So I was just back from Palau, which lies southwest of Guam.
Pics from the trip are on my Google photo album. I had high expectation for the trip since the place sounded so fascinating when I was googling it, and the experience totally blew my mind… well part of it was because I had some “accidents” 🙂
After we arrived we went to Dolphins Pacific for an afternoon of dolphins fun. The first hour or so we are introduced to the Dolphins and watched them doing tricks, and got a chance to take pics with them.
The second hour we have a swim-with-the-dolphins program where we petted the dolphins and watch them jump out of the water while we’re also in the water… that’s quite cool! Then we got dragged around holding their fins… yay. They’re so cute and friendly, and the way they look at you with half-open eyes just melt your heart.
On the second day we went diving with Neco Marine. Our first dive was at the German Wall, which was beautiful; besides the corals, there are many medium-sized fishes, so you feel like you’re swimming with… food!
After some lunch bento, our dive master decided to change course and dive at the Blue Corner – one of the most famous spots in Palau. It’s a series of underwater cliffs with steep drop-offs, and currents met there creating some incredible drift. There are a lot of sea life there, presumably because of the abundance of food washed over there. The sea was rough but according to the dive master it was good enough for diving, so we descended and reached the cliff. There we experienced some very strong currents – in fact you can hear the water roar like gust! And you can see hundreds if not thousands of fishes “sitting” there, swimming against and along the current. Unfortunately I accidentally dropped my weight belt and was tossed around by the current, could barely hold onto the ocean floor! After some work I put the belt back on, and after about 15 mins of observation we came back up. However I was pretty nauseous from the rough sea when I was ascending, and the physical exertion combined with lack of oxygen in my body due to diving, caused a full body cramp… wow it was quite something when you cramp so much that even your chest could not properly expand and contract, leading to the feeling of suffocation! After lying down for a while on the boat, I got a bit better, but walking for the rest of the day was still difficult.
On the third day we dive at the Siaes Corner and Ulong Channel. The former is a wall which has a good amount of wild sea life, and the latter is an underwater channel. Unfortunately it seems I haven’t completely recovered from the incident yesterday, and was feeling pretty nauseous again. This time, the currents seems to inflict motion sickness on me and I was throwing up underwater At first I was really worried since I don’t know what’d happen if I throw up, but then I got used to it and felt better after the business… the day’s dive was actually fantastic, while on the way to Siases Corner we actually saw a gang of dolphin “kids”, I reckon there are 10 or so dolphins swiming across. While it’s cool to play with “pet” dolphins at Dolphins Pacific, it’s something else to be so close to so many wild dolphins. Also when we ascend from the Ulong Channel dive, we saw many different types of sharks, such as tiger shark, reef sharks and finally a rather large leopard shark right under our boat. Cool beans.
On the 4th day we went on touring Rock Island with… Rock Island Tour Company! I’m not sure why but very few westerners go on this tour, we couldn’t book one with the english-speaking operators. But we got through via the aforementioned operator which is owned and caters Japanese. Anyway not a big deal, the guides are local and they speak both languages.
At the first stop we reached Milky Way, which is a cove saturated with weathered limestone deposits, making the water very milky, and the bottom is full of “cement”, limestone mud that looks like papier mache 🙂 We smear the mud on ourselves since it’s all supposed to help your skin… and swimming there is a lot of fun.
After that we went to the Jellyfish Lake, which is a lake full of jellyfishes! But due to lack of predators, their tentacles has devolved and so you won’t get stung swimming with them. After a steep climb up and down, we reached the lake and snorkeled… wow the underwater scene is so unique! Millions of jellyfishes, large and small, totally occupy the bottomless water, it’s almost like a night sky! There are so many jellyfishes there that you keep bumping into one when you swim around. They look fragile with their semi-transparent body, but they live 6 months to 1 year, and grows 1cm/day. Those tiny ones are smaller than your finger nails!
We had lunch at one of the tribal base from the Survivor: Palau show, after which we went snorkeling outside Fantasy Island. The place is so full of fishes, although I’ve dived in many places, this place has the highest density of fishes I’ve ever seen.
We fed the fishes, and they basically mobbed your hands. Initially only the small fishes dug in, but after a minute even the larger fishes started to grab a chunk!
All in all, this is one of the best trips I’ve been… I wouldn’t hesitate to go back again if I’ve got the chance to, but this time may be I’ll get some sea sick pills 🙂