Saturday, February 16, 2008

Seeing the sights in Pohnpei

Touring Pohnpei

Because of the timing of the island hopper arriving on Saturday (next flight would arrive Tuesday), we had some free time on the weekend to see the sites of the island. The island is a volcanic high island, with mountains and other cool features, with a surrounding ring of reef a couple of miles away. There is a road that rings the island, and we spent a lot of time going around the island on it.Jim Fruchterman with camera in hand coming out from inside a stone tomb

The most famous site is the ruined stone city of Nan Madol. We walked on a coral path through the jungle to see this city made of basalt slab islands, after paying our admission fee to a representative of the nahmwarki, the local chief. Think of Venice in the Pacific, but with smaller islands. Jim looking up from down inside rectangular stone pitIt was low tide, so we could wade out to one of the biggest of the 90 islands that made up the city. This island, called Nan Douwas, had a large tomb as well as a “jail” and what our guide called the meditation hole. Donna McNear and I took turns climbing down into the meditation hole. Could definitely make you think!
Jim with large rock mountain behind him
From our hotel balcony we could see Sokehs Island, which has a giant pinnacle of stone at the end of it. It reminded me of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in California, and it reminds other of Diamond Head in Hawaii. Impressive piece of rock. It turns out that you can hike along the ridge of Sokehs Island, which provided fabulous views of the harbor, town and airport. When we got up to the ridge, we also found the ruins of a Japanese army installation, complete with large guns, water tanks, bunkers and so on. Pohnpei was not invaded by the U.S. in World War II: it was bypassed and isolated, so I assume the ruins were from bombs or simply the passage of time. It was a reminder of the time when this was a strategic area during the war, the aftermath of which is still shaping these islands. Donna McNear and Mary Kidd in front of a ruined Japanese gun in the jungle

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