What do you know about Guam?
I knew very little. So when I was given the choice between a 4-hour layover and a 23-hour layover, I chose the latter. (Best to get to know that which we know nothing of, lest we continue groping about in the dark.)
Guam is a US territory. The Japanese occupied Guam for over two years subsequent to the Pearl Harbor attack, but it was recaptured by American forces in 1944.
The first thing travelers will notice when they arrive to Guam is the taxi racket. It begins at GUM (Guam International Airport), and it is reminiscent of the taxi experience at LAS (Las Vegas), during the pre-Uber days. It costs $22-25 + tip for the 3-mile jaunt to hotel row, located in Tamuning (otherwise known as Tumon Bay). The driver reeks of the arrogance that such a monopoly promotes, for he owns the car, and he might as well own the tourists. He’ll likely give you his business card and attempt to become your go-to driver for the activities you’ve planned for your holiday.
Resist the temptation.
Consider, instead, StrollGuam. It’s an app. While Uber and Lyft do not yet exist on the island, StrollGuam does. To be fair, though, its app was glitchy when I tried to use it.
Still, taxis in Guam seem to engage in gross fare inflation; whereas, StrollGuam promises a fare of $11 to the airport, and lower fares to other parts of the island. (I was able to make it work for me, but it was necessary to have the hotel contact the StrollGuam driver, as the app was not cooperating with my phone.)
There are many places to stay on the island, but I found the Westin Guam lovely. (I’m barely SPG Gold, but they still upgraded me to a suite with a stunning view of the bay.)
The land feels like Jeju or Kauai, but the water looks like Fiji, or Maldives, or Cozumel. It’s a lovely light blue/light turquoise.
Also, as a student of Japanese, I appreciate that the ubiquity of Japanese travelers in Guam necessitates signage in kanji and kana. Even the menus are in English and Japanese!
But whatever you do, dress appropriately. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, which was not only a fashion faux pas but . . . uncomfortable. Guam is humid. Bring shorts, flip-flops, a canteen . . . and adapt accordingly.
Quirky bars line the main drag. There are bars like Porky’s, Slippery Fish, Abandon Ship, and Shamrocks (which seems a little out of place).
As for food, I can only recommend Terry’s Local Comfort Food. To be fair, I asked around, specifically for restaurants that serve local food. Terry’s kept coming up, so I braved the heat and strolled a mile or two to Terry’s. (They don’t have a website, so here’s a link to their Facebook Page.)
I started with their Chicken Kelaguen with Tityas.
Then it was time for their BBQ Plate. (I’ve paid to attend barbecue competitions, so I was keen to try Guamanian BBQ, which, naturally, Guamanians say is the best in the world.)
It wasn’t the best I’ve had. However, when you pour their soy-sauce concoction onto the red rice, the flavor is magical.
The coup de grâce was their Gollai Appan Aga (bananas in coconut milk). This dessert can be polarizing, as some don’t like bananas, and many don’t like coconuts. However, I’m a fan of both, so this dessert was a win-win.
Guam is not at the top of my list when it comes to travel. However, after this layover, I’d happily spend another night or two in Guam if given the opportunity.
United Airlines 777-200 NRT-GUM Business Class
Terry’s Local Comfort Food: 901 Pale San Vitores Rd, Tamuning, 96913, Guam
As always, should you have any questions, feel free to contact me.