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9 years since Micronesian Odyssey

This month marks the 9th anniversary of my escape to the mid-northern-Pacific Micronesian islands.  I picked up a cheap ticket on Air Nauru, and took a 10 day trip to the islands of Guam, Rota (Northern Mariana Islands), Pohnpei (Federated States of Micronesia), with a 12 hour stopover on Nauru each way.

This trip is one that I’ll remember for being off-the-beaten-track, and a bit of a personal adventure.  In 1999, the notoriety of the Pacific Solution on Nauru was still years away.  Global warming wasn’t a household issue, and I don’t remember thinking at the time about whether or not these islands would sink.

Anibare Bay, Nauru

On Nauru, my tour of the entire country took only a few hours.  The centre of the island had been denuded from phosphate mining, and I seem to recall that the Menen Hotel had run out of orange juice and served warm beer.

On Guam, I drove around the island in a rental car visiting the remnants of Spanish colonial history, ate at cheesy US fast food chains, and went for a swim at Tumon Bay.

From Guam, I booked a flight to Rota, the nearest of the Northern Mariana Islands.  It was a 30 minute flight on a 30 seater plane, which crossed another frontier and earned another stamp in my passport.  I stayed in Songsong village, and was waved at by every driver on the road going the other way.  I remember the rugged cliffs along one side of the island, and the nice beach, fringed with stereotypical coconut trees, on the other.

On top of Sokehs Rock, Pohnpei

The last stop, and the most exotic, was Pohnpei.  I remember the boat ride in Pohnpei out to the edge of the lagoon (where the outboard engine conked out) and around the island to Nan Madol, a mysterious ancient Micronesian ruin.  I climbed Sokehs Rock overlooking the harbour, with a couple of local kids as my track guides.  Since I was the one with the rental car, I was the one who was the designated driver one afternoon to take home from the hotel an old dosser who had drunk too much sakau and was under the influence – he lived on the other side of the island.  That night, I got to try out sakau for myself, sitting on the back ledge of a Tarago van with Yalmer, the man who owned my hotel.  We drove down to the causeway along the harbour, and watched the stars out the back of the van.

All this was done by Air Nauru’s only plane, before its route network was stripped right back and its plane was eventually repossessed.  It used to fly from Melbourne once a week to Nauru via Brisbane, and then from Nauru to Pohnpei (capital of the Federated States of Micronesia), Guam and Manila.  Air Nauru has more recently had a new plane provided courtesy of Taiwan’s diplomatic chequebook (Nauru recognises Taiwan and not China), but flies as “Our Airline“.

To mark the ten years passing, I’ve posted some photos on my Facebook page, which are imported into this website.  If you look at the photos, you’ll see that I had hair back then!  The photos are on these pages:

Nauru

Pohnpei

Guam

Rota

In the years since, I’ve been able to see Guam or Rota a few times out the plane window on flights from Australia to Japan, and have reminisced about the trip, and wondered whether I’ll make it back again one day.

The trip also fostered my first website, on which I posted some of the photos.   With a facelift and a new home about a year ago, Micronesian Odyssey lives on.

To finish this post, here are some Google maps of 1) the islets of Nan Madol in Pohnpei, and 2) the Menen Hotel in Nauru.

Nan Madol

Menen Hotel

One Comment

  1. lefobserver says:

    PLEASE
    CAN YOU ENTER IN MY BLOG IN ORDER TO TAKE THE FLAG OF YOUR COUNTRY AND IT IS WRITTEN IN MY MAP OF VISITORS?
    THANK YOU
    lefobserver.blogspot.com

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