Micronesia: Palau: 02-12/07/04: Diving in Palau

As I told in previous message, my liveaboard had been canceled. So, a bit with a sad feeling, I went to Palau. Fish ‘n Fins picked me up at the airport and had foreseen a very nice hotel for me. The next morning, I had a chat with the owners and they apologized for what has happened. But they offered me good compensation: very nice hotel, food and drinks at their restaurant and all the diving by daytrips.

Whenever a dive was done by daytrip, I could join them: so, some days I did 5 dives and some days 2 dives.
I actually met the people that were supposed to be on the Palau Aggressor already on the plane from Guam to Palau. So, they went now all on the Ocean Hunter II.
Diving in Palau means also a lot of current (if no current, no sharks, no action). I have done already several dives with a lot of current, but most of the times that are drift dives: you let yourself go with the current. in Palau, at several spots, you hook on to the reef with reefhooks connected to your BCD, and you watch the action happening in front of you. The difference now is that you look right in the current. 1 time it was really very strong. It is like standing in a storm with your face towards the wind. If I moved my head, my mask and regulator were almost blown off. Some divers didn’t really had a good time that dive. It was absolutely a new experience for me.
Most of the time, at these spots there are sharks passing by, big schools of fish and occasionally you see them hunting right in front of you.

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Coral wise, I was a bit disappointed : it seems a lot of the coral suffered severe bleaching.

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On the dayboats, they always made sure the surface interval was spent in a special way: sometimes we snorkeled, are I did some skindiving under rocks with some guys from the States and Israel. And for lunch they always dropped us off at some of the Rock Islands with their nice white beaches and lots of green vegetation.

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Palau is also famous for its jellyfishlake: jellyfish that actually don’t sting (they do, but you don’t feel it). thousands of them. You can snorkel in the lake which was absolutely a highlight.

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Palau has suffered severe and bloodie battles during WWII. The americans thought to get the Japanese out in a few days, but it took them several bloody months with a lot of victims. (For what? A tiny little island Peleliu with a beach and a forest!)

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Micronesia: Palau: 02-12/07/04: Am I a danger for the United States?

To fly to Palau, I had to make a stopover in Guam. Guam is a part of the United States, what you immediately notice in the airport.

First, even when you are in transit, everybody has to go through passport check (a very long queue that moves very slowly). I had on my way to and from Palau over 12 hours transit time, so I decided to go out of the airport. On my way back from Palau, I wanted to rent a car but there were no small cars available anymore. So, I took a taxi and the tourist bus to the tourist area. I rested a bit at the swimming pool of some of the luxury hotels (I’ve done this already often: you just walk in and act confident as if you are a customer in the hotel). Guams’ main tourists are Japanese, Koreans and Taiwanese. All tourist brochures, signs, … are in these languages: not easy to understand for me. And what do they mainly do: go shopping. That is also what the tourist bus does: it drives between the hotels and all the shopping malls.
Back at the airport I knew already I would get a serious security check again. On my boarding pass are the letters SSSS which means I have to be checked out more thoroughly than others. I seem to get this everytime when I am at USA territory. I asked why, because it is not anymore a random check as they explaned me first. It seems to be linked to my name in the system. No idea what I have done to get this special threatment.

Micronesia: Another liveaboard canceled

I seem to have really bad luck with booking liveaboards. Although in Indonesia it turned out really well, I am very unhappy with what happens now. The travel agency informed me that the liveaboard which I booked already in February, has been canceled.

Fish ‘n Fins told that another liveaboard, the Palau Agressor, has been hit by a cargo boat, so they had to transfer these people to other boats, and therefore, the Ocean Hunter has been used. I have booked the Ocean Hunter, but this can’t now be used for that trip. Untill now, I couldn’t find anything about this on the internet. I hope it is the true story and it is not just all about money and another group chartering the boat.
Anyway, the problem of course is that I have my tickets to Micronesia, which can’t be canceled, so they had to come with an alternative. They would refund my boattrip and offer me a hotel and diving. The only reason I go to Micronesia (Palau) is for diving, so I absolutely hope the landbased dives are also good. The boat-based diving was supposed to be the highlight of my trip: I hope the landbased diving can give me this as well. Let’s wait and see!! I am a bit disappointed but still, it should be paradise!
The other worrying thing: I read in the newspaper about a typhoon-warning for Guam (another island of Micronesia where I have to change flights).