Called to Serve

We have loved traveling and being with family for the past two years but we felt the call to serve another mission so here we are in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the next year.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Survivor Palau

Palau was the last of our island tours. You may remember that Survivor took place in Palau several years ago. When we arrived I thought, okay, where did they film? This is the most advanced island of any that we had seen. They have good roads, stores, traffic lights, etc. Their airport actually looked like an airport with walls and air conditioning. We arrived late at night and so we really did not see much until the next day but even in the dark we knew that Palau was different.

Palau is made up of 343 islands. The area where most of the population is is Koror. This is where we stayed. The airport is located on the largest island, Babeldaob. This is the second largest island in Micronesia, only Guam is bigger, yet it is mainly unpopulated. They moved the capital to this island several years ago with the idea that developement would follow, but it did not.

We stayed in the Palasia Hotel, beautiful inside and out. When we went to breakfast the next morning we realized that they probably do business with mostly Asians. The breakfast buffet was full of Asian dishes. As we sat waiting for the Hansens to pick us up we watched all the Japanese tourists leaving on their tours.

View from our balcony. No matter which direction we looked the view was gorgeous.

Our purpose for these trips was to inspect missionary apartments and cars. This picture shows the apartment complex of one set of Elders and the Senior Missionaries. The Elders live on the first floor and the Seniors live on the second. I have to say I was totally jealous of Elder and Sister Hansens apartment. The entire end over the carport is their covered patio.

It has a ceiling fan and lights and a beautiful tile floor. I sat out there one evening just loving the sounds. They have jungle behind them and there were BIRDS. That is something we do not hear in Guam. The inside of the apartment is nice but it is the patio that makes it so wonderful.

This is the apartment complex where the other set of Elders lives. Which would you rather live in?

After inspecting the apartments and cars we had the afternoon to explore. We headed over the Japan-Palau Friendship bridge to the big island of Babeldaob.

We saw a lot of beautiful scenery but our goal was to hike to a waterfall on the northern end of the island. We finally found the place but when the lady who collects the money from those hiking down to the waterfall saw us she questioned if we actually were planning on going down. When we said yes she informed us that there was a river that had to be forded and it was at least knee deep. I think that our missionary attire threw her off. Well with that information and considering that it had been raining pretty hard we decided not to go. She did say that we could hike down a short way where we could see the waterfall from afar and she would not charge us.

These pictures are from the trail down. There were remains of a narrow guage railroad that the Japanese had used to get bauxite.

They supplied walking sticks at the beginning of the trail and so of course Elder Clarke took two.

Look hard and you can see the waterfall. This was taken with the lens zoomed way in.

We enjoyed several other spots on Babeldaob and then stopped at the Capitol building. It was quite a sight to see. The area around it is absolutely beautiful and I do not understand why their efforts to develop this island have not been successful.

Wayne went walking in the morning and took his camera along with him. He took too many pictures to post but I will put some of the more interesting shots in Koror. This first one shows what good stores there are. The best part was that they were neat and clean.

This is an example of the Man Houses on Palau. They are a lot more decorative than those we saw in Yap. These were probably not as old and used lumber in the construction so they had surfaces on which they could do the paintings.

The Elders in Guam told us that we HAD to get hamburgers from this little trailer so that is where we headed for lunch.

This statue is in front of a cultural/convention center. They also have several really nice museums.

Our second day in Palau was strictly for sightseeing and we had one thing we absolutely had to do. The east side of the giant lagoon created by the barrier reef is riddled with hundreds of tiny umbrella shaped islands called Rock Islands. These islands appear to float on a blue blue lagoon. The Hansens arranged for Eric Carlson, the Elders Quorum president, to take us out on a boat to see the Rock Islands.

Because we were leaving that night and there were a few other things we wanted to see, we told Bro. Carlson that we wanted to go out for just a couple of hours. He had planned on taking us out all day and said what about 3 hours. A 3 hour tour - sounds familiar! We really did need more than 3 hours but we saw some amazing sights in the time that we were with him.

The water was the most magnificent colors of blue.

The islands were made of limestone and the water had undercut them so they did appear to float.

We stopped at one island that had a small sandy beach and had lunch. Bro. Carlson took us trekking through the jungle on this island and we were able to see lots of vegetation and wildlife.

The crabs are coconut crabs and if you look closely you will see a snake in the picture below.

The video shows the type of vegetation we were walking through. I did not really see a trail but Bro. Carlson led us back into an area where there would have been a small native village many years ago. We saw broken shards of pottery that they had used. Ignore the wet pants. I sat on a log that was quite damp. You can also hear those wonderful jungle sounds. It was so cool and I could just imagine what the participants of Survivor Palau had felt like.

In the area of this island we saw all kinds of blue sealife. There were small bright blue fish swimming everywhere and we saw several Pacific Blue Starfish. The picture does not do justice to how pretty they were. It is really kind of hard to see them but you get the idea.

Bro. Carlson wanted to go fishing so bad that he dropped a line in the water as we headed back to Koror. This is the one that got away. The fish had gotten hooked on the side of his head instead of in his mouth and he broke loose just as he was being pulled in.

This is the one that Wayne caught! It was actually the line that got dropped on his side of the boat and he pulled it in until Bro. Carlson took over to haul it into the boat. This was taken in Bro. Carlsons backyard. The bat is his pet fruit bat. It is just a baby and I was surprised at how it looked close up. I never realized how hairy they are.

Brother Carlson really did treat us to an exceptional experience. He is trying to get a tourist business going and we would recommend him to anyone planning a trip to Palau.

When we got back to Koror we spent the rest of the afternoon looking for a story board. This is a craft which we were told the Palauans do best. We were advised to go to the prison gift shop to look because they had the best deals. Not so. The prices there were several hundred dollars. Our dear Brother Carlson gave us the name of a woodcarving shop and we ended up buying ours there. Storyboards are wonderful carvings that have a story to go with the picture. Our story is about birds who carried light to children and others who were in need of it. We have seen several of the boards that missionaries have gotten and we think the workmanship on ours is much better. The carving is deeper, the colors richer and we were really happy to get what we did.

In the process of shopping for story boards we went through one of the museums and we went to Ben Franklins and finally found an ice cream freezer, which we bought and then had to pack in our suit cases!!

We thank the Hansens for giving up so much of their time to show us the island of Palau. It was a wonderful experience and we hate to see an end to our travels in Micronesia.

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