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Flashback Friday

11 Apr

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A few years ago, we spent the night on Zamami Island, off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.

This tiny island was so low key with only few sunbathers on the beach. In fact, it’s the perfect kind of island that shuts down once the sun goes down.

I still remember how quiet and peaceful it was there, and how beautiful and clear the water was!

I did forget this one funny detail, though… we stopped at a small cafe and had a drink after dinner.

There we found the funniest magazines that featured cat centerfolds! Only in Japan, folks…

You can read another post about a special experience we had on Zamami Island here.

 

Flashback Friday

4 Apr

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The other day I was browsing over old photos and came across some pictures we took one day when we lived in Okinawa, Japan.

It’s so interesting how our minds forget some details, but when we look at a few pictures, suddenly we can remember so many things we hadn’t thought about in years.

Anyway, these photos brought a smile to my face.

On this particular day, we drove north to pick mikans (tangerines) since it was mikan picking season there.

We picked as many tangerines as we thought we could reasonably eat and then we stumbled on a beautiful old Japanese tea house.

After that, we headed back to our house but saw a sign on the road advertising a “Snake vs. Mongoose” showdown.

Apparently, they don’t do those shows anymore as they are somewhat inhumane, but instead they presented a series of snakes to curious onlookers.

A Japanese snake handler demonstrated all kinds of trick with the snakes and asked for volunteers from the audience.

There was no way I was letting a snake breathe down my neck, but Sean posed for a picture.

I can’t believe Sean let that snake so close to his face!

Technicolor Island Culture

10 Nov

One of the things I love about Okinawa is that there is cultural festival almost monthly. I previously wrote posts about the 10,000 Eisa Parade and the World’s Largest Tug of War.

Those are certainly larger events drawing crowd, but a week ago, I attended a smaller event too, with no less pomp and pageantry. It was a procession of 1,500 locals donned in ancient island costumes, a tradition going back hundreds of years. Take a look at the gorgeous colors and textures of this parade… Continue reading

Delicious Tahitian Food

27 Oct

In my last post, I mentioned that I saved money in Tahiti by buying groceries and eating at local restaurants in town.

So, did I miss those overpriced resort meals?

Not a chance. I was more than satisfied with the delectable island cuisine, which melded French and Polynesian flavors. Continue reading

Magical Moments in Moorea

24 Oct

After a few days in Tahiti, I boarded a boat for nearby Moorea. Some people fly, but the ferry ride is only 30 minutes long, and it’s beautiful. I don’t doubt the view from a plane is nice, but for me, it’s a bit detached from the splendor. I want to be enveloped in the scenery at ground level. In my view, it’s the best way to meet Moorea.

While Tahiti (with funny inflatable Santas and the Marche Municipale) is the administrative capital of French Polynesia, Moorea is its wellness retreat. Continue reading

Favorite Travels: Basking in Blue in Tahiti

21 Oct

This post is part of an ongoing series of all time favorite trips.

I’ve been to a few nice beach destinations in my life, but oh my goodness… Tahiti. What can I say? Don’t you want to dive in?

French Polynesia is the tropical paradise of your dreams. Consider the most magical color saturated island destination of your imagination, and let me assure you, Tahiti is it. I never knew the ocean could take on so many hues of crystalline blue… turquoise, azure, cobalt, and aquamarine. Continue reading

Why Locals Make Travel Special

18 Oct

Zamami Island is 40 km from Okinawa in the East China Sea. With a population of only 500, it is a secluded home to crystalline waters, colorful coral beds, and island tranquility.

What stands out the most, however, when I consider Zamami, is Kazu’s family.

My husband and I visited Zamami a few months ago, and we randomly chose the Patio Reef Guesthouse upon arrival at the ferry port. At the guesthouse, we were greeted by a rowdy group.

“Today is my birthday!” Kazu announced, “Please join us!”

Flattered by the invitation to spend time with them, we sat down and shared celebratory glasses of awamori, the local rice wine. The rest of the night full of laughing, conversation, and revelry passed in a flash.

We teased Kazu about his love life and gave him advice for finding Miss Right. The family told us the legend of a dog who swam weekly from a nearby island to Zamami to rendezvous with its canine “girlfriend.” And at one special moment, the group spontaneously broke out in traditional song as one member played the sanshin.

When they brought out the birthday cake, Kazu said to us, “Your timing is very lucky. Now we eat cake.”

I can’t agree more… we were lucky that night.

The next morning, Kazu’s entire family drove us to the ferry terminal. Waving and smiling, they bid us farewell.

What happened on Zamami Island with Kazu and his family is exactly why I love travel.

This post has been entered in the Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday travel blogging competition.

Where have you found locals to be wonderful and unforgettable? Do you have any special memories of time spent with locals during your travels? Do share!

World’s Largest Tug of War

12 Oct

This past weekend with 25,000 of my closest friends, I participated in the Naha Tug of War. This is my favorite cultural festival, mainly because it is a bonding event open to the entire community of young, old, local, and expat.

Each year, the crowds face off in a test of ultimate strength. The goal is basic. Pull as hard as you can and bring your side to victory. Continue reading

Island Faces and Happiness

3 Aug

On a blazing hot Sunday,  the spectacular 10,000 Eisa Parade took place on Kokusai Street in Okinawa. The lively festival was in honor of Obon, a time when the community bids farewell to their ancestor’s spirits. I saw the most amazing beautiful faces. Come and take a peek… Continue reading

10,000 Eisa Dance Parade

1 Aug

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Silence comes over us as we hear the first dramatic sounds of drums in the distance. We stand waiting. Continue reading

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