Saturday, June 14, 2008

Where .... in the World.... is.... Bonnie Sandiego

I just returned from seven days on the island of Saipan, which is in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI). Remember that show from about ten years ago? Maybe fifteen... Where is the World is Carmen Sandiego? I think it started as a computer game and turned into a tv show. Or maybe vice versa. Anyhoo... that always pops into my head when I return from Saipan because everyone always says, "Where is that?" when I tell them where I've been. The red arrow on the map above (from Geocities) points to the location of CNMI.

It's not that easy to get to, let me tell ya! Approximately, 26 hours travel time. For those of you who live on the East coast who have taken a trip to Hawaii. Long flight, right? Well, it's the halfway point to Saipan. LOL.

Based on the questions I frequently get asked, here are a few interesting facts about Saipan (excerpted from Wikipedia):

Saipan is the largest island and capital of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a chain of 15 tropical islands belonging to the Marianas archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean with a total area of 115.39 km² (44.55 sq mi). The 2000 census population was 62,392.

Located at latitude of 15.25° north and longitude of 145.75° east, about 200 km (120 mi) north of Guam, Saipan is about 20 km (12.5 mi) long and 9 km (5.5 mi) wide. It is a popular tourist destination in the Pacific.

Besides English, the indigenous Chamorro language is spoken by approximately 19 percent of the inhabitants. The island also has many other large, strongly defined lingual and ethnic groups because of the large percentage of contract workers (60% of total population, as of 2001 from China, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. In addition, a large percentage of the island's population includes first-generation immigrants from Japan, China, and Korea, and immigrants from many of the other Micronesian islands.

It is interesting that CNMI is a US Commonwealth but almost no Americans (myself included until I went there) have ever heard of it, let alone know it's part of the US. The residents are US citizens (similar to Puerto Rico and Guam although they are Territories not Commonwealths - don't ask me what the distinction is!) The islands played a big role for the US in WWII. The Enola Gay, the aircraft that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, departed from the island of Tinian. More WWII history here if you like that kind of thing.

So enough babbling... I didn't take very many pictures but here are a few:

Excuse the wrinkled dress and stupid pose (my colleagues made me pose like that. Seriously!) This was taken at a lovely golf course on the east (I think) side of the island, atop a huge cliff.

And speaking of lunch.... Japanese food is very popular on Saipan and I just think the Bento boxes are so pretty. LOL! Almost looks like play food, doesn't it?

This very unflattering shot of me (could I look any more huge??? and whatup with that hair?) was taken at a little beach restaurant that my clients took me to one evening to enjoy a sunset Happy Hour. We shared some beers and I sampled one of their favorite dishes - Chicken Kelaguen (some Chamorro recipes found here). It's a very simple dish but so delish! On the morning I left, my client was so sweet - she stopped at the market and purchased some hot peppers and island-made hot sauce so I could make it authentically once I got back home!

Although I always enjoy visiting Saipan (I can't say enough about how friendly every single person I encounter has been on each trip), it is nice to be back home. I missed my kids, my dogs, and my sewing machines a lot.


Lindsay T said...

What percentage of the year are you traveling? I used to travel for work all the time when I was younger...some days I miss the feeling of getting away from it all that work travel can bring. Looks like this one wasn't so bad as business trips go.

gaylen said...

So do you actually get to stay home for a minute? Glad you had a good time - of to semi-vacation and get paid!! g

Vicki said...

Looks like a nice place to visit. Shame you were working!

Marji said...

ok, I'll bite: What kind of business and client takes you to remote islands like this?

Cennetta said...

What fun. I wish my business travels took me overseas.

Tany said...

Thank you for sharing these lovely pictures, Bonnie! And also for reminding me of one of my all time favorite games: "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego". I think this was my first computer game!!

Kellie said...

It looks like a delightful place to spend some time...You have the best job, Bonnie!