Xmas in FSM, December 2023

Mangrove Bay Hotel

Well I’ve come in for a soft landing to end 2023 spending a week scuba diving on the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia (Federated States of Micronesia). For those of you searching for it on a map it’s north-east of Papua New Guinea.
This is my best effort at trying to sit still for a week. My little waterfront villa had a deck out over the lapping water and the dive shop was literally next door. It’s the simple pleasure of heading offshore for a couple of scuba dives in the morning to explore the underworld before a bite of lunch and then a mandatory afternoon nap as the soporific heat and humidity catch up with you. A few chapters of the book, check the cricket scores back home  and then head next door for evening dinner to the sushi restaurant for tuna sashimi and poke bowls that were swimming only hours earlier. Rinse and repeat!
The diving has been truly lovely in Micronesia with the ring reefs providing reef walls that drop away into the deep blue. Pristine stretches of hard and soft corals abuzz with reef fish on one shoulder and a spectacle of pelagic fish parading past in the deep on the other side- this is where the big guys hang out from schools of tuna, barracuda to rays and sharks. During one dive we were suddenly crowded by a frenzy of around 50 reef sharks! They were not interested in us but it sure makes you recall your place in the pecking order down there.
By the end of the week I finally summoned the energy to visit the mysterious ruins of Nan Madol. Spread over 200 acres on the southern part of the island was an ancient civilisation that built a walled city hewn from black basalt blocks. Despite being reclaimed over the centuries by the lush tropical vegetation many of the buildings, paths and walls remain intact from almost 1000 years ago.
The Pacific Islands are among the warmest welcomes you will be treated to anywhere in the world. Kind, generous and warm humanity who remind you that life is not a foot race. For me it’s a winning formula of beaches, underwater jewels and simple pleasures.
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