villages in guam

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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Mangilao Night Market

It’s nice to get out of Tumon to visit other villages. I finally went to the Mangilao Thursday night market! I don’t spend much time in Mangilao, but I will be going back to this market. Most markets in Guam start either super early in the morning (4am) or in the evening because of the heat. I’m not sure what time this night market starts because some of the vendors said they had been there since 3pm and sold out of most of their food. We left our house at around 6:30pm and stayed for maybe an hour. By that time, some of the vendors were starting to close up.

The market is located in a park next to the church and when we walked in, a lady on a loud speaker was calling out numbers from what I assume was a drawing they held. When she was done, they started playing island style music from a stereo. I immediately spotted the elusive tamale guy! Actually, I learned that his name is T.C. and he is from Guam but lived in The States, where he learned how to make pretty delicious Mexican food. He now sells them at various markets on island. He’s always very nice and friendly and we like to support his business. We bought some beef tamales and drinks.

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Across from him there was another food stand where I ordered a plate (pancit, bbq chicken sticks, lumpia). There weren’t too many places to sit, but we found some bleachers next to the playground and ate our meals. SOOOO yummy!

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After that we walked through the rows of vendors. Some were selling used items and some new, lots of fresh local produce, clothing, DVDs, handcrafted wooden tables, shell jewelry, and lots of other things! If you’re looking for an old school video game (NES, Super Nintendo, PS, original Gameboy…) you might want to check some of these vendors because they sell used games for older consoles.

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I’m always on the lookout for locally made products, which seem to be hard to find, and stumbled upon this booth. They had a variety of locally made products. One of the vendors ran over to me as I walked away and handed me their business card. The website is pretty cool and I’m definitely a supporter of the small business owner. They sell individual products and gift baskets, for those of you who are homesick, you should visit their website Guam Gift Baskets and for those of us who just want some cool products like coconut oil sugar scrub, body oil (a fav of mine for my hair), cookies, tea, clothing and other handmade items.

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On our way out we met a very friendly man who was trying to raise money for his cousin or sister who was running for Donne Queen for the Donne Festival! We bought a book of raffle tickets from them because they were so nice and funny.

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The Donne festival is in September and will be at the same location as the night market. Thanks for a good night Mangilao!

 

The Dead Whale in Guam

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Last week I read about the dead whale that washed on to the reef in Guam. The whale died at sea and ended up in Ylig Bay in the village of Yona. It was both sad and amazing. Over the weekend I went in search of the whale using the map and directions from the newspaper. The small road that leads to the private property was lined with parked cars and people walking to see the whale. We basically had to enter the private property, which included crawling under a locked chain linked fence. We walked past the person’s home and down to the beach. People have been asking me if there was a bad smell, but I didn’t smell anything. The whale had been there for a few days by the time I went to see it. As I reached the bottom of the hill, I could see the massive carcass stuck on the reef. I stood there for awhile and watched as a few crazy people walked out to touch the whale. Hopefully we will find out more about how the whale died and what they are going to do about the carcass. As far as I know, it will be on the reef for awhile!

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!