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Micronesia
Micronesia
Pohnpei
Ancient stone city
Jungle hillsides

Pohnpei

Thursday, July 24, 2003
Most of the islands are less than two-and-a-half square kilometres, and some are so small they appear and disappear with the tides. The population of 521,000 enjoys an average temperature of 27 degrees celcius.

Micronesia is the Greek word for small islands and the 2300 of them which make up the independent nation of Federated States of Micronesia are scattered over millions of square kilometres between Hawaii and the Philippines. Most of the islands are less than two-and-a-half square kilometres, and some are so small they appear and disappear with the tides. The population of 521,000 enjoys an average temperature of 27 degrees celcius.

The Federated States of Micronesia are Pohnpei, Yap, Kosrae and Chuuk, all sharing similar histories with colonisation by Spain, Germany, Japan and America. They are mainly Christian, but their language is not so uniform. Some dialects are spoken by fewer than 100 people, but most do speak English.

The name Pohnpei is made up of two local words meaning "upon a stone altar". Its capital is Palikir, but the main town is Kolonia. When it comes to tourism Pohnpei is refreshingly unspoiled and low key. It has no big hotels, no duty free shops or tour operators haggling for your business. What you will find are lots of natural attractions — jungle hillsides and flowering hibiscus. The abundant rainfall — the island's centre gets over 1000cm a year — feeds a multitude of streams, rivers and tumbling waterfalls, and the uninhabited rainforest interior has soft, spongy ground and moss covered trees. The waters are clear and beautiful, and while there are no beaches, some can be found by taking a short boat ride. There is abundant marine life and snorkellers will be well rewarded.

The island is surrounded with lush, dense rainforest and its most obvious landmark is Sokehs Rock, a steep and slippery basalt cliff face. It can be climbed by the brave, and a guide is advisable. In the man-made stakes there are some Spanish stone walls and a German bell tower.

The ancient stone city of Nan Mandol is made up of 92 man-made islets dating back to AD1100. It was a most important political, social and religious centre and was the home of royalty and their servants. Natural 50 tonne basalt pillars which had formed on Pohnpei were quarried and hauled to Nan Mandol by raft, horizontally placed around the islets and filled with coral and rock. Sometimes Nan Mandol is called the Venice of Micronesia. Temples, burial vaults, meeting places and bathing areas were built with the upper town for priests and rituals and the lower part for administration.

Accommodation on Pohnpei is fairly basic, but one place stands out. Before tourism was even thought of, Patti and Bob Arthur visited Micronesia, fell in love with Pohnpei and decided to stay and build a hotel. The Village is made up of 20 thatched pole bungalows — rather like treehouses, with necessary conveniences, but no phone, television or air-conditioning. The large screened windows give wonderful cooling breezes and views and the queen-size beds have nets. There is a restaurant, bar and you can organise trips to other islands from The Village.

Food on Pohnpei generally has either a Japanese (great sashimi!) or western influence.

Location

The Federated States of Micronesia

Cost

Continental Airlines flies to Guam twice a week from Cairns with connections to Pohnpei.

Allways Dive Expeditions has six-night packages to Pohnpei including return economy airfares, transfers, share accommodations at The Village starting at $1516 from Cairns, $1896 from Brisbane, $2026 from Sydney, $2056 from Melbourne, $2208 from Adelaide, $2398 from Perth and $2506 from Darwin, per person. Conditions and surcharges apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Allways Dive
Melbourne 1800 338 239
(03) 9885 8863
Perth 1800 777 857
(08) 9284 0433
www.allwaysdive.com.au

The Village
Box 339, PO Phonpei FM 96941
Ph: 0011 691 320 2797
Fax: 0011 691 320 3797
thevillage@mail.fm

Pohnpei Visitors Bureau
Ph: 0011 691 320 4851
www.visit-pohnpei.fm

To book a flight, visit www.qantas.com.au or call 13 13 13.

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