Many appologies for the length of time it took me to post about this but things have been fairly frantic over here. So as many of you know, from Dec. 26-30th we travelled to the lovely island of Saipan (which is east of the Phillippines and is a Commonwealth of the USA). The flight wasn't my favorite of all the flights I've been on lately- mostly because every 5 seconds they were doing some sort of passenger announcement (and translating it into 3 different languages). It was getting pretty ridiculous when they updated us 4 times that we were approaching Saipan in ___ minutes. I mean, if we're that interested we can turn the little TV screens to the setting where it shows the flight path, etc, etc.
We landed after midnight and promptly found our tour guide who looked slightly terrified of us. You see, since we came from Korea and booked through a Korean travel company, our guide was Korean. His English was pretty decent but he appologized constantly for his communication skills. Turns out that we weren't with a big group, as I had predicted, but that it was just us and this other family that our guide was responsible for. He drove us to our hotel and got us settled which is when we discovered that our room and the hotel resort was gorgeous and filled with super fun things that were included in our Gold Card status (like free windsurfing, sailing, snorkelling, scuba lessons, archery, mini golf, a driving range, a 24 hour game room) besides 3 delicious meals a day at our choice of 3 different restaurants at the resort. There were also numerous pools, a white sandy beach and the ocean at our disposal. And water slides. And a body boarding simulation thing. All and all, lots of excellent fun for us.
The first day in Saipan our trusty tour guide drove/drug us to all the "sights". Which were interesting and pretty but really not the reason why we chose to travel to Saipan. It was incredibly strange and really illustrated to me how different my idea of travel is from stereotypical "Asian" travellers. Our tour guide insisted on taking about a billion pictures of Matt and I together, generally in the same place. He also seemed perplexed that we couldn't work out how to pose and as a result we have a shocking number of quasi-bewildered and awkward pictures of us. I felt a bit like we had the paparazzi following us or that we were doing an E True Hollywood story or something. It was interesting and beautiful but I think that we all were a bit relieved when he dropped us off at the hotel again and we got to go and have lunch.
The next day with our guide was much more successful and was the highlight of the trip for me. We took a short ferry ride to the Managaha Island to go snorkelling. I kinda wish we'd bought one of those cheesey underwater cameras because it was the most amazing experience. We learned a few important things- 1. snorkelling gear, while necessary, is kind of a pain in the ass 2. tropical fish love vienna sausage 3. I am slightly terrified of coral reef and being cut by it. There were so many fish (types and numbers of) and they were so colorful and amazing. We got to snorkel for a couple hours and it wasn't boring even for a moment. Obviously Saipan is the place to snorkel.
After we returned from Managaha Island we decided to venture into downtown Saipan since they supply free taxis and buses to and from our resort. It was clear that Saipan relies on the tourism industry quite heavily as there was designer everything. We did manage to find some neat souveniers once we wandered a bit off the beaten path. Then we had another delicious meal and later on played some ping pong in the game room (Matt also played chess with this young Korean boy and basically crushed him twice while his family watched), enjoyed happy hour and jammed to an excellent synth bass cover band.
Our last day we just chilled out at the hotel and did all the fun things that they offered. Matt took a windsurfing lesson, we did archery and mini golf and went out in a bananaboat. We also spent a little extra money in order to get the lobster dinner (to have lobster you had to pay extra- our Gold Cards apparently weren't that good). So the weather was warm, the scenery was lovely, the food and atmosphere was really fun and relaxing. Nice holiday. I'd never done the resort package type of thing before and it was pretty good. I doubt I will have another type of holiday like this for a long time so it was neat to try it.
For all the pictures you can go here. Yes, there is a lot of them.
A couple highlights:
I took pictures of some things that I thought were amusing but I didn't want to buy. Like the scented clocks and this t-shirt.
This was the best picture I could get of Matt bodyboarding because he really, really sucked and could only stay on for about 5 seconds.