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Vice President Lai visits Palau's Rock Islands Southern Lagoon
Vice President Lai visits Palau's Rock Islands Southern Lagoon

On the morning of November 2 (Taipei time), Vice President Lai Ching-te boarded a boat piloted by President Surangel S. Whipps Jr. of Palau to visit the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, which are designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site.  

Having boarded the boat at a dock at the Palau Royal Resort, Vice President Lai was accompanied by President Whipps as he experienced Palau's ocean attractions, and took a turn piloting the boat himself. 

The vice president and his party first proceeded to the scenic spots in the lagoon known as the "Milky Way" and "Scallop City." At the Milky Way, the vice president smeared volcanic mud from the ocean floor on his face, indulging in a natural skin treatment. At Scallop City, the vice president joined President Whipps in ocean restoration efforts by transplanting nine giant clam seedlings, and also tried traditional Palauan handline fishing on the open sea.

Vice President Lai then visited the uninhabited Ngermeaus Island near a scenic spot known as "Shark City," and took questions from the media on his sightseeing experience before eating lunch. The vice president said that the designation of Rock Islands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is well deserved, as the site combines beautiful natural landscapes and stunning seascapes. He noted that, with the guidance of President Whipps, he was able to enjoy several experiences completely new to him, including piloting a boat to the Milky Way, which is shaped like a lake even though it is located in the open sea, and where erosion of nearby limestone by seawater and rain combines with the area's natural environment to create a milky mud that is effective as a natural beauty treatment.

The vice president also mentioned his work with President Whipps to conserve giant clams, which are a type of mollusk rarely seen in Taiwan and are a protected species in Palau, where many are very involved in their conservation.

The vice president also described handline fishing as a very special experience. By holding the fishing line directly in your hand without a fishing pole, he said, one can feel the difference between the pull of the current and a fish taking the bait. He observed that the waters of Palau are teeming with a wide variety of fish that go for the bait as soon as you drop your line into the water, and noted that sort of environment is rarely seen in Taiwan. The vice president said he felt the trip was well worthwhile, and welcomed and encouraged Taiwanese to visit Palau.

Thanking President Whipps for his enthusiastic guidance during the day's excursion, Vice President Lai acknowledged Palau's public and private recognition of Taiwan's progress, its thanks for Taiwan's support and assistance, and its hope to comprehensively enhance cooperation and develop even stronger ties.

Responding to a question from the media regarding the resumption of regularly scheduled flights to Palau, the vice president stated that President Whipps had publicly thanked President Tsai Ing-wen the previous day, because less than three weeks after his visit to Taiwan, President Tsai gave Palau the good news that China Airlines will resume regularly scheduled flights on November 16. He noted that President Whipps and the Palau National Congress were very happy to receive the news, and that they look forward to gradually increasing the number of weekly flights from two to four before hopefully returning to the days of scheduled daily flights between Taiwan and Palau. The vice president said he supports that goal, and hopes to gradually move in that direction through cooperative efforts between our countries.

After their luncheon on uninhabited Ngermeaus Island, the party proceeded to Ulong Island, where they listened to Palauans explain the history of the development of Ulong Island and Palau, and where they visited a scenic coral arch formed over many years of erosion by ocean winds and currents.

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