Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday Night in Chatan

We decided to spend this evening walking around Chatan Cho, a fun section of town where lots of Americans live right off the base. We started with a sunset ride on the ferris wheel. Nice view of the East China Sea!

From there, we had dinner. Sadly our first choice restaurant which advertises plates of gooey cheese oozing out of meatloaf and mashed potatoes seemed to have gone out of business and so we settled on another place that was good, but nothing to write home about. 

Walking around the strip, we stumbled upon a pirate ship.

After more walking around and enjoying the balmy weather, we heard a commotion in some trees and looked up to see a pair of bats mating. Seriously creepy! For a special treat, click on the photo to enlarge. You'll see the beady little eyes of one bat staring out at us!

Two little Okinawan boys walking nearby were equally interested and disturbed by the sight as we were!
Feeling grossed out by the bats, we ended our night at the Niche Martini Bar. Sean ordered the dirty martini, which he claimed was pure vodka and as for me, I ordered the bloody mary martini in honor of our new furry friends.

Lazy Saturday

This afternoon, we drove to a small coffee house where you can customize your brew according to the type of bean and the level of roasting. The owner lady and her husband are super nice and welcoming. They always treat us to a free cup while we're waiting for the coffee to be roasted and some little snack. Last time, it was roasted chestnuts; this time it was purple sweet potato cakes and oranges.

They sell about 10 different kind of beans from all over for various prices. We bought the Mandarin blend french roasted ($6.00 f0r half pound) . One day for a special occasion, we'll splurge and try the Emerald Mountain ($17.00 for half pound). If you ever have the chance to choose your own bean and have it roasted in front of you, do it! It's such a treat and the taste is way better than I ever thought.


Like most places in Japan, you have to deposit your shoes at the entrance and wear slippers. Funny to see Sean in pink slippers with baby chicks on them!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Izakaya Jazzra

One would think after our "eatfest" in Singapore last weekend that we'd want to take a break from it, but we just can't seem to resist all the fun places here! Our new find was an Izakaya (drinking and tapas style place) within walking distance of our home. Look at the interesting interior. Who knew giant tiger stuffed animals could be restaurant decor?

Of course, there must always be a habu snake in a jar...

Another interesting item was a fish tank with sea grapes floating around. They look weird, resembling bunches of teeny green grapes, but apparently they are credited with Okinawan longevity.

Our meal was really great and the best part about it was the price-- only $26 total. Here are some of the highlights. 

Bacon salad

Chicken yakitori

Vegetable Udon Fry

Tuna and Avocado Sushi tower

and the gooey wonderful melty bacon wrapped cheese yakitori

Friday, November 7, 2008

Singapore Anniversary Trip!

This past weekend, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Singapore! We stayed at the Marriott on Orchard Road, a perfect location for catching the metro and shopping. We arrived late on the first night, so we settled in with some champagne and chocolate covered strawberries.

Day 1

We started the morning with a buffet breakfast at the hotel. This was a great chance to try all kinds of interesting local Singaporean dishes made with Indian, Malay,and Chinese influences. Ever heard of fried carrot cake? It turned out to be a stirfry with shredded carrots and shrimp in a spicy sauce. Some of our favorites included chicken curry (yes, for breakfast!), fresh strawberry juice, an array of chinese dumplings, and my new favorite-- caramel gelato on waffles.

Our first stop in sightseeing was the Raffles Hotel, a beautiful colonial plantation famous for being a hangout of 1940s celebrity expats such as Charlie Chaplin, W. Somersaught Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Ava Gardner, and Jean Harlow. The hotel is also sadly known for being the location where the last living tiger in Singapore was shot and made extinct. Even grimmer, the hotel is where 300 Japanese soldiers committed suicide during the liberation at the end of WWII.

Perhaps the hotel is most famous for being the birth place of the drink, the Singapore Sling. Despite the insane price for this drink at $22, ofcourse we had to try it and experience the ambience in the famous Long Bar. I couldn't get over those cool fans moving back and forth in the ceiling!

After our bar tab set us back about $100 (geez, we only had two drinks and an appetizer tower), we walked around the downtown and had fun taking pictures of the Merlion statue and local art sculptures. The Merlion, the symbol for Singapore, represents a lion's head with a fish body.

That night, we headed to the Boat Quay for dinner. It was a beautiful night and we ate at an open air Sri Lankan restaurant with a view of the lights and water. The restaurant was a little bit eccentric- only two servers, all kinds of uncertainty about where to seat us, extremely slow service, and some of the dishes required a 48 hours advance notice if you wanted to order them! We got a little worried when it took forever for our drinks to come, but seriously, people kept swarming in, so we decided to stick it out. We weren't disappointed! The food really was so fresh and yummy. Each dish arrived on its own little burner so it wouldn't get cold.

Day 2

This morning we spent some time at Sentosa Island, a former fishing village and then a British military fortress in the 1960s. Today it's a tourist island. We took the cable car across, which gave us a nice view of the skyline. We spent our time learning about the history at a cultural museum, riding a luge down the side of the mountain, and taking the sky lift.

Our next stop was Chinatown where we looked at the shops and visited a Hindu Temple. Check out all the cows on the roof tops!

After Chinatown, we headed back to the hotel and decided to have High Tea. Unlike British high tea (with cucumber sandwiches and crumpets), this high tea had an array of savory snacks like Laksa, a spicy noodle soup, more curry, and even sushi! 

Later in the evening we jumped back onto the Metro and headed to Little India to see the festival of lights. After walking out of the metro, we encountered a section of town unlike any of the others we had visited. Everything about Singapore up to that point had been so familiar (Borders bookstores, shopping malls, even a Carl's Junior), but Little India made us feel like we were really in a different country. Walking around, we saw a sea of men just standing around talking to each other everywhere and few women. We thought they had to be assembled there for the festival of lights- surely, the lights were about to be turned on with great fanfare or something? But as time passed and no lights ever came on, we realized that's just what they do on Sunday nights. We had a great time making our way through the masses and exploring this new section of town. We were even lucky to buy a bag of indian basmati rice to take home with us. You can't find anything but Japanese rice in Okinawa!


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