Monday, April 14, 2008

Okinawa Trip: My Last Day (Boo Hoo)

Ugh - I can't believe my vacation is almost over. It's so nice here - warm, slow-paced, relaxing with lots of cute military dudes running around. Oh well, I probably wouldn't enjoy typhoons or the rainy season all that much.

I started my last day with another two-mile run with Brian. It was a little more humid on Monday so I struggled a bit. I had trouble catching my breath. Afterward, we headed north again. The trouble with driving on Okinawa (aside from the 'you're driving on the wrong side of the road' thing) is that you can't go fast ANYWHERE. The max speed is about 35 or 40 mph so it takes forever to get around.

We stopped at a convenience mart for our standard beverage du jour (I went with the Mitsuya Cider - a delicious, sparkling drink. I'm definitely going to miss the drinks here!) Plus we picked up what we affectionately refer to as sugar cookie chocolate chip bread and a variety of snacks. I decided to try shrimp-flavored chips. Blech - they smelled like koi food. (Not bad tasting though.)

Our first stop was Cape Hedo - the northernmost point of Okinawa, where the China Sea and Pacific Ocean meet. It was very pretty - lots of cliffs and greenery and little coves. I had to use the bathroom here and they only had the troughs. Using those things takes some coordination. You have to balance while squatting and bracing yourself against the wall. Plus you have to make sure your pants are far enough away. I don't know how anyone can knowingly prefer the troughs when they know regular toilet seats exist. Particular the heated Japanese toilet seats!

After Cape Hedo, we went to Asumai, an ancient prayer site. You have to take a rickety bus up a curvy road to get to all the paths. You hike through the forest among these amazing rock formations and banyan trees. It was really awe-inspiring - some of the views were truly breathtaking - although it was a bit of a workout!

After that, we drove along the Pacific side of the island to a beautiful beach. The water and cliffs are so amazing. It's some of the best scenery I've ever seen. As we winded our way back down south, we stopped at Hiro's Coffee Farm. It was this cute off-the-road place where they make this fantastic coffee. They gave us some type of grass tea while we waited and they had these adorable hens running around. The owner's wife gave me a cookie to feed the chickens - they ate it right out of my hand!

We stopped at a Jusco store for more snacks (kind of a Wal-Mart) where we got these candies made of rice powder sweets that cause people to die every year because they don't chew them up. I was petrified.

For dinner, we ate at Krishna's, an Indian restaurant that served curry and the best naan I've ever had. After dinner, we sampled some of the local beverages. We're not supposed to drink off base because we're American (there's some crackdown on drinking here) so our bar was Brian and Jennifer's casa. We tried awamori - the Okinawa sake - and habu sake (a sake that has a dead poisonous habu snake sitting in the container) and a mango-flavored awamori. All disgusting! They tasted like licorice cough syrup.

Then we had some pocky coated in what we thought was chocolate mint. Nope - green tea. Foiled again!

I can't believe I have to leave this morning! I'm seriously bummed.

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