Guam

 

 

 

 

You’d think I was trying to break into a bank. A trip to a museum should not involve military planning, but getting to the Pacific War Museum in Guam without renting a car is perhaps one of the greatest challenges I’ve faced in my years of travel. The guy at the car rental office said it couldn’t be done - $100 each way in a taxi was the only alternative, he told us (Guam has some of the most expensive taxis in the world). The staff at the hotel told us it was impossible – there are no public buses on Guam and the only option is a rental car. Having discovered a mention of a regular bus service hidden deep within the Guam government website, I was determined to try and find it.

 

 

 

The bus did arrive pretty much at the time stated on the rather amateur website, although we were standing at the wrong place, with no visible sign of a bus stop anywhere along the main street. Reluctant at first to open the doors for us, when we tried to board the driver checked that we hadn’t stumbled onto the wrong bus by accident. “This is a public bus you know” he warned us, eventually allowing us to board with the words “at least you’re not Japanese” (implying that they wouldn’t be seen dead on a public bus).  I almost felt compelled to give the driver a password as a condition of entry. We paid our $1, a flat fee that allowed us, if the mood took us, to stay all day on the bus as it plied the roads of Guam.

 

 

 

Sitting on the bus it was as if we had entered a secret club. Passengers smiled knowingly as Teddy the cheerful Filipino driver, began to chat to us and asked how we’d heard of the bus. An American man told us that the bus is a closely guarded secret and none of the hotels and tourism businesses acknowledge its existence, pushing their guests to their own transport services running along the same route at vastly inflated prices.

 

 

 

According to Teddy it’s possible to circle the whole island for $3, although with only a couple of buses a day along each route you wouldn’t have the chance to get off much if you wanted to get back to your hotel by nightfall. Mind you, he’d probably have waited for us to stop and take a few photos if his attitude to the other passengers was anything to go by. He turned the bus around for one lady who had arrived at a bus stop seconds after we pulled away and made a second sweep of the busy street, collecting the grateful passenger before continuing on his way.

 

 

 

We picked up an old man outside the hospital who could politely be described as eccentric. Inevitably he was soon chatting to me and when he asked me where I was from and I replied that I was British I was met with a blank stare. When I mentioned London his face lit up and he said something about snow, before adding cheerfully, “I went to Iowa once. I hated it”.

 

 

 

The Blueline 1 service may have saved us a few dollars, but more than that it provided an entertaining snapshot of life in Guam beyond the glitzy façade of the tourist bubble that keeps the island’s economy running.

 

You can get the Guam included in your RTW here