TWHS: Tet el Bad, Palau

So that Rock Islands, that was one awesome World Heritage Site, wasn’t it now?

Well, there are also four tentative sites in Palau, and so as let you down gently, we’ll let you know now that they are … not quite as compelling.

So not quite as compelling in fact, that they’re virtually unknown even by their neighbours, never mind the tourist industry. And today’s visit is a particularly good example of that:

Tet el Bad (Stone Coffin)

Tet el Bad


Tet el Bad is a rectangular stone coffin or sarcophagus located on top of a cut bank on a stone platform for the chiefs’ meeting house in Ollei traditional village in Ngarchelong State. Ngarchelong is the northern most state on the largest landmass in Palau. The stone coffin is a fine example of expert carving of a sarcophagus with both the casket and the lid made of andesite rock. The coffin has a length of 233 centimeters and a width 66 centimeters and a height of 40 centimeters. The wall thickness of casket is 12 centimeters. The lid is peaked with two knobs protruding from each side. The interior has been hollowed out. The exterior end of the lid to the east has two carved grooves around it and slats down toward the end.

And … that’s … it.

Who was in it? Apparently, no one knows.

OK, how old is it? Apparently, no one’s too clear on that either.

Tet el Bad

Right. So the universal heritage value of this is … not immediately striking, shall we say?

As befits such a monument, there are no tours, no signs, and virtually nobody on the island, even just a couple miles away, has any idea whatsoever what on earth you’re talking about.

But should you be a dedicated Tentative World Heritage Site ticker, Dear Reader, here’s how you can join the Tet el Bad Club:

1) Find your way to the turnoff to the Japanese lighthouse ruins at the very northern tip of Babeldaob island. This isn’t very difficult in any event because you just keep going north until you run out of road; but it’s found on standard tourist maps that come with your rental vehicle and/or your hired driver will be sure to know where it is.

2) Drive on for five houses, and on the right you will see the village hall:

Tet el Bad

Pull in and park, and you will see a grassy path leading upwards:

Tet el Bad

And just a few seconds’ walk up it — in fact, you can actually see a corner of it in the above picture if you look carefully — is The Almighty Tet El Bad.

Tet el Bad

Now, it would not be unreasonable of a normal person to conclude that spending a substantial part of a day in Palau tracking this empty coffin in the remotest part of Palau is, in fact, completely insane.

However, it would be a little of a pity to not see all of Palau while you’re there, and the drive up to the northern tip of Palau is very scenic indeed:


So even if you are in Palau just for the diving, there are worse ideas than being on the safe side and taking a day off to drive around the island before flying…

… but if you can’t see the point of spending your limited Palau time tracking down an uncharted piece of rock which we’ll go out on a limb and predict is vanishingly unlikely to ever be inscribed…


p dir=”ltr”>… that’s OK. We won’t tell anybody.


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I go places.

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