Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year from Palau

Frst of all, we like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. It's been a great 2012 for us and we hope for an equally great 2013.

We're enjoying hanging out here in Palau, just see how the time has flown since our last post! The yacht club (a busy dive centre/bar/cafe) at Sam's Tour has fabulous free showers, warm even, in case you're not warm enough in 30 degrees... We don't even shower there every day, as we do go for dips off Sophia and feel clean enough that way, and I think we're just simply not used to showers every day, strange as it may sound!!
We really haven't done much since we arrived, just lots of relaxing and chilling. Mind you those two Christmas dinners aboard first Jenny (Norwegian) then Miekpe (German/Russian, Kalashnikov vodka shots!) were pretty full on (drinking and staying up late isn't what we normally do), but it was also great training for New Years eve celebrations. New Year Eve we had them over for dinner on Sophia, feeding six people on Sophia is about the maximum we're capable off. Danish frikadeller for dinner and kiwi pavlova for dessert. But the real party was from 11pm to 1am at a luxury hotel nearby where we were booked in for the countdown party. Free bar and free finger food for US$25. Poor Phil was still recovering from a flu, but the rest of us sure did make most of it. The only problem with late night and lots of drinking is it's next to impossible to sleep in in the tropics as it gets too light and too hot way too early.

We're also enjoying the good internet here. OK, anyone back home would call it bad, as it isn't very fast, but compared to other islands, it's better, plus we can pick it up from Sophia and it's even quite affordable (US$10 for 7 hours), although that only means we spend longer time on it and then spend as much money as other places, or probably even more!

The supermarkets experiences when we also did finally venture into town is also story on its own! Long aisles with just breakfast products, huge freezers with all kinds of meat (guess who's happy), crazy amounts of different cake mixes, big bags of proper marshmallows (not the sugary fake one like in NZ) and for example lots of different kinds of peanut butter, I mean, honey roasted peanut butter, what's that?! Some things are expensive, others not, for example meat seems cheaper than in NZ! BUT, there's a big but, they hardly grow any fruit and veggies on these lush green islands, only some for the hotels and restaurants, but everything else is imported from US!

The number one income is tourism and they are doing pretty good with just that, and I guess that explains why they don't bother growing stuff when they can just buy it. The population is about 20,000, but 6000 of those are foreign workers, mostly from Philippines. There's no minimum wages for them, so it's quite a big underclass of Asian workers. The houses are actual houses (as opposed to leaf houses in many places in Vanuatu, Solomon and PNG), but most are pretty shabby and some very derelict looking. They get about 80,000 visitors a year, mostly Japanese and Taiwanese, but also some from US and Europe. Most come to explore the fantastic underwater world as Palau is one of the world's top dive destinations.

We have visited the Palau National Museum (first proper museum since NZ) and learned a lot about all of the different rulers through Palau's history. First the Spanish colonised Palau, but then sold it to the Germans in 1899. When World War I started in 1914, Japan took over and ruled Palau until after World War II when US took Palau under it's administration! Japanese influence is what affected the country the most, but the country is set up like the US, with a bunch of states each with their own regulations. Some states have very few (less than 10) people, and of course almost everyone live in the capital, so it seems quite crazy for such a small country.
Cruising wise most of the country is next to impossible to visit, mostly because of regulations, and some areas are is litterally off limits, although other is just because of no anchoring possibilities. Luckily the best cruising and snorkeling area, Rock Islands is still open for cruisers, but you have to buy a permit (US$ 50 per person plus a fee for the boat) and it only lasts 10 days. We're planning to go there soon.

We have added new photos to facebook, both from here and from Hermit Islands. By the way, Sophia on facebook is public, so it's open to everyone, even people with no facebook account. 

No comments:

Post a Comment