With tourism as the backbone of the economy and with hundreds of tourists scouring the island everyday, locals may tend to take for granted the scenic attractions Palau has to offer.
Come with me on a day’s tour to Babeldaob, (the Big Island) with the Palau Visitors Authority (PVA) at the helm as they conduct a familiarization tour to a batch of tour operators and travel agents from Australia. The group was composed of Kristyn Ward and Fern Fraser from Dive Adventures, Cheryleigh Jacobs from Continental Airlines, Michael O’Leary from Travelscene, Bill Coleman, Lisa Edwards from Nautilus Scuba Centre Toowong Pty. Ltd., Michael Harris from Harris Park Holdings Pty. Ltd., Steve and Lee Grow from Aquatic Explorer and from Tweed Seasports.
The day started with a brief visit to the NECO Marine compound in Malakal, with guide Jessica then the group proceeded to the Etpison Museum, where they took photos and bought souvenirs of Palau. The long but scenic ride to Babeldaob proved interesting for the guests.
We had a brief stopover at the Capitol in Melekeok State before proceeding to northernmost tip of Ngarchelong, in Badrulchau where the famed stone faces and monoliths are located. Open cottages with tempting benches are available. Guests were treated to a soothing cool breeze and a superb view of the stone faces and monoliths down the valley. A short distance away, we can see the waves crashing on the shore endlessly.
To get to the monoliths, we had to go down more than a hundred crudely-built stairways and walk under the heat of the noonday sun (don’t think about the return trip yet). But the walk and the heat was worth it.
It felt awesome to be standing in the site of the ancient stone monoliths which are mysterious in origin. After a quick lunch under the shade of the open huts, we got back on the bus and proceeded to the island’s highest waterfalls in Ngardmau State. I hesitated to go down as I was warned that the trail was not easy, but I had to complete the trip. We had to go down steep slopes with the aid of thin wooden canes, pass through rivers and bubbling Jacuzzi-like lagoons, enticing us to take a dip.
Very soon, we heard the splashing and the huge waterfalls with its curtain of water cascading down met our eyes. The group, except me bathed in the cold water. It was time to go back and I realized the warning was wrong. The return trip was not hard. It was very hard. Going up the hill with the sun beating down your back and your sweat steaming down is not fun, but again, it was worth it.
Tired but happy, the group boarded the bus again, it was time to go back to Koror, and for the group to go back home the next day, this time to entice their countrymen to come and experience the wonders of Palau.