FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA BY JONATHAN GOURLAY

Federated States of Micronesia. Where to go? What to see? What to do? Jonathan Gourlay, the author of ‘Nowhere Slow: Eleven Years in Micronesia’ gives his recommendations.

Visit Nan Madol

If you have made it to Pohnpei, you will see the ruins of the ancient city of Nan Madol. Anyone with even a passing interest in Oceania will have heard of it. Nan Madol hasn’t quite captured the imagination the way that Easter Island has, but that’s okay. It just means that Nan Madol is less-traveled. The best way to get the full impression of Nan Madol is to tour the ruin’s many waterways in a kayak. (The usual tour also involves a trip to some nearby waterfalls and a coral atoll. All-in-all, a good day out.)

Visit Sakau Markets

The easiest place to sample Pohnpeian sakau (a kava drink made from pepper root) is at one of the local markets (‘market’ really means ‘bar’). I prefer markets in Kitti on the south side of the island and away from the main town of Kolonia. In Kitti the markets are usually on the side of the road, so you get the added entertainment of being able to watch traffic. Markets are the best place to meet and talk with Pohnpeians in a relaxed atmosphere. Just don’t blame me for what may happen in your stomach after a night of sakau.

Visit The Cloud Forest

The mountainous interior of Pohnpei is incredibly lush. It’s one of the rainiest places on earth. It’s so humid that even without rain you feel like you can drink the air. Get a guide to show you the many waterfalls or even do an overnight hike across the island. Your guide should be able to relate / make up some awesome legends about all the various topographical features. When you’re done with the hike, go snorkeling on one of the atolls that encircle the island. Then go get drunk at a sakau market. If you do this and it wasn’t one of the most intensely colorful days of your life then you lead a much more colorful life than I do.

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