Leaving Honolulu meant leaving the 50 States – and since I chose United Airlines Flight 154 – I was going to get a whole lot of flying in that day.
UA 154 is the westbound Island Hopper, going from Honolulu to Majuro to Kwajalein to Kosrae to Pohnpei to Chuuk to Guam. The non-stop westbound flight takes about 8 hours. The Island Hopper takes 14.5 hours.
But I wasn’t going to go the whole way – given that I was taking the Island Hopper, I wanted to get off the plane, which I did at Pohnpei, Micronesia.
Not to get too far ahead of myself though: the trip is a long one – and while I’ve had long flights before, this is different from typical long haul flights – the first bit is something like 6 hours, but bits after that are about an hour each (give or take). At each stop – except one – you’re allowed to get off (or maybe required).
The stop you’re not allowed to deplane from is at Kwajalein since it’s a US military base. You can only get off if you’re a solider or if you have an invitation to visit Ebeye Island, a neighboring island that is part of the Marshal Islands. I actually tried to figure out how to visit Ebeye, but The Republic of Marshall Islands apparently doesn’t want visitors to visit Ebeye. Perhaps it’s because the Republic of Marshall Islands appears to be a US puppet state, and Ebeye is the world’s fifth most densely populated island that also happens to be a slum.
However, I did de-plane at Majuro – wandering its tiny airport terminal for half an hour or so before re-boarding my flight. The excitement lasted about, oh, 5 minutes. I only bought a newspaper from the little stand inside the gate area.
I chose not to deplane at Kosrae – but that was because I was under the impression we were only going to be there 20 minutes. My plane had to get repaired and it ended up being a tiny bit longer – enough so that I wished I’d gotten off the plane.
As for Pohnpei, I got off the plane for three days—arriving Saturday, November 19th, departing the Tuesday the 22nd.
A couple of overarching statements to make: First, Food is extremely expensive, except for fish. Anything with fish is not only inexpensive, but delicious. I wandered a couple of supermarkets and was happy to know that I wasn’t having to buy food there. The only place I’ve been where food is more expensive is Barrow, Alaska.
Second, I chose the wrong hotel. I doubt any of the hotels on Pohnpei would meet so-called Western-standards. Mine was not geared toward tourists, but rather geared toward business and other long-term travellers. Thus I won’t bother to mention exactly where I stayed – the mismatch wasn’t obvious to me early on, and I was pretty laid back, but ultimately I later realized that I wasn’t that happy with the tour guiding services and that I should have stayed at a different hotel.
Regardless, though, Pohnpei is beautiful – and I wish I’d had more time to explore (and the right tour guide) its wonders.
I was actually sad to leave behind its excessive greenery – making my way to Guam.
I spent two nights on Guam – I’d set it up for recovery and for laundry: when the United Airline flight works, it works. But when it has issues, you might need a day or two before you’re back on schedule. So, two nights in Guam seemed appropriate. I even went to the same Laundromat that I went to the last time I was on Guam, although that turned out to be a mistake because the machines I used did not really spin out the water, so I had to dry my clothes for excessively long periods of time.
For me, Guam was a slightly surreal experience: clearly I am a tourist when visiting Guam, but I didn’t behave like the typical Guam tourist: I did laundry, I went to three grocery stores looking for one thing (Hawaiian coffee), and I visited the University of Guam (bought a T-shirt, arriving during the 35% off logo wear sale by pure chance). The only legitimate serious touristy thing I did was go to Two Lovers Point.
I left Guam on Thanksgiving – heading to Beijing, via Nagoya and Seoul.
That was a very long day.