Federated States of Micronesia

The Island of Stone Money

Yap Journeys:

Bechiyal Cultural Center

Pathways Hotel

 • Village Tour

 • Dance Tour

 • Mangrove Tour

Constitution Preamble

The regional name Oceania would certainly apply to the Federated States of Micronesia. Sprinkled across half a million square miles of Pacific Ocean are only 271 square miles of land comprising 607 islands. Or expressed as a percentage this federation of islands is 99.97% sea water. After WW2 the islands of the FSM became part of a U.S. trust territory. In 1979 they became an independent country. Their Preamble of their Constitution is quite eloquent and I have included a link.

My first visit to this country was to the island of Yap proper. Archeologists date the first known settlement at around 200 A.D. The Yapese built an empire based on magic, rather then conquest extending across 1000 miles. The Yapese successfully repelled early attempts at European colonization by both Spanish and English. It wasn't until a shipwrecked Irish-American named David "His Majesty" O'Keefe washed ashore in 1871 that the people of Yap established permanent contact with Europeans. After the Yapese nursed O'Keefe back to health, he decided to get into the currency exchange business. He went to Hong Kong and bought himself a Chinese Junk.

He then began to make runs between Palau, where the stone money was quarried, and transported it back to Yap in exchange for copra. The stone money is still in circulation today and used for big ticket items while US dollars are used for day to day purchases. Today Yap is known best for its stone money and manta rays.
     Yap was truly a delight for me as a traveler. It is probably the most traditional place in all of Micronesia. Chiefs still run the villages.
A fair number of men still wear the traditional colorful loin clothes called a thu and some women wear only the woven hibiscus skirt. A traditional dance is a must see event when visiting Yap. Most people chew betel-nut, and exchanging a few nuts seems to be like exchanging hand shakes in the west.
     The Yapese are shy yet proud and happy people. Most seem to live by subsistence farming and fishing. I found them a delight to talk with and very approachable. However, they are often offended by thoughtless tourist wielding video cameras. As a tourist brochure says: "Yap is not a world built for tourists, but a world that welcomes tourists."
     For recommendation on visiting Yap, my favorite place to stay was the Pathways Hotel. My favorite place to eat was the Oceanview Restaurant. The owner Joe is quite an interesting guy to talk with. For an evening beer, check out O'Keefe's which is reportedly owned by the great grandson of the famous historical figure. If you are short of cash or want to get back to nature and relax, you can either camp or stay in the guest hut at Bechiyal cultural center. Bring plenty of books to read.
     You can take several pictorial journeys to the places listed above. You will return to this page after each journey. Don't be in a hurry as the images for the next page are downloaded while you view the current page.