Last week after the invitation of a friend of mine who had found really cheap tickets, I was on my way for a trip to Guam. It is located in the western pacific ocean and is the largest of the Marianna islands. You can read more information on the island here. It is a popular tourist spot due to its nice tropical beaches. The main source of tourism is of course Japan, which is why we found a cheap offer to go there in the first place.
The island is USA territory. So when you enter it’s like entering the USA. It has the feeling of being in the USA only it is not actually incorporated with all the implications this might have for the island. It has many American bases and is inhabited by Americans, Spanish, Japanese and of course the locals who are called Chamorro. For more information on the history of the island check the Wikipedia link.
The trip started all too well. We were flying with JAL but we were kind of late to check-in. So when we went to check in, the person at the counter was looking at us with a kind of worried look, seemed to be making phone calls somewhere and was very politely telling us to wait. We thought that something might have been wrong with our reservations and that we were screwed but in the end it turned out that they had made a mistake of booking too many seats for the economy class (we were economy too). So they did not have where to put us. To rectify for that mistake they changed our tickets to business class and apologized for the inconvenience. An apology which we very gladly accepted ^^.
Business class seats were a lot more comfortable compared to the economy class and the service was a lot better. But the food was not that better. The looks as you can see in the picture were different than what you might get at economy class but in my opinion at least it is only the looks and not the taste.
Four hours after taking off from Narita airport, Tokyo we landed in Guam. The humidity and heat of a tropical island in the middle of nowhere was what we felt the moment we got out of the plane. Also from the moment you land on the island you realize that it is oriented towards Japanese tourists. Almost everything for tourists is in Japanese and almost every islander who has anything to do with the tourism industry (which means 90% of the islanders) can speak Japanese.
Our hotel was located in the most buzzing area of the island, the Tumon area. It is the place with all the tourist attractions and all the hotels. Moreover it has a very nice beach as you can see below.
The beach was beautiful. As for the sea itself it was kind of shallow for me since I am used to Greek beaches but other than that it was fine. Moreover the whole island is surounded by corals and so the sea is kind of different since you have to be careful to avoid the corals, which are very sharp and can cut you very easily.
We also went (on foot) to the capital of Guam, Hagatna. It was like 1 hour of walking from Tumon. The thing is that you would expect a capital to be bustling with life and have a lot of places to see. The reality of hagatna is that it was quite empty. Compared to the tourist area that we had come from, it was just a small village. Literally..only a few houses.
The only place which would be considered an attraction would be the plaza d’Espana which is the location of a Spanish fortress from the Spanish who were the first Europeans to colonize Guam. If any of you has played the PS3 game “Uncharted” then you will know exactly what feeling this fortress had. A Spanish fortress in the middle of a pacific island tropical island. Yep … uncharted all right!
As we were trying to see as much of the island as possible the Japanese tourists were doing just one thing. They were following the tourist guidelines, what has been laid out for them to do by the travel agent. Which was very simple. They were just riding the tourist buses which were doing tours around Tumon taking them from shopping mall to shopping mall to spend their money. They were buying every brand products they could find. Gucci, Louis Vuitton and others. Consumerism in all its glory…
On the other hand we wanted to go and see the island so we tried to find a rent a car agent. After searching for a while and being sent from one to the other because they did not have any cars at the moment we stumbled on a rent a car agency which had a Greek name, “Ionian”. Intrigued, we went there and asked. It turned out that not only did they have a car but also the owner was a Greek who had stayed and settled in Guam. Funny coincidence which made us stay a bit and talk about Greece with him and remember our home a bit 🙂
After taking the car we started to make a round trip of the island which would not take a lot of time..since Guam is only 48km long and 19km wide.
The island has a tropical climate and so the weather can change very fast. It can be quite sunny and in just a few minutes time it can get cloudy and start raining and having very strong gusts of wind which is exactly what happened when we were trying to find a nice place to take pictures.
As with other tropical islands inland Guam is heavily forested and somewhat mountainous. So the terrain is quite interesting.
We tried to go to Cocos Island a so-called paradise island located just 1 mile south of Guam. We really wanted to go there but when we reached the pier of the ferry which could take us there we were let to know that it will cost 40$ per person to go and that there would be additional fees once on the island. Shameless profiteering in my opinion .. so we just passed it and went back to touring the island by car.
To be honest Guam, apart from beautiful nature and scenery did not have many places to see. A few nice beaches here and there but also full of stupid tourist attractions which all they want to do is take your money. To make up for that, the scenery is beautiful. Especially the sunsets. Look at two amazing sunsets that we came across at Guam.
Isn’t it just magnificent? These sunsets were worth the trip in my opinion.
Closing the post, I have to say that Guam was a very nice place to go for a short trip from Japan. It satisfied the summer need of going to swim in a beautiful beach and also allowed us to see and go around a tropical island in the Marianas. All in all it was a satisfying experience and served as a nice means of relaxing for a few days. Here is to more trips around Asia, now that I l actually live somewhere close and have the chance to do so! Can’t wait for the next one!