Sunday, June 5, 2011

Travel - Guam (Part 2/5)


As mentioned, Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is part of the USA only differ by the fact that the "state / territory" has no voting rights. With almost 40K US troops stationed there, the Guam government received an annual compensation or so-called rent for that part of the land within the island accordingly to my sources. That is a fairly large sum of money for an island of this size and population, so in other words, I say Guam is quite rich! It does make one wonders why the USA want to keep this island under its control repeatedly over the past century or so. Time for some history? Like it or not, I am going to talk about it for a bit before going into details of my trip which include tons of food 24/7 and a few exciting activities such as flying a plane and other water sports. Of course it is a given to be able to see clear blue sky and fluffy clouds almost every single morning!

Guam does have quite a vibrant history of it own, not a very pleasant one in my opinion but vibrant nonetheless. Due to its geographic location, it is of high demand for various raising superpower through modern history. The island was not in anyone's radar until the discovery of it by a Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 sailing under commission of the King of Spain. It was soon after that Spain claimed the island of Guam in 1565 and officially colonized it in 1668 (of course the indigenous population of Guam does not have much say to this since the island was inferior to the Spanish in terms of development and technology). The island acted as a crucial resting port for the Spanish Manila galleons throughout its 333 years of ruling. It was until the Spanish-American war in 1896 that the USA took control of Guam from the Spanish. (The Spanish wanted to sell the island to Germany for $5 million at that time but failed to do so before USA took control of the island) It was 1941 during the start of the WWII when the Japanese took control of the island until 1944 when ruling was restored. So why is this tiny little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean so popular among nations? In my opinion, it is what we called geopolitics in modern history. In addition to its strategic location in the Pacific Ocean, the island reassemble that of a floating aircraft carrier for nation controlling it. For the USA, it gives it a foothold thousands of miles away from its homeland and for national security reasons, it can so-called oversee and balance the its power in the Pacific region. If one think about it deeply, it is no wonder why the USA continues its "support" for Taiwan, an island state so close to China, over the many years since the WWII. The amount of troops are expected to build up in the next couple of years as a move to transfer marines from Okinawa base. Some raised concerns over how the local Chamorro cultures will be affected with such an increase of population but I think the damage has been done. My take is that the so-called Chamorro cultures, especially its culinary cultures have been greatly affected by the the Spanish, Japanese and American over the past centuries that what one calls traditional is somewhat blurred.

Alright, enough history and politics here, time to get back to more casual stuff! Just in case I forgot to mention, I was here on a 7-day trip invited by the Guam Visitor Bureau to experience Guam. Just so you know Guam is extremely hot throughout the year and quite humid if you ask me. Expect constant sweat and forget about bring extra clothes out to change because within 5 mins your shirt will be all sweaty once again. To be honest, after a few days I got used to sweating and quite interesting to eat under such sweaty condition. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the local tour guide Billy who gave each of us a "lei." How nice of him but it said Hawaii instead of Guam, oh well! HAHA


We stayed at the Fiesta Resort along the Tumon Bay area.


Not the newest hotel in town but wait until you see the view from my room! Another plus is the fact that the hotel has Haagen-Dazs right downstairs at the Lobby!


My room has a balcony overlooking the Tumon Bay (plus vacation goers in their swim wears! Mostly Japanese as I mentioned before) The following is the view every morning!


Within 30 steps from the hotel, one can start enjoying the sun and beaches!


Sun bathing is a given in Guam but there are other activities as well. After a short rest at the hotel, we were taken to fly a plane!


Before flight, we were briefed ...


... and briefed again ...


... and casually inspected to get our security pass to enter the restricted area ...


... sort of excited at this stage.


So where was my plane?? I want to fly right away!!!


Just joking, that was not my plane of course. Here we go, here was my plane and Captain Dave! (sorry for the bad hair thanks to the constant sweating!)


It was quite confusing just a glance at the cockpit and the different dials / instruments on this rather primitive plane. Dave said flying is just like driving so I drove!!! Sorry for Barbara who sat at the back because I took some steep climbs and dives! haha ...


I will be back for more steep climbs!!


In addition to aviation sports, water sports were part of the itinerary as well.


Guam's sea water is very clear and the shallow coastline area extends quite far into the horizon at most beaches around the island. Main sea activities includes fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and dolphin spotting.


This trip out to sea include all of the above but one of the most interesting would be the Banana Boat! Of course I did that in Hong Kong before and quite a number of times as well but man, look at the gear they had to put on for this EXTREMELY mild ride! If I did not know better I thought they are gearing up for American Gladiators!


When I say mild ride I mean a mild ride! Not exciting at all, just a simple ride dragging by this heavy boat! The chance of flipping over (which is the main purpose if you ask me) is just close to NIL! Seriously, that is not fun!! (P.S. - no dolphin this time unfortunately, I had my gears all ready, burning under the sun trying to capture the moment! all I got was a very nice tan! haha)


For the first two days we were there, our lovely guide Barbra understood the much needed transition to the Chamorro cuisine that would come in the next few days during the festival(s) so she allowed us to explore the various other cuisines available, first stop, Japanese!


It was a logical pick because as mentioned, the island has a continuous inflow of Japanese tourists and the large number of Japanese living in town made Japanese cuisines a very popular choice even among locals. With respect to the size of the population and size of the island, in terms of population density, Guam has more Japanese restaurants than Hong Kong in my opinion!!!!


I have to admit, the Japanese food at this restaurant was quite decent especially this Tuna Sashimi Salad which we ordered repeatedly on that particular night. This dish actually reassemble that of Kelaguen, a common local Chamoru dish which consisted of lemon juice, fresh coconut, green onions, salt and hot red chilies mix. (I will talk about this when we come to Chamoru dishes.)


The seared beef Carpaccio was flavorful ...


... the same goes with the golden crispy honey glazed chicken wings.


What I would not recommend would be the rolls and the omelet rice because the rice was too hard in both cases and cutting through the omelet was like cutting though a piece of well-done steak, a bit of force was required!


In between some activities, we got some free time to walk around and when I saw Denny's, I basically gave up shopping and ordered myself some thick and creamy milkshake instead! I really miss Denny's and every single items on its menu, hearty, greasy yet so satisfying most of time! 


For those who frequented Denny's before, I am sure you can name this following this within seconds! 


Initially I was confused why we were having lunch at this Jamaican Grill but a day later I realized it was like a preparation for what was to come in the next few days! Plenty of meat, BBQ meat!


Up til now, I still can't believe we ordered this family platter to share among the 4 of us! with 2 whole chickens and a dozen stabs of ribs on top of a pile of red rice, this dish can feed a family of 8 no doubt! Oh and this was not the only thing we ordered of course!


Grilled vegetables were much needed not only for this meals but for the next dozens or so because there were just an overwhelming amount of meat, period!


The real Chamoru food is yet to come! stay tuned!

2 comments: said...

Photos are so nice, I love this photos. Thanks for sharing.

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