Day 2: Bus rides, Bais, and Basins

In today’s adventures in Palau we found ourselves on a journey to the northern tip of the island, a small town called Ollei, which is home to our next gracious hosts, the Ebiil Society. Before our day truly began, we were met with more downpouring rain, but made a quick escape to our first destination of the day in Melekeok. 

Hiking on the hand-placed stone path (created hundreds of years ago) towards the Bai Melekeong.
A friendly snake, found on our hike up to the Bai. 

On the eastern coast of the island, our phenomenal and knowledgeable guide named Demei Elechuus told us the incredible stories of the people, chiefs, and histories that they experienced throughout years of colonization. After several stops accompanied by Demei’s formidable storytelling, we arrived at our final destination–at least for this introductory hike–the Bai Melekeong. Here we were fortunate enough to be granted permission to enter the impressively old and sacred traditional house of the Palauan men, and even received a detailed tour of the Bai’s art and its deeper meanings. 

OSU students admire the artistic representations of historical Palauan stories.
Ridge to Reef class of 2024 outside of the Bai Melekeong, featuring Demei.

Our second stop on the way to our new home for the week was the Ngardmau Waterfall, which would require a 1.5 mile hike in, covering over 400 stairs, abandoned Japanese railroad tracks, and flowing water over slick rocks. This was a feat in and of itself, but was entirely worth the mud soaked sandals and sweat, for the waterfall was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Amidst roaring blasts of mist and wind evoked by the 712 foot waterfall, students swam, waded, splashed, and laughed throughout the incredible break from the heat. 

The hike to the Ngardmau Waterfall that is seen in the distance.
OSU student’s unleash their inner-child while playing in the waterfall.

To conclude today’s activities, we completed our bus travels to the Ebiil Society in Ollei, exhausting the northernmost roads of Palau. Here we were greeted and welcomed by the staff of the Ebiil Society, who were so kind as to cook us an incredible meal of fried fish, taro, and mango salsa. After an exhausting day, we are ready for bed, and looking forward to whatever tomorrow brings!

Today’s post written by Lydia Dapkus and Gary Esvelt

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