Monday, 22 October 2007

I'm in Okinawa! Yay!

Loving it here. The weather is perfect. Approx 23-27 degrees all day and the water is even warmer. The sky is always blue and the water a gorgeous aqua colour (my favourite). It is so different to China. Geez - where do I start?

For one thing, hubby and I had forgotten all about wearing seatbelts! We never wear them in Shanghai and realised that people here wear them (like back home in Australia) - haha.

Secondly, the people are mega polite and helpful, cheerful and friendly. If they don't know something they:ll ask someone else and find out for you.

Everything is so clean, orderly, efficient, user-friendly, yadda yadda yadda.. need I go on?

Right now we are staying at the Renaissance Beach resort on the main island of Okinawa, about an hour:s drive from Naha, the capital and the airport.

Yesterday we drove up but it took longer than expected because

1) We had to stop for lunch (in KFC where we had chicken wraps with bits of seaweed in it)
2) We passed a 100 yen shop and spent ages there. Well I spent ages there, Mike had to practically drag me out. Here they sold so many cool things ALL for 100 yen. I don:t know how they do it. I am not talking crap either, but quality goods. Some things I had looked for in China and could not find easily, or found and they were bad quality. eg
a) toe nail clippers where the cutter bit is straight and not curved
b) tongs for when I cook pasta (could not find in any supermarket in Shanghai)
3) plastic shield to prevent scratches on LCD screens on mobile phones, cameras, etc (yes I know they are common in Shanghai but I don't trust the quality and they are not THAT cheap)
4) hair collector for the shower so it doesn:t plug the drain and I don:t get told off by the plumber
and more..

All these niggly little things that only I would be searching high and low for, and wanting to buy.. such a chore to find in Shanghai at a good price and know it is good quality - it was ALL there in the 100 yen shop! They sold ordinary stuff too like bowls and cutlery, cosmetics, underwear, stationery, DIY supplies (hardware and crafts) etc ... Amazing!

I didn:t just get ordinary tongs either, they actually sold "spaghetti" tongs, I couldn:t believe it!!

Then, Mike and I have never actually used GPS in a car before. Imagine our accelerated learning curve when we had to use one in Japanese!! Hahaha. We were like two crazy contestents in the Amazing Race show - scolding each other when one of us pressed the wrong button and didn:t know how to get back to the previous screen! However, eventually, we figured the thing out. We ended up accidently setting a new destination which was rather frustrating but thanks to my very forward planning and actually printing out a good map of Okinawa before we left with our hotel:s location marked on it, as well as trying to read a map in Japanese we figured out the location on the GPS and pressed that spot on the screen. I thank my lucky stars I can still read some Japanese from studying it in high school 12 years ago!!

So, 3.5 hours after landing at the airport we finally arrived at our hotel! What an achievement.

The only bummer here is that noone really speaks English so there is a lot of miming, smiling, nodding, etc, involved. I can understand some but not confident enough to make out full sentences. A sumimasen, arigato, ohayo, konnichwa, hai, iie is all about I can manage at the moment!

This morning (our second day) I went on a 'helmet dive' which is where you put on a big white heavy plastic helmet with glass window and walk on the ocean floor (3m deep). It is for people who can:t or don:t want to scuba dive or snorkel. I can:t manage scuba (asthmatic who can't swim 200m!) so thought it was perfect for me. In fact, one of the reasons we chose this hotel! It was so much fun. I can:t even begin to explain what it felt like. It was seriously like walking on the moon. The deep heavy breathing that you can hear inside the mask (where your face is completely dry), the bouncy, slow steps that you take.. all really surreal! And I saw two Nemo fishes!

This afternoon Mike and I watched dolphins. Our hotel is the location of a dolphin research centre and there around five of these beautiful creatures living here. They swim, and jump and do tricks in the air - totally awesome stuff.

Tomorrow we are going to Churaumi aquarium, the second largest aquarium in the world to see whale sharks!

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