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Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Federated States of Micronesia Flag FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA: Pohnpei


April 1. KOLONIA Finally a real day in Pohnpei!  The Chinese Embassy did open and took our application for a 90 day visa without any questions.  They said it should be done in a few days and to come back on Friday.  We were a bit suspicious about everything seeming to go so smoothly after our conversation the previous day and just hoped for the best.  With the news reports on the increasing number of pneumonia cases in China we kept telling ourselves that we could live with skipping China if we had to anyway.

Kolonia was showing more life after a long weekend.  We looked into getting our license plate from Pohnpei but the Traffic Department was flooded with people on the first day of the month so we decided to pursue that another day.  The weather had been pretty clear since we arrived in Pohnpei which was a nice change from the torrential downpour of Kosrae but it also meant it was very hot and humid.  We walked down the mainstreet of town checking out potential restaurants, visiting the Tourism Bureau, and going to the Post Office.  In search of a cool refuge we went to the Mobil station in the middle of town.  It had its own Mini Mart that looked just like one from back home – fast food, chips, sodas, slushies, etc.  We sat there for a while with our drinks before deciding that we had to find a restaurant spot before 2pm or not eat until everything opened again at 5pm .

Joy Restaurant was on a side street, connected to the Joy Hotel , a setup that was clearly designed to target the Japanese tourist community.  The little restaurant was mostly Japanese food and the whole style of the place could have come from somewhere in Tokyo , including the chatting Japanese tourists at the next table.  I had the Joy Lunch, a set lunch with fried fish, sushi, salad, rice and miso soup served in a Japanese bento box. 

In the afternoon we took a taxi from our hotel to the Kapingamarangi Village , a community of people that came from Micronesia ’s only Polynesian island of Kapingamarangi.  The island is part of the Pohnpei but the people live a more outdoor lifestyle than their Micronesian counterparts and are responsible for many of the handicrafts that are found in Pohnpei.  We went to explore some of the handicraft shops, mostly wood and ivory nut carvings, woven shell wall hangings and baskets, and some jewelry.  From the village we walked back to the main street in town and back to our hotel. 

April 2. POHNPEI We had reserved a rental car through budget but after we finished our breakfast at the Café Ole we went to Budget to find that they had bungled our reservation.  They were, however, nice enough to call another company and have them bring the car around.  It was a pretty casual arrangement.  They didn’t have any insurance available and didn’t even ask for a credit card or any kind of deposit.  Where could we go with the car on a small island anyway?

We drove counterclockwise around the island and it was really nice to enjoy to lush tropical scenery from an air-conditioned car.  The weather was clear and it was a beautiful day but the clearer the weather the hotter it seemed to get.  The drive was going quickly until we reached about halfway around the island and the well paved road turned to dirt and our progress slowed considerably.

There were little villages dotted all around the island but the housed were mostly tucked away from the road.  The little stores were easy to spot on the highway, selling snacks and daily necessities for the local communities.  As it got closer to noon we started to see droves of young kids walking along the road.  They looked curiously at our car as we drove past but as soon as we smiled and waved they lit up and smiled and waived back.  We stopped for some sodas near a school and I tried to take a photo of a few kids but they were shy and started to run, giggling and looking back. 

We took a detour from the highway up the side of a hill.  The road was paved so we thought it looked promising but it only passed a few homes and ended at someone’s house.  A small school bus was making its way up to drop off a few students.  Most of the people lived on the coast of the island because the weather was cooler but these people had some beautiful views.

About three quarters of the way around the island we found the ruins of Nan Madol.  They weren’t even marked off of the highway so we passed them and came back.  They stood off of a small island that was connected by a causeway.  On the Pohnpei-side of the causeway there was a small factory making coconut oil products but their little shop was closed during the slow season.

We paid our fees for the ruins at a shop on the road and drove down to the start of the path which led us right through someone’s front yard.  There was a well-maintained pathway through the ruins but much of the area was overgrown.  The path made of coral and basalt rocks was just at water level in some areas and the tide was coming in so they gradually submerged.  It was a very peaceful place and we were the only ones on the trail.  Mudskippers occasionally skipped across the top of the water like small rocks. 

The trail wound around and across the channels between the ruins until we arrived at the end of the trail and were facing the spectacular Nan Dawas, the most well preserved part of the complex with high walls intact and very little growth.  The ocean rolled in behind the ruins but inside Nan Madol it was calm.  A party of kayakers was setting off from Nan Dawas.  That was clearly the better way to go since there was no way for us to get to Nan Dawas at high tide from the end of the trail.  They were from the Village hotel, our last planned stop for the day.

We discussed stopping at one of the waterfalls but it was getting late in the day and the heat was stifling so we drove on.  The paved road was definitely the more populated part of the island and we began to pass some more substantial villages as we got closer to Kolonia.  There were simple concrete homes tucked down along the road amongst the mangrove trees which provided a buffer from the ocean waves. 

The Village and the Tattooed Irishman were about five minutes outside Kolonia, overlooking the ocean and Sokehs Island .  The Village was an eco-tourism hotel of 23 traditional thatched bungalows that had been established some 20 years earlier, the predecessor to the Kosrae Village Resort.  The Tattooed Irishman was the hotel’s bar and restaurant, also a thatched building but completely open with an attached gazebo that provided the perfect spot for a sunset drink, which is where we positioned ourselves with some cocktails.

The clear weather made for a beautiful sunset, framed by the island’s mountains and coconut palm trees.   After the sunset we enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Tatooed Irishman, some deliciously fresh sashimi. 

MARSHALL ISLANDS Majuro March 11 March 12 March 13 March 14-15 March 16 Alinglaplap March 17 March 18 March 19 March 20 March 21 March 22 March 23 Majuro March 24

FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA Kosrae March 25-26 March 27-28 Pohnpei March 29-31 April 1-2 April 3-4 April 5-7 Chuuk April 8-9 April 10-11

GUAM April 12-23