The radio stations here play very eclectic selections of music. You’ll get a country song, and then a rap song, and then a few Indian chanting songs that will make you scramble to change the station. It’s nice because you never hear the same song twice. Ever. But then the songs you actually want to listen to are about one out of twenty. It’s like pushing the shuffle button on your iPod; you only ever get all the random songs you don’t even know why you have.

The other day Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls came on as we were heading to hike Ngardmau Waterfalls. Known locally as Medala Iechad, these waterfalls are on the north end of the big island, Babeldaob. According to our map, there were two different ways to go about hiking them. A two hour hike from the dock, or to hike down from the Compact Road which would only take 20 minutes. Since we had gotten a late start we opted for the 20 minute hike. That and I was barely moving from working out the day before.

There’s an army/marine base (they rotate out) called Camp Katuu where there is a small gym room free to the community. We had decided to go work out there the day before. I hadn’t worked out in years so got on the treadmill and just started running. It’s surprisingly easy to run at sea level! Maybe too easy because half an hour later when Fletch was ready to go I was still running, like a hamster on a wheel. Good thing I stopped though because a few hours later I could barely move. Beach bum problems.

So when everyone wanted to go hiking I suggested the 20 minute route. Even that was pushing it though. I’m embarrassed even admitting how sore I was. I must be getting old.

There was a massive staircase leading down the mountain, and in the midst of the jungle covered hills ahead of us, we could just make out a break in the cover where there was a waterfall. At the bottom of the staircase we found a trail leading through the jungle.

Along the way we saw old, abandoned railroad tracks from pre-WWII era. The jungles and the trees had reclaimed most of them, growing around and over the rusting metal. Halfway there, the trail started following a stream of water flowing over volcanic rock. Every few feet there were little pools the size of bath tubs with fish swimming inside which we couldn’t determine the depth of. I suspect I couldn’t have stood up in most of them. We stopped for a while to explore the pools, then continued on our way. 

A little while later we emerged in a clearing with water cascading eagerly down the mountainside and pooling into a stream at the bottom. A few Indonesian tourists were standing under the falls shampooing their hair. Even more asian tourists were taking pictures of every angle possible of the falls. It was a very picturesque site, with a rainbow splashing its way across where the water fell into the stream. 

We began to make our way back and then found a sign around the corner leading up the mountain that said Restricted Access or Do Not Enter or something warning us to turn away. We decided that must lead to the top of the waterfall and went to explore. A little farther up the path there was a sign that said Watch Your Step. I guess they knew no one was going to listen to the first sign. At the top we found a fork in the path and went left, where we found ourselves at one of the platforms for the ziplines strung from one mountaintop to the next. We went back down to the fork and chose the right path. It wasn’t much of a path, we had to make our way over tree trunks and various roots, but we eventually came to a stream beneath us. We made our way down to the shallow water and sure enough, farther along to the right the little stream fell over the cliff. We hiked left, over the volcanic rock and through the shallow stream. No one was up here. Once again we found small pools in the rock. Some areas were covered with green fuzzy moss. Some areas the water turned vibrant blue. It was an awesome area to chill and we decided we’d have to come back here in the future.

We hiked our way back, just in time to make it back to the car before dusk, then drove back home to Koror. We ended our already fun-filled day with massages. An hour long massage here costs $20, which isn’t quite the same as Thailand’s $6, but it’s still justifiable. I laid down on the bed, happy that my sore legs were about to be rubbed by some Chinese lady. Then I don’t know if the girl started having a seizure on top of me or what happened, but her hands were moving back and forth at the speed of light, and not in a good way. It was the opposite of relaxing. It felt like someone was trying to shake me awake for an hour. They slapped a lot too, and I was certain that our three masseuses were playing some sort of hand game back and forth between each other. Slap slap slap superfasthandmovement, slap slap. The grand finale was when she started methodically yanking my hair at the end, one section at a time. Not a moment too soon it ended and I stood up buzzing like I’d just drunk a bucket of coffee.