To reach Ebeye where the MS Windward was waiting for us, we had to get to Kwajalein the only international airport on the Marshall Islands. I never heard this name before but United did, as they got very nervous when our travel agent bought our tickets. Besides being the largest atoll, the Buchholz Army Airfield on Kwajalein is the military missile test base in the pacific.
To get there from Europe, you will start in Guam, hopp through Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae or more or less whole Micronesia.
Guam was new for me. I was not aware that the US day does not start on the east coast, but in Guam. Actually the whole Pacific is more or less US territory and Guam is just a tiny but important border stone to mark and claim it for the rest of the world.
So first travel hacking advise:
- Assure you have a valid ESTA waiver and avoid the queue that will form in front of you when leaving the plane. Bypass to the left and safe a lot of time.
Second travel hacking advise:
- Have a national soccer team that recently wiped out Brasil to be processed quick and friendly. The officer was congratulating us and we got moral support in winning the overall championship. Germany was so close in that moment. <grin>
On the way to the hotel the taxi guy asked us if we are Germans or Russians. We explained, those are two totally different countries and we are Germans. He nodded but seemed to disbelieve us which may explain why he asked if Germans and Russians use the same language. …oh boy! Folks from the country of Asia listen: From now on, I will shamelessly ask all of you if you are from China or Japan and regardless of your irrelevant reply my next question will be: but it is the same language, right? <grin>
On the next day we started our island hopping trip from Guam through Micronesia to the Marshall Islands through Chuuk , Pohnpei and Kosrae the sleeping lady in whatever order towards Kwajalein.
Third travel hacking advise:
- Take the risk and insist on checking through your baggage until destination to avoid highly unpleasant and substantial overweight fees! I am personally responsible for better than expected Q3 results from United in 2014! <grin>
Island hopping introduced me to a totally new security procedure allowing me to enjoy flying even more: the full passenger cabin security check!
Some passengers leave the plane, some new will enter, but before the passengers continuing the flight have to take down their baggage from the overhead storage. After this a trained professional assures that no bomb that passed the airport scan is left unattended by looking in the storage and under the seats, then everybody puts back the baggage. There was a astonishing acceptance amongst passengers from all over the world and everybody agreed that we all felt much safer! <grin>
…meanwhile we could visit the pilots cabin and have a chat with the pilots or invite them to help us with some selfies <double grin>
After nearly two days of travel we were approaching the Kwajalein military base and got a little nervous ourselves, knowing that Robert had a battle drone in his hand baggage. However …
Travel hacking advise four:
- Relax on entering Kwajalein, the customs procedure and the transit through the super top secret military base! …as long as you have a national soccer team that recently wiped out Brasil <grin>. The guys where all kind and friendly.
When you arrive you see folks playing golf just beside the runway, when you are escorted through the base you see perfect family houses with lots of green around it and full blown BBQ equipment in front of it. Long haired surfer type folks are strolling on cool bikes through the base, which may explain the drug dogs checking our baggage. Definitely a big boys playground and top secret because:
- I bet US soldiers would sell the soul of their mother to serve there.
- I am sure they do not want to let anybody know how tough this service is.
From the base it is just 15 minutes by ferry to Ebeye, the main island of the Marschall Islands where we were picked up to embark the MS Windward, or our home for the next two weeks…
Travel hacking advise five and final summary:
- Schengen procedures (Frankfurt to Zürich)
- International procedures (Switzerland to Japan)
- US procedures (Narita to Guam)
- US protectorate procedures (island hopping)
- US military base procedures (Kwajalein)
- no procedures (Ebeye / Marschall Islands)