Where America’s Day Begins
Posted by Heliocentrism on February 21, 2010
February 20-21, 2010
The US in Asia
When our plane landed in Guam it was almost 4:00 am local time. We hopped into a cab and checked into a hotel. The next day, or rather later that same day, we got breakfast, walked around, and went swimming.
Guam is a US territory. It is the US, but not in state form. I grew up in a US territory, St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. Because of this I’ve had people ask me questions like, “What is your first language?”, “What country are you a citizen of?”, “Can you run for president?”, “What type of passport do you have?”
Well, as a Virgin Islander: English is my first and only language, though many can speak both English and Spanish fluently. I am a citizen of the United States. I cannot run for president, but only because I am not old enough. I have a normal US passport.
State vs Territory
So what are the main differences between a US state and a US territory?
Living in a territory can feel a bit isolated. They tend to be far away from the contiguous 48 states. Growing up, I sometimes felt a bit forgotten. Most US citizens don’t know that some of the Virgin Islands are part of the US. In fact most Americans cannot name any of the territories.
According to Wikipedia, there are 14 US territories.
It is the US, and there is a huge American influence. But being far away and a bit removed from the contiguous 48 with a history of being part of another culture before joining the US, there is a small difference. Here in Guam there are two languages spoken. In the VI we mostly speak English, and a sort of broken English, which is expected being in the middle of the Caribbean.
There are throwbacks from the British, Dutch, Danish and other cultures that have been a part of St. Croix’s past. There are holidays that we celebrated of whose origin most Cruzans might not even remember.
A US Virgin Islander pays income tax, but since the USVI is not a state there is no state tax or sales tax.
- Right to Vote.
A US citizen who is a resident of a US territory can vote for local political candidates, but not for presidential candidates. If, however, he or she moves from the territory to any of the 50 states and changes residency, the citizen can then vote in a presidential election.
Most US territories have laws in place to demand its citizens to drive on the right side of the road, like the citizens in the states. The people of the US Virgin Islands drive on the left. Why? I’ve asked this question throughout my childhood and have never gotten a decent answer. What makes things even more curious, is that cars with the steering wheel on the right are used to drive on the left side of the road.
Bangkok’s New Airport
- You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
- Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
- People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
- To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.
- Useful Phone Numbers when in Thailand
- Tourism Authority 662-250-5500
- Emergency Number – 999
- Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
- Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
How to get there:
You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.
I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.
- Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
- Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)
- Crash Course:
- CGP Grey:
- Mental Floss:
- American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot
- Area 51
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X
- Dandelion Wine
- Girl in Translation
- The Hemingses of Monticello
- The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
- The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America
- Notes from a Big Country
- One Summer: America, 1927
- Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America’s Hoboes
- Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
- That’s Not In My American History Book
- A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
- The Water Is Wide
- Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland
- It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.
How to Get There:
From Bangkok –
- The best airline that I found to get to Guam from Bangkok was Philippines Airline.
- There’s a long stop over in Manila’s airport. (I will blog about the Ninoy Aquino’s shenanigans later.)
Guam has one commercial airport, the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport. It’s near Hagatna.
You pretty much have to fly into Guam. There are no boats, and trains are just ridiculous.
- Guam is a territory of the United States. This means that if you are American, you do not need a passport to travel to Guam.
- If you are not an American, then you will need the same visa to enter Guam that you would need to get into the continental United States.
- The people of Guam are United States citizens, just at a better climate.
- You can only use US dollars here.
- I recommend renting a car unless you are with a tour group.
- Although Guam is a small island, it is not anywhere small enough to just walk around.
- The beaches here are great.
- There are 2 military bases on the island.
- Forget about seeing Point Udall. Just forget it!