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    • Day 2


      July 19, 2003 in Micronesia ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

      Our first afternoon and our first full day were spent scouting out Kolonia and doing dry runs of my presentation in the conference room.

      On my first evening, I ate dinner at the restaurant at Cliff Hotel, where I was staying. I ate a steamed crab, which Pohnpei is famous for. While eating, Craig, a friend of a friend, came by and sought me out. We got to know each other while I ate. On my last evening in Pohnpei, I went to his house for a home cooked dinner. Craig gave me a lot of insights into the islands, the way of life, and the issues they face. Apart from Craig, I also interacted with a hotel staff who brought us sakau, a guy who gave me a ride in his truck when I hiked to Sokehs Rock, and a former Peace Corp volunteer who married a local.

      The infrastructure in Kolonia was a mixed bag:

      - The roads in Kolonia were badly potholed and waterlogged, but there is one nice sealed cross-island road maintained by the US military for strategic purposes.

      - Many of the cars are imported used from Japan, and they have steering wheels on the right. There wasn't a lot of traffic and most drivers steered their cars to avoid potholes. It took me a while to realize that people were actually supposed to drive on the right.

      - The most impressive building in town was FSM Telecom, but the roads in front were in poor shape. I popped in to purchase a $20 calling card to call Jeff. It did not work. Other people also reported the same issue.

      - We attended the opening ceremony for the conference in a brand spanking new gymnasium built by the Taiwanese in the hope of securing favorable fishing rights. The opening ceremony began in the afternoon. When we stepped out after sundown, it was pitch black with no street lighting.

      - There were a number of rusted out ship hulls in the bay.

      - There are no vets on the island. Once a year, a vet will come in from Guam. Some expats take their pets to Guam for treatment.

      Foodwise, I was really surprised to see how cheap the meals were. A set lunch at the nicest restaurant cost only $5.50, and with it we got either fried lapu lapu fish or chicken, rice, a side of tuna sashimi, a cup of vegetable soup from a can, and shredded cabbage with thousand island dressing. However, meals utilizing produce not from the islands (e.g., beef) were much more expensive. I also stepped into a grocery and found a depressingly small amount of fresh vegetables on display. According to Craig, only the hardiest vegetables - namely carrots and cabbage - are imported because they can survive the boat journey over.

      Without doubt, the star of the show was the mangrove crab. I ate a number of crab meals, both at the hotel restaurants and at meals provided as part of the conference. The crabs were huge and succulent.

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    • Day 5

      Sokehs Rock

      July 22, 2003 in Micronesia ⋅ 🌧 26 °C

      I spent a sweltering afternoon hiking up a ridge to an overlook with a view of Sokehs Rock, Kolonia Town and the airport. Along the way, I came across several rusting old tanks from World War II.

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