Monday, August 30, 2010

Only Boring People...

Over the weekend, we had a serious case of island fever.

Okinawa is so small that it's sometimes easy to feel that we've already exhausted all the possibilities.

Aquarium? Done.
Kokusai Street? Oh, so many times.
Zipline? Checked off.
Even lesser known excursions, we've done them all.

Whenever I start feeling antsy, I remember the saying, "Only boring people say they're bored."

It always whips me into shape.

We can't expect life to deliver new experiences; we have to create them.

So, Sean and I headed out on a little road trip to see what we could uncover ...

We went north and decided to finally drive across the bridge to Sesoko Island. We've been up here before and just never bothered. How many times have you passed a new path, wondered where it led, but never took it?
We found a lovely beach with beautiful water. Seriously, how can a person ever feel bored in a place like this?
Look at this water. I love seeing the gradient of colors...
I'm the kind of traveler who sees a long line of people waiting for something, and I step in line too just to see what the fuss is about. Driving around Sesoko, we noticed a congregation of cars and that was enough for us to park and walk. We followed the shaded path into the most peaceful garden cafe
Cafe Fuu was such a relaxing oasis. We ordered a watermelon shake, made with local fruit, and a caramel chiffon cake.
The cafe dog aptly named "Cheese" (for the delicious pizzas they serve), when he wasn't resting in the dog house, made his way from person to person lapping up attention.
Stayed tuned for part 2: Okinawan Rest Stops. If you thought some rest stops in the States were strange, check back to see the fun things you can buy at an Okinawan one.

Directions to Sesoko Island: Head north on the 58 or the expressway, and you'll see signs for Sesoko once you get to Nago. Follow the signs and drive across the bridge. The beach is to the right side just under the bridge. You'll have to drive straight and then follow the road around to the right to get to the beach. The island is tiny, so don't worry about getting lost. There is an admission charge. You will also see signs for Cafe Fuu once you drive onto Sesoko.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What Do You Know About Sushi?

Growing up in the deep South, I detested fish.

I think it's because I never really had good fish there. Most of it was deep fat fried, frozen fish sticks, and the occasional McDonalds fish fillet sandwich.

In fact, I never attempted to eat sushi until I was 28 and living in San Diego. I fully expected to abhor it. I reasoned that if I couldn't stomach cooked fish, why would raw fish be any better?

I was so wrong, and I actually love sushi and sashimi now.

But given my late introduction to it, I didn't know much about how to eat it properly. Now that we're two years in Japan, I've gotten lots of schooling from friends.

What's your sushi awareness? Head over to my other blog, and read my latest post about how to eat sushi. You might be surprised by some of the rules...

Monday, August 23, 2010

How Not to Hike in Okinawa

We're under the 1 year mark of our time left on Okinawa, and we resolved to get the most out of our time on this tiny island as we can.

That's why we decided to go hiking over the weekend. Fresh air, ocean views, and jungle atmosphere. We randomly chose a trail without too much thinking (always a good idea), and set off.
Our intentions were in the right place, but we soon realized we were less than prepared for hiking in dense jungle. We were wearing flimsy shoes, the kind you might go rafting in. In my black cat coffee tumbler, we had about 3/4 cup of water. And somehow we forgot to take our cell phones.

We have inadequate water, footwear, and orientation, but look, I'm wearing my chandelier earrings!
Due to recent rains, the trail was really muddy, so there was a lot of squishing and sloshing around. I slipped a few times, but didn't fall in the mud. We also had to grab onto bamboo poles to hoist ourselves up over tricky areas.

The path was also quite overgrown and there were interesting things to look at like the purple UFO looking mushrooms growing on the sides of trees (no picture, sorry) and yellow and black striped spiders, butterflies, and praying mantis.

Also, we each separately contemplated the chance of seeing a habu snake too, local to this island and very poisonous. However, neither of us brought up the subject of snakes to the other, hoping to keep the outing calm and panic free.

There was a point that we thought about turning around, unsure if we were heading towards anything worthwhile.

But we finally came upon this lookout point.

... where we had to take a series of photos gazing out, being goofy, and pretending to jump...

Oh yes, bug bite counts. Me: I counted 35. Sean: none. What is up with that?

We chose the trail from a hiking list compiled by the Schilling Community Center. If you live in Okinawa, check out the list here.

A Little Touch of Bollywood in Okinawa...

Ever since I saw "Monsoon Wedding" years ago, I've been a fan of Bollywood films.

So, imagine my excitement when I heard that a Bollywood themed restaurant actually opened in Okinawa. Of course, we had to check it out over the weekend. The interior decor is funky, purple and black. There are pictures of famous Indian performers on the walls. Finally, there was a large flatscreen showing dance numbers from popular Bollywood movies.

The food was good too. It looks like we ordered 4 of the exact same curry, but in fact we have chicken tikka masala, dal, mutton, and keema curries.
We took photos of ourselves doing our best Bollywood dance moves, but I'll only show you this one, which is my reflection in the gleaming silver mirror top table.
Bollywood Dreams is located within building A of the brand new entertainment complex Depot Island near American Village. The lunch sets including 2 curries, naan, salad, and iced chai cost about 1,100 yen (~$11 US)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When the Husband is Away

Sean is working hard on a project abroad, and I have quite a bit of free time to myself these days.

How have I been spending it? Well, let's see...

1)A chocolate cupcake binge (going on day 4 now)
2) Watching "Last Days of Hitler" programs on the History Channel
3) Making these videos...

Check it out here. You'll become addicted too...
Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

I was tempted to create a video for Lord of the Dance, but that one verges dangerously close to the truth of the spontaneous dance breakout sessions we have some nights.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tips for Climbing Mt Fuji

View from Mt Fuji Station 5

Recently, I introduced my newest blogging venture, World Curious Traveler. Check out my latest article I posted there for tips for climbing Mt Fuji...

I would love if you've hiked it to share any tips you have too!

Tokyo Weekend Eats

This past week, I took a tour group to Tokyo.

It's funny that I live in Japan, but when I go out to eat in this huge city, I go straight for Western food. I guess I get my fill of Japanese in Okinawa.

This trip's theme was definitely French and Italian...

Gruyere and mushroom crepe from Crepe Brezeirah in Akasaka
Custard cake from Miyashima in Ometosando Hills Shopping Center
Caramel Iced Coffee in Hiroo

Mixed Tomato Salad from Trattoria Salsiccia in Hiroo

Spicy Chicken Diavolo from Trattoria Salsiccia in Hiroo (one of my favorite restaurants ever)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Exciting Update!

Lovely Readers,

It is with great excitement that I introduce World Curious Traveler, a new travel blog site I created.

Since I've been a military spouse living overseas, I've developed an interest in writing again, a former love I somehow abandoned in past years growing up. I've also decided to take the plunge and branch out as a freelance writer.

My new blog is somewhat of an online portfolio. It's devoted to travel writing, practical budget tips, general travel advice, and soon, travel photography. Stop by and drop me a line!

Mary and Sean's Adventures Abroad still continues as always, but its focus will be more personal, daily life, marriage, and those kinds of juicy topics.

I appreciate you visiting this site and sharing your experiences. It's my hope that I can create a similar community on World Curious Traveler.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Another Eatfest Weekend

More gratuitous food shots of our favorite eats this past weekend...

Charlie's Tacos and Enchiladas

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies (yes, that is Sean as my hand model)
Nikumaki Onigiri, our new favorite snack on Okinawa
We discovered the pork onigiri randomly during the 10,000 Eisa Parade on Kokusai Street. It is a tender piece of seasoned pork wrapped around a ball of rice and topped with cheese and tabasco. Right before they hand it over, they blast the cheese with a blow torch so that it gets all melty. Apparently, this snack is the number one food of the Japanese Grand Prix, the owner told us... This tiny shop is on Kokusai street next to a Lawsons.

We aren't the only ones who love the nikumaki onigiri...
What about you? Eat anything good lately?

What do Mexican Food and the French Revolution Have in Common?

Our Friday night 1986 date was only the start to a colorful weekend.

We continued the flashback reverie with a visit to Charlie's Tacos on Gate 2 street in Okinawa. This ramshackle restaurant opened in 1956 and is very popular with locals. You've got to love those places where the photos on the wall show the range of Farrah Fawcet wings, mullets, mustaches, and big spiral perm hairstyles through the decades...
We ordered tacos and enchiladas. I wouldn't say the taste was Mexican by any means- the sauce actually tasted sweet and the texture of the tortillas was unusual. Even so, they were tasty, albeit for a Japanese palate.
Afterwards, we sauntered down Gate 2 street and chanced upon Gitane, Cafe and Chanson Bar. When we headed up the stairs, we noticed French flags draping the ceiling and a French Revolutionary War painting in front of the door. La Resistance! Fraternite! Liberte!

Okay, enough French, but when's the last time you've seen an homage to Bastille Day on a tiny island in the Pacific? We were intrigued.

Inside we found a very interesting set-up (wooden tables and benches, outdoor furniture, and red coca-cola umbrellas) It was all meant to give the interior a decidedly urban cafe feel, I suppose. There was a table at the back with records from the late 70s and early 80s- musicians like the Dooby Brothers, Rita Coolidge, and Crystal Gale. (the flashback continues)

The bar host was very gracious with us, as we were the only patrons at the time. He served me a gigantic Awamori cocktail. It was almost a full glass of Awamori, and after one sip, I felt drunk.

When there's no band playing, Gitane offers Karaoke. After all, it is a chanson cafe. I sang 3 songs including my all time favorite, Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. I was terrible, but the host and his wife applauded as though I was the most amazing singer ever.
Dreadful singing

Eventually more people entered Gitane, and a band set up to play. We had been looking forward to the show, but we remembered our parking expired soon, so we headed for home and a good night's sleep for our events on Sunday...


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