chilling feet

chilling feet

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Rest of Palau: The Other Three Days of Diving and Adventure

(Just enjoying the view on the way to the dive sites)

Ok, it is a little silly to be so specific on the dives. Instead I'm just going to talk about what we saw and what stood out.  There are already other posts about hikes waiting to be done so we need to get on it!

Day two of diving.  Do you know what a cleaning station is?  It's a really awesome place where fish or sharks go to... clean themselves.  They get parasites or other such junk that needs to be taken care of off their body so they rub against the rocks/coral/etc.  It is really pretty amazing.  
(wind blown hair and beautiful Palau waters in the background - look at the green)

The best part about the cleaning station is it's a gathering point.  We saw a good number of sharks just swimming around and enjoying the sea life.  When we first arrived we did see a shark doing a cleaning.  The shark turned itself vertical, which is really strange looking, and wiggles close to the rocks. Wow. Unfortunately we only saw one cleaning but there were a good seven or so sharks just lingering and lounging. 
(Little blue friends.  We took our camera under water at the stops or lunch breaks)

A surprise at the cleaning station - a giant manta swam by!!  They are so graceful and amazing.  This is why we need to get a housing for our camera.  Superbly excellent.  When I see a giant manta come "flying" (it really looks like they are gliding in the air) nearby or even over my head I'm overcome with the majesty of God.  I find such a joy of God in viewing the creation, especially in such an untouched environment.  I know not everyone feels or sees the same thing, but it truly moves me.  
(Look at all of that enriched air!  But beyond it there are the serene waters of Palau)

(how many blues can your water show at the same time?)
Highlights of the rest of our dives.  We dove down to look at a sea plane, which is pretty cool in the ocean when stuff starts living in, on, around, and through it.  A crown of thorns starfish was the best part of that dive besides the plane. Apparently they can cause problems sometimes.

More sharks.

A dive called turtle wall offered a unique experience with a sea turtle climbing/swimming up the wall, completely oblivious to Sarah and me, while he/she had lunch. It was especially fun to us because every time we've seen sea turtle prior to this they are luxuriously gliding through the water.

There is dive sight called Manta Stadium where we hooked in again to sit and await possible manta sightings.  Only one but this guy (he was male which was confirmed by our master diver) came swimming around the cleaning station straight at us!  He had that "oh hey guys, who wants to jump on for a ride" look on his face as he simply adjusted slightly and went over us.  Wow! And yes I anthropomorphize animals.  I did not react in time for the ride and missed my chance.
(Finally some underwater shots.  Getting ready for our last dive of the trip - a cave dive.  Flashlight in hand, I'm ready)

Our next dive offered us some fun sightings but the best was the remora fish that decided to become a part of our group.  We were not sure if he was trying to attach to some of our swimmers or was just super curious, but this little remora followed us for a good fifteen to thirty minutes.  It was still circling on the ocean floor as we surfaced for our decompression stop.  So funny and super cool because it came really close so we could see it extremely well. 

And we saw some lionfish.  Crazy looking!  But here they have predators unlike down in the water off the coast of the sunshine state where these guys have become quite the ecological pest.  I guess it's not beneficial when nothing else eats you and you have your run of the place (see NZ for how this effects an entire system of plants/animals when new animals are introduced). 

Then for the last dive a cave dive!!
(It was hard to get some great shots - still learning.  But it was amazing!)

Our last dive was done to a set of caves called Chandelier Cave.  The name comes from the stalagmites hanging at times in the shape of what can be perceived as a, you guessed it, chandelier.  

The most interesting part of this dive is we used almost no air.  What?  We swam down to enter the cave system and then surfaced in small cavern where we could take our mouthpiece out and breath freely!  Woah.  Our dive master would take this opportunity to talk to us about the different places we would surface, how to get there, what to do, and how to take care for this particular type of diving.  
(Sarah's scary selfie.  We might have to submit this one to some artistic deal)

We surfaced multiple times and then would head back down into the mysteriously dark waters where we could see only by the grace of our flashlights.  There is an odd feeling about swimming through a dark cave when everything depends on a little light. At one point we switched our lights off and let the total blackness wash over us. Phew. 
(Spooky. It almost looked like some bats hanging upside down at times)

As our guide took us from pool to pool where we could surface and breath the air I have to admit I was impressed how well he could keep the cave system straight.  Quite the fun experience. 
(Look a fish.  We didn't see too much in the caves but this guy had wandered in and we caught  him on camera)
(one more of the chandeliers)
(When we came down from the last surface we could clearly see the exit.  Sweet. At this point I knew I could find my own way out)

One last shot while diving in the cave.  As we were exiting I turned around and posed for a few pics. I love it for some reason.  This pic captures the peculiarity that came from the mixture of the underwater cave and the adventure of how fun it was to dive there.  

More diving to come soon.  But for now a few pics about our last day adventure through Palau. You cannot dive within 24 hours of your flight for the small side effect of possible death, so why not go explore the rest of the island? 
(Time to go)

We rented a car and shot off into Palau proper.  There is a lot of coastline and we had a blast navigating through a much less populated part of the country.
(A shot of our car as we look back across this man made bridge. The steering wheel was on the right but we drove on the right.  What?  I had not found that particular combination yet)
(Lunch stop at a little resort with only bungalows. It was the first lunch stop we had seen in quite some time so we jumped. It was quite tasty.  The most fancy fish sticks I've ever had)
(Stonehenge??  No, but these stone monoliths have a similar mystery about them)

We stopped off to see these stone monoliths on the northern part of the island of Palau.  There is some discrepancy about the purpose or date of the stones.  A few people believe they were the supportive foundation for a large Bai meeting house that the gods were making, abandoned for some reason.  The man we met at the stones said he believed they might be more than 3,000 years old, but that it was for us to make up our own opinion. 

I personally do not know anything about dating stones like this so I figure I'll take the most supported view that they are perhaps from around 100 AD.  But who knows?
(From the end you can see a good number of the stones together)
(As I learn to use the camera and get more creative there will be more shots like this, or hopefully better ones.  But I like this one as it shows Sarah in the distance and the much disputed monolith up close so you can decide how old it is)
(Setting the timer so we can both pose with some monoliths)
(We also stopped by the capital building which was sort of in the middle of no where and near no big town at all.  Kind of strange but a pretty building with all sorts of interesting architecture)
(So our last night we went to a hotel near where we stayed to check out a restaurant we had heard about.  Unfortunately we did not take any pictures of this beautiful resort before the sun went down and this is the best picture of what we have.  So I'm entitling this shot "Happy buffet" - and it was happy.  We saw two people we had been diving with earlier in the week and ended up having dinner with them)

We loved Palau and you should definitely visit, especially if you like to dive.  Wow!!

Coming your way soon.  Some posts on Guam hikes.