What we did in Guam

Days 1 and 2

The first 2 days we didn’t have a car yet because we were being stubborn and cheap. Also we’ve never really rented a car before, There are just  so many horror stories about renting cars online. So we didn’t. Yet.

We haven’t really seen the sun in a while because we work indoors and also because the sky is blue maybe 1% of the time. The haze and air quality usually blocks it or deters us from even leaving the house. Guam is also the closest we’ve ever been to the equator and we underestimated what that meant. The pictures don’t do it justice and after the 3rd sunburn (with sunscreen that time!) we stopped taking pictures because the shame and feel were too strong.

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PIcture is from my ipod, it doesn’t show how deep red it was

Kaeti here-  I swell a bit on airplanes. I didn’t think about this and  wore my chacos on our 5 mile walk and completely destroyed my feet. I had blisters the size of well you can guess. We bought some duct tape and powered on.

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The tan line from that was pretty great.

The second day our the people at the front desk of our hotel were super upset we had walked downtown  (“what do you mean you walked?!) and told us they actually had a free shuttle so we took that and went shopping downtown in the tourist area. The lack of freedom from the shuttle combined with the sunburn-lets-stay-inside combined with the blisters motivated us to finally, finally rent a car.

Day 3 – Rent a car and drive around the island

First we went to the Asan overlook to see where the soldiers first stormed the beach.

DSC05637 We saw memorials to the soldiers and also the Chamorros who died in World War 2 (pictured in the other blog). Then we drove down to Asan beach where it actually happened.

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Chris and I are suckers for WW2 history but we’re also sentimental. 1,866 soldiers died fighting for Guam, surely some of them on the very beach we were standing on. We thought about that for a moment.

There was a hiking symbol so we thought lets go up and see what that is. It’s Japanese gun embankments and pillboxes! *and mosquitoes.

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This was unexpected. It turns out that there are hundreds and hundreds of World War 2 guns, pillboxes, embankments, and artifacts. In fact theres loads of “unexploded ordinance” that everyone has to look out for when hiking or snorkeling/scuba diving.

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We drove to the nearby Piti Coastal Defense “hike” where you just walk upstairs.  There are 3 guns the Japanese had been planning on using to defend the beaches. They were never actually fired though, and were found a few weeks after the island had been secured.DSC05129

After we went to the Latte of Freedom – we said in the other post lattes are a major symbol of Guam. This is something they’re very proud of. There was a story about what they were and how they saved up pennies to build this Latte of Freedom as the symbol of Guam behind the Governor’s Complex.

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From there we drove around the island more until we found Taga’chang Beach.

It was unreal how beautiful it was. It seemed like a different country like Europe or pictures we’ve seen of New Zealand.

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You can drive down a small road to the actual beach.

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The view from below:

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You could just walk out on the rock and see tidepools. Some people were swimming in big ones, others were fishing.DSC05195

The tide pools were beautiful but scary. We found a nemo-type fish twice (we’re that good). They’re not as vibrant as the movie but it’s the same fish.

No pictures of nemo but we do have pictures of a fish next to an urchin, the clear water… and picture three (bottom left) is some kind of water-centipede horror. Chris spotted it and said “don’t come over here.”  We’ve googled any combo of “sea centipede” “sea worm” “horrible sea thing” and can’t say what it is. If anyone knows what kind of unholy critter it is, let us know.

Finally we saw these creepy things that we didn’t like one bit, no sir, but then realized that they are strange looking star fish (bottom right). You think star fish are fatty, thick, and cute, these are really thin and long and spidery. They are actually called Brittle Starfish which is apt. Only some of them sticks out of whatever hidy hole they’re living in so it looks like a bony skeleton hand coming out of the hole.

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It was like snorkeling with the same horrors (we are not an ocean folk) but without getting wet. Just up to the ankles.

Excuse the shameless pictures from the car widows, I went fully Grammy “isn’t in beautiful the way the sun is shining on that part of the mountain?!” 🙂  I’m not as classy as Grammy is, she at least parks and gets out to take pictures of the mountains, I just snap them from the passenger seat.

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Lush, lush, lush jungles everywhere. There were times when you could see bamboo as thick as a human leg being pulled over, bent, and broken by thick vines and foliage. It was messy jungle. Wet, hot, lush, buggy jungle.

The mountains are covered in sword grass which is sharp (more on that later) but blows in the wind which is absolutely beautiful to see the mountains rippling like some kind of wheat field. Crazy different place.

We stopped at Fort Nuestra Senor de La Soledad  (more pictures on the other blog about the history of Guam)

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Chris has another wonderful example of my sunburn. Mistakes were made. Sunscreen was bought and applied frequently after that.

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And we saw this incredible peach colored hibiscus. Also I’m a sucker for palm trees.

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Day 4 – Hiking

This day we thought maybe we’ll go hiking, but we certainly didn’t wake up that day thinking we would hike the highest mountain the world.

The highest mountain in the world? Surely you’re exaggerating.

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As you can see by my really well drawn chart, from the bottom of the Mariana Trench (or Marianas Trench, both are correct) to the top of Mount LamLam it’s 37,820 feet which is a lot more than Everest which is at a meager 29,030 feet- thats like 8,000 more feet! Obviously that’s not how it works but that’s what people say to make Guam and their hike sound better.

I also included Mt. Jumullong on this chart which every asshole seems to think is LamLam but IT IS NOT!!!!

We were thinking of hiking from Sella Bay to Cetti Bay which is a a hike between two neighboring bays.  We found the trail from Sella Bay, and it was immediately horrible with mosquitoes and the trail starts with a huge drop down a muddy ravine. Chris immediately slipped and fell on the blood-red mud which stained all his clothes (permanently). There was almost no way to start the hike without falling and we didn’t know how much the impossibly slick mud would last.  So we left.

We parked at the Cetti Bay overlook to see if the trailhead for the same hike was easier on that when we saw a sign for Mt. LamLam. Well obviously we’re going to do that, so we just went for it.

This was a crazy hike because of how many terrains we went through. It starts with that blood red sand/mud. It’s actually old volcanic sand and it’s super pretty contrasted against how wonderfully green the rest of Guam is.

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Then you have to go through sword grass which is actually sharp and can cause cuts. We had read about it online and were scared about how sharp everyone said it was. So we brought pants and gardening gloves.

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Then you go into super super deep jungle where it’s immediately 10 degrees warmer, 70% wetter- there’s no breeze. There are strange sounds, bugs everywhere and spiders as big as half dollars with webs as big as a horse. Massive unbelievable webs.

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At the end you have to scramble up very sharp rocks for the last 15 feet. And that’s the false summit (but universally recognized as the summit) of LamLam There is a marker that says “Guam Geodetic Triangulation Station LamLam”, and if you don’t see that you’re obviously on Mount Freaking Jumullong which is, again, not LamLam.

view from the top
view from the top

What’s up with the false summit thing?  The Geodetic Triangulation marks the false summit which is 22 feet lower than actual LamLam but the actual LamLam is surprisingly far away ridge (even though it doesn’t look like it). Between the false summit and real summit you would need a machete, GPS, and probably spider anti-venom because hardly anyone ever goes there and there isn’t actually trail.

It’s a great hike but with a couple problems. One is that there’s a fork in the road left is LamLam and right is Jumullong. Going right is all pretty and wonderful and easy. The left doesn’t even look like a path, it looks like unholy boonie stomping through sharp sword grass.

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The path to LamLam:DSC05321Which is why we can’t condone people taking saying they climbed LamLam when they took the easy way to Jumullong. It was properly hard with all the spiders and sword grass. Slow going work.

I want to pause again to talk about snakes. So if there was any chance at all of snakes being in these horrible thick wet steamy noisy buggy jungles I would’ve been really reluctant to go. There are snakes, there are hundreds and hundreds of brown tree snakes. But they’re nocturnal. Whats really insane about these snakes is that they’re invasive – accidentally came to the island around WW2. Somehow, someway they have killed off all the birds in Guam. So the hiking is super quiet. No birds cheeping or chattering. This is also that’s why the spiders are out of control – no natural enemies, and no competition for food.

On our way down we figured we would march on over to summit Jumullong. To give Jumullong credit, the views were probably better and it was easier. It had 100% less spiders.

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We went to a gas station on the way to the hotel and got 2 liters of water, 2 large coconut waters (natural gatorade) and 2 large gatorades (actual gatorade). And drank all of it. Neither of us have ever sweat so much in our lives, the jungle heat and wetness. With the humidity you never evaporate. It’s crazy.

We rewarded ourselves with the mac and cheetos – that super American deep fried macaroni and cheese with cheetos around it and shared that while watching a sunset.

Guam is supposed to have really spectacular sunsets but while we were there we only saw this one. Not really even a sunset, just some clouds.

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Still, losing out on some of the vibrant sunsets was worth it for all the fun we had doing other things.

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