Total Pageviews

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

SAKURA 2018: Day 1--Honolulu to Guam

I'm flying this afternoon from Honolulu to Guam.  Never been there before.  I'm primarily doing this because a United Air business class fare from Hawaii to Japan and back is around $6500 ($8800 on ANA), for this is Cherry Blossom season.  A stopover in Guam cuts the United cost to $3300.  I'm saving more than $3000.

I didn't realize Guam was right next to the Marianas Trench, with the lowest ocean depth, nearly seven miles from the surface.  It is 7,044 feet down than Mount Everest is tall.  Here are ten things you can only do on Guam, including diving the Marianas Trench.  Mind you, you can't quite get to the bottom unless you're in some kind of bathyscape.  However, you can pet a coconut crab:

There is another way to Guam, United 154.  The Island Hopper 3 times/week stops on Marshall Islands, Kwajalein Atoll, Pohnpei Island and Micronesia, before landing in Guam.  It takes 15 hours, and economy class prices range from $800 to $1400, depending where you stop.

However, there are tricky ways to reduce costsTravelingDad only paid $318, total, from Newark-HNL-MAJ-KWA-PNI-TKK-GUM-MNL-PEK-ORD-BWI.  There is also some intrigue, as you can't leave the plane and take photos around Kwajalein, for there are strategic defense hardware systems.  You need to transfer to United 737 in Guam for stops on Koror and Palau to reach Manila.  That's an extra cost.  You should read this before taking on UA154.

Guam and Molokai are somewhat similar, with Molokai slightly larger (260 square miles to 210 sm).  They are somewhat the same long shape, with Molokai mostly in the east-west direction and Guam north-south.

Guam International Airport is less than 4 miles from Tumon, where my hotel, the Westin, is located.  For some reason, their airport shuttle costs $30.

Not only is Guam, but I was surprised to learn that Hawaii is also considered to be part of Oceania:

I can't seem to located cherry blossom trees on Guam.  Even Honolulu has them, so I'll keep searching.  The closest thing is the Pink trumpet tree, or Tebebuia heterophylla.

This is a cousin of the Gold Tree, Tabebuia donnell-smithii.  A few of these were planted at several golf courses in Hawaii in tribute to Pearl.  This one to the right is close to Hilo High School.

In 2016 the population of Guam was 162,742, slightly more than a tenth of Hawaii's.  Residents are citizens of the USA, but without the usual rights.  At one time Agana was the capital.  It is now called Hagatna.  The island has two industries:  tourism and the U.S. Armed Forces.  There definitely is OTEC potential here.

The island is known as an unincorporated and organized territory, although it is more an American military colony.  The U.S. has seventeen non-self-governing territories in the Pacific.  Not sure what this means. 

Indigenous Guamanians are the Chamorros, and they make up 37% the local population.  They have been there now for 4000 years.  Ferdinand Magellan visited in 1521, and while he was Portuguese, he was then in service to Spain, leading to colonization by Spanish settlers in 1668.  During the Spanish-American War, the U.S. captured Guam in 1898.

There is a love-hate relationship between Guam and the U.S. Military.  It will get worse when the 5,000 Marines now on Okinawa move to Guam in 2022, with a current contingent of 6,000.  The original announcement said 8,600 service members plus 9,000 dependents, a position assailed by locals.  American culture ranges from roads named after war terms like Purple Heart Highway to other street names after naval officers.  The military occupies 28% of the land.  Guam will remain important to the USA because of China.  Nothing much will change for a long time to come

I will focus on local dishes, and among them are:
  • chorizos breakfast bowl:  chorizo is a Spanish sausage
  • kelaguen:  kind of like ceviche with grated coconut, but any meat is used, with chicken the favorite, but Spam also popular

  • kodon pika:  a spicy stew, with chicken and coconut milk
  • coconut candy:  coconut candy
  • red rice:  like Spanish rice, after all, they were part of the early culture
  • famous for barbeques, especially using the tangan-tangan wood, providing a smoky flavor
At the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on a rainy day, looking at my plane that will take me to Guam, with Diamond Head in the background:


No comments: