4. A Community on a Runway

Photo by Barrington Irving
Photo by Barrington Irving

On our way to Palau, the Flying Classroom made a fuel stop in Biak, a small island northwest of New Guinea. The locals were very nice, but what was most surprising was how the 11,700-foot runway was integrated into the neighboring communities. It wasn’t just for airplanes; motorcycles, cars, and bikes used it too. As we made our way down the runway, I was fascinated to see children playing soccer and other games alongside us and at the end of the runway. I’d never seen that before!
 
3. Cone Snail

Photo by Zoltan Takacs
Photo by Zoltan Takacs

While in Palau, I encountered a snail that is highly venomous. It can immediately paralyze you. This serves the creature well, helping it catch fish as its prey. What’s most impressive is the beauty of the cone snail’s shell. But don’t let it fool you, because it can kill you.
 
2. Jellyfish Lake

Photo by Zoltan Takacs
Photo by Zoltan Takacs

Imagine swimming with millions of jellyfish in a lake isolated from the rest of the world. As sea levels decreased after the last ice age, these golden jellyfish remained isolated in a lake of seawater located within the Rock Islands of Palau. I swam with the jellyfish as they migrated toward sunlight on one side of the lake. Some people have allergic reactions to swimming with the jellyfish, but luckily I did not!
 
1. Fruit Bat Soup

Photo by Barrington Irving
Photo by Barrington Irving

Okay, pig brains were one thing, but fruit bat soup is definitely the craziest thing I’ve ever eaten. Imagine a bat boiled whole and then placed in a nice pot of soup with a lovely aroma. I was able to withstand five bites. It would have helped if I didn’t have to look at its gruesome teeth! Still can’t believe I ate a bat with all of the intestines and everything else in it.

NEXT: Crossing the North Pacific