Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Trip to Okinawa in 2015 - Day 6

Finally it came to our last day in Okinawa. I recall after we checked out from our apartment, we would be able to get a taxi right away (very lucky ๐Ÿš•๐Ÿ˜„) Here comes a question, how could we tell the taxi driver where to go? Probably he understood the English word "airport". But we wanted to stop at the domestic terminal for lunch. So I wrote down ๅ›ฝๅ…ง็ทš (similar to Chinese character) and gave it to the driver.

The driver did drop us off at the correct terminal in Naha airport. We went to the food court in the domestic terminal, which I think it's on the 2nd or 3rd floor??? Anyways it doesn't matter now since there was a renovation in early 2019 which I believe the domestic and international terminals are connected together and the floor plan might be different from before ... hehe ๐Ÿ˜…

As you can see from our photos 4 years ago ( I don't know how it looks like now). The food court was spacious since not many people there and we could pick any table we like. I really loved the food court since it's not crowded and it's very comfy no matter where we seated.

There were some souvenir shops across the food court, good for last minute shopping! I remember my mom bought a local bitter melon ่‹ฆ็“œ for her brother. It was the most beautiful bitter melon we've ever seen. It was very green and fresh.

The picture of Shureimon gate (ๅฎˆ็ฆฎ้–€) at the food court reminded me that I forgot to visit Shuri (้ฆ–้‡Œ) which was a royal capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom (็‰็ƒ็Ž‹ๅœ‹). A number of famous historical sites are there including Shuri Castle and Shureimon gate and they are all designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Some of the seats at the foot court has a view of the planes ✈

Time to order lunch! Uh-oh ... couldn't read the menu ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ  Fortunately they had displays, not edible thou. What can you image by looking at the display above? I could picture a happy moustache man. Tomatoes are the eyes, cucumber is the nose and pork cutlet is the moustache ... haha!

More displays to look at ... do you think the picture on the right looks like Chinese doughnut (ๆฒน็‚ธ้ฌผ)?

With mobile phone, I took pictures of the displays and showed them to the person who prepared the food for us. No communication barrier ... hehe. Here's my order ... do you think the display and the real dish look alike? 

We still had some time after lunch so I went to the upper floor with my mom. She saw the display of avocado and vegetable sandwiches and decided to buy one.  Now she knew the trick, take a picture and show to them ๐Ÿ˜‚

Remember the title of my blog is "Inspirational Thoughts"? I was inspired by this simple and healthy sandwich ... should make some for summer picnic ✌

Time to leave Okinawa although I would like to stay for a few more days. When we were waiting to board on the plane at the boarding gate in the international terminal. The flight attendant of Hong Kong airline let us go to the front because of my mom (not my auntie as she looked much younger than her age). Very good service, they respected the senior and we were the first to get on the plane!

Overall it was a relaxing trip and nice experience. We had some fun also. I learned two Japanese words to use in Okinawa - konnichiwa (hello) and arigato (thank you). Then I got mixed up when I talked to the cashier in a convenient store. Before the payment, I wanted to say hi but I said arigato. Then after payment, I wanted to say thank you but I said konnichiwa. Even my brother noticed the words were wrong ๐Ÿ˜…

Finally I finished writing my Okinawa trip before another new year. Thank you for your patience ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’“

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Trip to Okinawa in 2015 - Day 5

Happy Holidays Everyone! Now I continue to write my blog for the trip in 2015 ... haha. Does the above picture look like a traditional Chinese garden? It is a Chinese garden in Naha, Okinawa called Fukushuen ็ฆๅทžๅœ’ (https://www.naha-navi.or.jp/fukusyu-en/). 

According to Wikipedia, Fukushuen was constructed in 1992, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the sister city relationship between Naha and Fuzhou in China.

Fukushuen was one of the must see attractions that we visited in the morning. It took us 10 minutes to walk from our apartment to the garden, which was a healthy exercise ๐Ÿ˜„

The scene I like most there was its pavilion with the waterfall and a bridge in front.

As Fukushuen is a representative of traditional Chinese garden, there are many Chinese couplets found at different entrances. Examples:

่€ณๆ‚…ๆฝบๆนฒ,ๅ–ๆฐดไผ‘็…ฉ็ฅžๆ™่กฒ;ๅฟƒๅ„€็ชต้ ,็œ ็ง‹ๆฌฒๅ€Ÿๆญฒๅฏ’ๅฏฎ

้ซ˜้ขจไบฎ็ฏ€,่ชผ่ฏไธ‰็›Š็ท ๅฏ’ไบค;้ต้ชจ่ฒžๅฟƒ,ๅ“ๅฃ“็พค่Šณๅญšๅณปๆœ›。

Any idea about the picture above? 

Let my auntie and brother demonstrate it ... put 100 yen (around $1.50 CAD) into the machine to buy a box of fish food. Then drop the food into the lake. See ... many koi and even turtle come up for the food!

After visiting Fukushuen, we headed towards Naminoue Shrine (ๆณขไธŠๅฎฎ) since it's within walking distance. Probably another 10 minutes to get there. What's special about this shrine? I think it's the location as people can overlook Naminoue Beach and the ocean at a particular spot in the shrine.

According to Wikipedia, it is originally a sacred space of the native Ryukyuan religion, due to its location and natural beauty. At some point it came to be known as Nanminsan: Nanmin is the Okinawan reading of ๆณขไธŠ, meaning "above the waves", which is pronounced as Naminoue in Japanese. 

I recall there were much more visitors in Naminoue Shrine than Fukushuen. There was a Chinese tourist group with a tour guide explaining the shrine so I merged into the group and paid attention to what he said ... hehe! 

Next we went to Karakara Buffet for lunch (http://karakara-okinawa.com/). I found this restaurant on a website and like it very much since it is similar to ่‰ๆฅฝ buffet I had when I travelled to Nagoya in 2012. Both restaurants have lots of wood design creating a cozy and natural environment. They offered local ingredients and seasonal vegetables. Every time when I had buffet in this type of restaurant,  I felt I was in a countryside garden (ๅพˆๆœ‰็”ฐๅœ’ๆฐฃ่‰ฒ).

However Karakara Buffet was not easy to find. We were almost there but had no clue about the exact location. None of us can speak Japanese so we just picked a young guy to ask for the direction. With simple English, we hoped he could understand what we asked. It turned out he's so excited to be able to practice his English with us. Although his English was a bit limited, he was able to use the term "elevator" because the restaurant was just located on the 9th floor in the building behind us...haha!

As you can see from the pictures, the restaurant provided variety of vegetables and sauces, noodles and two types of rice. The desserts were light and tasty! The most popular dessert was almond tofu pudding which was gone very fast. Once we saw the staff bringing a bowl full of almond tofu pudding, we grabbed it right away ๐Ÿ˜†

There were several signs in the restaurant to indicate the food category by three colours - green, yellow and red. Green means fibre, yellow means carbohydrates and red means protein. Then it showed us how to place our food on their plates.

I wanted to be creative so I didn't follow their way. I put whatever I like on the plate. One thing I like their plate design is I could try nine different food but each one was just a small portion (like a sample tasting) so I would not eat too much and gain weight.

Just right outside the restaurant, they put pictures for the dishes available in November (the current month). I think it's a very good idea!

After we returned to our apartment, I was trying to check my office email on its computer. But the login screen was in Japanese! Wow! Better not to touch it so I didn't check my email there.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Trip to Okinawa in 2015 - Day 4

Happy New Year! It's been a super busy year for me in 2018, but I haven't forgotten about my trip three years ago. Let's continue on …

In the morning of November 25, 2015, we enjoyed our last breakfast in Rizzan Sea-Park Hotel. I believe it was a Japanese/ Western style breakfast buffet in Seaside Restaurant Tancha Bay. It was a huge restaurant with 50% of the tables occupied. I love the hotel very much since it never got crowded due to its tremendous size.

I recall there was a chef preparing eggs (?) for guests so my brother and I got one each. We tried to use the pepper and salt but we couldn't figure out how to use the pepper. With little knowledge of English, the chef used body language to show us how to use it. We looked like bumpkins ๅคง้„‰้‡Œ, very embarrassed ๐Ÿ˜ When we returned to our seats, we saw pepper and salt on our table...haha!

My mom met a woman while she was watching an entertainment show in the hotel the other day. During the breakfast, the woman and her family sat beside us. What a coincidence! She was originally from Shanghai and currently resides in Tokyo, a very sweet and friendly lady ๐Ÿ™‚

Later on just before we left the hotel, we saw her again in the lobby so we exchanged contact information. Now I only know her name is ไธŠ้‡Žๆ–ฐๅญ. In case she will see my blog, I would like to tell her: thank you for your warm and friendly greeting to my family ๐Ÿ˜Š

After we finished breakfast, we left the restaurant  and passed by a supermarket/ souvenir store with a sharp red male underwear by the window. I decided to buy it for my uncle ไธ‰่ˆ…็ˆถ hoping to bring him luck ๐Ÿ˜ƒ He passed away the year after but I still wish him luck in his next life!

We stayed three nights and at least two mornings we put a green sign on the door which means the staff didn't have to clean the room. As a result, we gained 2,000 yen tokens to use in the hotel ๐Ÿ˜‰

I was addicted to the hot spring every time when I had a chance to stay in a hotel in Japan where the facilities existed. Just before the departure, I went to the hotel's hot spring by myself.  There was a charge of 400 yen (around  $5 CAD) which was reasonable. As the description on the hotel's English website, it was really a "bath with panoramic view of the aquamarine sea",  very soothing and relaxing.
Time to go after the relaxing bath. Remember the driver who drove us around on November 24? He kindly offered to give us a ride to our next destination Naha. But then he received a call from another customer so he asked his Japanese friend (also a taxi driver) to give us a ride instead.  
As promised, his friend drove us to Lazor Garden,the most beautiful crystal church I have ever seen! Thank you to both drivers ๐Ÿ˜Š I know Okinawa has many beautiful churches for weddings. Without the drivers, I don't think we could see it in person.

There is a hotel right by the church, must be very expensive. 

After about 1 hour and 35 minutes, we arrived at our destination Villa Coast Nishimachi guesthouse (apartment hotel). Although the driver could not speak English, he was polite and provided good customer service. For 48 km of ride, we paid 4000 yen (around $50 CAD).
We checked in at our guesthouse two hours earlier than expected. The manager there was a young man who could speak English since he studied in Canada (I believe in Ontario) before. Yeah! Friends from Canada! He was super friendly and let us go to our guestrooms right away since they were vacant ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
I reserved two guestrooms on Booking.com - one for my brother and me, one for my mom and my auntie. Each room had 2 twin beds and cost $80 per night. The rooms we stayed were on the 7th floor, units 703 and 705.

Let's go to unit 703! Needed to remove shoes and wear slippers before getting on the laminate floor. Right side was the kitchen with microwave, small fridge, sink, stovetop and a kettle.

Bathroom on the left side. There were mirror, sink, washer (National brand) and bathtub.

Let's take a closer look at the kitchen. The microware model was Sharp RE-T13 and 2 cups were provided. Fridge brand was Sanyo. Are we heading to the bedroom now? Not yet, don't forget there's a toilet on the left side after the bathroom, it was separated from the bathroom though. 

As a typical Japanese toilet, it had a control panel to wash your butt (spray or bidet), adjust the water pressure (front or back, weak or strong), it also had a button for deodorizer, etc.
Have you noticed a water tap on top of the tank? How it works? We flushed first, then washed our hands there, the used water would be collected into the tank for the next flush. What a brilliant idea to save water ๐Ÿ˜„❗
The cons is the room was very narrow, like a toilet in the plane so my elbows kept hitting the walls when I moved around.

Finally is the bedroom: got a small table with 2 chairs for dining, a desk with computer desktop plus another office chair and a closet with some hangers. The last picture is an air conditioner.

Here comes the most important part of the room - nice clean twin beds! The complete floor plan from Villa Coast Nishimachi can be found on Booking.com ๐Ÿ™‚

At night we went out and grabbed some food as dinner from a supermarket which was around 10-15 minute walk. There were food samples of dumplings that my mom loved but we were not sure what kind of meat they contain. Because my mom had gout, she could not eat beef. None of the people there could speak English ... BINGO! I found pictures of cow, pig and chicken, let's take a photo of them and show it to the staff. It worked, she pointed to the pig.

After dinner was time for rest and relax. Accidentally found cartoon on the computer. No idea what they were saying (all Japanese) but it was very cute, like back to my childhood time.