Palau , 15-18/12, Darryl.

Lars Alfredson
Mon 28 Dec 2015 03:25

Landing in the comparative order and prosperity of Palau was something of a shock after all the chaos and poverty in Papua New Guinea and the odd mixture of American and Pacific cultures provides just enough remainders of home to make the differences seem even more foreign than they really are. After the administrative formalities of clearing in and the celebratory formalities of a beer in the bar were done with, Jonathan Charlotte and I decided to walk into town only to discover that Palau has adopted one of the more unfortunate aspects of American culture in building its towns (or town singular in Palau's case) stretched out along a single road that is hemmed in by large parking lots. This makes walking anywhere a trial and explains why everyone in Palau has a car, when we commented to a Palaun that there were lots of cars in his country he said "not so many cars, but only one road". We did eventually reach what could generously be called downtown Koror and after asking a few people for directions found a coffee and donut shop, creativly named Coffe and Donut another adopted aspect of America in the remote Pacific but a rather more welcome one. After waiting out a rainstorm in its cozy confines and more donuts than can possibly be good for me we began the long walk home eating optimisitcally stating that the walk would burn off the calories of the donuts, at about that moment an employee from the yacht club pulled up and asked if we would like a ride, looks like we'll have to work off the donuts some other way.

The next day we repeated the trek into town with Lars and Kenneth in tow, I think they mostly thought we had been whinging about walking so far the previous day until it took us about 20 minutes to get to the visitor centre at which point we told them we were half way there. Lars' reaction to this was to find a bar and have a beer which did not really help the problem but certainly made us feel better about it. During our much deserved break the heavens opened up and we had the most steady rain I had seen in some time. Everyone else had brought an umbrella but i had declared myself an optimist and enjoyed the walk to that point unencumbered. This turned out to be a mistake and I arrived utterly sodden. After touring all of the shops in town, a necesarry ritual of which value I am uncertain, we opted for the five dollar cab ride back as opposed to the long walk in the rain and felt that, having made it back to Sam's one way or another quite deserved a beer.

Having fairly exhausted ourselves we put off the rest of out chores until the next day and not particularly wanting to repeat the trek of the previouds day we set off first to do things within walking distance of Sam's first we went to the Ranger's office to secure a cruising permit for Koror as you need a permit for everything in Palau and they all cost $50, naturally we needed the customs paperwork to acquire this paperwork and so had to go back to the boat to get it. The administation out of the way we returned to more pertinent matters and came as we always seem to, to beer. We found the Red Rooster brewery after asking for directions only three times (perhaps a new record) and there quickly arranged to have several flats of beer delivered to the jetty that afternoon, I rather wish that it had taken a bit longer as standing in the cold storage room of the brewery was a nice treat after walking the blisteringly hot streets.

That most important task done with we avoided the long haul into town with a luckily flagged taxi and secured the more mundane supplies for our trip to the Rock Islands. Loading our goods into yet another taxi we made it back to Sam's and decided once again that we had earned a beer. One beer led smoothly into another until it was time to head over to Kramer's an expat hangout where two of the employees from Sam's were playing live music that night. Torsten and Alii were great and it was a nice bit of social frivolity that had been missing from PNG.

In the morning we planned for a brief stop into shore for some last minute internet and then to head out to Ulang island having finally completed all the administrative hurdles necesarry to visit the rock islands. The internet was more brief for some than others and it was only when Kenneth, Lars and I had pulled anchor and were motoring out of the harbour that Jonathan and Charlotta finished with their phones jumped in the dinghy and caught us up.


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