tumon

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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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Japanese Memorial, Park Life, and Pig Trails!

Hey everyone, hope you’re all having a great month! Just wanted to share some of my recent explorations in Guam. Starting with the South Pacific Japanese Memorial Park in Yigo. This shrine is in one of the buildings on the main part of the park.

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I’ve been here before but this time I wanted to see the Japanese caves. I took the stairs, which are covered by tree branches, down to the trail that leads to the caves. The trail also leads to a water well, that the Japanese soldiers built to collect water while living in the caves, and then out to the main area of the park.

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Below, shows the area where a Japanese general took his own life during WWII.

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Down in the lower part of the park where the Japanese caves are, we were surrounded by bamboo forests. They make a squeaking noise when the breeze moves them, it is a little eerie at times but so peaceful.

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On sunny days we go to the park! Sometimes when we don’t have time to go for a hike or leave Tumon, you can find me sitting at Ypao Beach Park in Tumon. I love reading, people watching, and feeling the sun on my skin.  Just enjoying my life. Occasionally there are people at this park making boats, like the one in the photo below.

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Finally, what started as a hike to explore more Japanese caves on Nimitz Hill ended with a swarm of mosquitoes attacking us. We hopped on the bike and drove off and around the corner to the trail that goes to Fonte Dam. We followed the trail all the way down until we couldn’t take the bike any further. Because it has been raining on-and-off these past few weeks, the trail was muddy.

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From there we hopped off and walked around a bit. There was this random bridge over a stream that allowed us to walk up some more. It was a pretty hot day so we just sat down, drank some water, and ate the snacks I packed.

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Of course I found LOTS of pig trails, and some dog prints too, that led to a muddy pool of water; I’m sure the pigs like to cool off in that puddle. Although, I would be terrified if I ever ran into a wild boar on a hike, I am always curious about them.

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Some of my best days in Guam have been exploring places where people don’t usually go. We have found a lot of wartime structures on random walks in the jungle. It’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle in Tumon and see a different side of the island that not many people get to see.

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Things to Do in Guam: Underwater World Aquarium

There’s something about aquariums that make me feel calm and peaceful. It’s probably the low lighting, the reflection of the water, and the sea creatures swimming by. When I lived in Oregon, my sister and I loved visiting the Oregon Aquarium. I always thought it was the best aquarium I’d ever been to and it was once home to Keiko the whale! That’s why I was a bit uninterested in visiting the Underwater World in Guam. I didn’t think that any other aquarium would be better than the one in Oregon, so why bother. During my parent’s trip to Guam, we decided to check out the Underwater World Aquarium one rainy morning. We were able to get 50% off of our entrance fee with our local ID, so it turned out to be about $11.50 per person (slightly cheaper than the Oregon Aquarium but that aquarium also has a zoo which is included in the fee, Guam does not). Maybe I’m a cheapskate but every attraction on Guam seems to be double the price of what I think it should be. If it weren’t for the local discount, I probably wouldn’t do anything!!

I think I was expecting Guam’s aquarium to be the same as the few aquariums that I’ve been to, Oregon and London. At those aquariums, I saw similar or the same type of sea animals in both. Guam’s Underwater World is about double the length of the Oregon aquarium, is home to many different types of fish found in tropical waters, and for an extra fee you can dive in and swim with the sharks. I was surprised, in a good way, by the variety of tropical animals it housed and the length of the aquarium. If you’re new to Guam, this is a great place to go! Some people will never get to see most of these animals in the wild, so the aquarium is the perfect place to go. There are sharks, sea turtles, manta ray, and other tropical fish throughout the aquarium. They were all very active and easy to see. Once we finished walking through the aquarium, we entered another section that had separate displays of sea creatures including sea horses, eels, water snakes, and TONS of other fish that can be found in Guam’s waters. It took us about an hour to get through the entire aquarium. Definitely a great experience. In the evenings, it opens up as a bar so you can have drinks inside the aquarium and watch the animals swim by! I enjoyed this and had a great time. It was actually better than the two other aquariums I’ve been to!

 

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America’s Best Kept Secret

When I find really good music I immediately feel like I should share it and enlighten everyone about my findings. Then I get this feeling, that maybe it’s too special to share and maybe no one will understand or appreciate it. These conflicted feelings I get about music, I also get about Guam. As I think back to the first time I swam at the beach in Tumon, I remember floating on my back and staring into the blue sky, unable to believe that this place existed outside of T.V. documentaries and travel magazines. Places like Guam had always been my ideal paradise. When I thought about all those people who had labeled Guam as inferior to the rest of the U.S. I felt like saying, “In your face, I live in paradise!” Maybe I did, I can’t really remember. Who would have thought that way out in the Pacific Ocean this unknown island existed. I sure as hell didn’t! That’s when I started my blog, because I decided that Guam was way too special to keep private and it deserved to shine! People should know the truth about the island. Sometimes I worry that once this secret, that belongs to the U.S., is discovered the island will be ruined by throngs of messy tourists. Contrary to my worries, on Guam, tourists make it a better place and this is not a secret that should be kept. The island deserves more recognition for its natural splendor and culture. I feel that Guam’s beaches are extremely underrated and are even as good as Boracay’s White Beach (Boracay voted Best Beaches in the World 2011 by TripAdvisor), in the Philippines. So over the last two years I’ve accumulated tons of pictures, but more specifically I want to share with you the beautiful sunsets of Guam. They’re always very dramatic, providing a good evening show. These are some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

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December 2013 the view on my birthday at Guam Reef Hotel.

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Tumon beach walk

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Two Lover’s Point

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Top of the Kmart parking lot…most incredible yet.

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Man Bags, Crocs and Tourists Oh My!

When I first arrived in Guam I was home alone a lot. So, during the first few weeks I spent the majority of my time going on walks and people watching! Who doesn’t like to do that every-now-and-then?? I took walks down the main street in Tumon and, to my surprise, I found that there was a lot to see. Guam is such a popular tourist destination among Japanese and Korean tourists that most jobs in Tumon require Japanese speaking employees. Tumon is the main area where tourists stay and where most of the high end shops are. I tried to play undercover photographer when I took photos of the most popular and unique fashion I’d seen tourists wearing.

Crocs are undeniably the oddest-looking shoe I’ve ever seen, yet they tend to be a must have among the tourists. Unfortunately, the Croc store closed. One evening I was sitting on the bench outside of the closed Croc store when a family walked by and read the sign, “Sorry, closed.” They seemed really devastated, almost as though the Croc shop was on their list of top 10 things to see in Guam. I saw Crocs so much that they began looking normal to me and I wanted a pair! Peter forbade it. haha

The things I find MOST interesting are the platform shoes women wear and that men LOVE to carry man bags! Yes, man bags are a big hit with Japanese tourists in Guam. Ohh where do I begin…I think they’re fabulous! Sometimes women aren’t carrying purses but their husband/boyfriend will be! Man bags are sometimes even nicer than lady purses. I think it’s really interesting how this is perfectly acceptable, whereas in The States people wouldn’t think so. I always wondered how men got along without purses.

Anyway, this is just a small difference in culture, but I think it’s really fascinating and I can’t wait to visit Japan and see what their world is like.  Enjoy the photos and have a great weekend!