When you’re in Guam, everyone tells you to skip Saipan, and when you’re in Saipan, everyone asks why you’d bother going to Guam. I don’t understand why there’s so much hate between them, since they’re really similar, very close to eachother, and share a common Chamorro heritage, but its just as confusing how they’re not the same country when one is an American unincorporated territory and the other one an American commonwealth. They both have a lot of American military, mostly navy guys affectionately called ‘ship guys’ in Saipan. Guam has a fully operational naval base and air force, teeming with weapons, planes, helicopters, ships, submarines and muscly guys.
I didn’t see or feel much of the military presence, but both my hosts were navy guys. Dale was a rescue swimmer and just finishing up his 4 year contract on Guam, so we celebrated that and my birthday with a bucket of beers on the beach. My other host was a 40-something year old retired navy guy, and now spends his time scuba diving and working at a scuba dive shop.
In Saipan I stayed with couchsurfers who worked at the hospital, but they were all from mainland America and still acted like the probably did as freshmen in university. Kevin was always RTR, ‘ready to rage’ – his reference to any sort of drinking or dancing; his roomate was a retired Special ops military guy who took me out to a rotating restaurant (housed in the previous Nauru embassy from back in the golden days) and popped champagne on the beach for me; and his best friend took me on a sunset dinner cruise for my birthday that I had to carry him home from (it was all you can drink screwdrivers and he was finished before sunset). Needless to say we raged together and with half of Saipan, and I acquired alot more party friends along the way. Patty was bat shit crazy, in the best kind of way, and cooked us the most amazing spread of chamorro food. I had lunch dates with her and with another doctor I met who got drunk after one sip of rose. We had brunch with bottomless mamosas at the Hyatt, and toured the islands tourist attraction (most of them being kind of morbid Japanese/American conflict points during WWII).
In addition to some sun and sand, I felt like Saipan was the Vegas of the pacific, not just for me but all of mainland asia, since downtown Garapan has more Chinese, Japanese and Korean shops and signage than anything else. It’s a raging resorty destination for alot of sunshine seekers, and pampers well with spas and restaurants for honeymooners to love. I had my 21st birthday in Vegas, and celebrating my 28th birthday in Saipan will be just as memorable. But maybe its time to grow up a little for the next one – Im getting too old for this kind of raging. (*thank you Kevin for a 5 day hangover!)