Churaumi Aquarium

It’s the third largest aquarium in the world and one of the top attractions for visitors in Okinawa. Located in the northern part of the island, the absolutely massive Ocean Expo Park is home to the Churaumi Aquarium, where you could spend hours walking through the various tanks and observation rooms, with tropical fish, giant…

Break time

And so, the first semester of my Japanese course finished with a bang, as everyone struggled their way through the JLPT practice test on the very last day of class, before heading out for two weeks holiday. Although the last three months have been extremely intense in terms of learning and remembering SO many new words,…

What what, in the butt?!

On Friday when I got home, I opened the kid’s backpack to find a little package with a cup, a tiny bottle, and some kind of blue round stickers on them, with the whole package to be returned to the school on Monday morning. Now what the f— is THIS?  I asked myself, for about the…

The End of the Road

After arriving at Cape Hedo, the most northern tip of the long, scraggly island that is Okinawa, after being awed and amazed at the incredible natural landscape and beautiful scenery, you will no doubt look up, squint into the sun and say, ‘Wait…. What the f*** is that?’ I am referring to one of the…

Urasoe Castle

Okinawa is covered with castle ruins from north to south, with Shuri Castle being the biggest tourist attraction. We happen to live quite close to what was once the biggest castle on the island, a few hundred years ago. So it seemed worth a visit. Urasoe Castle is just north of the capital city of…

Oh, bento!

I faced my first challenge as a wannabe Japanese mom the other day. It was obento day at school. For those who may be hearing the word ‘obento’ for the first time, it simply means a lunch box. But, in Japan, people take it to a whole new level. Go in any dollar store, supermarket,…

Koinobori in Okinawa

There are flying fish all over Okinawa these days. And I don’t mean jumping out the water. A national holiday called Children’s Day is just a few days away, and koinobori – carp windsocks – have been strung up across bridges, in people’s gardens, rooftops and balconies, and even in the schools. It’s a popular sight…

Urban hikes in Naha

Not too far from Shuri Castle, which sits atop the highest hill in Naha overlooking the port and the city, lies Sueyoshi Koen, a beautiful park with walking trails into the hills, and a small red temple that you can ‘hike’ to. I say hike because my 3-year-old did it with only the slightest whinging,…

Room with a View

Now this I could get used to waking up to. I confess, I did not grow up beach camping, despite spending the first two decades of my life on an island. In Trinidad we may have spent millions of hours on the beach, but it was 15 minutes from home so we never camped out….

Now THAT’S service

Gas stations in Japan are AMAZING. When you start to pull into the station, immediately you will notice that two people run — not walk — RUN, over to where your car is pulling in. They then guide you into the spot next to the pumps, and cover your side mirror with a little red…

Playtime, all the time

Okinawa is an amazing place to raise kids. Lots of room to stretch your legs, low density ‘cities’, no pollution, beaches, and above all, PARKS. I don’t just mean a green patch of grass and a few benches. I’m talking giant parks, with trampolines, roller slides, jungle gyms, rope mazes, ziplines, and all kinds of…

Southern style

Far removed from the amusement-park feel of the areas surrounding the US bases and the relative hustle and bustle of the ‘bigger’ cities on the island, the southern part of Okinawa remains strangely, and pleasantly, rural. While the central area of the island is chock a block with giant Hiltons dominating the coastline, if you’re willing…

Shikinaen Gardens

Up in the hills, just outside of Naha, lie the Shikinaen Gardens, the summer house of the last kings and queens of the Kingdom of the Ryukyus. Destroyed during WWII (like most of Okinawa’s historical sites), but carefully restored, the Gardens are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a beautiful example of traditional Okinawan…

Weakness for Sweetness

It was a beautiful hot day, so I decided to take the kid out for one of Okinawa’s most popular desserts, zenzai. And a good place to sit down, eat some zenzai, and soak up some local vibes is the Makishi Market and Shopping Arcade in downtown Naha. Desserts in Japan, and other parts of Asia,…

Special Delivery!

I like it when communities retain a personal, small town touch. For example, in Mui Wo, the tiny town in Hong Kong which was home for three years, every week or so a woman would walk through the rows of village houses singing a song. I never knew what it was until a half Chinese…

Seifa Utaki, the sacred spot of the high priestesses

In the quiet south west corner of the island, along a curving coastline, is the place where the story of all creation, according to ancient Okinawan folklore, begins. An ancient sacred site, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Seifa Utaki is the spot where Amamikiyo, the all powerful goddess, came down to earth, and created the…

Fukushen Gardens

If you have some time in Naha, and want to do something free, I highly recommend visiting the Fukushen Gardens which is not too far from Kokusai Dori (International Street), in the downtown area. Okinawa, being so close to China rather than mainland Japan, has a very strong Chinese influence that you would not see…

Robot Golf

Chupid little me, country bookie! I didn’t know such things existed. But in a country where toilets have just as many functions as a smart phone, I should not have been surprised to see that in Japan, there are robotics even for golf courses. Bashofu Course is a funky little par-3 course in Nanjo, in…

Get up and go

When the dust settles, and you have had enough time to lick your wounds and wallow in self pity and self doubt (oh god… what have I done?! is it too late to go back?), it’s time to get your shit together, mentally say goodbye to your previous life, and get on with the story….

Sayonara, Hong Kong

When you live somewhere long enough – even if you don’t like it when you first arrive – time has a way of forcing you to allow that place to grow on you. The things that used to drive you mad eventually no longer fill your heart with rage. The surroundings that you thought you’d…

Tai Yuan Market – Toy Street

Once in a while I leave the refuge of Lantau and venture into the city. This time it was to go to the famous ‘Toy Street’ (proper name in Cantonese, Tai Yuan Market) to take a look around and see if I could find some cheap, fake Lego. Toy Street was, to my surprise, chock…

What pollution looks like in Hong Kong

Pollution in Beijing has been a hot topic in the mainstream media for the last week or so, but air pollution is something that affects us here in Hong Kong too, even though we’re quite far away from China’s capital city. The fact is, China remains the world’s producer of damn near everything, including the…

Let’s go get lost

Many people think I must be brave because I have moved around a lot, but the truth is I am a big fat scaredy cat. Seriously. Case in point – when in Okinawa, the day came when I had to take The Kid out on my own, in the car, and navigate the streets while…

Okinawa – Here We Come!

I woke up a few nights ago to the distant sound of a bell ringing a deep, slow gong… gong… gong…  The sound echoed up the valley and into my ear drums, making its way to my brain. Slowly I opened my eyes and look around at my surroundings and realised, this is not my apartment…

Vancouver Family Reunion

“Blink and you’ll miss it,” my brother in law joked. He was referring to the sun – something that we saw very little of in Canada’s most popular, least cold, and most rainy city. Indeed, during a 9-day trip where the family members residing in Asia (myself and my father), and the family members still…

Two days in Osaka – The pumped up KIX

For our sixth wedding anniversary, my husband gave me the best present ever — he buggered off and took The Child with him to visit his family in Tokyo, giving me four precious days of complete freedom to go on a trip to Osaka and Kyoto with my long time travel buddy and old time…

Trip to Nanjo, Okinawa

Dear readers, you must be getting sick of post after post about Okinawa. Yeah yeah, another beach, another bowl of delicious looking noodles, another day in paradise. But I just can’t help it. Okinawa has become our second home. When we arrive in the airport and step out into the sunshine and take a deep…

Mums & Maids – A Few Thoughts

There is a great video going around online titled ‘Mums and Maids’, and it really struck and chord with me because although the video was filmed in Singapore, it is the same situation in Hong Kong. The issue of mums and maids and child rearing is something I’ve been avoiding writing about, because it is…

Yomitan, Okinawa

I think we have interrupted the first stage shooting of a porn. Or perhaps they’re working for one of those websites with flashing banners that say “Asian brides are waiting for you!” The young, lithe Japanese girl in a bikini with long, flowing black hair and a winning smile has been bouncing on an inflatable tube for the good part of 20 minutes.

Why didn’t I take my camera?

It was one of those spur of the moment things, and I ran out of the house with only two things in hand: keys, and child. But why oh why didn’t I take my camera? I missed out on the chance to capture one of those rare moments when you find yourself looking around and…

Low Season in Lamai, Koh Samui

It’s early June in the idyllic paradise of Koh Samui, and the mood is nothing short of subdued. We seem to be the only ones staying at this gorgeous, cheap hotel across the road from Lamai Beach. The Swedes and the Germans and the Russians are long gone, having returned to their homelands to enjoy…

Senagajima Onsen, Okinawa

When you travel of course you hope for good weather. But in typhoon season in Asia, there’s isn’t much you can do but accept that it is probably going to rain. The forecast for Okinawa wasn’t good, but thankfully we were staying in a hotel that could provide everything we needed for a nice little…

Date night in Hong Kong

Happy birthday to me! And what better way to celebrate turning 34 than drinking cold beer and gorging on dumplings? I had originally planned on going to a fancy restaurant with a view of the harbour, but changed my mind. We did in fact get the harbour view, but without paying a pound and a crown for it…

Date night in Tokyo

Tokyo is a city that has more Michelin stars than anywhere else on the planet, but when in Tokyo, the one place we must go to is a tiny, dodgy little hole in the wall called Daitoryo.

Chilling in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

Far removed from the raucous, sweaty, half naked beach bars and Carnival atmosphere of places like Phuket, Pattaya, and Koh Samui in the south, much to my surprise Chiang Mai was the most ‘normal’ place that I’ve been to in Thailand.

Things to do in Ikei-Jima, Okinawa

As I mentioned in my previous post, Ikei Island (or Jima, as ‘island’ is called in Japanese) is quite remote, and once upon a time used to be even more remote, long before it was ever connected to the main island of Okinawa, and, more importantly, long before it was even part of Japan.

The Best Hotel in Okinawa

Finally, after many, many, MANY trips to Okinawa, and after staying in 11 hotels altogether (one of which I think used to be a whore house), finally we’ve figured out the absolute, for sure, BEST place to stay if you have a kid.

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Kung Hei Fat Choi! It’s been a long weekend in this part of the planet as families gather for the biggest event of the year. Forget Christmas, forget New Years Eve… the big party is Chinese New Year. Even here in this small village there’s been night after night of festivities. People have done major house…

Things That Make Me Happy

It doesn’t take much to make me happy. I’m a very simple person. A boat ride on a sunny day with a cold beer will usually do the trick. But today I had a lot to be happy about.

Kwun Yam Temple, Hong Kong

Visitors to Hong Kong are often surprised at how modern and somewhat westernised the city seems, and how much it doesn’t really ‘look’ or ‘feel’ like China. Perhaps they are expecting it to be a bit more like the movie scenes from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon…