Bechiyal Cultural Center, on the main island of Yap Proper, is a sort of living museum that helps to preserve the ways things have been done on Yap. (As I wrote on the Yap Tour page, Yap has done more than many Micronesian islands to keep the old ways alive.) Here, visitors can stay in simple huts, eat traditional food, walk onto the reef to fish, see the lovingly-crafted buildings, and also take tours of Yap arranged by the people of Bechiyal.
Old-style buildings like this are hard to find on Yap Proper -- except here at Bechiyal. This is the Men's House:
Entrance to the men's house:
Shells hanging at the men's house entrance:
And a view inside:
The Men's Meeting House, with a stone platform and backrests (for watching dances, etc.) in front:
Another view of the men's meeting house with some stone money and coconuts:
The inside of the men's meeting house is gorgeous:
This is the Family House:
and rolls of tar paper to fix the family house roof (paper is used between layers of thatch):
Another Men's House...
...and a look inside: a statue of a woman who, in legend, sleeps with men (the name starts with "ma", I think), a net (woven from coconut fibers), stone money, and thatch material:
If you want to enjoy Bechiyal for more than a daytime visit (and the nights by the coast are fantastic), you can stay in a cottage like the one in the foreground below. This photo also shows a dining hut by the coast and the leafless trees after the recent typhoon:
This is the dining hut where I ate three traditional meals a day (plus, if I remember right, some not-so-traditional coffee in the mornings?). One day I walked out on this reef with one of the Bechiyal residents to find fish for my dinner:
Coconut palms are used for everything from thatch to drinks:
Here I'm taking my first drink from a coconut through an organic straw. (After a few coconuts, it was more natural for me...)
Like I said, nights by the coast are amazing...
(These photographs are Copyright © 2002 and 2005 by Jerry Peek. Much higher-resolution versions of most images, and many other images too, are available at Jerry Peek Photography. Photos are available at reduced prices, or free, for non-commercial use.)