Friday, May 29, 2009

We interrupt this program with a special report... I know shoes are MY thing. I own so many pairs of shoes, my Dad once called me Imelda Marcos. But despite the plethora of shoes that I own (most of which I wasn't able to bring with me to Okinawa....(sniff, sniff); every now and then I come across one pair of shoes that become a part of me...Can anyone relate? You know what I'm talking about. The pair of shoes that become a part of your pemanent wardrobe. You know the pair you MUST wear whenever, wherever, with whatever you can.

Case in point: My new Malindi crocs in Black.

I was able to purchase this fine specimen while vacationing in Hawaii. Hooray!

I know there are some folks out there who can't stand these "ugly plastic" shoes, but as a huge fan, all I can say is that they are soooooo comfortable, not to mention, sorta chic. :)

So before you knock them, give them a try. Did I mention they are washable? Yep, kiss those smelly shoes goodbye. Crocs can be washed in the sink, in the dishwasher, or even in the washer.

I *heart* them......

Okay, you can now go back to whatever you were doing before you read this post.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Adventures in Singapore

Kevin and I had a wonderful time in Singapore, we spent five days in the city over the long Memorial weekend. We knew it would be hot, but we weren't expecting it to be over 90 degrees the entire time we were there! Wow...

However, despite the heat, we enjoyed ourselves. We stayed at the Carlton Hotel which was centrally located in the city and allowed us to easily get around to visit all the sites.

On our first day, we walked into a shopping center to get some relief from the heat and decided to have our first Singaporean breakfast. Here I am enjoying toast with kaya. Kaya is a local jam-like spread made with eggs, milk, sugar and coconut. It is spread on toast and often eaten accompanied with runny eggs. I wasn't a huge fan of the runny eggs, but I did enjoy my toast with kaya. Oh...and the coffee was pretty tasty too. Definitely different from standard American drip coffee. :)

Later in the day, we headed to the National Singapore Museum. This museum has several exhibits within its walls, but our favorite had to be the History exhibit. The History exhibit chronicles the very international history of Singapore and all of its immigrants. Singapore has a rich history as it was colonized by the British and later occupied by the Japanese during WWII.

Singpoare, now of course, is a major cosmopolitan city with large populations of Malays, Thais, Chinese, Indians, and ex-pats. Although several languages are spoken here on this island state, English is the official dominant language. Take a look at a sign I found at the train station. It sorta made me chuckle.

For those who don't know, durian is a type of tropical fruit found here in Southeast Asia. It is often called the "king of fruits." Durian is a large fruit with a hard thorn-like shell and emits a strong smell. So horrible is the smell, the fruit is banned on trains in Singapore. I have to say, I've never tried it, but from what I've heard, it tastes like custardy garlic and I'm not so sure I want to give durian a taste. Anyway, I digress.

Back to our trip....after the visit to the Museum, we found ourselves in Chinatown for lunch. We were able to find a place where several hawker stands sold multiple Chinese dishes. I was a little wary with eating at a hawker stand, but Kevin assured me that we would be fine.

To be honest, the food was actually quite yummy. The above photo is BBQ Pork with Hainese rice.

While in Chinatown, we came across a beautiful temple, the Sri Mariamman temple. As we walked inside, we could hear monks chanting. We could smell incense burning and our eyes were amazed by all the Buddhist statues covered in gold.

It was an amazing place....

Unfortunately I'm going to end this post here, but do stay tuned for part II of our adventures in Singapore. More on that later....


Monday, May 25, 2009

Back from Singapore....

Kevin and I have just returned home after a 5 day trip to Singapore. We had a great time, although it was about 30 degrees hotter in Singapore than it was here in Okinawa. Thank goodness Kev and I are used to the heat, because it was soooo hot. If that wasn't bad enough, it was also humid. Yikes....we pretty sweat through our clothes just walking around the city.

However, aside from the heat, Singapore is an interesting city. Our favorite attraction has to be the Singapore Zoo. Nestled in the tropical rainforest, the Singapore Zoo allows visitors to get quite close with the animals. It was unbelievable.

I'll post photos just as soon as we unpack. For now, it's back to work.

Hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day!

Love, Chrissy :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Japanese Cousins Visit Oki

My Japanese cousins Kaori & Yumi (along with Yumi's husband Satoru) flew to Okinawa last weekend for a short visit. Both of my cousins had never been here despite the fact they live in mainland! We had a lovely time and it was wonderful to be able to show them our lovely island home. Although Kev and I live in Japan, we haven't had too many opportunities to see each other. The last real visit we had with each other was at our wedding in Maryland almost 3 years ago.

Waaaaaaay too long.

Anyway, I leave you with this photo of my cousin Yumi, Kevin, and I at Toguchi Beach....

More photos to come....

Kaori, Nene, and Satoru....Okinawa ni asobi ni kite arigato!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Life & Culture of the U.S. vs Japan

Photo courtesy:

When Kevin and I have the chance to go back to the States, I often end up over-analyzing and making comparisons of every-day culture and life in the U.S. to life and culture in Japan.

Case in point: On our recent trip to Hawaii, we went to a fine-dining establishment at our hotel to have dinner. To be honest, this restaurant (I'm not going to divulge the name of this restaurant because the name of the restaurant isn't the point)wasn't a 5 star restaurant. But....still it was supposed to be a somewhat upscale restaurant as there were linen tablecloths and napkins at every table. The restaurant was crowded with guests, so I was greatly surprised when our waiter came to take our order. Let me just preface this by saying that I've worked in the restaurant industry myself. I know how important hand-washing you can imagine my utter surprise (& disgust really) when I saw the hands and fingers of our waiter. His hands weren't covered with dirt or anything...but what I DID see amazed me....As our waiter took our order and brought a basket of bread to our table...I noticed that he had black dirt embedded under his fingernails....Most people probably wouldn't notice this small little detail, but I did. And all I could think of was how this waiter could not have not known his hands and fingernails were dirty. Did he not wash his hands? Did he not care that he worked at an upscale restaurant that prides itself on its reputation?

In Japan, presentation and appearance is key. You can walk into a fast-food restaurant and easily see how clean and orderly everything why isn't this kind of behavior and focus on appearances present in the U.S? It's possible our waiter worked another job as an auto mechanic or something, but still....hand-washing is not only sanitary, it's important for appearances.

Kevin and I did end up ordering from the menu, but each time the waiter came to our table, all I could do was stare at his hands.

Now that I'm living in Japan, sometimes I can't help but make comparisons like this. If outward appearances and presentation are so imporant in Japanese culture, why can't it be important in American culture? Hmmmm?

If you have thoughts or comments on this subject, please share!

~Chrissy :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Aloha from Hawaii (Part II)

This is a continuation from our trip to Hawaii. Kev and I enjoyed a week in the sun, after spending some time at Diamond Head and the North Shore, we went shopping OF COURSE! Whenever we go home to the States, a shopping trip is usually a must! After we walked around the mall for several hours, we did go back to our sight-seeing.

We went to Pearl Harbor to check out the memorials. We even went to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. Here are a few pictures of the USS Utah Memorial. This was a ship that was bombed by the Japanese in WWII.

This is the old air traffic control tower that was used in the war. You can see how it was damaged in the war. The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is right across the street.

And of course, here are some pictures from the USS Arizona Memorial. Hard to believe the ship still sits on the bottom of the ocean floor.

While Kev and I were at Pearl Harbor, we found this huge banyan tree. Since we have so many of these kind of trees of Okinawa, guess I was surprised to see them on Hawaii. This one had all sorts of carvings on it. Kinda cool.

After visiting the memorials, we ended our day at the movies! Since we don't have the opportunity to view movies on IMAX or 3D for that matter, we opted to see Monsters vs. Aliens--the animated film from DreamWorks. Here I am with my dorky 3D glasses. 3D technology has changed a lot since the 80's and the days of Captain EO. :)

The next day, Kevin and I drove over to Kaneohe Bay. On our way, we stopped at this park to take some pictures at the lookout.

The last day in Hawaii, we went to the Waikiki Aquarium. It's not as large as say the Churaumi Aquarium here in Okinawa or the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, but it's run by the University of Hawaii, so it's nice to support them.

Look! Moon jellies!

On our way home to the hotel, we came across this beautiful sunset.

Since it was Kevin's 31st birthday (imagine spending it in Hawaii!?!)--we decided to get dinner at the Yards Restaurant in Waikiki. This restaurant has about 80 different beers on tap. Not such a big deal for me, but hey, it's HIS birthday. They DO have this wonderful Hawaiian Ahi Poke Salad that is to DIE for though.....soooo good.

This is our plate after we finished the Poke salad. All done. :)

We had a nice time in Hawaii and can't wait to go back.

Enjoy the photos!


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Space-A Gets Us To Hawaii!!!

Those of you who read my previous post titled "The Joys of Traveling on Space-A" may be quite familiar with the headaches we had to endure to try to get off this island of Okinawa....

Well, I'm here to tell you, patience pays off. Yes, folks, the good news is that despite the fact we tried to fly Space A a total of 3 times in one weekend, we kept our eyes open for flight schedules and destinations; and we were finally able to get two seats bound for Hickam AFB in Hawaii. We had originally thought of going all the way to the West Coast to Travis AFB in California....but of course, after spending close to 11 hours on a military plane (it was a freezing KC-135 aircraft) enroute to Hawaii, we decided to just stay put.

If I can offer any advice for Space A travelers, let me say this, it pays to organize and plan several itineraries and be flexible to several destinations. Kevin and I had researched hotels, places to visit, and rental cars at two different destinations (including Hawaii and the San Francisco bay area) so when we found ourselves too tired to travel any farther after getting to Hickam, we were fine with it.

We spent about a week in beautiful and sunny Waikiki. Using Space A to fly to Hawaii, Kevin and I easily saved about 3 thousand dollars on airfare. Guess when you figure that Space A allows you to travel for free, you realize sitting on a freezing military aircraft isn't too bad. Kevin and I were prepared. We brought hats, gloves, fleeces, as well as a small blanket to keep us warm on the flight. Space A isn't designed for comfort-- no peanuts or free movies here. long you're prepared with blankets and ear plugs, you should be fine. :)

Our first few nights we stayed in a hotel right on the Waikiki beach strip. The Outrigger Ohana Beachcomber resort. The hotel was nice, but since it was the midst of all the tourist attractions, it was a little too busy and noisy for our tastes. We were able to secure a nice room at the Hale Koa (the hotel/resort for military personnel) in a much quieter and secluded location of Waikiki.

This above photo is a view of Diamond Head from Waikiki.

This above photo is a statue of "Duke." Apparently, he's famous for bringing surfing to Hawaii.

We drove over to Diamond Head to do some sight-seeing and was even able to find a microbrewery on our way. Don't be so surprised, you should know my husband is always on a lookout for these places. ;)

At Diamond Head, Kevin led me through a secret tunnel with close access to the water. We were even able to spot a few sea turtles! You may need to enlarge this photo to see him!

We also spent some time at the North Shore of Oahu. This area of the island is famous for surfing. We don't see waves like this in Okinawa!

Here's a photo of the road sign for the historic town of Haleiwa.

Haleiwa is home to Matsumoto's. This place is an icon, well known for its Hawaiian shave ice.

Just look at all the flavors. Azuki beans with condensed milk, anyone?

Stay tuned for part II....more to come later.


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