Thursday, October 26, 2006


I've been wanting to visit Tinian ever since I came back to Saipan earlier this year. I'm not really sure, but I've probably only visited Tinian 5-6 times in my life (it might even be less than that). When I was younger, my father used to take us there for a day or two at a time to go swimming at Taga Beach and to drive around on the old, long abandoned airfields.

Area wise, Tinian is only slightly smaller than Saipan (115 vs 101 km2), but Tinian has only 1/20 the population of Saipan, so the islands are worlds apart.

There are two ways of getting to Tinian from Saipan. You can fly for about $64 per person or you can take the ferry for $17.25 per person ($5 more if you want to sit on the top deck.) We opted for the latter. The ferry leaves at 5 PM and it takes about an hour to get from port to port. There is a free shuttle that then takes you from the Port of Tinian to the Tinian Dynasty Casino.

Millions of Christmas lights and a huge outdoor water fountain greet you as the shuttle pulls into the casino. The casino is so well lit that you can actually see it from the port. It's like Vegas, baby...except they shut off the water fountain after you check in. Apparently they only turn it on when a bus full of gamblers drives up to the casino.

The casino reminded Emily and me of the 4 star hotels that we stayed in when we visited China. There is lots of gold, even more mirrors, everything is written in broken EnGrish, and the bed was hard as a rock. There is even cheesy Chinese elevator music playing in the hallways.

I would call the casino's motif almost elegance. They have all this stuff that is meant to impress you: shiny black marble floors (don't wear a skirt!), big marble pillars, a giant bronze picture of some galloping horses, a huge pool, and meticulously landscaped grounds. But then they ignore the paint peeling on the ceiling. Almost elegance.

We spent two nights at the casino. It was fun to do as a special treat for Emily, but next time I am going to stay at Flemings, which has a certain local charm...and a really great bar back in their courtyard.

We did what every tourist does in Tinian and rented a scooter to visit the historical and natural sites. There are two scooter rental companies between Taga Beach and the casino...very convenient.

The owner gave us a map of the island and helped us plot a course to see all the sites. We drove around and found the old church next to the new church:

Then it started raining, so we ducked into a restaurant called JC's for breakfast. Emily ordered a bowl of soup that for some reason cost $7. When they brought it out in a bowl the size of the Stanley Cup, we understood why.

After breakfast we got back on our scooter and drove around the island for 5 hours. We visited all of the old abandoned Japanese buildings as well as the pits where the Americans loaded the two atomic bombs that would eventually be dropped on Japan.

The whole experience was quite creepy. Once upon a time there were people living and working here, but now there aren't. Weird.

I took a bunch of other pictures, but I'm going to post them on my Daily Pic blog, which has been much neglected as of late. In the meantime, check out today's pic:

Today's Daily Pic

After our five hour tour of the island, Emily and I met up with Tina, who was on island for a Litter Control Officer training. We had dinner at Flemings (next to the hotel of the same name) and then we had a few drinks in the bar (it had a name, but I didn't catch it.) Then we went back to the casino, hopped over the locked fence, and went swimming in the casino pool.

We came back on the 8AM ferry this morning. It was a nice mini-vacation and I can't wait to go back.


Emily said...

The dancing-girly club in the hotel didn't really contribute to a feeling of elegance, either.

Man, I'm tired of dancing-girly clubs.

ampy said...

great photos! i completely agree with your observation on the tinian dynasty. check out the chandelier at the lobby. it's so huge but the almost empty hotel looks like a ghost town specially during weekdays.

Mona said...

Yes, I remember the shiny floors that totally mirrored your skivvies. Also, I remember hearing from a haole on Tinian who had a bunch of WWII photos illustrating how the bombs were hoisted onto the planes that they had to cover the hole because cows would fall in and it was really difficult to raise a dead cow. I didn't see that tidbit on the marker, though.