After 10 days in snowpowderalypse paradise, I returned from Niseko to CTS airport on an early morning shuttle bus to make my 2:10pm flight to Taiwan. Arriving in the evening, I met up with Stephanie Liu, a derm-pathologist doctor who found me on the internet, to begin our island hopping adventure back home.

Staying at Chill Roof Hotel with their friendly cats, we turned in early to get ready for warmer weather.



The next morning we took an Uber for our 12:35pm flight from Taipei to Palau’s former capital of Koror, landing 4 hours later at 5:10pm local time.



Immigrations requires an online form on to be filled out beforehand to obtain a QR Code so you can pass through customs more easily.



The visa is very unique, taking the form of a pledge requiring your signature for validity.



Customs may take awhile here, as they will ask everyone to open up random pieces of luggage for inspections so you’re not carrying any food, vegetables, or fruits that could damage the islands’ natural agriculture.



Picked up by Uddin from our accommodations of Garden Palace Koror in downtown, we were informed of a bimonthly night market that took place underneath the bridge near downtown Koror. And luckily for us tonight was going to be one of those nights!

Taking just half an hour to settle in, we then called ahead for a $10 taxi to the night market.



With local bands and singers in the background rotating every half hour, both tourists and locals alike crowd the cash-only stalls in the foreground. Food ranges from Taiwanese fare (bubble tea and fried chicken) to American casual (pizza and BBQ skewers) to local Palauan (suckling pig).



There’s also specialty stalls for those that who’d want grab-and-go fried fish, are health conscious, donate to charity and environmental preservation organizations, or would like a free bible course.



After about an hour here, we spoke to a friendly Chinese tourist from Melbourne sitting at our table who recommended that we make all efforts to go to Jellyfish Lake the next day (which we had just given up on after our hotel manager told us there weren’t many this time of year). So after an initial attempt to return back to the hotel earlier at 8pm by waiting for the $2 half an hourly shuttle bus that never came, a friendly security officer named Clem took pity on us by 8:40pm and offered to drive us instead for $10 back.

Once back at the hotel, our manager thankfully was able to quickly change our tour the next day to include Jellyfish Lake.



The next morning we were picked up at 8:45am by IMPAC Tours to take us to the docks where we registered, paid, obtained our permits, and picked up our fins and life jackets.

We then boarded our boat for the The Rock Islands: the famed emerald isles of Palau’s Southern Lagoon and home to some of Koror’s best beaches and snorkeling.



We first stopped at a lagoon called Milky Way, gaining its name from narrow passage through Rock islands that gives the water a milky hue.

Here we took advantage a skin treatment with a special clay our guides free dove and gathered on the sea floor. The clay is believed to rejuvenate human skin and has been a much sought after ingredient for spas and cosmetic applications around the world.



Next we had the unique opportunity to swim in the famed jellyfish lake where in the absence of predators, the local jellyfish (both moon and golden) have evolved over generations to lose most of their stingers and nematocytes. Therefore it’s safe to swim and snorkel amongst them!



Remember those permits? You also have to purchase a $100 USD per person permit beforehand from your tour operator to visit Jellyfish Lake that includes access to the Rock Islands (it’s otherwise $50 USD for the Rock Islands in general without Jellyfish Lake).



To reach the lake physically, we first climbed up a hill and hiked across to climb back down into the lake; it’s this kind of isolation that would explain for the jellyfish’s speciation.



Once we reached the lake, we put on our flippers and swam across to the other side where the lake was cooler, and hence where all the jellyfish lived.



It takes about 20 minutes to swim across, and then you’ll see them all on the other side of the lake where it’s cooler for the jellyfish to thrive.



The translucent moon jellyfish predominates here, but every now and there you’ll catch the cute tiny golden jellyfish.



After an hour swimming we returned back to our boat where I tended to my blistered toes (don’t get flippers too tight!) and had lunch on the beaches of Ngermeaus Island as it began to rain heavily.



After an hour’s lunch, we headed out for more reef snorkeling including a spot called Rose Garden and another called Paradise. I couldn’t really tell the difference between the two, but both were very pretty coral reefs.



Finally before turning back in the afternoon, we stopped for photos in front of an arched rock island.



After returning back to our hotel and taking an hour to freshen up, we then walked around Koror to pick up a to-go dinner from Tori Tori.



Had the Jellyfish Lake tour not worked out our backup plan was going to be a walking tour of the museums in our area; Belau National Museum is a 9 minute walk south, open since 1955.



Palau International Coral Reef Center is a 20 minute walk west.



For more of a community feel, Etpison Museum has a collection of history exhibits and cultural gems.



Sacred Heart Church is just across the street.



With plenty of time to make it out for our 2:30am night flight to Guam, and exhausted from our full day of snorkeling and sun, I surprised myself by turning in early at 8pm for a 4 hour nap.

I then woke myself up at midnight so that our hotel manager could drive us to the airport.



Arriving at 12:30am, we were the very last to check into our flight before waiting another hour in a crowded waiting room (FYI, there are no VIP or Priority Pass lounges yet at Palau airport) for our 2:30am flight to Guam.




- At time of posting in Palau, it was 27 °C - Humidity: 78% | Wind Speed: 32km/hr | Cloud Cover: warm


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