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Published: March 4th 2011
easily visible off Beach Road
Thursday 3.3 – Saipan, Northern Marianas
We arrived to Saipan the previous evening, welcomed by our friends Randy and Cheryl, who escorted us to our hotel. A pleasant evening, though there had been some airholes coming with the short flight from Guam (the children enjoyed it, Birgitte did not…). Randy and Cheryl met us for breakfast and took us for a trip – we went to Obyan Beach where there were a few people snorkeling and diving. It was on the south coast with good views to Tinian. There used to be a hydrofoil boat from Garapan to Tinian, but it is long gone and you can only go there now by plane. I had thought it would be interesting to go there for a day trip to see the Atomic bomb pits, where the bombs for Hiroshima and Nagasaki were loaded. We could see where the north field runways would be – during the war (after the invasion), 2 planes took off every 45 seconds with bombers against Japan. Randy has a hobby locating old war remnants and locations, so we went to see some of the places he and a friend had found. They use most Saturdays with metal
Basement of Cannon, Saipan
Randy had found the location of this in the jungle, and 3 others. The canons were never installed, and saved many American lives
detectors and machete in the jungle and it was amazing how many things they had found; nobody has ever searched the area – bones, lots of ammunition (unexploded), knives etc. He has marked some of the paths to caves or lookouts, so he showed us some of the caves and finds. I found it very interesting. On the way back, we stopped at the beach of the invasion where there still are two tanks in the water. Further out there was 3 army supply ships - huge - ready for where they will be needed.
We relaxed a bit in the afternoon and later we drove 15 minutes to the north of the island (yes, it is short distances), the northern point. If you have seen Windtalkers with Nicolas Cage, you’ll remember that they land on the south west, and moves north and the final battles are in the far north. The cliffs are called Banzai cliffs and families jumped to their death there when the Americans came there – fearing death would be better. We were the only ones there and the many monuments witnessed about it being a special place. The sun was not quite down, so we
Obyan beach & Tinian
Tinian island on the left. On the plateau seen is where the runway was for the bombers sent to Hiroshima and Nagasaki
drove a bit further to the cliff behind – Suicide Cliff, where many Japanese soldiers committed suicide by jumping down the 300 m vertical cliffs. Nearly all 30.000 Japanese were killed during the 3 week war, many here at this cliff.
Thursday evening is a special evening in town with a market and lots of food stalls. We enjoyed two hours with Cheryl and tasting barbeque and other stuff together with all the Japanese tourists. It was very relaxed and we all enjoyed it a lot. There were different entertainment groups (local boys and girls dancing). All closed down around 9. There is just one area in Garapan where all major hotels are clustered and all shops and Karaoke bars are located.
Friday 4.3 – Saipan, Northern Marianas
Planned to go to Mt. Tapochau in the morning, but up too late so went to the museum – but it was closed. The government can only afford to pay for 4 days a week, so most government places are closed on Fridays.
Managaha Island. A small island off the northwest coast, immensely popular with the Japanese – and with good reason. It was captured after the main island and
A sad place. Families pushed their young children off the cliffs and followed to their death.
there was heavy fighting here. We started off from the Hyatt beach where David took us out there – a 10 minute ride. Before we had bought sandwiches from Subway and brought a couple of beers and water. The trip was 60$ for us, and we could just say what time to go and come back. Entry fee was 5$ per adult. It was a tropical paradise island, perfect temperature with a little wind, sand beach and blue water. Corals right off the beach, so after lunch we spent much time snorkeling. Lots of fish and Japanese in the water, but still, we found a quiet beach almost to our selves. The corals were not doing that well, but nice fish, also some big ones. The children saw many and were happy. Even a small reef shark at the pier. The four hour went quickly and at 16:00 the island was empty. We were the last ones off at 16:30.
Wonderful dinner at the Hyatt in the evening with Cheryl and Randy; great buffet – everybody was happy.
Read the full story at my homepage with more pictures:
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