that do not stick when you touch them. The reason for this is that the jellyfish that live in this lake do not have any natural enemies, and over time the jellyfish in this lake have evolved to become less and less toxic.

Pretty jellyfish^^
This lake was one of the places we had decided that we simply had to pay a visit to during our stay in Palau. As I already mentioned in my last blog post, we visited the Jellyfish Lake as part of a trip to Rock Islands. We visited some really unique places on the trip, but this was the part we had looked most forward to in advance.
They're everywhere!
The jellyfish looks almost like a flower
Jellyfish
A large number tourists pay the lake a visit throughout the year, and the jellyfish are easily injured by people who aren't careful enough while in the water. We were therefore asked to wear life jackets, and to be extra careful when swimming in the area that had the greatest concentration of jellyfish.

The jellyfish can easily get injured by our fins. Better be careful
Wearing life jackets in water makes us less mobile, but it can decrease the number of injured jellyfish

The jellyfish do not sting notably even when touching their tentacles
Our guide was the only person in our group who swam without a life jacket. He got us some great pictures facing up towards the surface.
Our guide dived down and took a picture of us from below
The color of the jellyfish look different from below..
After the trip to the Jellyfish Lake we also went snorkling in the ocean, but I have decided to omit that part from my blog for now. I'll be back with a couple of posts about our other adventures in Palau, which includes a diving trip and a visit to the Pelileu Island where American and Japanese forces fought in WW2.

The entrance to the Jellyfish Lake
There are a couple of companies offering trips to Palau's most characteristic sightseeing spots, but Impac was the only one we found that offered a fairly cheap trip including both the Milkey Way and the Jellyfish Lake in one go. In addition to the Milky Way and the Jellyfish Lake our trip also included kayaking and snorkeling, and the price was USD 100 pr. person (additionally you have to pay a 120 dollar conservation fee to visit the Rock Islands + the Jellyfish Lake).


Related blogposts


Recommended Hotels in Palau


Palau Royal Resort by Nikko Hotels

Airai Water Paradise Hotel & Spa

DW 
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Lighthouse 
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About Me

Adventures ofAnette


A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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