[Wednesday, December 16, 2009]

16/12/2009: Okinawa, Japan

This morning, the weather not good for snorkelling. The wind was coming in so strong and the waves were pretty high. No surfers in sight.

(It's nice to see the ocean in the morning from your bed.) I will miss it.

Had a late breakfast after doing the laundry. Decided to go south to Okinawa Cave World and the WWII Naval H.Q. after returning the gear to our instructor.

BTW: This is a shout-out to Dave from Lone Star Diving--if you are in Okinawa and you need a dive instructor, Dave and his friend Dave (with the boat) will be happy to show you the ropes.

The limestone caves were magnificent. Apparently, it is one long limestone cave and the part that is open to the public is part of the Okinawa Cave World, itself a museum site due to the stuff found in it. But it's basically a theme park above ground and the hordes of tourists and school kids around us made it a bit difficult to enjoy the experience. The habu museum and park interest me not, but to get to the caves you have to buy the ticket for the cave and the traditional village tourist thoroughfare (with sugar cane dye products and the local black sugar).

Had our first taste of sea grapes at lunch--they were great, as was the rafute--Okinawan style pork that reminded all of us of kong bakh. Did not try the goya.

We got to the Naval H.Q. just in time to see the underground bunkers in 45 minutes. It's pretty depressing down there and we kept thinking of Letters from Iwo Jima.

Flying off for Fukuoka tomorrow. Got to pack.

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[Tuesday, December 15, 2009]

15/12/2009: Okinawa, Japan

After loads of crap wether, we went diving at last. As the shore is choppy like a butcher's block, we went out on another instructor's boat to do the basics and then go down to this reef of soft corals. Forgot the basics for a moment there, but I got around that. The reef was so beautiful and the water was so clear (so bloody clear--there's less algae and plankton growth in winter), I thought I was watching the Discovery Channel. Not many sea urchins, so that is good sign of a healthy reef. A could be right--Okinawa could spoil me for any other dive trips. *le sigh*

As it was a guided dive, the instructor had a hold of my arm--in the light of the current buffeting us around, this was a good thing as we were on a sloping reef. I was so scared of breaking or killing something, I barely used my fins. The instructor let me touch the corals--so soft and velvety. I was mostly wondering if it was all right to touch them--if it breaks off, I'd be pissed at myself.

We had A&W for lunch--something we have not seen in a while. Humour on this trip comprises of Ed accidentally sitting on his takoyaki and saying, 'My balls are flattened' while A and I snigger like ten-year olds. And GPS-chan, who cannot stay on the dashboard to save it's life. 'Bad GPS-chan!'

We went to the onsen after lunch--A's favourite part of the trip. Ah, onsen . . . There were doctor fish at the Chula-U onsen. I finally did what my countrymen have been doing since last year and stuck my feet in. They doesn't half tickle, I'll tell you.

Our gloopy warm sense of well-being was further enhanced when we went for dinner at this Okinawa fish place we passed a few times--Sabani in Chatan-Cho. Sashimi, sake and a set with tempura, fried fish, soup, pickles and rice. We got mildly plastered on the local sake--but not that plastered because we had to drive back. A very short distance, to be sure, but drinking and driving is unadvisable and A had the least sake, so he drove us back.

Nuaaa . . .

It is cold and wet outside. Glad to be warm and dry.

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[Sunday, December 13, 2009]

13/12/2009: Okinawa, Japan

Started on the discover scuba diving course. Instructor is one of those jolly American ex-marine types who settled on Okinawa. Went through the basics, then headed out for equipment. That was where we ran into a snag or two. The first suit fitted me, but the guys could not get suits to fit them. We went to another place at a naval base to get the suits, but ran into red tape. Apparently, we are on a list of countries-not-allowed-on-this-base. Fancy that.

So the instructor had to get the suits. Alas, the suits did not fit Ed and me. We went snorkelling instead while the instructor went to loan more fitting suits. Weirdly enough, I was fine without a dive suit. There was a warm current going past, I'm sure. Corals and fish were pretty--water was very clear. I love snorkelling and looks like A does too. Ed looks like he needs to get used to the snorkel.

Went down to Kokusai Dori in the evening. Parked illegally--whoops, but we are poor and cheap to boot. Walking the entire stretch like the tourists were were. After ducking into Heiwa Dori Arcade, I found a pharmacy and A found a shop selling school uniforms. It hurt me in the special places when he said he wanted a high-school boy's winter uniform top to wear to work. Dude . . .

But as his birthday had been recent, Ed and I passed him some cash for the uniform tunic.

After walking down Kokusai Dori, we found a place that sold imo tarts. Red sweet potatoes are a specialty around here it seems. We decided to come back for dessert. After going to Animate and to Ootoya for dinner. Animate need more goods according to A. Went to the Ootoya on Kokusai-dori for dinner--without having to queue for over an hour!

It hurts my brain in all the special places, but it's nice to chat with a guy about BL. Seriously. Weird, but refreshing.

14/12/2009: Okinawa, Japan

Weather looks cold and rainy.

Cannot go for diving lesson as it looks really choppy. If it were just me, I'd chance it, but it's not.

Drove up to Churaumi Aquarium in the afternoon. Or Ed and A drove and I navigated. Road trips (70km one way and 70km back) . . . are kind of tiring. We waited until we got to the aquarium for lunch, which was a mistake because the tropical curry they had at the food place was not that great. Filling, but not that great.

The aquarium was well worth the trip though. I am of two minds about trained dolphin/any trained animal shows. On one hand, trained animals--on the other, how else would people know how clever dolphins are?

Went to Emerald Beach for a quick look at the place before going back to see manatees and sea turtles. The manatee is a relative of the dugong, the local equivalent back from where we're from. They used to be mistaken for mermaids. We figured that the sailors were really desperate by that time if they thought manatees were mermaids.

The aquarium with the thickest glass panel and largest panel in the world was amazing. You could watch the manta rays and the whale sharks all day long. We almost did that at the Blue Manta cafe--only closing time reminded us that we had to go.

We made it all the way back to Chatan-Cho by 8pm and hunted up some dinner before going back to the hotel.

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[Saturday, December 12, 2009]

12/12/2009: Okinawa, Japan

In Chatan-Cho, at a shabby hotel with a view of the sea. The free internet and view of the sea make up for the tiny single room.

First driving holiday ever. More accurately, Adrian and Ed are driving. But I am navigating. With a GPS that I don't know how to use. In surroundings that are alien to me.

Somehow, we survived the trip from the rental shop to the hotel. Then from the hotel to Sunset Beach and the Justco for a very late lunch at 3pm. We walked down to Araha Beach and saw the flea market down at Hambly--mainly to soak up the atmosphere. The sunsets along the seawall are gorgeous. Weather is very nice indeed--like walking in an air-conditioned room.

We were too tired to do much after dinner, which meant heading back to the hotel in the dark with me navigating by the GPS that will no stick to the dashboard.

Saw lots of stray kitties. Reminds me of Sweetie back at home. *sniffle*

Tomorrow will bring a diving course.

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