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What’s it like being Jamaican on Saipan?

WATCH NOW! What’s it Like Being Jamaican in Saipan?”
Leave a comment on Youtube, ask a question! If you’re Chamorro or Carolinian, let me know if I got anything wrong!

BACK STORY:
Way back around 1996, before many of us even heard about the internet, Jamaican native and techie, Xavier Murphy, got a head start and was able to secure the JAMAICANS.COM domain name in anticipation of ‘big tings to come!’ His prescience proved correct, and over the years, this wildly popular website has served as a repository of all things Jamaican for Jamaicans and the people who love them!

As Youtube, Facebook and other online media platforms gained in popularity, Jamaicans.com was there as well! Xavier’s popular Youtube video series, “What’s it Like Being [probably the only] Jamaican in ___________?” has provided a way to connect Jamaicans around the world and showcase our presence and impact abroad! Korea? Ireland? Norway? Zambia? Kuwait? Bali? Russia? Malawi? Yep, we deh deh! (Translation: We are there!)

A few weeks ago, I sat on a beach on Saipan while Xavier–about 8 thousand miles away–asked me that very question: “What’s it like being Jamaican on the small, remote, Pacific island of Saipan???” We had fun as I shared facts and trivia about my new island home, talked nomadpreneuring and escaping the rat race, and during the course of the conversation, discovered that Xavier knows one of my long lost primary school classmates and has helped me re-connect with him!

The interview is FINALLY viewable:

The Youtube version of the video has a lively discussion to join in

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=431285311574616

 

OUTTAKE
Here I am prepping the day before the interview:

Want to learn more about Saipan? Here’s a tour/documentary filmed by LaMancha Media featuring a guest tour guide you might recognize :

 

UPDATE (12 DAYS LATER)

Narcisism alert! Yes, as a former civil engineer, these sorts of things
keep me awake at night. Ever since the release of the Jamaicans.com
interview video (“What’s it Like Being a Jamaican in Saipan?”), I’ve
been tracking the daily views on Xavier’s Youtube channel and Facebook page.

Here’s what my analysis revealed:

• The Youtube version had a total 599 views in the first 3 hours; and jumped to 766 in the 1 hour while I watched it

• The version of the video on the Jamaicans.com Facebook page already had an astounding 15,000 views by the time I first checked it out 3 days after upload; it now has 19,000+ views 12 days
after release.

• Here are the daily stats for the Youtube edition
Aug 30, 2021 3:00am 0 2,253/day         39 comments
Aug 31, 2021 3:00am 2,253 1,861/day     55 comments
Sep 1, 2021 9:00am 4,600 1,652/day      90 comments
Sep 2, 2021 9:00am 6,252 1,854/day      98 comments
Sep 3, 2021 9:00am 8,106 2,107/day        113 comments
Sep 4, 2021 9:00am 10,213 1,326/day         117 comments
Sep 5, 2021 9:09am 11,539 1,327/day        135 comments
Sep 6, 2021 9:01am 12,866 1,609/day       139 comments
Sep 7, 2021 9:00am 14,475 909/day           160 comments
Sep 8, 2021 9:00am 15,384 1,055/day      168 comments
Sep 9, 2021 9:00am 16,439 563/day         166 comments
Sep 10, 2021 9:01am 17,002 355/day      168 comments
Sep 11, 2021 9:00am 17,357 285/day      170 comments
Sep 12, 2021 9:00am 17,642                          170 comments

I discovered that my Canva.com account that I use for creating Youtube thumbnails, also has a graph feature. So, with nothing else to do on a Sunday morning at 6:00am:

Xavier has 25.2 thousand subscribers to his Youtube channel and this video generated an average of 1,500 views per day. If you have your own Youtube channel, this is definitely the sort of daily view activity you want to aspire to!

 

S.W.E.A.T. Lifestyle Shorts: SUNLIGHT on the rocks!

In case you’re wondering,  being”Jamaican in China….and Beyond” is just one of my alter egos.  I’m also the “Ageless Adept,” a vegan, minimalist, self-health, natural living fanatic who promotes the SWEAT philosophy of rejuvenation and maintaining youth (SWEAT = Sunlight, Water, Earth, Air & Time). Here’s one way I fulfill the sunlight portion of that lifestyle:

After watching this video, a good friend asked, “What if something were to happen to you? It looks pretty steep and desolate there with no one around in case you needed a little help.”

To which I replied, “Well, in all likelihood, I probably wouldn’t lie there for more than 24 hours. There’s a path below the cliff that fishermen occasionally take to get to a particular fishing spot, so the carcass wouldn’t go unnoticed for too long. Now, if I happen to be on the TOP of the mountain, then I’d have to wait for someone to notice the vultures or the smell….Oh, and thanks for asking!”

Jamaican Air Macau Pilot flies me to Vietnam!

This pilot episode is literally a pilot episode! (and inspired the “Say Hello to My Little Friends” series) It’s pretty cool being flown on an international flight to Vietnam for the first time, aboard an Airbus 321 jet airliner, knowing that my best buddy–Ron McFarlane–is the captain in charge, and “dread at the controls!” It makes it a unique personal experience imagining my friend in the cockpit doing what he’s always wanted to do since he was five years old. Here’s a video recap of the whole experience featuring an in-flight interview with the captain himself with some words of advice for aspiring pilots and anyone pursuing a dream!

 

 

Reload My 6-Month China Adventure!

A few years ago, I embarked on a unique adventure and spent 6 months doing the nomad thing from Saipan, several cities throughout China, as well as in Laos and Singapore! I had a great time, met a lot of great people, and chronicled it through email updates to my mailing list of followers! With travel restrictions now in effect, I’ve created a weekly email to give YOU a chance to re-live the adventure just as if you were there! Simply sign up to the Jamaican in China “Reloaded” email, then sit back and enjoy the ride in your email inbox every three or so days!

CLICK HERE to re-live the adventure in your email inbox!

CLICK HERE to re-live the adventure in your email inbox!

and/or download the entire Guess Who’s Coming to Dim Sum PDF

When you think no one is watching

Just completed filming a comparison of my NEW Ancestry.com results with the previous 23andMe results. I trailed off my narrative, got lost in reviewing the results and forgot that the camera was still recording! So as a preview & test of the sound and video quality of the soon-to-be-released video, here’s an EXCITING 3 minute outtake of me silently staring at my laptop screen, touching my face and rubbing my nose, until I finally realized the camera was still rolling!

 

Vietnamese cutie picks me up in Saigon

 

People often ask me how different is dating and meeting people in Asia. Here’s a typical occurence:

 

Saigon, Vietnam. I’m sitting in the park at 6am this morning filming an intro for my next “Jamaican in China and Beyond” blog video. A cute girl comes up and peers into my camera, says she likes my white outfit, invites me to follow her to another side of the park. I’m a little suspicious at first about the long walk, but turns out she just wanted to be closer to her friends who do Qigong/dancing in the morning. 

We end up chatting and walking around town. She’s cute, just the face/eyes/body type I like, but seems she hadn’t really pampered herself in a while, so after buying her breakfast, I take her to a spa to have them do her nails and feet.

I was even going to do the Pretty Woman/Set if Off thing where I buy her a dress (remember the scene in Set it Off where Blair Underwood buys Jada Pinkett an evening dress for a dinner party?). Since neither her English nor my Vietnamese were up to par, we communicated by Google Voice Translate for the whole morning, and she says it’s the nicest anyone has ever treated her.

In any event, here’s the actual video of us meeting for the first time and her picking me up (turns out I’m pretty easy), and a clip from inside the nail salon We hang out some more until 12:30, but I had to leave to go get my passport from the Thai Consulate at 1pm, so we part, but agree to hang out later that day.

There’s more to the story, but you’ll have to follow my channel if you want to learn more!

The Maasdam 24 see Saipan in a Day

[Photographs by Ferdinand “Ding” Ramos]

“It was a dark and stormy night…” Oops, wrong opening line. (Sorry, Snoopy.)  Ahem. It was a bright and sunny day,  and the Holland America cruise ship, Maasdam, was scheduleed to dock at the port on the island of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on Sunday, Sept 8, 2019.

As an island consultant, I’m occasionally asked to provide information on the islands to visitors.

This time, my photographer, Ding, and I showed up at 7am to be sure that THIS time, the ship would, indeed, dock. (Yeah, that’s a whole other story for another time!)

Maasdam at the dock. Check.

With that little detail confirmed, we headed back to the airport to pick up the vans for our arriving guests.

Invited guest guides for a day, Robert Hunter, and Gary Liddle and I discuss logistics.

While awaiting the paperwork, world renown author, ethnographer, oral historian and “birder,”  Rlene Santos Steffy, arrives from Guam. I had the pleasure of meeting Rlene on Guam during my recent Guam Writers Workshop Learn more at : https://guamwriters.com/

Gary, Rlene, Robert and I chat while we wait

The paperwork is completed, vans are assigned, drivers are briefed, microphones are checked, signs are posted in the windshields….time for a convoy!

“Pig Pen this here’s the rubber duck And I’m about to put the hammer down.” (10 points if you know that reference!)

Once at the dock, guests begin exiting the ship after passing through US Customs, and we load up the vans. Two of my guests, Lorrin and Nina Lee, are on a three month tour (see Lorrinlee.com), and were the first of my guests to sign up way back in March!

Finally, we meet! (See www.LorrinLee.com)

We head out to our first stop: American Memorial Park.

 

First stop, American Memorial Park…Welcome! Introductions….and the strict rules of my tour! (You’ll have to sign up to discover just what those rules are!)
Watching “An Island Called Saipan” at American Memorial Park

 

Post-documentary debriefing and preparing for day’s tour

 

Robert Hunter, Director of DCCA (Department of Community & Cultural Affairs) shares facts and triva about wartime Saipan

 

Pointing to the Court of Honor (currently under construction)
Visiting the Chamorro & Carolinian memorial
Yeah we got a little ol’ convoy Ain’t she a beautiful sight
At the Carolinian Cultural Center

 

Robert gives background on boat building and celestial navigation
At the boat house, one of DCCA’s projects

 

At Ladder Beach

 

 

As Lito Airfield
What on earth is everyone staring at???

Answer: One of the largest war time structures on the island: the Bomb Magazine at As Lito airfield.

Inside the Bomb Magazine
The sad, yet beautiful Banzai Cliff

 

Gary holds court at Suicide Cliff

 

Looking down at the suicide leap from another vantage point

Then we went In Search of Amelia Earhart

The Old Japanese Jail
Going back in time through the corridor of the jail in search of Amelia Earthart
Read more about Amelia on Saipan here: https://www.discoversaipan.com/amelia

By this time, the “Saipan in a Day” adventure is officially ended. Robert and Gary have departed and taken our visitors back to the dock, However, a smaller group of WWII buffs are treated to a special private collection of relics and artifacts from the Japanese era and Battle of Saipan.

a unique collection
Guests enjoy interacting with the pieces
Explaining the uniqueness of this particular relic

 

The Maasdam WWII History buffs on Saipan

 

We say our goodbyes!


“What’s that?  Yes, you can definitely write a TripAdvisor Review! I’d be honored and it would help a lot! Thanks for asking!”

Maasdam departs Saipan

“As the sun sank slowly over the horizon…” Oops, sorry, wrong epilogue…Wait! That one fits! As the sun sank slowly over the Saipan horizon, Maasdam pulled away from the dock, and sailed off into the sunset on its way to Guam!

“We’ll catch you on the flip flop
This here’s the Rubber Duck on the side
We gone – Bye Bye!”

Thanks to everyone who made this tour special and run smoothly!

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On Guam with Lloyd Glick and the Guam Writers group!

I’ve been on Guam for the past 3 days, for two reasons: (1) to meet up with friend and co-author, WWII Battle of Saipan/Battle of Guam veteran Lloyd & Judy Glick who’ve been invited as honored guests to experience Guam’s 75th Liberation Commemoration, and (2) to do a Writers Workshop for aspiring writers on Guam! Here are the details as they appear on the www.guamwriters.com site.

Writers Workshop #1 on Guam!

It happened here. The DNA Building in Hagåtña, on the island of Guam
For the few days leading up to the event, posters were plastered in the lobbies, elevators, at the Credit Union, and even at the security guard booth of the DNA Building!
Fliers everywhere!
Herman and me at the security guard booth!


An announcement appeared in the Guam Daily Post

On Thursday, at the suggestion of Kevin Kerrigan at the Daily Post, I called up K-57AM talk radio upon landing
on Guam.

I was expecting to get an email address to send a press release, or a phone number of someone to speak with.
Before I even finished telling the operator what the event was about (I got no further than “It’s a writers
workshop here at the DNA Building for aspiring authors who wish to—“), I was immediately put through to the
studio host, and got to announce the event on the air!
Announced on talk radio!

 



The kind folks at the University of Guam Student Life office were nice enough to share the flier of the event on their Facebook page
Shared with the student body at the University of Guam!

 



The Pacific Daily news featured the event in the Friday and Saturday editions

 


The Guam Business Journal (Glimpses Media) posted
the event for their subscribers on their Business Events Calendar on the MBJ website.(Thanks Maureen! Thanks Meghan!)

 

On the Friday before the event, Melissa the DNA operations manager, her son and security personnel made sure the 58-inch flat screen that we rented from Dial, plus the wifi and room set-up
were all in order!

 

Making sure all is in place!
One of my books, From Bugle Boy to Battle Ship that I co-wrote
with friend, and visiting Battle of Saipan veteran Lloyd Glick was featured on the evening KUAM Primetime news!
Veteran Lloyd Glick shows off “From Bugle Boy to Battleship,” the book he and I wrote

Lloyd and two other dignitaries are interviewed upon their return
to Guam after 75 years

 

The afternoon before the workshop, I was able to spend some time with Lloyd and Judy at their hotel just before they headed out to another function sponsored by the Guam Visitor’s Bureau!

Me and the Glicks on Guam

 

The three Battle of Saipan/Guam veterans (see video)

 

Guam Workshop attendees
Rlene S. shares with the group
Photo by: Dianne Strong
Photo by: Dianne Strong

 

Photo by: Marie Lizama

 

Author and instructor Walt F.J. Goodridge, and several of the attendees of Guam’s First Writers Workshop: l.to r. Fadila K., Marie L., Sophie N., Tyrone B., Dianne S., Christopher A., Jeni Ann F., Kim B. and Dr.Sam M. (Not shown: Rlene S. and Louise.)


And extra special thanks to Joe Hill on Saipan, and Dave, Letitia, Melissa, Avery, Vincent and Herman at DNA Inc, (and
to all the organizations and people mentioned above) for making it all happen and run so smoothly
on short notice! As we say in Jamaica, “Nuff Respek!”

 

Hanging around Saipan in 2019

Hope you don’t mind. I’m just testing out my “autopost” plug-in on my Jamaican in China blog. Through this feature, I can post to my blog (as I’m doing now), and it automatically posts to one or more of my Facebook pages. (So, if you’re reading this in your Facebook feed, that should mean it worked!) I’ll just share a few shots taken around Saipan recently!


Fellow author Lindsay, the ladies of Healing Stone, and me!


John Castro and me while, Satawal canoe maker toils in background


Konstantin from Ukraine takes a shot of Forbidden Island


Eber and Jay from the US mainland explore Fabian Indalecio’s unique Battle of Saipan/WWII relic collection


Fabian educates visitors to the island


Where on earth are you likely to see a convoy of pink Mustangs??? If you answered “Saipan,” you’d be correct! (the road to Banzai Cliff)


It was exceptionally clear day last weekend, and you could see the outline of Farallon de Medinilla from Suicide Cliff at the north end of the island! Can you see it?

Just a few shots of my life on Saipan! Enjoy the update!

UPDATE 1: Oh, speaking of updates, did I mention I turned down a book deal recently? Why, you ask? Well, the publisher made the fatal mistake of….. Read the full story here in either of Saipan’s newspapers:

https://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/editorials/113104-feature-little-flights-of-fancy

https://www.saipantribune.com/index.php/your-little-flights-of-fancy/

UPDATE 2: Here’s the latest video in the DiscoverSaipan “Garment Factory Era” series: Scenes from the Floor!

 

Saipan: the history, the mystery, the culture and the cuisine!

One of the great things about my life on Saipan is the broad cross section of unique personalities I have a chance to meet and spend time with!

Earlier this year, Michelle and John got to experience Saipan’s history with a ride in an actual WWII jeep courtesy of local resident, Juan Villagomez. John’s father worked on the Manhattan Project during the war, so he wanted to get up close and personal with Saipan’s and Tinian’s history!

Michelle, John, Juan and Luise Villagomez, Alexandra (front), and me!

I also had a chance to hang out recently with Konstantin Symonenko from Ukraine….


Konstantin discovers the mystery of Forbidden Island

Konstantin, among other accomplishments, has the distinction of being the first Ukrainian to have visited all the countries in the world! It’s an accomplishment that was verified and documented as blogged about on his https://konstantin.travel  website:

 

“Today the representative of the National Registry of Records of Ukraine directly on Easter Island, handed me a diploma as the first Ukrainian to visit all the countries in the world.

Konstantin got to experience Saipan’s culture with a visit to the DCCA boat house to watch a canoe being constructed…


With John Castro at the boat house

John and me….A Sattawal navigator works in the background

Another guest, Neal P., has visited 297 of the 327 destinations recognized by The Traveler’s Century Club (TCC)! Saipan was his 298th and he’ll hit 300 soon and be part of the Diamond club! Congrats, Neal!

Neal got to experience authentic Chamorro and island style cuisine at JC Cafe on Tinian…

 

at the Street Market on Saipan….


Red rice at the Street Market

…and at Twenty-Two Rams (Owners of the restaurant are brother Michael Salas and cousin Ed Cepeda.)

Lunch at Twenty-Two Rams. Located in the CDA complex in Oleai at the old Boka Boka restaurant location.

Delgadina Matagolai, Manning Salas, and Mom Sophia M. Salas.  (Michael and Ed not shown) “Thanks for stopping by our family restaurant!”--Manning

Stay tuned for more!

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