Honeymoon Part One (Palau & Bangkok) 8/8 - 8/19/2006

EWR-NRT-GUM-ROR

I write this now from the President's Club in the airport in Guam. We have a four hour layover before our flight to Koror, Palau.

The first thirty-six hours of our honeymoon have been engaged entirely in getting from New York to Palau. We left at 11:00am Tuesday morning, for a fourteen hour flight to Narita, Japan. Even in business class, fourteen hours is a long flight. We arrived at 2pm Tokyo time, having slept little.

(If I sound somewhat stilted right now, like a poor imitation of a Jane Austen novel, that is because I just finished re-reading Pride and Prejudice, as a break from reading Anna Karenina. These long flights certainly afford time to catch up on reading.)

It was rainy when we flew into Narita, so I didn't get a look at the countryside until we took the bus to the hotel. The area was surrounded by farmland and very densely planted conifer and bamboo groves. Everyone drives on the left in Japan, and the roads are very narrow.

We arrived at the Narita Hilton, and Seth mentioned that we were on our honeymoon, thus securing an upgrade to the Royal Suite. That consisted of a sitting room, a dining room and a king bed in a separate room.

The bed, much like those in India, was much harder than we are used to in the United States, and the commode even stranger than what we found in India. There were several buttons on it that I didn't understand, ones that ran water and blew air in ways that western toilets do not. The most amusing thing about it was the heated seat. I wonder if they have those in Sweden as well.

In the afternoon we went for a swim in the hotel pool to try to make ourselves more alert. They were very serious about cleanliness, with sterile slippers for walking around the fitness area, and all bathers required to wear swim caps. We then took the hotel shuttle into Narita proper, where we went to a sushi bar recommended by Seth's friends on FlyerTalk.

Even though we were very tired, the sushi was incredible. I've always heard that Japanese sushi bars have much smaller portions than those in the US, but these pieces would have put Monster Sushi to shame. The most incredible item was the sweet shrimp, a pink, uncooked shrimp with a light, sweet flavor and the texture of butter—so delicious. The wasabi was quite different from what we are used to in New York also, having more sweetness and horseradish flavor than heat.

Then we made our way back to the hotel and fell asleep as soon as we got into bed. Julie, we did get a picture of a little Japanese slug. So much more elegant and refined than western and European slugs!

This morning we had breakfast at the Hilton. They served a mixture of western food and Japanese food at the breakfast buffet. I tried some breakfast miso soup—it tasted just like what one gets at a sushi restaurant in New York, although there were more options for things to put in it: baby mushrooms, different pastas, carrot slices.

In the Business Class Lounge in the Narita airport, Seth was much taken with the beer machine. It dispensed beer into a glass, varying the angle as the glass filled so as not to give rise to too much foam, then had a separate spigot to deposit foam on top. He took some pictures, much to the amusement of the Japanese tourists who are used to machines like that.

All in all, our time in Japan was much too short, but even 14 hours was enough to show me that it is a very civilized country, and one which I would love to explore in greater depth.

Palau

"Palau" means "island" in the language of Palau, and that's what it is—one big island with the airport and a modern capital city that no one wants to move to, and then countless others to the south, some of which are big enough to build on, but most of which are small rock islands, undercut by the motion of the waves, and steep, with palms and pine trees growing on the slopes.

We arrived at night and took a van from the airport to the hotel, the Palau Pacific Resort. The van, like most of the cars here, had its steering wheel on the right, even though, being a former US protectorate, people here drive on the right. I'm sure it makes taking buses dicey, but since the airport shuttle let us out in the hotel's driveway, it wasn't much of a problem.

Welcome to Palau

Dunking our feet in the ocean upon our arrival

Enjoying sunset on the beach, the way it should be done

The beach.

Crystal clear water

Linnea enjoying the beach.


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