The infinity pool

Palau Pacific Resort (PPR), Palau—February, 2012

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Check into PPR (Sunday, 2012-02-12)

We checked out of the Aggressor and were driven to the Palau Pacific Resort (PPR). Our room wasn't going to be ready until 3 so we hung out by the pool with Ron, Bobby, Wendy, and Gary. Even though we were in the shade, we got sunburnt from the reflection in the pool. To cool off, I swam in the ocean.

On the way to dinner, we watched the filming of a Travel Channel show called Sand Masters, which involved building a large and intricate sand structure that honored the Palau Shark Sanctuary. Attending were the President of Palau and the American ambassador, and Rene, the owner of a local restaurant we frequented called Kramer's, who had baked a shark cake for the ceremony.

We had dinner with the gang at the Coconut Terrace (PPR's restaurant) complete with a floor show of younger and older girls dancing what looks similar to a hula.

Japanese Seaplane Base and Sunset Hut (Monday, 2012-02-13)

Nature Hike (Tuesday, 2012-02-14)

Snorkeled in the afternoon. Pretty decent house reef. Lots of hard corals, some fantastic staghorn corals. Some large clams (almost 1 meter across) and lots of smaller clams. Lots of fish. Also saw a crown of thorns star fish. Are they invasive here?

Rain (Wednesday, 2012-02-15)

Worked on photos all day while Lori read on the patio to stay out of the frequent and heavy rain showers. I got the Palaun buffet. I chatted with one of the chefs who said that if they served real Palauan food, the guests would go running.

Sun (Thursday, 2012-02-16)

Lori took advantage of the sunny weather today to read on the beach while I continued to work on the dive photos. Then we snorkeled and attended a wedding on the beach. It was the first and probably the last time that Lori attended a wedding in a bathing suit. We had dinner at the nice Meduu Ribtal restaurant at the PPR for a change.

Babeldaob Tour (Friday, 2012-02-17)

We rented a car today from ARJ for $35 (plus $10 insurance), cash. First time I ever paid cash for a rental car. First time the rental car was delivered to our door too. Great deal. Our mission for our last day was to drive around the island and take in a few of the attractions including the Ngardmau Waterfall and the capitol building.

Although the cars drive on the right, and traffic signs are still in MPH, standard Japanese cars are imported to Palau, which means that the steering wheel is on the right and the speedometers show km/h. Stranger still is that there are a few American cars on the island as well to produce a dissonant collection of steering wheel styles.

The hike to the waterfalls involves a treacherously slippery stretch down the riverbed. Those prone to clutziness should take the monorail. It was very hot and humid. Each of us had drank nearly a liter of water on the so-called "20-minute hike." The waterfalls cascaded over an impossibly large, balanced, bulbous rock.

The capitol building looked huge from afar. Strangely, it didn't look so large close up. Impressive building. It seemed a bit out of scale for the island though. Palau has the same population as Menlo Park, yet we don't have such a large government building. Then again, Menlo Park isn't a country. Oh, and we just walked right in to view the rotunda from the inside. No security. That was in stark contrast to the American embassy down the road that was surrounded by an iron gate, a guarded entrance with double iron gates, and No Photographs and Positive Photo ID signs all over the place. It was the only such building on the island displaying such theater. Sad.

We visited the Airai Bai, Palau's oldest standing meeting house, where rival tribes would meet to settle their differences.

Earlier in the morning, we noticed that a German cruise ship had anchored in front of the hotel. By the time we got back to the hotel, the hotel, which had been surprisingly quiet all week, was completely mobbed. The regular restaurant and patio tables were all reserved by the Germans so we had dinner at the Meduu Ribtal restaurant again.

Then we settled up with the hotel, packed, and set our alarms for 00:10. Sigh. It had been another great vacation!

Homeward Bound (Saturday, 2012-02-18)

We drove to the airport (at 12:30 in the morning!) without incident, but our plane arrived late, which put our flight into Guam too late to catch the transfer to Honolulu. After much confusion, the United ticket agent put us on a Delta plane in business class to Narita, and gave us a voucher to the first class lounge. From Tokyo, we flew directly to San Francisco and arrived home just three hours later than our original scheduled called for.

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