Thursday, 13 June 2013

Palau Early Days: The ups and the downs

View from the cafeteria at the hospital
It's early days in our new life in Palau but we (or at least I) have already had some ups and downs. The past two days have been very interesting. As part of our orientation we've had a good tour of the major islands and Amanda's workplace, which is situated in the offices attached to the hospital. The hospital has to have one of the best views ever for a workplace let alone a hospital. So far the people we've met are great, everyone is super nice and very excited to have Amanda and myself here. I think I'm already being scoped out for a local canoe team for the Palau games in July. 

Last night we met a bunch of other volunteers and ex pat workers. Again everyone was awesome and It'll be great to hang out with them. I think I had my first "this will be awesome" moment yesterday. On a side note i found some great quesadillas and the local beer Red Rooster is quite good, i've now tried the wheat, amber and stout but unfortunately it is a little higher priced than the imported Asahi's and generic American swill. I've never seen to many "Grab some Buds" signs in my life. 

While yesterday was a great day that highlighted the potential of living in Palau today today seems to be a bit of a different story, a number of things have happened that have really frustrated me and I've had a few of those "what the hell are we doing here moments?!".

I'm a massive (ice) hockey fan and the NHL finals start today with one of my more favoured teams (Chicago) facing one of my most hated (Boston). I was seriously looking forward to finding some fellow crazy fans to sit with in a bar at 9am to watch the finals. Unfortunately the only sports channel here (ESPN) is showing yet another early season baseball game and not the hockey. So I assume i'll not see any of the Stanley Cup Finals and probably no hockey for the whole duration of my time here. And yes the internet is so shit i won't be able to stream or download the games.

The internet it is incredibly shit here, the country is not connected to any undersea fibre cables and instead is still on satellite. Apparently the wireless in this hotel is pretty good compared to elsewhere, So i'd hate to see what a poor connection is like. It does get better at nighttime when there is less load but it can still take an amazing amount of time to do something simple like load one webpage or to download the various photos on my facebook thread. It took me 20 minutes to load the google blogger page today only to have it fail while saving and to somehow lose my half written blog post.  

While on the computer internet topic, those who've read my blog would know about how my 6 week old Dell ultrabook died the middle of last week. And how despite the efforts of the local technician, Dell were unable to get me the parts in time before i left. I had to depart without my ultrabook leaving it at home to wait for the required part to arrive from Melbourne this week. It was fixed yesterday but when my parents tried to ship it over today they were told that Australia Post would not ship the battery. Apparently it's dangerous materials! They've tried quite a few other couriers and none will touch it except one that will charge $390 and i could still be subject to Palau import duty/taxes. So excuse my language but the whole debacle is now a fucking mess. I'm really pissed off about this as Dell were unable to take any initiative outside of their rigid processes to get this fixed in time.

Also in the last two days we've had a look at 3 units and 1 house to rent. Trying to find accommodation here is not easy, there is only one real estate agent and they have little to nothing on their books and are rather expensive. Typically accommodation is found by word of mouth or by directly contacting managers of unit blocks, who often live in and own those blocks as well. Yesterday we checked out a one bedroom unit behind our hotel in the middle of town. It was very small, hardly furnished and stank! I was very unimpressed especially as the real estate agent wanted $585 per month for it.

Today we have seen two apartments (1/2 bedroom) next to each other and a 3 bedroom unit which was the top floor of a house. (Costing $600/650/820 p.m.) The one bedroom was definitely better than yesterday's one but still below the standard i had expected we'd find here. The two bedder was better again but I'm still reluctant. The three bedroom unit/house was pretty bad, very old and run down. It had a nice outdoor area but we were basically threatened by local dogs on the way back down the street. I'm seriously not impressed at the quality of accommodation here. I think this caused my first true 'what the hell are we doing here' moment. Luckily tonight through our new volunteer friends we got some more contacts and also got to see one of the better apartment blocks in Palau. It was nice and at a decent level, it also had a truly incredible view but rather expensive. We'll now spend tomorrow following up these contacts and have also discussed that we might need to blow our accommodation budget a bit so we have a decent/nice place to live. We might just have to be on a waiting list for a while. 

Despite the average day something positive did happen today. I got word from home that someone has signed a lease to rent our unit out. That is a load off my mind as it should hopefully look after itself financially now. We just have to make ends meet here so we don't go backwards at home.

While catching up with our new friends tonight one of them has very kindly agreed to bring my laptop back over after she heads home to Australia next week. This is absolutely awesome of her and going to solve a massive issue to me. I'm definitely going to owe her one and i'm not sure how i'll be able to pay her back. Maybe it's more of a case of paying it forward at some point.

So I'll go to bed tonight hopeful that tomorrow we'll find a decent place to live or at least something reasonable for us to bide our time in until we can get into the nicer place we saw tonight.


  1. Good on ya mate. ADventure! Push on. Enjoy...especially the beer. - Cheers, Dan

  2. Maybe if you are her dive buddy one day, you can ensure she makes it topside safely.

  3. Full of crazy experiences already! I hope it continues to improve for you.
    I didn't want to comment about Dell when you first asked about them, but I'm not surprised by their terrible service and ineptitude, based on our experience of receiving a laptop that belonged to someone in Spain, three months after we made the purchase, and then another three months and countless hours of time wasted on the phone, before we got our money back!
    Looking forward to reading more of your adventures, Deb.