Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More stuff

Here are some more pictures and videos from the last few days. The main thing we have done is visit some historical WWII sites. I had no idea that Saipan played a role in any of that but it did. Want to know how? Why, I'll tell ya! Get ready for a breif history lesson: Siapan was originally inhabited by Spain and this lasted for several hundred years. However, during WWI, Germany somehow gained control and siezed Siapan for just over two years. After that, the Japanese invaded and took control which lasted for quite a few more years. (See, it's that beautiful everyone wanted a peice of it!) Well, when the Japanese ruled Saipan, they turned the island into an exporting commerce, it's primary crop being sugar cane. They used the natives (Chamarro) to do most of the work (unfortunately like slave labor) but there were also many Japanese civilians who migrated over and worked as well. When WWII struck and the Japanese got invovoled, they used Siapan as a station of defense and built all kinds of tanks, guns, etc on the island. Then, after American got involved, we eventually were able to come to Saipan and take it over. (I understand I am leaving out a TON of details here, it's just a crude summary.) America has retained ownership ever since, which is why Saipan is considered a U.S. commonwealth. They don't pay the same taxes as we do in the states, but other than that, government is esentially the same. Anyway, I digress, the following pictures and videos are mainly from sites we visited pertaining to the war and U.S. take over. Two places we went in particular were very sobering: Bonzai cliff and Suicide cliff. Bonzai cliff is a sheer drop off into the ocean and it's where many of the Japanese civilian jumped off when it was clear American would be taking over. There was a lot of propaganda involved and they basically were made to believe that, among other things, once the Americans came they would kill them, rape their women, eat their children, etc. Additionally, it was dishonorable in the Japanese culture to be taken captive, therefore it was more honorable to commit suicide. So...as I was saying, bonzai cliff was where a lot of the local families, (non-military personel) jumped. The other cliff, Suicide cliff, is where many of the soldiers took their lives. There are several shrines and peace memorials now left in it's place, but it was very humbling and reverent to remember these atrcocities. This is Bonzai Cliff: Some Peace Memorials View of Suicide Cliff More Weapons This is the view overlooking suicide cliff

Friday, July 17, 2009

And here are some pictures

This isn't the best picture but it was meant to show a street market in downtown Saipan. They sell all kinds of tropical goods and crazy good smoothies!

These are some pictures of a little visit we took to a neighboring island called Managaha. It's really small and mainly just a place to go snorkeling and parasailing. I don't have the pictures from parasailing yet but it was great! It was something I have had on my bucket list since I was 16 years old. Oh...so FUN!

This is a view from our balcony. It shows the pool and the beach.

A typical Saipan evening.

Above are some pictures of what we have been doing so far.

Also...I have got a lot of questions asking how we came to be here and where the heck Saipan is so I will explain.

My dear dad is an amazingly brilliant professor of pysics and astronomy at BYU and he also is the editor of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. (I am a proud daughter) Well, these being his credientials he got an email from a man who his the CEO of the Palms resort in Saipan (a phenominal tropical paradise in the northern mariana islands, near Guam and just southest of Japan--it is a US commonwealth, after we took it from the Japanese in WWII. It's known for being the most temperate climate in the world). This CEO needed someone to come and help hook up telescopes and give lectures at his resort and emailed my dad wanting to know if there was anyone who could do such a job. At first, my dad thought it was a junk email (he gets lots of those) but after talking with my mom decided to respond anyway...what did he have to lose, right?

Well, long story short, it turned out to be legit and my dad, mom and little siblings ended up spending the month of Feb. here to get things running. After they got back, the CEO wanted my dad to return again for the month of July and, my dad being the consderate man that he is, asked that instead of normal payment, he just fly us (his family) all out so we could see this place for ourselves. So...that's why we are here. It is really one of those too good to be true scenerios...seriously, we don't have to pay for food, lodging, transport, or anything like that! Our only task is to simply ENJOY! So, that is what we are trying to do ('trying'...actually, there is no trying involved, it is the easiest thing in the world to enjoy being here, in paradise, with great company!)

So that is how we got here in a nut shell. We feel very, very lucky and trust me we will not let this experience go to waste!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We are here!

So...we have been in Saipan now for just over three days. HOLY COW it is fantastic! Seriously, tropical island paradise to the max! We are working on getting better internet access so I can't post any pictures quite yet but they should be coming shortly.

So far we have been able to go snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, sea-shell gathering, beach hoping, and para sailing. Things that have more than made up for the horrendous plane ride over here...seriously, that is a post for another time, but it will surely come.

Anyway, we are safe and keeping out of trouble. We hope everyone is doing great too!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

4 days from today!

We will be in the tropical paradise of Saipan for three whole weeks!!! In honor of the excitement, I am changing the blog background to tropical-ness. WHOOHOO!