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Take A Yellow Submarine; No Need To Scuba To See The Creatures of the Sea - Section IV: Animal Planet on the Looney Front, Part 16

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After all the shenanigans of the previous three blogs in my craze to keep dry, here you can actually go deep under water just like a scuba diver without getting wet - and breathe normally without any, or at least much less of the panic and claustrophobia that afflicted Yours Truly on his two pathetic scuba attempts.

So here we go, kids: We all live in a yellow submarine/Yellow submarine, yellow submarine...

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Submarine

Well, not live, but go for an underwater cruise, since that's what you can do if you visit Saipan, largest of the Northern Mariana Islands U.S commonwealth in the western Pacific north of Guam.

And that's just what I do, between on the one hand taking a one-engine six-seater Cherokee piloted by a 190-year-old lady to the neighbouring island of Tinian to visit the monument where the planes took off with the atomic bombs to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and on the other crashing my rental car into a yellow bollard at Saipan's Banzai Cliff, where scores of Japanese families committed mass suicide in 1944 by jumping hundreds of feet to the crashing waves below.

Tinian A-Bomb site

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Saipan's banzai cliffs

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Yellow seems to be my colour today, so I'm quite at home as I wait to board the yellow submarine for $85, for 40 minutes 70 feet under looking at war wrecks of planes and ships, coral reefs and plenty of fish.

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Also waiting is an ugly American, ultra-fat fore and aft and very loud-mouthed, who gets a reduction since he works for the U.S. navy. He wants the same reduction for two pretty young Chinese girls he's rented for the afternoon - and leaves in a hissy-fit when this is denied.

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The others on board are Chinese and Japanese. They totally ignore orders not to change seats or move about as we plunge because of the sub's delicate balance. They're swarming from side to side, giving me a right attack of the willies.

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So this is what it's meant to be like when you scuba dive! I see the fish alright, but they're losing more and more of their colour the deeper we plunge , nothing like the riotous kaleidoscope I beheld from the shore in the Solomon Islands or the boat in Aitutaki and Palau.

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Because of the depth certain sunrays don't penetrate to light up certain hues. So if you're after colour, mate, you'd probably better snorkel, or be a dry-foot like me.

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Now a whole group of scuba divers are performing some idiotic ballet, stage left.

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And now my fellow passengers have just violated the don't-move-about order again as we start to surface. They're swarming all over the frigging sub. I'm sure we're going to capsize.

We all die in a yellow submarine/Yellow submarine, yellow submarine...

But we make it nonetheless.

Underwater war wrecks

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Underwater Fish-Eye Tower

On Guam, in between admiring the lovely verdant scenery of the inland mountains and penetrating the cave near where Imperial Japanese Army Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi hid out for 28 years until 1972, not realising the war had ended (the Japanese regard him as a hero, but he does seem a bit of a loser), I get a fish-eye view of the world.

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Fish Eye Marine Park is an underwater observatory consisting of a 71-foot-high tower accessible by a board walk out into the wild turquoise yonder. You descend three flights of stairs into a bomb hole bequeathed by World War II to observation decks 30 feet below sea level.

Here, through port-hole type windows, you have great views of brightly coloured fish, much more so than from Saipan's yellow submarine, and you don't have fellow passengers swarming to one side or the other trying to capsize you.

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Here, too, you can also marvel at many an inane-looking scuba diver - well, the eye mask does make you look inane. Now one's taken off his mouthpiece and is flailing past in merry mood, grinning like an underwater Cheshire pussy.

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But the Fish Eye is well worth while, even if it's a little bit of a fish-eyesore sticking out of the azure waters. The sea-life is abundant because it's a wild-life reserve and no fishing is allowed. You won't even get hot under the collar - the interior is fully air-conditioned.

And I'm still dry.

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[Upcoming blog: Spring Trip To North-West Greece And The Peloponnese]

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By the same author: Bussing The Amazon: On The Road With The Accidental Journalist, available with free excerpts on Kindle and in print version on Amazon.

Swimming With Fidel: The Toils Of An Accidental Journalist, available on Kindle, with free excerpts here, and in print version on Amazon in the U.S here.