Jan 1, 2008
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year everyone! We ended the year on a "high" note--that is on, Mt. Tapochau, the highest point on Saipan. (I drove their for this holiday, rather than running as I did for Thanksgiving).
New Year's Eve has always been a bit of a challenge for us. Usually, we want to do something fun but it's hard to find something to do on New Years Eve on Saipan that doesn't involve spending a lot of money or consuming copious amounts of alcohol (or both). For the past couple years we've ended the old year and begun the new quietly, usually over at Carol's house chatting till midnight and then wandering outside to take note of whatever fireworks happen to be nearby. It hasn't been a bad way to spend the evening, by any means. But this year Carol had other plans, and we were going to have to come up with something new.
Well, this year's (or should I say last year's) New Years Eve turned out to be a lot of fun and very memorable. We went out for dinner, then spent a couple of hours of relaxation at the Mandi Asian Spa, and then drove up to Mt. Tapochau, the highest point on Saipan, to watch all of the fireworks on Saipan.
Dinner at Garlic Restaurant 2298 Grotto (L to R, Veronyka, our kindergarten teacher; Riki, one of our pre-school teachers; Rhonda (Riki's Mom); Rolly (Riki's Dad); Randi (Riki's Sister) and Babs.
Babs and I along with two of our other teachers, Veronyka and Riki, and Riki's family who is visiting Saipan this week, began the evening with dinner at six at the Garlic Restaurant 2298 Grotto (quite a mouthful, huh), a highly-recommended restaurant that utilizes--you guessed it--garlic in many of their dishes. We'd never been before, but we'd heard a lot of good things from friends who had and it didn't disappoint. We had the Garlic spaghetti Japenese style, garlic spaghetti, deep fried eggplant, garlic chicken, and garlic fried rice with vegetables--all pungent and tasty.
At the Spa
Around 7:30 we headed over to the Mandi Asian Spa for a couple hours. We figured, if we're going to sit around and chat for a couple of hours we might as well do it in absolute luxury! We started out at the infinity pool, with occasional dips in the cold pool, then moved to the main pool, followed by a visit to the flower bath. After a nice hot showers we met back up in the library room where we hung out (and some of us napped) until closing time at 11. The water was warm, the company good, and I left feeling super-relaxed and squeaky clean in a way that only a visit to the Manid can make you feel.
Riki models the one-size-fits-all (or not) Mandi slippers. When you arrive at the spa, you trade out your own shoes for these spa zorries which are all one size: Extra Large!
I guess this would be the "Christ of the Marianas." This statue of Jesus stands atop Saipan's highest peak, Mt. Tapochau.
At 11 we drove up to Mt. Tapochau, where a small group of celebrants had already gathered. We hadn't celebrated the New Year at this mountaintop location since the Millenium Eve, December 31, 1999--January 1, 2000. After going there again this year, I'm sorry we let so many years go by. It was amazing! I've never seen a fireworks show quite like what we saw from our vantage point. Around midnight, the entire island erupts up in a sparkling, flashing, sea of color and light. No description does it justice (and unfortunately the camera doesn't pick them up either). You have to be there to see it for yourself. If anything, this year's display was more spectacular than the Millenium's because of the proliferation in recent years of high-powered fireworks available to ordinary citizens here in Saipan. So you're not just seeing all the professional shows from the hotels and resorts, but also the pretty ambitious amateur shows going off in backyards, parking lots, and open fields--literally hundreds of fireworks of all kinds, all going off at once. It was truly magical to see. We've decided we're going to make this an annual tradition for however many more years we stay in Saipan. Maybe some of you can join us on December 31, 2008!
So we went up the mountain in 2007 and came down the following year, 2008. It was a fun night and a great way to kick off the new year.
Me and Babs. We brought the good stem glasses up in the picnic basket and celebrated with a midnight alcohol-free toast of sparkling grape juice.
Virle and Co. joined us on the mountain to ring in the New Year. Clockwise from back: Antonee, our temporary ESL teacher; Joeiy; Girlie, our other temp ESL teacher; and Virle.
Riki with her dad Dr. Rolly Unterseher.