Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just in Time for Halloween



1. This seriously knarly looking thing we pulled out of a shell and slapped on the BBQ grill at our recent Korean BBQ dinner last weekend. Despite wanting to be adventurous and experience the oddity of food here, I just couldn't do it... Sean did though. He'll tell you it tasted like nothing, but I saw his face when he chomped down on it!

2. Mangrove Forest on Ishigaki Island, teeming with bugs and crabs. Can't you just imagine a swamp creature rising up out of the water?

3. Caged Cat Hanging in a Tree. We viewed this site in China last year at a Buddhist temple. Despite some online research, I have been unable to discover an explanation for it. Do any of you happen to know? Is it to scare off the birds or evil spirits? One thing is for sure, shrill cat whines are not pleasant on the ears.

4. Gangala Forest in Southern Okinawa. We only ever walked through this greenery in the daytime, but I wouldn't want to get lost out here after sunset.

5. Finally, Christmas Themed Nail Art in Okinawa. This image is no joke. If you happen to live in Japan, you know exactly what I am talking about. I have to admit that while I admire the creative urge here, I'm a little freaked about how I would get my contact lens in and out...
So, what about you? Have you seen anything that sent a chill down your spine recently? In the spirit of the holiday, do tell!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How do you entertain yourself over a rainy weekend?


To celebrate our anniversary coming in a few weeks, we drove north for a short stay at a high-rise hotel for the weekend. We had ANOTHER bout of awful stormy dreadful weather the whole time, so what else was there to do, but alternate between our two favorite loves of sleeping and eating?

We also made this amazing discovery in our hotel room. Yes, in addition to a mini-bar, room service, eight channels of wacky game shows and telenovelas, some Japanese hotels offer the Pillow Menu...
So after a rejuvenating night's sleep absorbing negative ions, our time looked something like this...

I thought this pig head soup was an urban legend...

but yes, that is a real swine head in there.

I thought it might be a rubber prop they just float in there for shock factor, so I decided to inquire in my very broken and weird Japanese. It came out something like this, " Excuse me, sir... um... er... is there every day a new face that you deliver into the bath?" The very patient and intuitive chef assured me they did.

After a little pig snout, we helped ourselves to the noodle bar.
I've come to realize that Americans are quite impoverished when it comes to noodle dishes. The photograph just doesn't do justice to the grandeur and intimidation of all the varieties out there. You could create virtually any kind of Asian noodle bowl you wanted including Japanese soba, Okinawan Soba, Vietnamese, Chinese, hot noodles, cold noodles, and the list goes on. There was a multitude of soup broths to choose from (beef, chicken, spicy chicken, fish, etc) and toppings and add-ins. We had to hang around as inconspicuously as possible and spy on other people to learn the "proper" way to do it, having little experience with noodle bars on our own.

Our adventurous eating for the weekend out of the way, we sought out and enjoyed a little of this...


Followed by some more of this...

Then a go around of ... Okinawan brown sugar crepe with brown sugar ice cream
and some Korean BBQ


Stay tuned for the sinister looking thing that came out of this guy. It actually made my list of top Spooky Sites of 2009, just in time for Halloween.

So enough about us, how do YOU like to spend a rainy weekend?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Evil Vermouth and Ninja Magic

Yesterday was a day of excitement in our household. At least two out of the three events were good exciting, one of them not so much.

First off, I spent the late morning cooking up a storm in the kitchen. I don't know how many times I opened and closed the refrigerator door, pulling containers out and stuffing tupperware inside. The number might actually be an important detail to this story because we keep bottles of alcohol on top of the fridge. With all the shifting and moving around and general activity in the vicinity, one of the bottles migrated to the edge. When I went to open the door one last time, you guessed it...

It came crashing down on my head. An entire new bottle of vermouth shattered on my head and then fell to the floor.

Have you ever been suddenly hit over the head with something?

It was the strangest sensation. I can't say that I felt any pain at all really. I was just stunned and then pissed off that I had to clean up that mess and rummage for slivers of glass in my hair. I do have a little welt today. So, the lesson learned is: Don't keep bottle of alcohol on top of the fridge.

Okay, now please excuse me as I take down all the bottles of alcohol from the fridge. Oh never mind, I'll do it later... or maybe never.

The next bit of excitement is that I happened to be looking at my account on You Tube, and I noticed that my video on the Ninja restaurant had some crazy ungodly number of hits (6,800). I thought it had to be a mistake and then I did a little research.

It seems that all these viewers (mostly teenagers) came from Italy and Spain because it was featured on several European websites as well as Asian ones. Here's a list of a few of them that featured it...

Wacky internet world... I am continually amazed at how interconnected we are now... who would have thought my video would appeal to masses of European geeky adolescents?

Finally, I was also surprised recently by my blog friend, Chrissy! She awarded me the lovely blog award, which I am honored to receive. I am supposed to award some of my favorite blogs recently, and I really have too many to whittle down.

I'll just mention three lifestyle and cooking blogs that I've been enjoying reading lately:

Stay tuned for a recap of our Spooky Okinawan tour we took last weekend... you know this island is crawling with ghosts, don't you?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Club Med Spoiler Alert: Swarming monkeys and Men Wearing Lipstick

Due to a rainy trip last weekend on Ishigaki Island, we entertained ourselves with the camcorder. Here are our top 5 favorite experiences at Club Med.. enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ishigaki Island (Day 2)

The second day of our trip to Ishigaki Island was more eventful because the rain (thankfully) finally let up. We rented a car and drove around the island with our friends Jose and Jackie, who are in my Japanese class and just so happened to be at Club Med that weekend as well.

We found Yaima Mura Village, a traditional style "park" with old houses, tea ceremony demonstrations, singers and dancers, as well as a monkey enclave, mangrove forest, and water buffalo.
People who visit the shrine there and receive their fortunes often leave them tied to a fence or tree if they don't like the outcome.
The highlight of the trip and one of my favorite experiences since we've been in Japan was feeding the monkeys. As soon as you walk into their area, they swarm and jump, looking for food or something to snatch. We were told to zip up our purses tight because they can reach in and grab something before you know it. We witnessed a few of them fighting over a muffin they stole from an unlucky visitor.

We bought monkey food for them at the sight, and as soon as they heard the container crack open, they were all over us in a swarm. This photo of me was taken before the monkey fight on my back... it was a little unsettling, I have to admit.
One little rascal climbing all over Sean actually stuck its hand in his pocket to rummage around for something.
I love this photo of our friend, Jose and the monkey in flight! They certainly weren't shy about jumping off one person onto another.
This one is funny. You almost can't even see his head and there are three more on the ground ready to pounce!
When we got our fill of the monkeys, we sauntered around the rest of the area to see some of the flora and fauna there. Here's a glimpse of our surroundings.
Spooky tree forest, which would be a perfect backdrop for a scary Halloween movie
That must have been one huge pearl in there
Okay, I'm a sucker for dressing up in costumes and posing for pictures. Even as a child, I begged my parents to let me do those old-timey black and white photos.

I had to coerce Sean into it, or rather threaten him, but in the end, it was fun. I have always wanted to get my hands on one of those flower petal headdresses. We have some hilarious video footage of Sean's face as the guy was tying the bonnet onto his head... this photo makes me laugh because the Tevas go so well with his Ryukan King garb, don't you think?


I'd love to make this photo our Christmas card for 2009. I'm pretty sure Sean would be horrified...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monkeys!

There's much more to come about our Ishigaki Island trip last weekend, but I just couldn't wait to post this online. This is one of my favorite experiences of the last year... feeding monkeys at Yaima Mura Village.

video

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ishigaki Island (Day 1)


This past weekend, we visited Ishigaki island, a neighboring Ryukan island only a 45 minute flight away from Okinawa. It rained nonstop for much of our stay, but we made the best of it as always and had so much fun. Mostly, we were just excited to be out of our little apartment and having a change of scene.

The weather did change for the better to the glorious perfect island kind the day we were leaving, so we did get to experience a little of it.
We stayed at a Club Med Kabira Bay Resort, which was a first for us, and now we are hooked. Normally we prefer to travel off the beaten track, but there were lots of benefits to this kind of vacation.

First off, the resort is a perfect, if not a little strange self-sustaining world. It's the kind of place where the person who is the receptionist is also the bartender and the trapeze artist and the magician and head of the breakfast clean-up crew and if you were getting married, would also be the officiant performing the ceremony. It was hilarious actually to see what new role that person would pop out as next.

Second, if you have children, the staff whisks them away from you and entertains the little munchkins for hours, which if I were a parent, I can imagine would be heaven. You might even forget that you have them...

Next, the resort is all-inclusive with free-flowing drinks and food all day long. As much as I love seeking out tiny hole in the wall dives, I have to admit sometimes it's nice just to have all that choice at my fingertips whenever I want it.

So the beer flow did stop at breakfast, but the bar opened at 11:00 for all those lushes out there.

In addition, Club Med Resorts revolve around all kinds of sports and other activities, including none other than the trapeze. Sean, the show off, was lucky to perform the trapeze that first day while the weather was still dry.
As for me, just as I got strapped up and ready to climb that ladder, it started to rain and did not stop for about 36 hours. My trapeze stint happened indoors the next day after a few drinks in the bar.

We have video footage of this which we will edit and post soon. Basically, here is drunken trapeze in 3, 2, 1...

During the thunderstorm, we ran around in the rain and played a little Let's-pretend-Mary's-head -is-the-bull's-eye...
But once the weather got nice, we were able to do it for real. My husband, the show off AGAIN

Overall the trip was a great success, and it did recharge our batteries as we were hoping. Stay tuned for more of our Ishigaki trip to come. Day 2 includes Monkeys and Ryukan royalty. We also have fabulous video footage that will be posted soon!

Giveaway Winner


Thank you all for participating in the book giveaway. To ensure fairness, I assigned a number to each person and then my husband randomly chose the winner of the book.

So, the winner is... Anil!

Anil, I will send the book to you, so please write me an email at maryr_sd@yahoo.com with mailing instructions. Hope you enjoy reading it!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Physical Enhancement Shopping in Tokyo

I was so excited about getting our computer back with all the photos and video perfectly preserved that I finally finished a new video from way back that I was dragging my feet on. This one features a very special shopping "expedition" that we did in Tokyo.

I've seen some of these very same wacky products in Okinawa (if any of you readers out there are interested)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting Back Our Groove

The Mary and Sean Adventure household has been a bit lackluster as of late.

As you know, a few recent events have knocked the wind out of our sails. We went back to the States for Sean's father's funeral a month ago, and needless to say, we're still grappling with that. In addition, we've been winging it in the technology department since our Apple went kaput.

Our latest adventures have included a less than thrilling sweet potato festival. I know, I know. You're thinking, how can a sweet potato festival not be riveting? And when we're not hunkering down for a typhoon that always seems to sideswipe us, there have also been a few evenings of illegally downloaded episodes of Mad Men and Top Chef.

However, this weekend we hope that our funk will change. We're doing a jet-set trip to a Club Med at neighboring Ishigaki Island.

Now, I've never been to an all-inclusive Club Med resort before. I'm probably wrong, but I have all these images of cigarette smoking slightly bored Europeans lounging by the pool in my mind. I also envision lots of fruity cocktails, sleek sailboats, Kylie Minogue songs, afternoon naps, and aimless days too. Don't know how all that will translate since we're in Japan, not France, but you get the picture, right?

In addition to all the imagined sloth, there are rumors of a very real flying trapeze swing that I am excited about. I've never officially put my life into a safety net before. I don't believe the jumpy thing I did at the dragon boat races in Okinawa counts, so I'm eager to cross this activity off my list. Strangely Sean has done flying trapeze before at a Hedonism resort, which he claims to have been tricked by a friend into visiting years ago.

In any case, our number one goal of the weekend is to relax a bit and jumpstart our engines again... we'll be back next week with some stories and action shots on the swing. That is, if we're not nursing a spinal injury or off auditioning for Tokyo Cirque Du Soleil.

*On a side note: Things already seem to be looking up. We got our computer back last night, and it's all completely INTACT. All the photos and video preserved. Thanks Japanese techy apple support!

The photo above was taken on Moorea, Tahiti in December 2006.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My First Giveaway

A modern retelling of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, anyone?

I'm always pulled in by melodramatic self-involved tragic heroines. It must go back to my obsession with Scarlett O'Hara as a child. In any case, I purchased this book during our emergency trip back to the States, and then I devoured it in about a day.

I actually read the Tolstoy classic years ago, but was often bewildered by the storyline as Russians use different names for themselves and others according to their relationship. I was always a bit confused. Who was talking to whom just now? Wait, is that her lover or her brother? When did that character get introduced? There was lots of shuffling pages back and forth...

Not so with this updated version, which takes place in NYC and features lots of sultry black dresses and descriptions of pierogies and sour cherry dumplings... have I convinced you that you need to read it? If not, here's a short review of the book on NPR, which motivated me to go buy it- a rare splurge as I vowed a while back to be earth friendly and utilize the library instead.

All the more reason to pass it on! I'd love to share it with one of you! I'll send it to you wherever you are in the world.

To win this giveway:
1) Become a follower of my blog, if you're not one already
2) Leave me a comment for this post

On Oct 12, I'll choose a recipient randomly and post the name. Thanks for your participation!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Reason #1 To Keep a Personal Blog


There's the very very bad computer and me, the girl who doesn't back up...

If your almost new computer crashes and takes all your photos and videos of the last year with it, at least a few shreds of your life are preserved in cyberspace.

Has this ever happened to you? How did you cope?

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