20 SEP CO901 from Bali to Guam, long layover in Guam, 21 SEP CO893 from Guam to Palau
Our funny itinerary had us layover in Palau for about 32 hours on our way to Yap, and we decided to spend it on a road trip around Palau’s “big island,” Babeldaob. It turned out our timing was excellent, as the new “Compact Road” circling Babeldaob had finally opened a few months previous, after years of construction. The Compact Road is named after the Compact of Free Association, the agreement between the U.S. and certain Micronesian states under which the island states receive money and certain U.S. services (U.S. mail, FDIC, FEMA, etc.) in exchange for certain rights granted to the United States, primarily military.
The jeep rental ran USD 65 with insurance. Starting in Koror, we went in a clockwise direction. Our first stop was to see the ruins of a village and terraces in Aimeliik state. We skipped the two waterfalls, though we caught Ngardamu waterfall before our trip was over, which was a beautiful though muddy hike. Our second stop was in Ngarchelong state to see the monoliths of Badrulchau. Apparently, these stones were to serve as a foundation for a large bai, which was never completed. Nearby are some stones with very rudimentary carvings of faces. Even more interesting than these monoliths, we walked through some of the extensive stone pathways of Ngarard state.
The last stop was Melekeok, where we saw some ancient carved stones and the newly built capital of the Republic of Palau, built with the assitance of money from Taiwan (Palau is one of the few states that recognize the Republic of China).