The final stop on our around the world journey was a live-aboard scuba diving trip on the Aggressor II out of Palau. From Beijing we flew to Seoul, then Tokyo (for an overnight stay), then Guam and finally Palau.
We spent four nights before the big dive trip in a hotel on the island. We had planned to spend a few days doing daytrip scuba dives with a local company but somehow we had both woken up in Tokyo with sinus congestion and headaches, which are no-go conditions for scuba diving. Wouldn't you know it, the first time on our entire trip that we get sick... Anyway, we decided to take it easy. On Palau, taking it easy was easy, because there is virtually nothing to do on land there and it rained like mad for four days because a typhoon was passing nearby. Fortunately our hotel had a good restaurant/brewery right next door on the water.
So, we spent 4 days hanging out in and around the West Coast Plaza Malakal Hotel. Our room had a view of a small oil refinery and one English TV channel with sketchy reception, but decent air conditioning, friendly staff and internet in the lobby. All this for just $80 a night! After four extremely mellow days we were more than ready for some underwater adventure.
I'll just cut to the chase and say that our trip on the Aggressor was fantastic. The weather cleared up, the diving was great, the food was great and the other people on the boat were great. We saw amazing creatures and made some new good friends, it was the perfect ending to our trip. We met Jimmy "The Reverend" Jones a F16 pilot and his wife Ashley, BTT (Big Tank Tom) a scuba and beer drinking genius, Dave, BTT's college friend and a recent born again triathlete, Blue (Dave #2) and a bunch of other people from a dive club in Atlanta.
The diving featured black tip, white tip and grey reef sharks on about half the dives. Visibility in the 100 ft. range. Warm tropical water and cave diving. The previous week a tiger shark was seen from the boat so we did not swim from the boat. Ranking sharks in the world you do not want to see while in the water goes like this. Great White #1, Tiger #2. Much of the diving we did was in strong currents along walls that dropped down 1000+ feet (so we are told). We also saw a manta ray swiming next to our boat and a pod of pilot whales.
After the dive trip we spent a few more days back on land for no good reason. We took a day trip to Peileilu, an island where the USA fought the Japanese in WWII. It seemed as though time had stopped after the war. There are downed fighters, tanks, live mortar shells and grenades just lying on the ground all over the island. We went on a tour with a local woman who was kicking a rusted grenade around on the ground while talking to us until I asked her to stop. She explained they don't blow up "anymore." Yeah right! I told her if it did it would seriously reduce the amount I tipped her! We went on this trip with Blue, Matty and Rich, three of the divers from Atlanta that we met while on the Aggressor.
Anyway, Palau was a great way to end our trip and we already have plans to go diving with BTT in Catalina...