Grass skirts, stone money, and western influences

Grass skirts, Stone money, and western influences

After our first trip with inflatables in Europe with a rail pass. We wanted to take it one step further and explore far away places in the world. This time we bought a round the world ticket with stopovers at all the continents.

Our first destination was Yap. This tiny island belongs to one of the 186 islands of Micronesia. And is known for their traditional culture. One of the last islands in the Pacific that still resists to the western ways.

At the airport we are welcomed by 2 bare chested women in grass skirts who hang two leis around our necks. With only two planes a week arriving in Yap,  it is not a busy airport.

We get a ride from a police man to a small piece of land in the middle of town where we inflate our tent for the first night (yes we also have an inflatable tent, at least the poles are).


In the next days we travel to the North of the island, to a village,  Wanead, where we ask permission to put up our tent. On Yap the land is owned by the people. You always have to ask permission to use the land or visit certain villages. As soon as we had made camp, we inflate our boards and paddle for hours along the coast.

Bart Black and White

Yap has a lush green interior full with palm and betel nut trees. The coast is mostly covered with mangroves and around the whole island is a protecting reef where you can find manta rays up to 20 feet wide. One big oasis with only 10,000 inhabitants and no industries.

The pace is slow on the island. Partly because there is not much too do other than fish and find foodPartly because almost everyone is chewing betel nuts. A subtle narcotic which produces orange stained teeth and lips. The Yaps do this all day every day.


When we paddle here we see the man-houses at the beach and the Seaworthy outriggers with which they, until very recently, sailed to the outer island and Guam or Palau, often 7-10 days at sea relying only on the stars for navigation.

Bart Paddling

One day we paddle to Rumung, the utmost northern island of Yap.  This time with special permission and with a local inhabitant of Rumung. Without him no one can enter the island.

There we see the biggest stone money of the island. A form of payment with giant round carved stone with a hole in the middle. Stone money once the only form of payment, is still in use today for certain transactions or settling fights.


There is a lot more to say about this little paradise in the Pacific which we will save for later

Now  we are on our way to Kathmandu, Nepal where the story continues.

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