Monday, 3 March 2014

More Palau Experiences

It's the little things that are often best remembered, so I'm going to set down some small but memorable moments as my final post about our Palau holiday.

I imagine that in years to come my son will recall riding the Segway at the hotel as a highlight. Guests were entitled to a free 15 minute ride for every three days' stay, so we accrued 30 minutes in total. But the receptionist set the timer on the machine incorrectly, so my son rode it to his heart's content and only handed it back to the puzzled receptionist when he finally got bored.

Dining out brought us another memorable experience. For an island set in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Palau is surprisingly short of fresh fish. Instead, the cuisine is influenced by the American diet, and steak featured heavily on menus and in the supermarkets. In our search for local fish dishes, we visited the Carp restaurant, which is behind one of the posher hotels, the Royal Pacific Resort.

Old, rough wooden tables covered in plastic tablecloths indicated this wasn't an upmarket tourist restaurant, and the menu featured items such as fruit bat soup, so we anticipated something a little different from the standard fare we'd encountered up until then. We began ordering, but the waitress started to walk away after we'd only ordered two dishes. This should have been an indication that possibly the portions were big, but we were too slow on the uptake. It was only when I ordered a soup and she explained that it was a big bowl to share that the penny started to drop.

The food arrived quickly, and in massive quantity. My clam and vegetable soup turned up in a tureen.

My husband's tuna steak was four large, thick tuna steaks. (Someone already took one here.)

And my son's fried chicken was a whole chicken, fried. We'd also ordered Japanese dumplings and papaya salad. Faced with a food mountain we talked through our options:
Take some back to the hotel with us? Impossible - we couldn't store it and wouldn't eat it.
Eat what we wanted and leave the rest? We would look stupid for ordering too much, and I hate waste.
Eat absolutely as much as we could? It seemed the only answer.

So we stuffed ourselves to our gills. I have honestly never eaten so much in my life. But we did a great job. Between the three of us, we managed to eat nearly everything we'd ordered, and we congratulated ourselves on our sterling effort.

Then the waitress appeared out of the kitchen with two more full serving dishes. And she brought them, smiling, to our table. Sushi and fresh fruit, compliments of the chef.

What could we do? You can't not eat food specially made for you and freely given!

Well, the complementary dishes parted the wheat from the chaff that day. My husband and son manfully forced down the fruit. I wimped out entirely. When the waitress wasn't looking, I wrapped most of the sushi in paper napkins and stuffed it in my bag.

Other food related adventures include a lovely cafe we found, where we had coffee, smoothies and milkshakes nearly every day.

Echoing our experience in most other Palauan food and drink establishments, the cafe menu often exaggerated what was actually available, but I think that's just a facet of island life.

Memorable sights included pineapples growing in garden plots,

and rainbows.
Our holiday in Palau was remarkable in so many ways that I think it will stand out in our memories as one of our most amazing experiences. I hope one day I'll be lucky enough to go back.

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