Koror to Cairns, October 2014

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Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:28 am

(This may take a couple of days to get entirely posted as pictures and videos and text all have to be done seperately.) We actually began in Denver, and drove 14 hours to Phoenix (long story involving a shaggy dog and a left Kindle), flew to LA and then had a 7-hour layover. Warning: They don’t let you into the new and beautiful Tom Bradley International Terminal until just a few short hours before your flight. This was a major misery- we had planned a champagne sendoff with caviar. Instead we sat in the midst of bedlam with nothing to eat for hours. And by the time they let us in it was too late to bother and we were grumpy and tired.
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Shaggy dog responsible for 28 hour drive.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by Bill Barilko » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:35 am

Not working no images showing.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:37 am

Bill Barilko wrote:Not working no images showing.


I do't understand tapatalk sometimes. I am working on it- not sure what now but will keep trying. This may take longer than I thought.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:38 am

Dog?
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OK- figured it out. This will be a looooong post.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:40 am

But nevertheless the business class flight on China Airlines to Taiwan was fine- decent food, decent bed, got some sleep, and there we were. Facing another 6-hour layover. But finally arrived in Koror, Palau at dinnertime. Had a car rented so we picked that up- forgetting that I would be driving in a right hand drive car on the right hand side of the road. While exhausted. I surprised myself by getting back into the swing of the driving easily.
Sadly our 6 days in Palau were as Typhoon Fengfong was forming- storms ,wind, and rain for our entire stay. We never even got out onto the water- it was simply too rough. We did take the drive around Balbedaob on the Compact Road, which is now complete. Stopped in Meleok, the actual capital of Palau . Looks much better now that it is complete- they have done some nice decorating of the buildings which makes them look less like the capital in Washington. We followed the signs from the main road and ended up on the old road- it served as a nice reminder of how terrible it used to be- an unpaved, rutted, muddy (did I mention that it was raining?) trek through the jungle.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:43 am

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A WWII Japanese float plane garage now used as a dive shop.

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Capitol of Palau in Melekeok- from a distance it does look just like Washington USA if you dropped Washington into a jungle.
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Out our hotel window.

For wonderful pictures of Palau look at the ones posted in Palau.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:47 am

Beyond that we mostly hung out with old friends and ate- but no fish other than tuna since the fishermen don’t go out in rough weather. One restaurant, Elilai, did search around and find me an Um (unicorn fish), which was good. Otherwise- frozen Atlantic Salmon anyone?
Elilai is a wonderful restaurant that I would highly recommend if you get to Palau. Lovely setting high on a hillout looking back over the lights of Koror. Great food, and a wonderful Palauan musician. Wish I had thought to do a video of his singing- it was lovely and quite unlike most Palauan music.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:48 am

Lovely Palauan singer and sorry I didn't think to do a video
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:50 am

So finally the day came when we were to board. As we waited around our hotel we met two women who were also passengers. Who’s luggage had gone astray with ALL of their tropical clothing. They had what they were wearing and their winter return home clothes in their carryon. (Note to self- pack enough to live on in your carryon at all times- never mind homeward bound stuff. That you can buy.) Since I knew the plane schedules and where we were going I pointed out to them that they were screwed- there was no way they were going to get their luggage before they got home. So we went shopping. Palau is not noted for its extensive ladies clothes shopping so I took them to the one place where they stood a chance and for an hour tossed clothing that might work into them in the dressing room. Not even knowing their names I was asking polite questions like- Uh- what size bras do you both wear? Panties? We were able to get them outfitted, sort of anyway, and then back to the ship on time.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:51 am

I had guests coming for lunch aboard- a friend and her 3-½ year old grandson. That raised a number of eyebrows – the ship was definitely NOT ready for a 3 year old. But soon they were gone and we began to settle in with our opening glass of champagne. First of many. It flows very freely and also free onboard. If all else fails- have some champagne seemed to be the answer. Don’t want a drink? Well, at least have some champagne. I did get rather used to it.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:53 am

Our home for the month- The Silversea Discoverer

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For those who will ask

• Officers: international
• Guests: 120
• Tonnage: 5,218
• Length: 338 Feet/102.9 metres
• Width: 51 Feet/15.4 metres
• Speed: 14 Knots
• Passenger Decks: 5
• Refurbished: 2014

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:54 am

We sailed off for some of the outer islands of Yap in rather rough seas. Too rough to make our first visit- so we had two sea days right off. The second was my traveling companion’s birthday, a total lunar eclipse, and meteor showers. Champagne and caviar in a decorated cabin with our butler and the staff singing Happy Birthday in Hindi and Tagalog. The rest of it- well, it was raining and clouded over of course. And rough. So we had more champagne (you may be sensing a pattern developing).
We were on the 5th deck of 7- passengers on 3-6, an open deck on 7. There were about 63 passengers aboard the first two weeks, and about 93 the second two weeks, with 13 of us carried over- ship carries up to 120. So it was a small ship with no theater, no casino, no ice skating rink, no wall climbing. We did have a small pool that was mostly fun to watch as the water sloshed around and up the walls about 8 feet. Gave us some real idea of just how rough the seas were much of the time. And of course, cases of champagne.
A typical day was a wet zodiac landing (meaning you hopped off into the water rather than docking someplace) on some remote island at about 9am, greetings from the locals- usually a sing-sing (more on those later)- and then a market and chance to wander around and visit. Then back onboard for lunch and perhaps a rest, then either another island or village, or snorkeling off the zodiac. Late afternoon there was a recap of the day’s events, plans laid out for the next day, and several short and sweet lectures on birds or sea life or tropical plants, etc. Cocktails and nibbies during the lectures. Dinner at 7:30, and then usually back to the cabin to read and sleep before starting all over the next day.
Sometimes we would wander up to the front of the ship by the bridge (yes- with another glass of champagne), where it was darkest, to watch the stars (with Céline Dion as the musical accompaniment of course) but too often it was clouded over. Never once got to see the Southern Cross but did see one spectacular shooting star low on the horizon one night.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:56 am

A lovely birthday despite missing a total eclipse and the meteor shower

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:58 am

We missed our first islands, Ngulu Atoll, because of the rough seas so sailed on to Ifalik Island, one of the main outer islands of Yap, the most westerly state of the Federated States of Micronesia. Here we sat and had a lovely chat with the chiefs from the island. Who had gone to university in Madison Wisconsin. So much for isolated islanders.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:01 am

Chief and graduate of U in Madison
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Local child
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:03 am

Welcoming dancers

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:03 am




Our next stop was in Satawal, the easternmost island of Yap. Satawal is best known for its preservation of traditional navigational techniques without the use of instruments. There is a documentary and book about the island’s best-known navigator- Mau Piaikug, who died several years ago,”The Last Navigator”. However since there is now a small school which is continuing the tradition, he really can’t be called the last navigator any longer. The first Master Navigators were inducted into Pwo after 56 years in 2007- 5 native Hawaiians and 11 others, primarily from Satawal and surrounding islands.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:10 am

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Satawalan

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Traditional boat
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Hoisting the sails
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:12 am

Next stop was Chuuk where we spent a day and a half because our supplies had not come in- Typhoon Fengfong strikes again. Nothing really to do in Chuuk if you aren’t diving in Truk Lagoon, which some were. We overnighted there- the only island in our journey that I would not have gone onshore to hang out in the evening. Oh well- lots ahead.



Dancers in Pulap, Chuuk. The day was very very wet- we got on island just as the skies opened. But the dancers had a very good time.

We then headed over to Pohnpei and Nan Madol, a ruined city on the eastern shore of Pohnpei and one of the few archeological sites in Micronesia. We took a bus over which was too bad since you can also get there by a boat trip through the mangroves- a lovely afternoon trip ending up in a lagoon filled with hundreds of sting rays who slap their stingers around when disturbed. It was a rainy day, and since I had been to Nan Madol numerous times when I lived in Pohnpei, I mostly wandered about instead of touring the site. But I did get to see my old house from the road- my excitement for the day.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:14 am

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Nan madol
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:23 am

Nukuoro
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Next stop was Nukuoro Atoll, a remote municipality of Pohnpei. No airstrips, no regular boat service. There I had the chance to meet the family of my former helper- sadly Namiko had died a couple of years back. But her family toured me around and fed me. It was great to have local connections. Nukuoroans are actually Polynesian rather than Micronesian and the islands is well kept and very pretty.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:27 am

And finally in Micronesia, Kapingamarangi Atoll, another island I had visited when I worked in Micronesia. I had attended a double wedding there many years back- in wet shorts, sandy feet, and dripping hair. I had some pictures I had taken of the wedding (the only ones of the event) so I had to find the couples. One groom had died, and his bride was now working in California. The other couple were still on island. He was very shy and spoke limited English, she was a 3rd grade teacher who was completely astonished when I turned up in her classroom with her wedding pictures. He was particularly amazed to find himself well known by the visitors from the ship (only the 2nd or 3rd cruise ship that had ever visited). Also met several families whose members I had treated when I was there years ago. Nice to be remembered.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:28 am

After leaving Kapinga we sailed due south and crossed the equator headed for the Solomon Islands. At that point in the trip I was in entirely new territory, leaving Micronesia. We first stopped on Kennedy Island, best know for being the place where JF Kennedy had been with his injured crew during WWII. They were a fierce group on this island and their “welcoming” dances could easily have been war dances- a bit intimidating in fact. The video was the most welcoming one of the bunch- they are chanting “One for me, one for the planet”- whatever they meant by that.



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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:32 am

Kennedy Island
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:36 am

WWII Guadalcanal Images- memorial, major battle field, tank
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:40 am

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World Discoverer

Next up were Roderick Bay and Mbike Island. Here lies the World Discoverer, which went down after hitting an uncharted reef in 2000. Several of our expedition crew on the Silversea Discoverer had been aboard the World Discoverer when it went down, and this was their first visit back. Several of the guests had also been aboard the ship on the cruise just prior to its final voyage. So there were lots of stories about the ship and the sinking. Happily it went down about 30 foot from shore so nobody was lost. But it is so far from anyplace that nobody intends to move it so it sits there slowly rotting with the jungle growing on its decks. Sadly, it also has fuel onboard so someday it will become an environmental disaster. Lovely snorkeling in the area and around this ship.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:43 am

First half of the trip now posted- will try to get the second, and more interesting half posted tomorrow.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by incognita » Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:41 pm

Everything works for me. This is great, thanks for posting.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Mon Mar 02, 2015 5:54 pm

From here things begin to get a bit more exotic as we head into Papua New Guinea. We sailed west along the northern islands, turned into the main island by the Sepik River, then back east.

Our first stop was on Njari Island (no pictures), which is supposed to have the highest fish diversity in the world- 279 fish species. We spent the day snorkeling off the island. The ship had set up a bar on the tiny island and brought in a local dance team to amuse us. You had to stay downwind of them however since apparently they do not like bathing in the sea- or anyplace else.

As we sailed into Rabaul, our next stop, we watched Tavurvur Volcano sending off puffs of smoke. It had erupted rather significantly several weeks before we arrived and it was a bit unclear as to whether or not it was going to blow again. But nothing while we were there- good since not that long ago it had destroyed much of Rabaul. The lava fields are still quite prominent.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Mon Mar 02, 2015 5:58 pm

But our first views of the island itself were in the backcountry where we attended a Baining Fire Dance. By the time we arrived it was dark so it was all very mysterious. Dancers (men we were told) finally came out in huge Tuk Tuk masks, and danced around the fire with live cobras (I think they were cobras). They danced into and out of the fire for hours- all the while singing trance inducing chants. After the dancing (which we did not see to the end) the men would go off to a sacred place and eat the snakes. We were a small group of tourists in a large group of locals.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:09 pm

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Queen Emma- an American Samoan who introduced the copra trade in Rabaul and was the belle of Rabaul for quite a while

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Remains of WWII

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A tunnel built by prisoners for the Japanese to get supplies from town to the sea
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by Bill Barilko » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:10 pm

You had to stay downwind of them however since apparently they do not like bathing in the sea- or anyplace else.

You must mean upwind one must be upwind to avoid strong smells.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:12 pm

Bill Barilko wrote:
You had to stay downwind of them however since apparently they do not like bathing in the sea- or anyplace else.

You must mean upwind one must be upwind to avoid strong smells.



Yes- that was actually what I meant.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:20 pm

Next stop was Tatau Island, best know for the practice of Malagan , a traditional rite where sacred masks are made and honored. They are kept out of sight until the ceremonies when they are revealed to the villagers. Wished I had been able to understand what they were shouting at the masks. After the ceremonies we were allowed to buy the masks, so I did get one.






I should mention that at each stop there were markets that had been set up largely for our group of visitors. This was one of the few opportunities that the villagers had for making some money and so we were encouraged to buy souvenirs. In most of the places, the opportunities were very rare- on some of the islands they had perhaps 2 groups of visitors a year- on some of them it was years between groups with perhaps a couple of individuals visiting over the course of a year.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:28 pm

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Warriors after the masks were revealed
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The masks were carefully hidden from view before the magic moment
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:37 pm

From Tatau we were off to Murik Lake, the Sepik River, and Kopar Village, near where Michael Rockefeller died. And according to some reports was eaten. Although our anthropologist, who had lived there for many years now, says it is not likely that he was eaten. And the recent book about it certainly left it up in the air (Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman).

Karau Village

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:48 pm

Village finery and my favorite mask which was a bit out my my price range
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:55 pm

Kopar Village Spirit Dance which looked an awful lot like the Chinese Dragon Dances



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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:23 pm

to be continued

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by andybox » Tue Mar 03, 2015 1:17 am

Amazing thanks Waldos.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:38 am

Two more villagers and the coolest kid we met- 2 1/2 years old and an amazing soccer player. Sweet and charming and everyone wanted to take him home.
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:49 am

And yet a few more villagers from another village-they were all so amazing it is hard to select pictures!
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:53 am

On to Mandang which by standards of our past days was highly civilized- a real town. Here was a center for the coast watchers during WWII, and a memorial. The coast watchers were groups of locals often led by an expat who kept track of Japanese activity during the war and reported it to the troops. Currently there is a new hotel being built across the road from the memorial- by the Japanese and to be called The Rising Sun. Rather distasteful.

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At every port we had these guys come up to the ship- he wanted my sunscreen. I agreed to trade him for his boat. We didn't come to an agreement.

Below is the coast watchers memorial and a local village.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:10 am

More near Mandang

Welcoming sing-sing



All local groups gather- quite an amazing collection of people


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5waldos
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:14 am

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by Total Reject » Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:00 pm

That was quite a bit of ground you covered! Interesting photos and videos. Kapingamarangi and Nukuoro are a couple places that I've read about and always wanted to visit. The government buildings in Melekeok are impressive, those must be new.

How long was this trip?

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judik
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by judik » Tue Mar 03, 2015 4:26 pm

Wonderful,thanks for posting
That took a lot of time and I appreciate it
You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

Winston Churchill

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:52 pm

Thanks and still have a few more days to post, including my most favorite photo. Which I promise myself to get done today. And yes, it is very tedious to post. But it has been nice to relive some of it, and good to get things in order.

The Koror to Cairns was 28 days and we were in Palau for about a week prior to sailing. Not the months and months that many here travel but it was time to come home by the time we left Australia.

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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:37 pm

On Tufi Island we were greeted by warriors having a go at us with sharp spears as we got out of the zodiacs. Although this was just for show it was not long ago that it would have been a very real attack on anyone arriving on shore. And it was a bit intimidating even though we knew we were safe.

And this was my favorite picture- an attempt at a selfie
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Re: Koror to Cairns, October 2014

Post by 5waldos » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:41 pm

Typical market

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Island had been cleaned and decorated for our visit

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Village warriors
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