Getting Unplugged in Micronesia – Prasanna Vee

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To read more about Prasanna’s travels, head to http://thirstytravels.blogspot.com/

Located way out in the middle of the Pacific, Pohnpei is a compact & charming island to which no one you know has probably ever been. It belongs to the widely scattered Federated States of Micronesia, which also includes the archipelago Chuuk and the islands Yap and Kosrae. It’s one of those little green jewels labeled as the “emeralds of the Pacific”— that are far removed from rest of the civilization
Right from the minute we landed to the moment we left, Pohnpei captured our heart, mind, and soul, not just through the wonderful natural gems the island was blessed but also because of the lovely weather(we like the rain and wet weather!) and the captivating hospitality of the people. By far this goes way on top of the list of islands we love the most.
Arrival into Pohnpei
After the hardship of difficult and testing arrival experiences in the Islands of Kiribati and Majuro, the arrival into Pohnpei was a breeze. Friendly – and more official looking – Immigration process, clean and welcoming arrivals lounge and more importantly the ease of exiting the airport and getting transferred to the hotel (which was just a couple of kilometers away) was refreshing and pleasant.
Where is the Beach?
Just like unique volcanic islands like Saba – in the Caribbean – Pohnpei has virtually no beach. Instead, it has pebbly shores or mangrove swamps or gray basalt cliffs. But the tranquil bays, pretty creeks, and thundering waterfalls more than makeup for the miles of sand, that could have probably resulted in infection of the island by dozens of souvenir shops, high-rises, beach resorts and selfie stick toting tourists!
Checking in
But the lack of high-rises and chain hotels doesn’t mean a lack of amenities. It’s possible to eat and drink well, and sleep in comfortable and even sublime surroundings. Out of the top contenders for the perfect stay, we chose Ocean View Plaza hotel for the first night and Mangrove Bay hotel for the second night. While it may seem like insanity to change hotels every night, that’s the way we travel as it allows us to experience different neighborhoods, surroundings, and sceneries a destination has to offer in a more immersive way.
Both the hotels came with Stunning views of the spectacular bay with the mighty Sokehs rock on the west and small Marinas leading back into the rich and varied Mangroves as a backdrop.

While Ocean view plaza offers lovely views from the hilltop, Mangrove Bay hotel offers a different perspective from the ground level.
Meal with a Million Dollar View
Post Checking in, we grabbed a quick bite at Ocean View Plaza hotel itself, which has a pretty cool restaurant and creative chefs. But the highlight was the killer view and the soothing breeze which made the meal even more heavenly.

Picture perfect Kolonia
After the snack, we walked toward ‘downtown’ Kolonia – the main neighborhood of the island to check out some colonial remains. Have to admit, that I was quite surprised to see remains from hundreds of years back when the island was occupied by the Spanish and the Germans. Didn’t see that coming, esp. in a remote Pacific island! While the Spanish wall and other remains were interesting, the star of the circuit was the German Bell Tower – which, despite its dilapidated state still looks majestic.
A little bit of History
While there are a ton of places – like the Sokehs Ridge and Tem Island – where you can get to see the remains and ruins of the Japanese Guns and tanks, we decided to skip all the handwork and settle for the low hanging fruit. There is a fully intact Japanese tank parked right next to the tourist information office in downtown Kolonia which is hard to miss.

A Drink with a Devilish Sunset
Travelling to far-flung & still untouched destinations rewards you with a lot of surprises. But they are typically around sightseeing and history. We surely didn’t expect to stumble upon such a stunning location for a Sundowner in a place like this, especially right below the tired & dated hotel where we were staying at! #BeerScapes #DrinkWithAView
The Venice of the Pacific
The Venice of Italy is known for being overrun with tourists – and is more popular than it needs to be for its own good. However, Pohnpei is the home of a world wonder you have probably never heard of – but still equally wonderful. The Forgotten city of Nan Madol – which is built on water – is around 1,000 years old and sits above a coral reef, in the middle of the Pacific, on the edge of Pohnpei Island. The ruins are made up of a vast tapestry of 92 artificially made islets, all interconnected by canals. The remains of temples, burial chambers, and public baths rise from the water – how much you can see depends on the tide. The main structures have been likened to the ceremonial squares built by the Mayans and Aztecs.

It is considered among the world’s greatest engineering marvels as its construction process remains a mystery.  The stones that build it apparently weigh between five and 25 tons each and nothing has been found to explain how they were lifted into place. Architects have no idea how some 250 million tonnes of basalt were dragged here, but the islanders believe the ancient kings, known as Nahnmwarkis used magic. With its granite peaks, waterfalls and rainforest-cloaked interior Pohnpei is that kind of place
Soak it in
Kepirohi is certainly Pohnpei’s most famous and most photographed waterfall and makes a great pit stop after a visit to the ruins of Nan Madol just a few minutes away. Here a large volume of water (the most of any waterfall on Pohnpei) cascades over a wide, sloped pyramid of basalt rock and fills a shallow pool before running down toward the coast, giving the spot a singular look. 
And the best part was – like in Nan Madol – we were the ONLY people in the place and no other tourists, sightseers or even locals! #WayOffTheBeatenTrack
Losing Orientation
During a stay in Pohnpei, it can be quite hard for one to get a solid grasp of where they might be, as the varied landscapes and different strokes of nature could be quite disorienting. The lush rain forests and numerous waterfalls makes it appear like a remote cousin of Sao Tome – off the coast of Africa, the Misty Mountains and low hanging clouds makes it feel like the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, and the waterfronts filled with Yachts and a backdrop of hills coated with unique trees replicate the vibe of a Caribbean island like St. Kitts
What’s my takeaway
While the island of Pohnpei beckons with its lush rain forest and varied marine life, the people are its real treasure. I always felt sweetness breeds sweetness. Warm hospitality leads to warmer hospitality. So in an Island blessed with lovely weather, great natural treasures and enclosed in its own chill out bubble no one could potentially exhibit rudeness, curtness or any kind of unwelcoming behaviour. So as we exit, everyone at the airport – including the Checkin agents, Security staff and Immigration officers – were so friendly and radiating a billion dollar smile that we felt so sad that the time to say our goodbyes had already come. But there is something deep inside my heart telling me that I might return to this tiny little paradise in the pacific one more time. Until then, Adios!
To read more about Prasanna’s travels, head to http://thirstytravels.blogspot.com/