As we left Manila, Typhoon Kompasu was about 200 miles north and of no consequence to our flight. Although there were many clouds around the airport, we were soon above them and had relatively clear skies shortly after takeoff. Typhoons are the Pacific name for hurricanes so we were happy that Kompasu was not in our flight path. Monsoons are simply very large weather systems of rain and thunderstorms. Now that we are southeast of the Philippines, we should not encounter any typhoons or monsoons until we reach the Southeastern United States.
That being said, there still were many rain showers in the Palau area when we approached with light rain at the airport for landing. We could see the runway from 25 miles away but then it disappeared in the rain only to reappear once again as we came out on final approach. It was not a problem, however, and really quite beautiful.
Approach to Paradise
The climate and foliage of Palau is much like Florida, except that it has hills and small mountains for more variety and definition. It is approximately the size of Singapore but with a population of only 19,000. Its temperament aptly fits the description of laid back. We welcomed the slower pace. No museums, no tours and no malls. Just R and R on the chaise for a few days. A few rays. A little reading. Recharge the batteries.
Actually, the island population was nearly 50,000 in the middle 1800s. Unfortunately, a smallpox epidemic imported from Europe reduced it to only 4,000 in a few short years. We can't even imagine the unbelievable impact of such a tragedy. Now, Palauans leave the island under much better circumstances and seek their fortunes in Hawaii, California or other promising locations around the world.
Our hotel was directly on the beach. The setting appeared to be taken from an advertising poster. Dark blue water turning to a very pleasing azure as it neared the shore. Tall coconut palms and an abundance of flowers. Gorgeous sunsets every night. If you were to be stranded somewhere, this would be the perfect place to do it. And stranded we nearly were.
Quite recently, there was a change of policy for Exxon/Mobil oil in the Pacific and they no longer sell Avgas--only jet fuel. All users have to import it monthly in bulk quantities as there is no longer a retail dealer. Most users import only the amount they think they will use and, with shipping dates usually delayed, they have none available to sell to private pilots. We were fortunate to find an air taxi operator to sell us one drum of gas (52 gallons). Combined with our fuel on board from Manila, it was sufficient for the next leg and we will leave on schedule. However, our destination was changed from Chuuk to Guam because there is very little gas in Chuuk and much better possibilities in Guam. We knew there would be challenges on this trip but anticipated that they would be in the air, not on the ground. Until we reach Hawaii, Avgas availability will be the primary focus of our planning.
On the brighter side, the Bearon and Miss Ellie took it all in stride. They enjoyed their time in Palau, sipping root beers in the shade of a grass roofed umbrella and partying well into the night.
Note: Please don't be concerned with our safety. We definitely will not leave any island without ample fuel to reach the next one--plus a reasonable reserve.