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There have been only a handful of times that I ever questioned my decision about moving to Guam. One of those times was the evening that I arrived on island. As the taxi pulled out of the airport and onto the road toward my new home of Tumon I noticed that most of the island was dark. I asked Peter where the city center/downtown was and he responded, “I don’t think there is one but I guess Tumon.” I looked out toward the bay, darkness, and in that moment I realized just how small Guam is.

People often ask me where the best place is to live in Guam. I have no idea. For the last three years, I’ve lived happily in Tumon. It was important that I live somewhere that was pedestrian friendly and near the beach, since I didn’t have a car. What’s the point of living on an island if I can’t walk to the beach! Although it is a little pricier than other villages, it can be done affordably. We chose to live a different lifestyle than the one we led in the states. We don’t want a car or smartphones (shock!), we rent furnished places, and try to live as minimalistic as possible. Even though we’ve lived on Guam for a few years now, we try to have fun and live like we might leave tomorrow; enjoying everything we possibly can.

If apartment hunting in Tumon, make sure that you aren’t fooled by the location of “upper Tumon.” People like to advertise as upper Tumon to charge more and make their place more appealing but, there isn’t an upper Tumon, there is just Tumon. If you can’t easily and quickly walk to the beach or you have to cross Marine Corps Drive to get to the beach, you’re not in Tumon. I consider Tumon to be From the Hilton Hotel all the way down San Vitores to Gun Beach/Fai Fai Beach and a little bit up the hill toward Tagada.

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Why I ❤ Tumon

  • Although I’m curious about life in other villages, I love Tumon because I feel like I’m on vacation. That’s partly due to all the tourists running around and having fun.
  • There’s always some form of entertainment available; whether it’s the beach, bars, coffee shops, dancing, restaurants, aquarium, parks, live bands, shopping; the list goes on and on.
  • Every hotel has different restaurants, bars, and cafes that are really good.
  • Driving down the hill after a long day at work and seeing the sparkling ocean is just another perk of living in Tumon.
  • And OH MY GOODNESS, cloudy or clear, the sunsets are ALWAYS amazing.

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  • There are so many fun and free things to do in Guam, especially Tumon, that we don’t have to spend a lot of money on entertainment if we don’t want to.
  • Any kind of food you want at all price ranges, you’ll find it in Tumon.
  • There are sidewalks up and down the main road that’s great for running or walking.
  • During my morning walk, I usually pass a foreign couple getting married at one of the many chapels that line the beach. I see them so often that I’ve noticed their weddings are all the same, but I’m sure to them it is a unique and memorable experience. Who wouldn’t want to get married in a chapel made of glass overlooking the ocean?

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  • Beach access is just a few minutes away…can’t beat that.
  • Tumon is the best place to live if you want to be in the center of all the activity and fun. There are festivals throughout the year at Ypao Beach Park and in the Pleasure Island district.

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  • It’s pretty safe and doesn’t take long for police officers to come when needed.
  • Most places have generators in case of power outages (which happen frequently).
  • Sometimes I stop to watch a fisherman throw his net to catch the really small fish near the shore. The beach is a great place for people watching.

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Things I Don’t

I wish though, that Tumon was either pedestrians only or that the weekends were, because the cars drive WAY too fast, don’t respect people walking or crossing the street, and tear up the road. During rush hour it’s really hard to get out of Tumon because of all the cars driving through trying to avoid the busy roads.

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As much as I think tourists make Guam a better place, living in Tumon has made me appreciate the towns and cities that aren’t tourist attractions. It is definitely more expensive, crowded, and fast-paced and I can see why someone might choose a different village. Although generally the tourists are fun and friendly, they seem fascinated with Peter’s and my hair. I didn’t think my hair was out-of-the-ordinary and at first I didn’t mind when they’d point at me and squeal, “kawaii, kawaii!!” and sometimes they’d ask to take pictures with me. Then one day my family and I were having a picnic when a tourist came over and pointed to Peter’s hair and then to her camera. I suddenly felt really offended like, “We’re not part of your vacation package nor are we animals in a zoo!!” I kindly said no and from that point on I decided not to let people take pictures of us anymore and to be more mindful of things that I might do when visiting foreign countries. If you can afford to visit Guam, then you probably have a T.V./internet where you can see people with curly hair.

The beaches are gorgeous, with white sand and blue water. Unfortunately there are so many hotels that have monopolized the shores, filling them with large water toys and beach chairs under umbrellas, that it’s hard to find a nice shady place to set up your own beach towel and swim.

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And of course after a busy weekend of BBQ’s there’s the garbage problem.

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There is more good to Tumon than bad and living here has allowed me to lead a completely different lifestyle than I could have in Oregon. I feel like a beach bum half of the time! I truly am lucky to have such a wonderful life, to have had many of my dreams come true, and to be able to experience life on an island. I’m glad that we chose to live this way. I feel so free and never tied down by having too much stuff. It is a great feeling and on top of that I can’t complain about the beauty that I get to see everyday by living in Tumon.

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My Happy Place

After this last trip to Ritidian and the outdoor hikes I’ve done since then, I think I’ll be staying out of the sun for awhile and give my skin a break. I love going to Ritidian for hiking, swimming, and relaxing under the trees. I always feel refreshed after beach days, especially after days at Ritidian. It’s so quiet, I could walk on the sandy beach for a mile without realizing it, and when it gets too hot I like to wade in the water. I love chasing birds, looking at the shells and rocks that wash up on the shore, and staring into the sky. It’s always beautiful here, that terrible drive is actually worth it! This beach has a special place in my heart.

Scoot, Scoot!

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Before I moved to Guam, Peter told me he drove a scooter and a motorcycle and that I’d have to get a helmet. I thought, “No way am I going to be able to do this.” Before we left Portland we went helmet shopping. Of course I had a panic attack, feeling like I couldn’t breathe in that thing! Here I am a year later and I LOVE riding around on them.

Surprisingly, not too many people drive scooters or motorcycles on Guam. Being an incredibly small island, there are a lot of vehicles on the road; thus, causing a lot of traffic. In addition to the traffic, the coral based roads are full of potholes. There isn’t really a dependable public transit system in place. Using the scooter has been nice to get around quickly and spend less on gas.  A few things have happened while scooting, beetles and other bugs ALWAYS fly into us and they usually hit us right in the middle of the face, sometimes geckos that are sleeping on the scooter fly off and onto our legs or arms, and sometimes we hit one of those potholes that shakes us up a bit!

Many people here don’t understand how we can get by without a car. When we had a car, it was the worst driving experience of my life! The roads on Guam are not built for all the traffic and the drivers don’t always follow the law (often running red lights and speeding). It took me nearly an hour to get home after work, when it should have taken me 15 minutes. I’m not sure where people are going at all hours of the day/night and why families need one car per person. A car does make life easier during the rainy season, but we got by without one before and we can do it again! The view is so much better when you’re not boxed in and the wind feels so good on a hot day! Just remember, if you see a motorcycle or scooter on the road, be a kind and respectful driver. It’s only unsafe for us out there when other cars  drive recklessly!

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August Adventures in Guam

Howdy!

I can’t believe how quickly August has come and gone. Summer in The States is coming to an end and the rainy season in Guam is in full effect. Again, I put together a short video of some of my August activities. It’s funny looking back at the end of the month to see what I did. August was a peaceful month for me. I discovered a new beach that I hadn’t been to before. I also tried to bodyboard for the first time, which is actually quite difficult in Guam because inside the reef there aren’t any waves! At least I had fun trying and pretending I was awesome!

We also did some fishing, with no luck! I don’t know what we’re doing wrong. We had dinner at Jeff’s Pirate’s Cove where I had a chicken gyro and listened to the one man band.

I did a lot of staring up into the sky, laying on the beach and relaxing at the park! Sounds like a good month to me!

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A Rainy Beach Day…

Hope you enjoy the video! Ritidian on a rainy day.

I’ve been craving beach time a lot lately, so we loaded up the car and drove on that beat up road to Ritidian Beach again. There was a giant, ominous cloud drifting over the island. Being optimistic, I thought it might just pass us without a threat to our beach day. Half way through the drive the rain poured and didn’t stop for about 1 ½ hours. We waited in the car until the humidity was so intense that we were drenched in sweat. So we ran, umbrella in hand, to a shelter outside. Then the thunder and lightening began and we thought it would be safer in the car! The thunder was so strong that it shook the car! The rain slowed and we couldn’t take the humidity in the car anymore so we took a walk on the beach. As usual, once the storm passed it turned out to be another beautiful day on Guam. During our walk on the beach, we gathered shells and then decided to jump in the warm water. Ritidian really is a beautiful beach. The sand is also different than any other beach I’ve visited on Guam. If you were curious about the weather in Guam, this is a perfect example of what the rainy season is like. I think it rained in one day what it would rain in one month back in Oregon. It will just pour down, seemingly out of nowhere, and then suddenly clear up and the sun will shine again. As you can imagine, the heat and rain combined make for a HUMID day!

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Villages in Guam: Umatac

One sunny Sunday afternoon we decided to take a drive around the island and ended up in Umatac. Before arriving, we stopped at a couple viewpoints. One in particular was near Sella Bay and Mount Lam Lam. We took pictures of the bay and continued on. Umatac is my favorite village in Guam. Immediately upon entering the southern village I knew I would like it. It felt much different than any other place on Guam. It was quiet, clean, had a small-town feel and just reminded me that I am in a different country with a very rich culture and history.

We first stopped across the street from the village church that was built when the old church crumbled. There is a large white cross now where the old church used to be. The view was absolutely amazing. The water looked like a thousand diamonds were sitting on top. The houses along the shore were brightly colored, just like most homes on Guam. I really like the architecture of the homes here. They make me want to buy a house! My favorite houses are the ones that have staircases that lead up to the rooftop! After looking out over the bay, we hopped back on the scooter and headed around the corner. Umatac is known for being the place where the Spanish first landed. There are bright red bridges over the Umatac Bay that lead up the hill to the Spanish Fort.

As we entered the Spanish Fort park, I spotted a carabao and had to take a picture with him! The fort is extremely old and most of it has withered away. There were a few canons, which I’m not sure are original but I’m thinking they were just replicas. There was also an interesting stone structure which I never figured out what it was used for. The fort is on the top of the hill, so of course the view from up there was incredible. Looking down upon Umatac you can see the cemetery in one of the photos.

If I had to settle down in Guam forever, even though it’s so far from jobs and stores, I’d choose Umatac. Definitely a great village. On our way home we stopped at a park in the village of Merizo where I found a group of chickens wandering around. Next village post: Merizo!

Lost Pond

Well, hello there readers! A few posts back I mentioned that on a failed search for Lost Pond, I fell upon an incredibly beautiful beach near Tanguisson Beach.  A couple of weekends ago, we decided to give the search for Lost Pond another try. I’d researched videos online to  find out where the entrance into the jungle was. We still managed to get lost! We entered the jungle too soon and ended up deep within the palm trees and coral. We also stumbled upon an old Chamorro village!  As we passed through the village, we spotted a few deteriorated latte stone and continued on.

30 mosquito bites later, we were nowhere in sight of Lost Pond. I was beginning to get angry. The coral became very jagged and dangerous so we decided to head back to the beach. We felt as though we’d failed again, but as we reached the end of the secluded beach, a few military guys burst out of the jungle! They told us that Lost Pond was just through that part of the jungle and that there was red tape that led the way! By this time we were itchy, hot and frustrated so we decided to take a quick swim and snorkel before heading into the jungle again. The same military guys found a blue starfish that they gave to me to take photos of.

     
Once we rested, we headed into the jungle again! This time, we were successful! The path was sooo easy and fast. Along the way someone spotted a giant monitor lizard! Just as we turned the corner you could see the water between the trees. It was beautiful! Lost Pond is a sink hole/sunken cave which then formed a freshwater pool.

I, of course, did not swim. Peter went in  and said there were some deep spots and lots of jagged rocks. After our successful journey we headed back home, satisfied 🙂

Boracay

Philippine Vacation Video  (click the link to watch the video)-edited by Petey.

Possibly the smallest airport I’ve ever been to in the world, the flight from Manila to Kalibo airport was about 45 minutes.  As we descended toward Aklan, I could see Boracay from the plane. Boracay is famous for it’s beautiful White Beach. From the airport, we got on a bus that took us on a two hour ride across the island so that we could board a boat to Boracay. I loved the island of Aklan. It was very crowded like Manila, but much more authentic and less influenced by the world. Children walk around barefoot, people live in bamboo huts with roofs made out of leaves. It’s so peaceful and everyone seemed to be busy doing something. When we finally made it to the port to board a boat that would take us to the next island, Boracay, it was late afternoon.

I’d expected Boracay to be very laid back, quiet and a hidden gem. To my surprise, the beach was packed with tourists from all over the world. It looked as if the Las Vegas strip had moved to a tropical island! We stayed at Boracay Beach Club, located in Station 1, because of the reviews and the good deal we got. Included in our resort stay we had a daily breakfast,  free drinks, full body massage, a banana boat ride and a sunset cruise on a sailboat. Our stay at BBC was wonderful! I strongly recommend staying here. The people are very friendly, it’s across the street from White Beach, very quiet and secure. White Beach, I’ve heard, is the world’s #2 most beautiful beach. As you can see in the pictures, the sand really is white which makes the water look even prettier. The first day we arrived, we watched the sunset as we had our dinner. It wasn’t until the next morning that we were really able to appreciate the beauty of White Beach. Almost too bright to look at! We also visited Puka Beach, which is a beach made up of broken puka shells. It isn’t as busy as White Beach and the water is a bit rougher. To get there we took a motorized tricycle. This is the most commonly used way to get around the island.

Boracay’s White Beach is separated into three stations. Each station appeals to a different crowd. I think Stations 2 & 3 are the party stations, while station 1 was more for families and couples.

D Mall was about a 10 minute walk from BBC and that’s where you can find a maze of shops, vendors and restaurants. Along the way I took pictures of the radio station, school and other random things I thought were interesting. The nightlife is good, any day of the week and all night long. Lots of techno/electronic music!

In Boracay things are more expensive than Manila, but still affordable for anyone coming from a country with a good exchange rate. We had dinner at a different place each night. Around D Mall you can find ANY kind of food you want. In addition, you eat your dinner on the beach and there’s always a live band playing. It just makes the experience so much more magical! Even in Boracay there are kids that line the walk way trying to sell you things, usually beads or laser lights. I had a conversation with one of the kids who wore a feather in his hair. He said, “Here touch the beads.” As I reached my hand out to look at the necklace he was trying to sell but stopped quick when he added, “but you touch, you buy!”

The banana boat ride was fun and exciting, the sailboat cruise was beautiful but the massage was horrible. I’d never had one before and I’m not a fan of having strangers touch me so I did not enjoy this. That would be the only downside to my whole time in Boracay.

Every night at sunset, a group of birds (never figured out if they were bats or not) swarm the trees for about 10 minutes and then disappear. Every sunset was even more beautiful than the previous. The weather is less humid than Guam, but still incredibly hot!

This was a vacation I will never forget and I plan on going back. During our last day in the Philippines we found a little post office and mailed out post cards that took about a month and a half to reach their destination. It’s amazing how Boracay’s people mix with the tourists. On one side of the street you find tourists, boats, jet skis, half nude beach goers and on the other you find locals selling a bottle of Coke for 17 pesos ($0.25!) catching rides from motortrikes and going about their business. There are so many amazing things that happened, not just in Boracay but all of my Philippines vacation, that I’m probably forgetting to share. I had a great time, learned so much and can’t wait to go back. And next time…I won’t pay $25 for a cab ride!

Things To Do In Guam: Tanguisson Beach Park & Hilaan

On a quest to find Lost Pond, we stumbled upon this very secluded beach with only a few fisherman scattered along the shore. The Tanguisson Beach Park is absolutely beautiful! Most people gather at the entrance where there is a large rock that provides shelter and a nice place to have a BBQ. If you continue down the beach, walking through the water and around to the very end of the beach, you will find the bluest water, white sand, and not a soul in sight. On this specific day, the weather was not looking nice but we decided to go anyway and take a chance. What a great decision that was. As soon as we entered the park, the skies were a perfect blue color and the weather was very warm. I’m estimating that the walk was about a mile to the end of the beach. Remember to bring water shoes because you have to walk through the water to get to the other side of the beach. Also, don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray.

Click this link Tanguisson Beach Park  to watch the video!!

Video by: Peter