Sunday, September 16, 2007

Paddling through Ngchesar waters

If you’ve always thought of Babeldaob as one jungle, here’s a special treat for you. Ngchesar State has just launched its kayaking site, a picturesque water trail along the Ngerdorch River (called in Japanese as Shimizu river) that offers “post-card perfect scenery”.
Ngchesar State governor Duane Hideo said that they tied up with Planet Blue and a group of 12 American tourists sampled the kayaking site early this year.

“Kayaking in the Ngerdorch River gives one an all-in-one package, you can lustily feast your eyes and your senses to the wonders of the mangrove, countless pure waterfalls, rainforests, traditional villages and remnants of the Japanese era,” Hideo said.

A whole day kayaking along the pristine rivers also offers a hundred and one attractions including going through nypa palm groves (toechel) and a curtain of hanging ferns, viewing WW11 artifacts, seeing Palau’s rare orchids and plants and the flycatcher, or enjoying your own private Jacuzzi as you take a dip in the bubbling cascades of the numerous waterfalls.

For a really local feel, the village women prepares the lunches in baskets. Discarding the use of plastics and styrofoam, the meals are served in leaves. Columba Augusto, president of Ngaratlok (tradisional women’s organization composed of 60 members in Ngchesar), said this project will boost the tourism potential of the state. She said that the proceeds of the lunches will go to whoever prepared the food but if all of them help, then they will decide whether to split the proceeds or to put it in the group’s account.
“I am encouraging all the ladies’ groups in Palau to promote local food in all gatherings and events,” Augusto said.
The prepared lunch is a mouth-watering basket of crab, oyster, fish, tapioca pudding, taro, potatoes, chicken, and local fruits-pineapple, banana, and papaya. For drinks, forget sodas and softdrinks. Refreshing coconut juice is served straight from its husk.

Instead of allowing a multi-million dollar facility to be put up in the area which can only benefit a chosen few, Hideo said the kayaking package will benefit the community.
“A $10 fee will be collected by the State for each guest. The women gets $25 each for the lunches, and the tour guides will get $75/day,” Hideo said. He added that they will be using local produce for the meals readily available in the State.

Hideo added that the best part of this package is that locals will have a chance to interact with the guests and this will enhance an awareness within them of the paradise they are living in that they have always taken for granted.

Hideo said they will be coming up with materials like brochures, DVD’s and a website to better promote Ngchesar especially to the high-end market from Europe, Japan, Taiwan and other places. They will also be tapping the Palau Visitors Authority and the Belau Tourism Association to assist them market their product. Very soon, the Ngchesar kayaking package will be among the list of priority destinations in the island. For more information, please call Ngchesar State office at tel. number 488-2636 or Planet Blue Sea Kayak Tours at 488-1062.

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