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Federated States of Micronesia: Kolonia Town

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Kolonia Town | Federated States of Micronesia | Oceania

[Visited: February 2016]

It is the capital of FSM, and a peculiar one at that: Kolonia, the main town on Pohnpei island. On our first day, we head out for a first walk in town, and hit the main street. A surprisingly busy one, with shops and offices on both sides, traffic, and even a Japanese tank parked next to the visitor information centre, a rusty reminder of the Japanese presence here, and the Second World War. A little further north brings us to the Spanish Wall, which is the remainder of a much longer wall built in the late 18th century, and which once protected the Spanish colony here, and a fort. On one side of the wall, a softball game is on. We try to reach the German bell tower behind it, and get into a conversation who does not want to let us go. When we finally reach the bell tower and the ruins of the church it belongs to, the sun is just sinking behind Sokehs ridge. I try to climb the tower, but most of the stairs are gone and the staircase looks so tricky that I give up.

Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): House in the Polynesian part of Kolonia, Porakiet

Kolonia is quite spread out, and involves a lot of walking. While not rife with thrilling sights, it is a pleasant town. We keep coming back to the Polynesian part of town, Porakiet, which is just around the corner from our hotel. A laid-back atmosphere, quiet road and full of trees, it is a pleasant place to walk through. Day and night, we see people around, socializing, sitting under the big roof of a communal building, or in their backyard, working on something and always giving us big smiles. These are people coming from outer islands of Micronesia, who have fled their low lying atolls because they were threatened by violent weather, and have imported their way of living. We visit some of the workshops where fine pieces of handicraft are made with local materials. One of the locals invites us into a house, and shows us how it is constructed, and how it is different from the houses built by the Pohnpeians. Most backyards have a couple of tombs in them: even after their demise, people stay with their family.

Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): Looking up the German church and bell tower in the northern part of Kolonia

The German period in Micronesia left its marks on the island and in Kolonia, and there is a German church and cemetery where a couple of graves with German inscriptions remind the visitor of their presence here. One of them is Victor Berg, who died the day after disturbing a grave in the ancient settlement of Nan Madol. A little further north, there is a mass grave of Sokehs rebels who rose up against the German occupiers, and who were subsequently killed. Just a little further north brings me to the seashore, close to the road leading up to the airport. To the east of town, there are more churches, and a market with shops and stalls. Many of them sell the local pepper roots which are pounded into a powder from which sakau, a sedative drink is brewed. The peaceful, quiet vibe of the backstreets contrast with the main drag which is the only place where one can feel like being in a town - but never a capital city.

Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): Sakau for sale in one of the shops of Kolonia
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): Artist working to create a wooden sculpture in Porakiet
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): The protestant church of Kolonia
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): The Polynesian part of Kolonia, Porakiet, has quiet streets lined by trees
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): Buddha statue in Kolonia, reminder of the Japanese period in Micronesia
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): Rusting Japanese tank parked in the main street of Kolonia
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): Sokehs rebels killed by the Germans in 1910-11 found their resting place in this mass grave
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): Car parked in front of house in Kolonia
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): The Spanish Wall is a reminder of the period the Spanish were in control of Micronesia
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): Fish occurring in the seas of Micronesia painted on the wall of the Fisheries Ministry
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): German cemetery in Kolonia town
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia):
Picture of Kolonia Town (Federated States of Micronesia): Backyard with row of tombs in Porakiet, the Polynesian part of Kolonia

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