Saturday, May 29, 2010

Palau, The First Full Day (updated with new pics)

Someone in the airport (which was very small and open aired, no A/C, and floors painted red to hide betelnut spit) overheard us discussing the fact that we were cheap savvy travelers and not willing to pay the high price for the hotel shuttle and therefore were in search of a cheaper alternative a more authentic mode of transportation, something that would add a little bit of local flavor to our trip from the airport to our hotel.  That someone said, "You need taxi?  Follow me."  He beckoned to another man and said, "Go with him."  And we did, although flashbacks of the tour Don and I took in a scary taxi on our honeymoon in St. Lucia came flashing back.  I felt better when I saw our luggage being loaded into the hotel's van while we waited for our driver to arrive with his car.  All of a sudden an older (let's say early 90s), kind of beat up looking equivalent to a Corolla rolled by and we jokingly said, "wouldn't that be funny if that was our taxi?"  As the words floated in the air, out popped the driver to grab our remaining bags and inform us that yes, he was in fact our driver.  We got in the car and noticed that the steering wheel was on the "wrong" side of the car even though we were driving on the "right" side of the road.  Because it was dark out, I didn't notice that cardboard was duct taped over half of the windshield, but since our driver, Terry, was part of the police force I guess it was street legal.  Terry dropped us off at our hotel and charged us quite a bit less than the hotel would have.

From the minute we stepped into the hotel (Palau Royal Resort, offers GREAT military discounts), I was impressed.  There were a number of staff members to greet us upon arrival, from the time we arrived until we left, if we ever showed up with a bag or package someone met us and whisked it upstairs to our room (I really enjoy not having to carry things on my vacation). the lobby was open aired and surrounded by water.  We were shown to our room and although it was dark, we could tell that we had a nice view of the pool and the pond near the lobby.  We did a little exploring around the hotel, bought some bottled water since we couldn't drink the water and called it a night.  We settled down to sleep in our hard, single Japanese beds, but I don't mind a firm mattress and the bed seemed wider than the twin bed I had in college, and I had NO problem falling asleep.

We woke up the next morning and realized this was our view...
this pic came from a website, but I can't remember which one :(

this is the saltwater pond that surrounded the lobby

The harbor, the pool and the saltwater pond that surrounded the lobby.  And then we noticed the sea turtles, rays, sea cucumbers and other animals swimming around the pond.  It was so relaxing to sit on our balcony and watch them swim around without a care in the world.  Truly an amazing way to wake up each morning.

two of the turtles at feeding time

Another un-Terrell like thing about this trip was I made no plans (except to go), I had no agenda, and was totally willing to let the others be the tour guides.  The three of us decided early on, like as the plane was somewhere over the Pacific, that this trip was to be relaxing and we could do or not do what ever we wanted.  And I decided to embrace that, let them make the plans and then I would decide if I wanted to partake or not.  It wasn't even hard for me to be this way.  I think I was so thankful to only have to worry about myself, my well-being that I easily just went with the flow.  This trip taught me that as long as you don't drown in the tide, going with the flow can sometimes, actually, be a good way to do things...

Anyway, bright and early Thursday morning we walked across the street to Sam's Tours (which would become our home away from home away from home).
the harbor at Sam's

the "interior" at Sam's
I have never, in my life seen a more efficient, more customer oriented, more happy to be there business in my life.  I cannot recommend them enough!  Within minutes of arriving with no notice of us showing up, they had us booked on snorkel/dive trips, arranged a rental car, and made us feel welcome.  After giving it some thought, I decided I really wasn't up for being on a boat all day and I just really needed, wanted, craved some time alone.  So, I went back to the hotel and plopped my butt in a chair by the pool and sat there.  All day.  For almost 8 straight hours...  At first, when the realization struck that I was all alone, in a foreign country, where no one knew me or who I was traveling with I had a little bit of an anxiety attack.  How was I ever going to spend 8 hours all alone?  The next thing I knew, it was almost time for the girls to be back from their dive, and I needed to head upstairs to change and meet them.  I literally sat and read, and when I got tired, I took little cat naps.  The cabana boys kept bringing me fresh towels and chair cushions (my day was only interrupted by little rain showers).  By the time we were supposed to meet up, I already felt like a new woman.  No one had asked me to do anything all day, and as much as I love Price and Don, I didn't have to give anything to them.  I just got to be.

That night, we went to dinner at Kramer's.
Impossible to not be charmed by a place with menus woven out of palm fronds

The food was great, but we got there at 5 and the kitchen didn't open until 6:30.  By the time our food arrived, we were feeling happy and HUNGRY!!
This was our view (and my beer) while waiting for dinner, so nothing to complain about!

Of course, I spent the entire trip trying to bat down my internal Charlotte York McDougal Goldenblatt (had to throw in the SATC reference) and convince myself to eat food that may or may not have come into contact with the water we weren't supposed to drink- being married to a public health guy can have it's disadvantages. My hunger always won out though and this was just the first of several good meals to come.

*So, I took a camera without a memory card on this vacation- dumb!!!  But I was able to take a view pis that were stored on my camera's internal memory and I was able to download them tonight.  I apologize if you're re-reading this post, but hopefully the new pics of things I ACTUALLY took pictures of myself make it worth it.


Spamboy said...

See, I think that's the perfect way to travel -- less complication/plans = more relaxation, adventure, and spontaniety. That's how must of my foreign trips have been handled -- I worry about how I'm getting there, then worry about what to do when I get there. Have a great trip!

Melanie said...

Sounds fabulous! It's great that you had 8 hours by yourself. I've had that same feeling of anxiety when I go to a restaurant by myself! I'm also impressed that you went with no schedule set! That can drive me crazy, but I guess we should be easier on ourselves on vacation!!!

I'm Emily! said...

This sounds wonderful!

Related Posts with Thumbnails