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Going ‘Schizo’ in Bangkok (July 27th -30th)

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

So what does the heart of South East Asia have to offer? Well, basically everything! I found myself to be a variety of personalities while enjoying the eclectic city of Bangkok. Here, let me explain!

We all found ourselves early in our stay hollering from the 3rd floor of the Lumpini boxing stadium. Here, I felt like a Thai man after a day of work coming to the fight to gamble away some Baht (Thai Money). This was not only an incredible experience, but such a fun time as well. Everyone was cheering and screaming out bets. It was exactly how you would imagine a Muai Thai fight to take place; it seemed almost like an underground type activity. These fighters literally train their whole lives for these events, and it showed by watching a couple scary knockouts. Legs, knees, and elbows flew with nonstop action in all directions. It was definitely something I wanted to experience while in Bangkok, a very intense local tradition that left me feeling Thai! Watch out!

We rented a tiny room for four nights in this never sleeping city (Personally I never slept as well). The room was exactly as you would think when the concept of backpacking comes to mind. Just 1 bed, with a bowl for a toilet that required no electricity to flush, only flood it with water. There were showers outside, shared by all the guests and the walls were made of thatched bamboo strands. Here, I found myself a backpacker. Khau San Road, the street we were staying on, was backpacker heaven. Americans were the endangered species, but not Caucasians. Literally white people from all different world nationalities make their way to Khau San Road where you find tons of people strolling past eager venders selling everything from useless knickknacks to delicious cuisine. Clubs are heard on every corner blasting techno beats which really adds to the outside atmosphere. Dreads and little braids are common and to a normal person in the states, these types of travelers could easily be mistaken for hippies. When I strolled up and down this street, a backpacker I was.

As far as eating is concerned, I found myself a connoisseur. I was experiencing new exotic flavors for the first time. If you think Mexican is spicy with their couple of pepper species, come out here and experience Thai cuisine. I found it delicious, everything from the little meat sticks sold while walking, to the hole in the wall restaurants. The flavors were rich and intense. Coconut curry lived up to everything I expected, but on average, it would take 2 bottles of water to get it down. The Phat-Thai proved to be a crowd pleaser. It was a great time ordering four exotic dishes at a restaurant, and sharing it amongst ourselves. What a delicacy Thailand is!

During a river boat ride, sitting in the very front of the long, gondola type vessel, I found myself thinking how romantic it is here in Bangkok. Cruising up the narrow canals, watching children swim and fish from their raggedy houses built on stilts, it kind of felt like we were honeymooning through the city. There are several reasons people travel, romance is one of them. Bangkok, in a very simple way, has romance in the air!

However, some travel for sex in a much more unromantic manner. Thailand has a huge sex tourism industry, and well, one of my personalities on this trip was that of a sex exploiter. I found myself watching the world renowned ‘Ping Pong Show’! I won’t get into detail too much, but let’s just say ping pong balls may have more uses than you think. On top of that, there was much more to the show then just ping pong balls. Dangerous ways of using strings of nails and razorblades, blowing out candles, shooting darts to pop balloons held by audience members, smoking cigarettes, and drinking bottles of soda will now forever be embedded in my mind. Michelle even got to participate by helping pull ribbon (I’ll answer any questions you have about this show…just ask!). As I sat there, watching these girls ‘entertain’ with these acts, I couldn’t help but feel as sleazy as the owners that were forcing them to perform. Would I watch the show ever again….heck no! But if I went back in time I would definitely be up for seeing it once. After all, I learned with some imagination and hard work, the body can do some pretty unbelievable things!

Touring the temples and statues of Buddha I found myself being just another tourist. One Buddha was enormous, almost 50 meters long, that’s about the length of half a football field. Just like Buddha, the temples were covered in gold. Blinding in the sunshine, the monstrous architecture paid honor to their religion. Filing in line with other foreigners and then paying money to stroll through someone’s ‘church (basically)’ was something I didn’t really care for, but was glad to see once. Another touristy thing we did was get Thai Massages. It was a little rough for my sensitive body, but was an interesting way to spend an hour. Hey, when in Rome, do as the Romans! The massage was fun, but I was happy when we snuck away from the typical tourists…those guys are nuts!

My last personality was of my own. In my own way I got to experience Bangkok differently than most everybody. Michelle and I decided to jog the city from one side to the other, seeing all its diversity. We started at the U.S. Embassy, then 3 hours later after getting lost several times, we made it back to Khau San Road. Bangkok is infinitely cleaner than Manila. Smog still fills the lungs, but garbage and baggers are much less numerous. Because tourism is so prolific, the vendors and taxi drivers really jack up the prices to see if they can take advantage of you. It’s very easy to bargain a tuk-tuk driver (motorbike with a back sitting area) from 300 baht down to maybe 60 (That’s about 9$ down to 2$). I loved the jog, it gave me a unique perspective of the city. I’d compare it to paddling around the rock islands as oppose to cruising through it by speed boat. It’s much more humbling. Michelle had fun also, even though I thought she was going to get nailed by a car at one point!

Bangkok is so diverse, there is something for everybody to enjoy. Some people travel here for a certain reason, and I feel like I got to experience several of those reasons first hand. Certain events left me feeling Thai whereas some left me feeling touristy. While jogging I felt like myself, whereas seeing the ‘ping pong show’ I was left feeling like someone I disdain. As a backpacker, I had a blast walking the street by day and clubbing around by night, meeting lots of interesting characters. There were perfect romantic moments for fireworks to explode, while your taste buds would also erupt on every street corner. Bangkok was way more diverse and infinitely more exciting than I ever imagined. We would walk into the morning hours and never felt threatened once. The city is filled with so much culture and history; it’s unique to see a place Christianity has never touched. I was done with cities when in the Philippines and I figured Bangkok would be more of the same, but the four days here really were a treat in almost every way imaginable. Even though I fell in love with the city, it’s time to go out to where my heart truly belongs…..the wild!

The Philippines, Beauty on the Inside!

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

So what do you think of when you hear the word ‘Philippines’?  Well, if you’ve never been, the word probably conjures up images of poverty and filth.  If you have been, you probably still agree with that initial description.  But what I found shocking was the kindness of the people.  Despite the horrendous conditions of city life (I’ll get into that one in a bit) along with a minimum wage of roughly four bucker per eight hour shift, the people are really enjoying life.  Whether it’s walking around a mall or strolling a polluted bay front, it’s easy to see couples hand in hand or groups of friends laughing together…..  But now more on the cities. 

As with every country where people and their technology accumulate, there is a positive correlation with pollution.  Of course the rural areas of the outside provinces are lush with wildlife and beauty, but I believe no matter where I travel after this, I won’t find a more slummy urban environment.  The idea of garbage cans never seemed to have traveled this far, nor have regulation on car exhaust emissions.  The majority of the population carries around rags or surgical masks to help prevent inhaling the carcinogenic fumes.  The sky is so thick with smog it makes L.A. seem to smell like rocky mountain air.  The construction and architecture consists of building with any scraps of scrap material available while the beggars are absolutely shameless when it comes to them showing how truly poor they are.  It’s not uncommon to see someone squatting down taking a dump on the side of a pedestrian filled street.  Begging is for all ages as well, from 8 to 80s.  Shane himself was bit in the arm by a filthy little girl probably around 10 years old.  I couldn’t stop laughing at that one, but I guess it’s more sad then funny really! 

Ok, so it’s dirty, and for the most part, the people are happy and kind, but what exactly did we do?  We flew into Cebu, a city in the center of the archipelago.  We cabbed to a pension (cheaper hotel) and booked a room for two nights.  I made friends with the cute receptionist, Dina, and tried to get her to come out with us.  I was dying to see a movie since it had been forever that I had gone to the theatre.  Eventually she gave in to my persistence and we all had dinner at the SM mall before watching ‘Transformers’.  Ya, there wasn’t much of a selection, plus Shane was dying to see it…..go figure!

The second night was a little bit more unorthodox to say the least.  A couple girls working at the bakery right near our pension went out with us to ‘The Comedy Bar’!  What was the comedy you ask?  Well…….Gays!!  I know the Philippines and all South East Asia for that matter is very open with homosexuality, but I had no idea what to expect upon entering inside.  To make a long night short, the comedians on stage were all transgenders and they loved the fact that two studdly Americans were strolling in with a posse of Filipinas (only 3).  One of them actually came out into the audience to ask us questions with the microphone.  Of course, I felt a little embarrassed being heckled by the he/she, but hey, I can roll with the punches.  I mean it really was quite entertaining.  I also got a peck on the cheek, but I don’t even know if I should be sharing that information!

The next few nights we stayed a cheaper pension down the street.  Only 800 pesos, that’s about 17 bucks.  One day, we ferried to Tagbilaran to see the smallest monkey.  While waiting on Pier 4 for departure, I figured it might come in handy to run back and fetch our snorkeling masks just in case we happen by some gorgeous underwater sights.  Well, off I went with a full hour and a half to spare, leaving Shane P. and Ruthless at the dock.  I didn’t have enough money on me for a taxi, so I ran/Jeepneyed my way there and back.  If you’ve been to the Philippines then you know what a Jeepney is, but if not, it’s like a little packed bus that you pay pennies to jump on and off of anywhere they travel.  Well, I missed the boat…literally.  I saw it sailing away with out me just as I got there.  See, I got on this one Jeepney that was going to the pier…so they said.  However, just not right that moment.  As I was sweating in the heat of the smog from fear of not returning in time, I found my self in heavy traffic touring the city at 5 mph.  Oh, what can you do??  I refunded my ticket at the office, then bought another ferry ticket for 2pm.  That was two hours later, on a different ferry operator to go over and meet up with the ‘Yahoos’. 

To my disappointment, Tagbilaran was just another dirty city.  The visible smog from a distance told me all I needed to know.  I realized it wasn’t a tiny island like I had imagined and it wouldn’t be likely to come across Shane and Ruthless.  When I got there, zero money in pocket and thirsty from running around the city, I went on a search for coconuts.  A phenomenon I was all too accustomed for.  I thought I was over that for a bit!

The rest of my stay consisted of walking around the city till 6pm when I planned on meeting the Yahoos back at the port (they had my return ticket).  They ended up taking a scenic tour of the countryside which included spotting the Tersier (the smallest primate at a roadside tourist stop).  The little guy did look pretty cool in all their pictures. 

On a different day we went to Fitness First in the Ayala Mall.  This place was incredible…like the gym of the future.  You should have seen it.  They hardly had any free weights at all, which I didn’t care for (I guess I’m old school), but there were people working out underwater with elastics and tubes, while the steam and sauna rooms were huge and high class.  The entire places had techno and dance style music (and club-like light arrangements) and was literally packed with probably the richest that Cebu has to offer.  It was really an interesting place, fortunately we got a free daily pass to try it out!

The other days mainly consisted of strolling the roadside markets and catching a couple more flicks including ‘Die Hard 4.0’, ‘Next’, and ‘Vacancy’.  ‘Next’ was definitely my favorite of the group but that’s not saying too much.  On the last night (a Friday) in Cebu, we went out to ‘Sunflower’, a happening club that turned out to be enormous and a lot of fun.  We pre-gamed with a little pre-party by buying 2 bottles (only 58 pesos a piece) of Tanduay Rum which only cost us $1.20!  And that’s for two 750 ml bottles!!  Two of the girls from the comedy bar also came with us to Sunflower.  The club’s dress code didn’t let me in with out socks on my flip-flops, stupid or what?  I wore Shane’s socks while he wore his tennis shoes raw.  The club played an eclectic array of movin’ music and most of our time was up on the floor rather than back in our seats in the upper deck.  Shane P. and Ruthless (the Yahoo’s) left a little early, and after they took off I met a real nice girl there with her aunt whose birthday they were celebrating.  I hung out with them and they kindly dropped me off way into the morning hours.  It was a great time and a wonderful finale to Cebu!

Upon arrival to Manila, after a short flight of about 50 minutes, we were greeted with a huge smile and hugs from Raquel.  She sported a sign saying ‘Go Gators!!!…~T.Storm’!!  I introduced her to the family she had heard so much about.  Also, back in Cebu I had talked with Michelle online (the girl I met in Palau who is also planning on traveling with us throughout SE Asia), and she was in Manila as well.  The plan was to re-meet her since it had been a while, and drop off our backpacks in her room.  Off we went!

The ‘reunion’ was smooth and amiable.  Michelle had a bunch of mangos, pineapples, watermelons, and oranges cut up for us to enjoy.  She was close to what I remembered for our brief initial meeting back in Koror, and looked like a lot of fun to be around.  Michelle had plans to go out with some friends for dinner, and they were all excited for us to join.  They were 3 Korean dudes, Khan, Fair, and James, and we were all up for eating at their favorite Korean restaurant.  This turned out to be a blast, as we cooked our food on hot pot tops right in the center of our table.  My favorite feature was after every bite we would take a shot of Korean Soju, a rice liquor.  As you could have guessed, we all got a little carried away and buzzed, while Raquel was leading the way towards the drunken finish line. 

After our Korean feast, we returned back to the hotel to drop off a backpack we had, along with Raquel unexpectedly, who passed out immediately onto the bed.  The remaining 7 of us then went out on the town.  We scouted out a few night spots before deciding on an upstairs disco bar blasting some hip hop.  We’ll save the techno and Dance for Thailand!  We all got a round of Long Island Ice Teas, and then expressed ourselves through rhythm, Ha.  Michelle proved to be quiet the dancer.  The gay guys were even checking her out for a second, but then went right back to eyeing me…oh yippy!  Mix her dancing with her extravertedness, and we all found ourselves on the tiny stage before the night was over.  I ended up falling off that stage and landing on my rear, but it was all in good fun.  Eventually we parted ways with the Koreans and ventured back to the hotel.  Shane P., Ruthless, and I all crashed on the floor while Michelle and Raquel slept in bed.  It was a great evening and Michelle will definitely be an asset for as long as she chooses to accompany us.           

The next day we all decided on hitting up the Mall of Asia.  It is the 3rd largest mall in the World.  The mall was several layers and wings huge, but we were there for some ice skating.  Raquel and Ruthless hugged the walls while Michelle, Shane and I hobbled around as best we could.  It has been a while for me and it showered, but for a few fleeting moments I felt as graceful as a whooping crane high on pheromones!  Later that night, Shane and Ruthless went to use the internet while Michelle and I walked along the Manila bay front.  We climbed a huge banyan tree that just so happened to be in front of the U. S. Embassy.  We nearly got arrested.  Our dialog was interrupted by several police officers who demanded we descend.  Our conversation didn’t end there though, for it wasn’t till about four in the morning that we fell asleep.  The topics of ghosts and the great ‘time paradox’ ticked the hours away in a horrifying then confused way respectively. 

On July 23rd, Michelle decided to go to Palawan, while the three of us took the cheaper bus route to Baguio, a city in the mountains six hours away.  The long scenic bus ride took us through rice fields then mountains till we arrived at 10pm.  The city was a bit chilly, and reminded me a little of Cuzco, Peru (but it wasn’t that cold).  We found a pension for around 800 pesos a night, and we booked the room for the next three evenings.  Ruthless has been on and off sick for the entire trip, and in Baguio it was no exception.  We walked around the city, trying different flavors from the street vendors and enjoying the beautiful climate (It was about 65 degrees Farenheit). 

I thought the girls here were more beautiful than anywhere I had been so far, excluding South and Central America (Gotta give it up to the Latinas).  But gorgeous no one can deny.  While dropping dirty cloths off one day, the owner of the laundry place was trying to convince me to marry his daughter.  When I returned the following morning to pick up the cloths, the daughter was introduced to me wearing what was probably her nicest attire.  It was somewhat awkward, but I gave her my email address and said if in the future she ever makes it to the states, she would have a place to stay.  I’m used to talking to girls that want to go to the states, but the fathers not so much.  It was interesting to meet the entire family, I enjoyed it!  Baguio was a fun locale, but I was psyched to be on the bus ride back to Manila, to then fly to Bangkok, Thailand. 

I really enjoyed the 2 weeks spent in this country, the Philippines (not so sure about Ruthless and Shane P.), and bonded rather quickly with many nice people along the way.  I loved reuniting with Raquel (who was glad to see a Palauan…Me!!) and re-meeting with Michelle went better than imagined.  Like I mentioned before, the Philippines has more than what meets the eye.  From a distance you see the filth and smell the stench, but upon closer inspection you see the smiles and feel the warmth of the people.  As I sit on the bus, writing this journal entry, I look out the window and see nothing but field after field of rice.  I see the poor hard working, loyal people of all ages bent over tending to their staple.  I find myself somewhat saddened by the inaccurate and misguiding aura that the Philippine’s receives.  I feel like I experienced Palau well, but am leaving PI with many more amazing experiences to have and friendships to make.  Who knows, maybe I will return, but for right now it’s off to the Heart of South East Asia…..Bangkok!          



I Love Palau….Wow Wow

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Alii, and Welcome to Palau!!!  It seems like just yesterday I was hearing these words for the very first time.  Unbelievable!  A whole life seemed to have started and ended within my short visit.  I met friends that will last a lifetime, had love interests that definitely kept me on my tip toes, catastrophied into an experience that pushed me into manhood, and found what truly makes me happy in life.  But why Palau?  Working as a bartender, I think I got that question from every single patron.  I’ll tell ya exactly what I told them……I don’t know!  I could have picked thousands of other spots on this planet, but something drew me to this magical archipelago.  Did I get what I wanted to out of the experience……..I got a million times more! 

So what did I get out of my stay in Palau?  That question I have only gotten once.  Firstly, I found that a smile and kind attitude will make ya not only bond with friends immediately, but buy you a one way ticket into the hearts of families.  Speaking of families, I also discovered how much I love and miss my parents and relatives back in the states.  I realized that where my heart calls home is any location where those Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are celebrated with the people that were there for me even before day one.  Another lesson I learned is to just go for it.  Figure out what you want to do, then do it.  It’s that simple!  If people try to alter your plans, be weary.  They are not you or know your capabilities.  ‘If someone says you can’t do something, it’s because they can’t do it.’  Trust yourself and dive head first, leaving no stone unturned.  No one wants to say ‘I wish I could have…….!’

Ya, ya, but what about living in Koror, the not so philosophical stuff?  What did I learn about island life?  Well, since everyone is so confined, when one person gets sick, the whole island gets the illness.  A couple minor epidemics spread over this dot of earth during my stay which basically leashed me to the toilet for a few days, to put it nicely.  However, there is one thing that can spread faster than a sickness in such a tiny place…..and that’s Gossip!  Near the end of my visit here I had a stranger come up to me at Abai Ice and ask, ‘Are you the guy that believes that aliens had sex with monkeys to make people!’  Those were his exact words!  Also a taxi driver was spreading the news of my herpies disease (which I don’t have to all zero of you ladies that should be concerned ;-).  I also learned to take it easy and appreciate the simple things.  Some of the few foreigners I saw visit the internet cafés would get so upset at the workers for the slow connection speed when you really should be thankful you can even sign online in the first place.  Sometimes entire days would pass where the electricity and water would be down and you just got to deal with it…No worries! 

Memories….Goodness!  I’m not going to get into individual adventures, but what times there were.  Everything from the typical (really not so typical about it) fishing and diving, to the extremes of an epic paddling expedition, living on a deserted beach, and surviving a treacherous shipwreck.  As far as randomness is concerned….probably not many can say they hold the world record size for two crustaceans (a lobster and a shrimp); or have had the privilege of raising a feral monkey to go from wild and crazy to cute and cuddly (the little devil will always be mischievous)!  I had a blast playing a whole season of soccer and never winning a single game, and was proud to finally reach my bench pressing goal I set for myself when I first arrived.  Playing cards on Wednesdays and Ultimate Frisbee on Tuesdays and Fridays were times anxiously awaited for.  Bartending in the evenings on a tropical island was a dream come true.  Wake boarding around the rock islands on Christmas day and hanging out with a reggae band for a week was even more thrilling than it sounds.  I found myself face to face with frenzied sharks, wrestling giant triggerfish, threatened at Palauan bars, treating infected feet and enormous boils, and waking up in the wee hours of the night to my door being slammed by some extremely interesting characters to say the least! 

So many big events from such a little place in such a short time, none of which I regret.  Palau….it’s beauty and its people will always be dear to my heart and on my mind.  Thank you Palau for everything!!!   

 ‘Sulang!  Reggae nimi nai mon!!!!’                                



Castaway June-July (2007)

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Wow, where do I start? 


Well, I left off on preparing for the trip (more like an expedition) to rock island life.  The mission: to find a deserted beach and inhabit it for a full month.  Well, I’m writing this upon a mission completed!   While living in Koror, Palau I had a routine where visiting the internet café was a daily phenomenon.  No longer as I continue my journey across the globe will I make it a priority to write daily, however, I will overview as often as possible on the noteworthy experiences that take place.  Regardless, lets get to living on a beach, do I recommend it……No Way!  Was it life changing…….You better believe it!  Would I ever do it again……Who knows, I just might be that crazy!


Let’s get to it! 

After we paddled around for a bit in Moses II, we settled on a beach facing South.  The small stretch of sand had a beautiful view of a lagoon protected by reef littered with rock islands jetting out of the turquoise sea.  Something you can only imagine if you look at pictures of Palau.  Who is we you ask, it was Kathleen (‘Ruthless’ as I like to call her), my bro Shaneo, JaMarcus, and ofcourse myself.  We set camp, cracked open some coconuts as an initiation, and began island life. 

JaMarcus had his mind set on leaving early from not only the beach, but from Palau in general.  He dropped the news that he was going to leave tomorrow, so the next day we dropped him off with some local Palauans and he returned back to Koror and eventually the States.  From what I gather he missed home and really didn’t care too much for the idea of travelling.  I think he got what he was looking for out of the trip for the two weeks he was here.  Enough of this, back to beach life!

Early on in the trip we tried to collect a lot of fire wood, as time went on I found that the Australian pine that grows in certain spots worked wonders as fuel.  I learned a lot throughout the trip as far as efficiency in survivorship is concerned.  We set up a giant tarp that not only provided us a hang out area, but also funneled the daily rainwater into a collecting bucket.  That same tarp is where we stock piled lots of wood for fire.  Keeping it dry (covering it with trash bags) turned out to be just as easy as containing potable rain water; being out here during the rainy season…thank goodness!  We also stored the dead dry palm fronds in trash bags as kindling to get our fires started.  Our entire camp, from the tarp area (as we called the ‘Champagne Room’) to the jungle hammocks, then to the beach was laid with a green palm frond walkway.  We went palm frond crazy, which allowed our feet to occasionally have a break from the sticky sandy ground.  If our chores were caught up, which were never that strenuous, we would head out on mini-expeditions.

One day we decided to paddle up a tidal inlet through a narrow maze of mangrove jungle.  It reminded me of paddling up through the Jurassic age.  The huge bats would fly overhead while giant eels would swim right past the boat in the milky water.  This was the perfect habitat for the salt water crocs, but unfortunately we saw none.  After a 20 minute paddle, the narrow creek of salt water opened into a beautiful yet enormous marine lake.  We paddled all around, for the day was nothing but pristine sunshine.  We were greeted by a school of big eagle rays who probably found their way into the habitat the same way we did long ago.  Even though it was a gorgeous day, I could tell trouble was stirring with Ruthless.  She started to act kind of sickly, and this was as early as day 8.
By day 11 enough was enough.  She wanted to go back to Koror.  For some reason I had it set in my mind to not give up.  Selfish, I definitely was, and looking back on it I should have compromised and gone back with them to civilization.  Do I regret that I stayed out there by myself, no, but would I do it again under similar circumstances, probably not.  I waited for so long for my brother and Ruthless to come out and visit me in Palau, and now that they were here, we were separated again.  I was left on my beach…now truly deserted, while they were back living in a foreign land that I could have familiarly shown them around.  On day 11 I paddled them out to an island in the distance that a boat pulled up too.  I dropped them off with what they needed, and headed out back to what was my home, only hoping that everything will be alright.  The plan was for them to hitch a ride back out here after cleaning up a bit and recharging….but that day took way too long!

So now I find myself alone in the rock islands, well, with the exception of this one rat that decided to be my friend.  Along with the rat were a gazillion little hermit crabs with a couple in the baseball size range.  I named every hermit crab I encountered Bruce after the striking resemblance that they and he share.  I ended up talking to Moses II the boat similarly to the way Tom Hanks did to Wilson.  I didn’t really realize this till it was pointed out later.  I ended up being naked for about three days, till I sat down on something that left my @$$ burning all through the night.  I think it must have been a fungus, boy, that was horrible.  I went spear fishing daily…which meant paddling out to some spots that I found to be money locations.  My two favorite spots I found were about two hours away from the beach.  I got fairly good at paddling solo, but I’m sure I looked pretty foolish.  Spear fishing was always an adventure in it self.  During the night it’s like stealing candy from a baby, but I didn’t want to risk that while being all alone.  Too many locals have stories and scars to show the dangers of night time spear fishing.  I’m confident when with someone else, but I decided to pass it up while by myself.  To make up for my lack of fish, I would just hunt for longer amounts of time during day light.  It’s harder, but it definitely helped me sharpen my skills.

Spear fishing was never scary, except for one moment.  The longer you were in one location, the more sharks would appear.  I was about 15 feet deep, at the deepest spot, and I had just shot a nice parrot fish (a delicacy here).  It didn’t stay on the spear tip and spiraled down into a hole at the bottom.  I saw the hole it entered, so I went down to see if I could quickly grab it and surface to plop it in Moses.  I went down and couldn’t find it.  I dove down a second time on a full breathe of air and thought I saw it there in the coral, bleeding and dying.  Immediately I felt the presence of something else.  Something grabbed my attention and to my left a big black tip shark was heading right towards me.  It was coming in on the smell.  Immediately I cared less about the parrot and did my best to show the shark that I wasn’t the dying fish.  As he realized that this big primate was not his normal food source, he turned in just as much freight as me.  I swam back to the boat, passing a few other smaller sharks knowing it was time for me to switch locations.  Sharks were everywhere out here, and even at night don’t pose too much of a threat, nonetheless, I’m not going to push my luck while alone, and I was able to get a decent amount of fish to last on no problem.

For the most part I ate 8 inch reef fish sized tangs and smaller parrot fish.  I did get lucky with one nice snapper which filled me up alone.  Occasionally around camp I would place halved coconuts to attract the delicious coconut crabs (Which worked surprisingly well), in addition whenever I passed giant clams, I would bring them my clam farm that I started.  I stockpiled lots of clams throughout the span of the trip…the ones I didn’t consume I scattered back over the reef.  Originally we also brought rice and canned vegetables to last the whole trip, and now being alone, I was never for a lack of food.  The granola bars we brought were money as well….definitely life saving!  A couple times, to reward myself I would go through the steps of making coconut clam chowder.  It is a very time consuming task, just milking the coconuts alone takes a couple hours (You have to scrape out all the hard meat, then squeeze all the juice out of it), but when it’s complete, letting it simmer over the fire, it easily turned into my favorite rock island meal.

Usually before dinner I would try and do a rock island workout.  That consisted mainly of pushups and sit-ups.  I figured paddling worked out the back, shoulders, and arms, so I only complimented that with different muscle groups.  I wanted to work on stretching as well, but my desire to do a split was surpassed by my desire to have babies in the future.  I ended up doing way more pushups then I thought possible, and the sit-ups definitely helped tone me.  It was great, but got very repetitive.  By the end I was anxious to start working out in a real gym. 

A couple times some hunters came to my beach.  I greeted them as hospitably as possible, and they thought it was cool seeing me out here living as the ancients did.  One of them was here hunting fruit bats, while the other for coconut crabs.  The coconut crab guy even invited me to go net fishing with him, and all day long we caught lots of fish that he sold to the fish market.  He rewarded me with a nice jack that was very tasty.  The fruit bat hunter shot the little guys down with a pellet gun.  I caught one of his victims and it was dying in my hands.  They are cute little guys, like tiny dogs, and seeing it suffering was not very cool.  Plus, there doesn’t even look like there is much meat on them.  I won’t be upset with myself for leaving Palau without tasting fruit bat.  I did kill and eat an eel, and that turned out to be not worth it as well.  There wasn’t that much meat and it was littered with bones.  Fish were the food of choice!

To pass the stormy days I laid in my hammock reading the bible.  Well, I finished the whole book.  I loved the Old Testament, but it got a little long with all the prophesies, proverbs, and psalms.  The stories were interesting but God was very different between the two testaments.  Almost night and day.  In the old testament it was all about destroying all the un-chosen people in the holy land…with no mercy…women and children alike (a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye).  The new testament was nothing but love and peace to the sons of Judah as well as the gentiles (Treat others how you would want to be treated, and loving your enemies).  All the letters of Paul in the New Testament got very redundant and revelations wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be.  All in all I really grasped a better understanding for what it was I was taught while attending church.  I was familiar with several of the stories, and reading the book helped me chronologically place the events as well as better understand them.  I also thought it was cool to just relax and read the bible on my deserted beach…Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in the desert…while I was spending my month on a desert beach.  Nice!

My brother came back on the 24th day, courtesy of Jason from the gym.  Ruthless apparently had enough of the beach and was currently in the calling of her womanly body.  She decided to stay behind and relax in Koror for only the few days we had left.  When Shane came out I was so excited to see a familiar face.  I grew to love it out on my beach, even alone, but I was happy it was coming to an end; I was ready for a different adventure.  When he came, we decided to head out to Ngerong, an island on the other side of the Jellyfish lake chain.  It was a three day, two night trip that was spectacular.  We had great weather.  We snuck into Jellyfish lake from the back side.  There were way more jellies then the first time I explored the lake.  Shane loved it.  Ngerong proved to be the definition of a tropical island.  It was flat, compared to the rock islands, and had some beautiful beaches and vistas.  We did nothing but relax after circumnavigating its shores and interior.  On the way back, we anchored on a rock and watched the sunset after snorkeling and eating a granola bar.  What more can one ask for!   That night we snorkeled and found some money lobsters.  None close to the size of the one I found on the Kayak trip with Mike (What up Bro-D), but edible and tasty nonetheless.  We saw several sharks, but none acted aggressively.  It was still funny to watch Shane constantly shine the flashlight behind him….I could tell he was paranoid that one was stalking him form the blackness of behind.  We were also stung up by little glowy things that really did their best to inflict harm.  Shane thought he was going to go into cardiac arrest, we had to cut it short, but we had more than enough food.  A couple nice fish, a big crab, and some lobsters.  It was a beautiful day and a calm and placid night….a great close to a magnificent trip. 

The next day we paddled out around the bend (where I formally shipwrecked) but the winds were now coming from the South West, so it was calm as could be.  Regardless, I was still nervous being in open water, especially after what Mike, Raquel, and I went through before.  It turns out that what was once near impossible, was now easy, but what was easy, was now definitely not worth risking.  For the stretch back to Koror had massive wind capped waves and ferocious winds.  We found out that tying Moses to our waste and swimming with our fins was much easier than paddling him through the current (which was literally impossible for us).  We ended up camping at the entrance of Dolphin Pacific waiting for morning so we could be rescued by a motor boat.  (We saw a huge lion fish swimming by the dock, Nice!)  We ended up giving Moses II to the security guard we met in the morning.  He was overjoyed to receive the boat and we were more than happy to give it to him.  I was glad we were able to help him out (after all he was helping us out), and I’m also assured Moses II will be properly taken care of.  He was a good boat and a good friend….He will be missed!  (Ya, I went psycho out there alone with my good ‘ole buddy)!

We hitched a ride back to Koror just in time for the lunch buffet at the Taj.  I literally ate too much that it came up even faster looking exactly as it went in.  My body was not accustomed to eating that much or Indian food for that matter.  Even though my stomach was all upset, I would have wanted it no other way.  If there was one day to overindulge, I wanted this to be the moment.  Later that day I treated myself to an entire cheesecake.  All the rock island workouts turned out to be nothing but preparation for me to have room to gain weight upon return.  The way that that cheesecake tasted made it well worth it indeed.  Yum! 

I’m back to my normal self now, working out at the gym for the few days that I’ll remain here in Palau.  Shane and Kathleen come with me everywhere I go, which is kind of weird, I feel like we stand out a lot more than when I just walk alone.  I think that everybody is trying to get something different out of this trip so I don’t know how long it will work out together.  To me, this isn’t a vacation, it’s my life, and to them, I think they are just on a budget vacation.  We’ll see what happens.  So far no one is ringing anyone’s neck, hopefully it will stay that way!  Hey, if you want to lose weight…go live on an island for a month…I guarantee you it will work, Trust Me!  Well, until next time from a different country….

Live the Dream!

Protected: JaMarcus Let Loose!! June 9th (Saturday)

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

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Protected: Diving Palau!! (I bet that will get some online hits) June 8th (Friday)

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Protected: More Moses II Restoration!! June 7th (Thursday)

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Protected: A Day of Fun Errands! June 6th (Wednesday)

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Protected: JaMarcus…Alii to Palau! June 5th (Tuesday)

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