Freedom Air has a special right now where a round trip flight to Tinian is only $69. It is still much more expensive than the $20 ferry trip (one-way, with a free return as long as you gamble $50 at the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino), but much more convenient. On the way over and on the way back, all you have to do is show up at the airport and they'll fly you over.
This was Edz' second and third time flying in an airplane. The only other time she had flown was when she flew direct from Manila to Saipan a few years ago. Naturally, she had her camera out snapping pictures and taking video the entire time. She won't admit it, but when the pilot was trying to land the airplane, he did so with Edz' camera blocking his vision on the right side. I'm amazed he was able to land the plane.
Tinian is really an amazing place and has as many hidden treasures as Saipan. It has a completely different feel from Saipan, though. It is quiet. And once you get out of the main village it is very, very isolated.
Fully 2/3 of the island has been leased by the United States military since the signing of the Covenant. The lease was signed with promises of development, which never really occurred other than the odd war games activity every few years.
As an aside, the issue of unfulfilled promises was a monument issue that was never really forced to the front in Saipan, but we heard it multiple times in Tinian.
But this post isn't about the monument...
Much like Saipan, Tinian is littered with remnants from World War II. This bunker on Chulu Beach on the northwestern side of the island shows scars from the war. Were one of those bullet holes put there by my uncle Jim Walsh while a young marine? Who knows?
If there was a theme to the World War II remnants, it is that given time the Earth will reclaim our destruction. This beautiful banyon tree grows on top of what may once have been a street. I think at one time it may have been on the side of the street, but it has gotten so big that the road now curves around to avoid the tree. The interlocking roots of this tree were truly amazing. It could be a tourist attraction unto itself.
The road this tree was on led to a shinto shrine I never knew existed. There isn't too much left of it, just a concrete monument etched with the name of the shrine, two lantern bases, a water basin, some stairs, beyond which is a concrete base which held the shrine.
The view from behind the shrine was fantastic. That's Saipan in the distance, and although my camera lens couldn't capture it, there was about a 180 degree view of Tinian.
Since we didn't have any work to do or any real plans, Edz and I took time to go down roads we had never been down to explore places we've never even heard of. That is how we found the shinto shrine on the hill. That is also how we found the old Japanese fuel storage depot.
This place was beyond cool and I didn't even know that it existed. It is just past the Atomic Bomb Pits on North Field. There were two of them, but one was completely destroyed during the war. The one that is still standing was carved right into a hillside.
Like something right out of Indian Jones, the road leading towards the entrance is lined by 20 foot coral walls and trees.
Some of the banyon trees dropped roots right down along the side of the walls. Given a few hundred more years, these roots will rival anything at Angkor Wat.
Inside the fuel storage building are hundreds of old oil barrels. I learned later that this fuel storage had caught fire during the invasion. That means that these barrels have been sitting where they're sitting since 1944. How amazing is it that you can just walk right up to them? The scene hasn't changed since the waning days of World War II.
We also found an old Japanese power generator complex, a group of buildings which I had never seen before. In one of the buildings were the original metal tanks for holding fuel. Amazing!
The buildings themselves had been shelled by the Americans. What kind of a blast bends rebar to look like that? It could not have been fun to be a Japanese national living on Tinian in 1944.
Tomorrow, June 10, is the 65 year anniversary of when the Americans started bombing the islands of Tinian and Saipan in what would be the final months of the war. Five days after bombing commenced, they invaded. My Uncle Jim Walsh (my grandmother's brother) was a marine storming the beaches on Tinian while my grandfather, grandmother, aunts and uncles, huddled in a cave on Saipan.
65 years. Wow. So my question is...
Can the EPA please clean up the stupid oil that the military left behind after the war? It's probably contaminating our ground water!