This is part of the fourteenth section of our around
the world trip.
Background information and previous trips.
Coming from Micronesia
29/1/08 A small island, big population, American thinking, we arrived
at the larger international airport and were issued a 90 day visa under
the visa waiver program, were politely, but extensively, subtly questioned
by homeland security, casually glanced at by customs and walked out into
US territory. A few telephone calls to cheaper, not many here, hotels, and
one with an airport pick up, almost essential with high taxi charges, and
we were accommodated in Guam, half way between the airport and port. First
impressions, we could be in a small US city, which we were, with all the
fast food outlets, large free-standing shopping complexes, and big SUV vehicles
filling busy roads. The driver from the hotel, a man from Palau, advised
there are more cars than houses here and the people don't know how to spell
Global Warming let alone what it means.
30/1/08 Our hotel arranged to take us back to the airport where the
motorcycle landed on the Asia Pacific freight flight around lunch time. Air
was completed easily but the Customs officers were more difficult. Although
we were allowed to import the motorcycle duty free on a temporary basis
they asked for copies of our passport and onward ticket to ensure we would
be taking the motorcycle out again? Also they insisted it was necessary to
get Department of Transport approval to ride here before it could be released.
We questioned the difference between Guam, compared to the tens of thousands
of Canadian and Mexican vehicles crossing daily into mainland US territory,
but it didn't help. It was a 15 dollar taxi fare or a 4km walk, I opted for
the latter and hitch hiked to the DOT office, getting a lift about half way,
but not till after seeing a stealth bomber flying overhead, Guam being a
major US military base. The sight of a black batwinged plane seemingly suspended
in the air without a sound was quite impressive. DOT provided approval for
us to ride here for five days, which can be extended, a provision designed
to give time to prepare the vehicle for full registration. Again we couldn't
convince them we had ridden in the US mainland, crossing the borders many
times without needing any paperwork, and wasn't Guam part of the US? The
head of airport Customs hadn't softened her position on my return and despite
us having DOT approval to ride here she refused to clear the motorcycle
unless we changed the km/hr speedometer to a miles/hr speedometer. After
an hour's discussion of rejections we asked for her decision in writing
so we could appeal to the head of customs for Guam. Why she had taken it
upon herself to refuse the motorcycle's entry for a DOT reason, when the
DOT had given us approval we couldn't understand, nor could her staff. Eventually
she did a backflip and approved the motorcycle's release. Continental Airlines
wouldn't allow us to store the crate in their warehouse and after the motorcycle
was assembled in the air freight car park we paid a pickup to take it to
the hotel where they happily agreed to store it. A long day made more difficult
by an overzealous official reminiscent of Africa.
31/1/08 The clutch of the motorcycle has been giving some problems
since the middle of India with engaging and disengaging at different positions.
A noise had recently developed and pulling apart the area and investigating
this morning we found some small metal rubbish wedged in the clutch hub.
Guam has the first Harley dealer the motorcycle has seen in a year and taking
the clutch to the shop to be opened they found the pressure plate, brass riveted
together, had virtually disintegrated. Half the rivets had broken and had
gouged two of the friction plates. The pressure plate is original, letting
us know we can still expect some parts to break,
ones that haven't given us problems in the past. The friendly H-D shop
also gave us a "take off" rear shock, one of ours had collapsed recently and
we have been getting a hard ride from the remaining shock. On my walk yesterday
to the DOT office I didn't see anyone else walking and again today there
was no-one on the streets. Buses don't run far from the main city, and to
get to the H-D shop we were offered a lift by the hotel, and a customer at
the shop, who lived near to our hotel, brought us back. Without wheels, with
taxi's expensive, buses almost non existent, renting or owning a car is the
only transport option, different from all the other Pacific islands where
share taxi's charge a dollar or less for a city wide ride, letting us know
that whilst many people here have an island friendliness transport is definitely
1/2/08 The H-D shop had a replacement pressure plate but not the friction
plates which they ordered from the US, and we reassembled the clutch area
in the hotel car park this morning so we can ride, but will need to redo
the job when the remaining parts arrive, hopefully in ten days time. Whilst
we had this section of the motorcycle apart we continued with our cleaning
and maintenance upgrade, rust painting, repairing a couple of stripped threads
and just looked closely at worn parts. Recently
there has been little let up to repairs and just as we think we have fixed
one problem another one arises and we sometimes wonder if the motorcycle
will make it to the last nine country's or ten if Kosovo declares itself
independent and is recognised by the UN. While in Pohnpei we had chanced
on a 1994 H-D, same year as ours, and while it looked in poor condition with
a lot of rust, the engine sounded beautiful, no knocks or rattles with its
low mileage, which perhaps made ours sound worse, with its intermittent sharp
clicking noise, coming from our engine, it had us pondering. H-D has a factory
engine rebuild program, reasonably priced and with a 12 month warranty, the
idea of shipping our engine to the US for a peace of mind repair is gaining
interest. They totally disassemble the engine, measure all parts and replace
any that are outside specifications, repaint and replace chrome parts.
2/2/08 Rode down to the H-D shop this morning where the mechanic listened
to the engine noise, and booked it in for an inspection check after the weekend.
3-4/2/08 Expecting to lose use of the motorcycle, but not wanting
to ride too far, we took it to the Japanese centre of town. Here all signs
are in Japanese
first and English a smaller second, reflecting the importance of the spending
power and volume of visitors. The DFS Galleria is unabashedly a Japanese
shopaholics mall full of duty free, high end name brand shops, selling a
predominance of handbags and clothing, aimed at Japanese women, who were
there by the busloads, young, and brandishing a demeanour of wealth. Not
all seemed willing to part with their yen easily though as the nearby McDonalds
was the thriving lunchtime eatery. Our five day permit for the motorcycle
was due to expire but another visit to the friendly Department of Transport
had us walking away with a one month extension.
5/2/08 We were at the H-D shop at opening and the mechanics, by lunch,
had identified the noise as coming from a collapsed cam follower. This is
the same problem I encountered in Siberia two and a half years and 80,000
km ago. With the motorcycle over 14 years old most H-D mechanics no longer
work on them and some younger ones have rarely if ever worked on an "Evo
motor" which they stopped putting into new motorcycles about 8 years ago.
Three of the four cam followers wheels had worn down their pins to be loose
in the wheel, the fourth seemed unaffected. This has been a fairly regular
problem and we keep a spare set, with cam and bearing, normally also needed,
as the broken cam follower damages
the cam. A phone call to our son in Australia and the parts should be
DHL'd here in a few days, meanwhile we are again without transport. A crack
was also noticed in the engine casting next to the cam bearing. Despite
this we have decided to keep this engine, if possible, to visit the remainder
of the world's countries, after which we think we will retire it, and buy
a completely new engine so we can continue to travel, hopefully with fewer
problems. Every Tuesday H-D Guam offers a free buffet dinner and drinks as
a social event with live music. Quite unique in any shop we have visited,
the offer seems open to anyone interested in Harleys. The American owner
and his local wife offer a mixture of island and business hospitality and
an equally diverse group of people, tonight about 80 including many children,
mix and mingle bringing together their different cultures.
6/2/08 A Japanese shipping company, Kyowa, has a three weekly schedule
between Guam and Palau, and onward to South Korea, now our intended route,
and with a ship sailing on the 15th of February to Palau, we made a tentative
booking for the motorcycle. It is really our only option. The Asia Pacific
Airlines tuna freight flights are infrequent at the moment and the only other
shipping company, Matsons, doesn't collect cargo in Guam for Palau. This
makes our motorcycle repair schedule a little
tight as the bike needs to be at the wharf by the 15th, but with losing
a weekend it probably won't be repaired till the 12th. It's move quickly
or wait three more weeks for the next sailing. We also delayed our flight
out till the 20th, just in case some other parts, ordered through the H-D
shop, are delayed in their arrival.
7-8/2/08 Hired a small car, rent a wreck, from our hotel, to finalise
shipping arrangements and see a bit of the island, just the south, the road
follows the coast through small villages, stopping at a small marina and
a natural rock pool swimming hole.
9/2/08 DHL had the parts at the airport early this morning, and we
had them at the H-D dealer at opening and by mid afternoon the motorcycle
was running smoothly. A few minor adjustments by us to get the motorcycle
running how we like it and it sounded and ran like a new engine, well almost.
The cam bearing was left in place as we didn't want to extend the crack in
the engine casing by trying to replace it, a new cam and cam followers were
10/2/08 We had an early morning breakfast with Joe and a couple of
his friends. A retired military local, he had lent us his van to use for
wheels over the
last couple of days. He is new to Harleys in his retirement and is thinking
of riding his motorcycle on a trip to Europe and America. The local Harley
Owners Group, HOG, welcomed us at their monthly lunchtime meeting after which
we all presented children at the local hospital with toys and then followed
them on a ride to the top end of the island and to a small local biker hang
out pub. Our older motorcycle looked a bit out of place with the newer shiny
models but was now running smoothly.
11/2/08 With the motorcycle running well we looped the island, clockwise
this time, stopping at Jeff's Pirate Cove. A local character Jeff runs an
outdoor experience for Japanese tourists, swimming, snorkelling, wagon rides,
restaurant and souvenirs but it was his association and literature that attracted
us. Following WW2 some Japanese soldiers were left behind in Guam's jungle
interior, hiding out waiting for the return of their army, some continued
attacks on locals long after the war was over, and many were in return killed.
Shoichi Yokoi managed to outlive all his compatriots and stayed hidden for
28 years, till finally captured in the 1970's. How he lived in caves and
ate forest foods, and managed to avoid capture, and subsequently befriended
Jeff, is a remarkable story. We took time out from our "arduous" island ride
for a snorkel at the
natural rock pools of Salugula, another popular spot for locals and tourists.
Further around the coast early history is identified at the landing place
of Magellan during his around the world voyage, his first landfall after
crossing the Pacific, and only a couple of months before his death in the
12/2/08 Continuing to enjoy a motorcycle that is now working well
we visited the memorial site overlooking the landing area of US forces recapturing
the island during WW2. A beach head assault, defended by Japanese hillside
guns, it was an expensive landing in terms of lives lost but gained a foothold
on a valuable island, with a good harbour. Having had a great time at the
last week H-D dealer's midweek dinner we returned to another enjoyable evening,
and hope to be there again next week before we fly out to Palau.
13/2/08 Breakfast again with Joe and a ride to his beachside property.
Right at the northern end of the island, backed by limestone cliffs, is a
flat strip of densely vegetated land that had been occupied by local tribes
for centuries. It is now used by a few city locals for relaxation, a place
where tourists and the military don't come. There are many latte stones there.
Believed to be the foundation blocks of village houses they are all that
of a past forgotten culture. A cave at the rear of the old village was
used to escape hurricanes and the local caretaker still hunts coconut crabs,
wild deer and pigs. It is a beautiful setting, away from the busyness that
Guam has become. Cliffs always promote legends and Guam's Two Lovers Leap
is no exception. An unhappy couple is supposed to have once tied their hair
together and jumped starting the importance of what is now a cliff top stopping
point on Japanese tours of the island.
14/2/08 A rainy morning. The motorcycle needed recrating for shipping
to Palau. We had arranged a truck but discovered they were sending a van
with a rear lift, and a trolley jack forklift to move the crate about. Placing
the crate on a couple of pallets before inserting the motorcycle solved
the loading problem, but a delay in collection and last minute problems
with paperwork had the motorcycle almost missing the 5pm port closure.
15/2/08 Joe had again offered us his van to use now we
were without the motorcycle, but it is not the same as sightseeing on bike.
16/2/08 An American
contractor, Doug, also a H-D rider, has been on island for the last month,
staying at the Hilton Hotel, and invited us over to enjoy the facilities
there for the day. Coinciding with Kay's birthday we indulged in the restaurant,
had a few beers, snorkelled, and relaxed poolside and oceanside on the banana
lounges, and watched the evening dance show. A cut above our usual standard
of living it was also interesting watching the mostly Japanese tourists,
snorkel for the first time or trying their hand at pedal boats or kayaks.
17-18/2/08 Quiet time around our hotel.
19/2/08 The boat carrying the motorcycle to Palau has been delayed
but left today, the motorcycle as deck cargo. Taking advantage of a Harley
shop we had ordered some parts, most arrived today, but unfortunately one
of the clutch parts didn't, making the rest of the planned clutch area repairs
not possible. We are leaving Guam tomorrow so the clutch repairs will have
to wait till the next H-D shop. In the evening we again enjoyed the Tuesday
get together for dinner at the shop, giving us an opportunity to say goodbye
20/2/08 We needed to be at the airport by 4am for the 6am flight. Joe was there to meet us and collect his van we had been using for the last few days. Amazing generosity from someone we had just met. Continental Airlines insisted we purchase an onward, at least fully refundable ticket, out of Palau before they would let us fly. We had hoped to make that purchase in Palau when shipping information was clearer, and we were more certain of our onward destination, either Korea or Taiwan. The purchase apparently flagged us as suspicious in the post 911 airline world and we were singled out for a thorough screening by airport security. During the patdown and bomb residue swabbing of ourselves and luggage security advised, if you have a one way ticket, pay for a ticket in cash or made last minute changes to a flight, the computer flags for extra screening. As we were in all three categories, we were obviously a bomb threat?
Move with us to Palau
Story and photos copyright ©