HOW far have you ventured in Marpi in the dead of the night? During the day time things are different, with buses and vans from different tour companies unloading tourists into the different attractions such as the Grotto, Suicide Cliff, Banzai Cliff, the Last Command Post, and Bird Island sanctuary.
The farthest place I’ve been to is the Banzai Cliff a couple of times — the first time at 9 p.m. and the second time at 12 midnight. I got my fair share of goose bumps as I and some friends stood listening to the angry crashing of the waves in the cliffs below. It was eerie looking at the Suicide Cliffs from a distance and on both times, I almost imagined the thousands of Japanese soldiers screaming and they plunged to their deaths from those cliffs.
Tourists and locals visiting the Banzai Cliffs at night is very common, but it was still eerie. I never thought I would have the courage to go as far as the Bird Island and stay until after dark until a couple of weeks ago.
The sun had set behind the horizon and the bus load of tourists had gone, along with the guard assigned to the area yet we stayed on, lured by the surreal sight of the moon slowly rising in the sky casting shadows in the shimmering waters.
Every now and then, a patch of cloud dimmed the moonlight but after a few minutes, brightness again would envelop the area.
We stood holding on to the railing at the observation deck, sharing a companionable silence and enjoying the view of the Bird Island as the night stretched on forever. The cool ocean breeze gently whipping on our faces was so refreshing. The gentle lapping of the waves below seemed to beckon anyone to go wading in the shores.
There was not another soul in sight but just me and my buddy, the tiny islet below us, and the ocean stretching into infinity. Time seemed to stand still and it felt like sin to breathe and break the spell.
The ringing of my buddy’s cell phone from somewhere broke the silence and jarred us back to the present, a reminder that it was time to go albeit we were reluctant to leave. It was past 9 o’clock.
I’ve been to the place countless of times before, but seeing the Bird Island bathed in moonlight gave me a different perspective of the place.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Bird Island sanctuary each year, taking home pictures of the place and sharing it with the rest of the world.
Having been to the Bird Island sanctuary and in all other tourist attractions in the island many times is not an excuse not to make another visit, but for a change, pick an uncommon time to be there such as on one dark night, or during a full moon and prepare to bring home a wealth of new experiences.