Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Okinawa day 3

Well unfortunately Mike:s cold got worse so he was not very well and coughing and sneezing and this germaphobe was scared!

Anyway we trudged along and made it to the aquarium (1.5 hours drive from the hotel). It was really really hot! Much hotter than the 2 previous days. It was about 30 degrees and the sun was scorching like a hot summer:s day in Australia. Luckily, we were inside most of the time.

The Okinawa Churaumi aquarium is the second largest in the world and one of three to house whale sharks (the other two being the Georgia Atlanta aquarium and Osaka Kaiyukan).

It is located at the most north-westerly point of the island of Okinawa in a specatucular location. The aquarium is nicely set out so you follow a path and you get to see everything (unlike museums and such where you kinda wander around aimlessly and are bound to miss stuff!)

About 3/4 of the way throught we were at a mini theatre. By luck at that exact time we arrived at the theatre a movie was about to start in less than 5 minutes. So we took a seat, put on our English headsets (as it was in Japanese) and watched the documentary. It was really really interesting and showed the beautiful scenery and abundance of life that lives under the ocean. The film ended by the curtains being pushed aside, white screen lifted up and there was a huge window right there! Totally amazing. The window was the size of the cinema screen and we could see whale sharks and other creatures right before our very eyes. I was so awe-inspired I just stood there and watched until we were the last ones and had to be kicked out haha.

I needn:t have worried, the main viewing window was right around the corner. It is so huge, probably the size of an Imax screen? I am not sure but the tank we estimated would have been 10-15m deep. Also there was a scuba diver filming various fish and creatures and you could see that on the big screen next to the window - very cool! Several of the sea creatures seemed to be smiling at us.

I had a weird thought to myself - imagine what would happen if the glass was to crack? haha... I needn:t have worried. The glass is 603mm thick, apparently the thickest used in an aquarium and they had a square pole showing just how thick it was!

Towards the end we decided to take a quick tour of the 'backbone' of the aquarium where we could see the tanks from the top with the spotlights and water splashing down, and metal everywhere.. and well it wasn:t very pretty but fascinating nonetheless.

The dolphin show was on at exactly the same time so we missed it but after the behind the scenes tour we went outside to the dolphin pool and they were still doing tricks for us which was cool.. So we got to see them perform without the huge massive crowd around us.

After spending 3 hours there (and as well as having lunch there) we decided to call it a day.

We drove about 2 hours to Chatan, a cute little town where there is an area called America-town and all these cool shops and restaurants. Actually we werent sure we could find it. I knew the suburb name and that was about it! Amazingly we found it, only because there is a big ferris wheel and we just followed that.

We had dinner there but didn:t stay long. Mike was really tired and we drove to the big town of Naha to our hotel. The traffic in Naha is insane. Imagine going at 40km/hr everywhere you go. It is that bad. Once again I thank my lucky stars I had pre-printed maps of exactly where the hotel was located prior to coming here. As we don:t really know how to input our destination what we]:ve been doing on the GPS is just using our finger to point to the spot on the map. However once we are actually in the right vicinity we still have to find the exact street! Nevertheless we made it without too much drama and luckily there is also a garage we could use too. It is really high tech, you park your car on an exact spot on this metal plate and a robot thingy 'deposits' it in a bank so to speak.

This morning we haven]t done anything except get up and have the free buffet in our cute little hotel. Very budget but it has everything you need, super clean, but it is sooooo tiny, very claustrophobic almost. Oh well. It is still nice and in a great location.

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