March 09, 2014

Guam is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana's Islands located in Micronesia (which is roughly at the half way point between Japan and Australia). Despite its size, Guam's status as a U.S. territory along with its history and demographics create a unique and winning identity which can't be ignored. 

Guam has experienced a long history of colonialism, beginning with Spain in 1668, until it was ceded to the United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898. During WWII, Guam was invaded and occupied by Japan which lasted two and a half years and resulted in the death of 10% of the population. The United States recaptured the island in 1944 following the Battle of Guam. Since the war, Guam has become an unincorporated organized territory of the U.S. This means that the people of Guam are U.S. citizens exercising a local democratic government, but do not vote for the president (although they have involvement and influence with elected delegates in the U.S. House of Representatives and national conventions).

The largest ethnic group in Guam are the native Chamorro followed by Filipino, Caucasian, and other Asian (Chinese, Korean, Japanese). While the official languages are English and Chamorro, there is an overwhelming presence of the Japanese language due to 75% of tourists being Japanese. Another unique presence in Guam is that of the U.S. military which covers 29% of the total land area with a Naval Base, Coast Guard Sector, and Air Force Base.

After arriving in the wee morning hours, we picked up our rental car and settled into our (slightly dodgy, but charming) hotel before catching some Zs and waking up to our first of seven sunny days in Guam. We took a wander around our neighbourhood (Tumon Bay) and had lunch before heading to the northern part of the island to take in some sights. Pretty much every day was punctuated by shopping (Hello, world's biggest Kmart).

Ritidian Point:

Two Lovers' Point:

Day two was a drive to explore the southern parts of the island.

Talofofo Falls:

Yokoi Cave: During the Japanese invasion of WWII, one Japanese soldier retreated into the jungle and hid in this cave for 28 years without realizing that the war had ended. He was discovered by locals in 1972 and returned to Japan.

Inarajan Natural Pools:

Merizo Belltower:

The rest of the week was filled with random sightseeing, shopping, eating, geocaching, and laying on the beach. What else could we have asked for?

Plaza de Espana:

Pacific War Museum:

Latte of Freedom: Children of Guam donated their pennies to construct this as a welcoming symbol of American freedom.

Chamorro Village: A bunch of vendors opened up with traditional food, dance performances, and things.

Fish, boats, dolphins:

A place we stopped at called 'Jeff's Pirate Cove' for some Greek food:

Driving around Inarajan:

Perused the island's beaches on our last day and watched one of the best sunsets I've ever seen:


Once back in the land of routine and income, it was time to start up the new semester. I've survived the first week and it should be smooth-sailing from here. I've had some friends return to Korea and more are coming soon, so I'm a happy human at the moment!

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