Biking Island Lake

Since Island Lake is literally right around the corner, we’ve been there a lot for hiking and sightseeing. But this was the first time to do the entire lake, which is 8.2km long, on bike. What a great workout! And what a beautiful day. Island Lake is a 400 acre reservoir with a number of…

Belfountain Conservation Area

So the goal this summer is to go somewhere, every single weekend, rain or shine, and enjoy the great outdoors before the deep freeze returns, forcing people to hide indoors for roughly five months. There’s nothing like the threat of winter to make you carpe that god damn diem! Last weekend we hit up Belfountain…

Elora Gorge

It was a sunny Easter weekend, and rather than torture myself with dreaded kids activities such as an Easter Egg Hunt, instead we packed up the car and headed to the Elora Gorge, about a 30 minute drive from home. Elora and Fergus are two quaint little towns with large Scottish populations, and classic old…

Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

It is supposedly spring right now – despite the temperature hovering a wee bit above 0’C – so it’s time to do some hardcore exploring during the few short months when Canada is not covered by snow. Orangeville is a great place to live if you like the great outdoors. There are dozens of provincial…

Life in a small town

Everyone knows of course Toronto, or maybe Mississauga and Brampton where there is a high concentration of West Indians. But tell someone you’re living in Orangeville and they look at you blankly. Either that or they say, ‘why the ass are you living out there in the countryside?’ Indeed, it is countryside – Orangeville is…

Feels Like Home

For the past decade, getting to Trinidad required a painful, mind and ass-numbing, exhausting 24-hour trip from Asia back to the Western Hemisphere. But now that I’m living in O Canada, in one easy 5-hour flight, boom! There I am in Piarco, looking at a sign that says HOSEINS ROTI SHOP. I definitely need a…

Coming in from the cold

So, what has been going on here in the True North, as I have fondly started to call Canada? Well for a few weeks in February it was brutal, with endless snow shovelling, which let me tell you is backbreaking work, especially when the bloody snow plough comes around the corner and DUMPS two feet of…

Back with a new adventure

Dear readers, long time no speak. It’s been a long hiatus from the blog. A long, LONG break. The longest I’ve gone without updating, ever. Don’t worry, I am not dead. But, I had good reason for not writing. At the end of 2017, all of a sudden a job opportunity in a new country…

Tamgaly Rock Carvings

We are lost. We must be lost – we have been driving for almost 3 hours and haven’t seen a sign for Tamgaly for about 45 minutes. I forgot to mention, our driver has never been there, and has no GPS. But how can we be lost? There is only one road to Tamgaly, and…

Charyn Canyon – the Valley of Castles

I hate long drives, unless I’m the one doing the driving. There is just something so tedious about sitting in the back seat for hours on end. Especially with a 4-year-old in tow for 200 kilometres! ARE WE THERE YET? Unfortunately, as a first time tourist in Kazakhstan, I was not willing or brave enough…

In the Land of the Wanderers – Trip to Kazakhstan

I had only been in Almaty for about 20 minutes, and already I had managed to embarrass myself. We were all sitting in the backseat of a smoke-scented taxi with a busted windscreen, heading to our hotel, and chatting with the driver Andre, who could speak some pretty decent English, having spent a few years…

Thailand Temptations

Thailand is the kind of place where after a day or two your brain switches gear and starts thinking crazy things, like whether you are too young to get a retirement visa (you have to be 50, for the record), or if there is some other way you can get a visa to stay there…

Bangkok Family Fun

Thailand’s crowded, traffic clogged capital, Bangkok, is not exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think of family friendly activities. Shopping, yes. Food, yes. Night time ‘entertainment’, ladyboy cabarets, street markets, definitely. But family fun? Yes! You would be surprised to learn that in the past ten years, this mega city has…

Sesoko Island

On a hot and sunny Saturday, there’s nothing better to do than fill up the tank of gas, grab your snorkel, and hit the beach. Sesoko Jima (island) is connected to the main Okinawa island by a tiny bridge, and about a 90 minute drive from Naha city up the east coast. After exiting the…

Lake Shikotsu

As mentioned in the previous post, after liming in Sapporo for a night, we were ready for the real adventure – two nights at the Marukoma Onsen hotel at Lake Shikotsu, and a kayaking trip on the lake. The area that comprises the Shikotsu-Toya National Park is very volcanic, and the two lakes are calderas,…

Eat me!

One of the things that I made sure to bring with me from Japan was all of my super cute amazing tools for making bento – lunch boxes – because I knew it would not be available in Hong Kong. Thankfully in Japan they are a dime a dozen, and every dollar store sells them. So how…

Springtime in Sapporo

It is May in the city of Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island. Often referred to as ‘Japan’s Wild North’, the name is well deserved, because although it has a lot of space, Hokkaido remains largely underdeveloped. Just outside the city centre, bears and deer roam free, and within an hour’s drive…

Dai Seki Rin Zan

Do you see it, hiding the rocks? What does it look like? Is it an alien face, peering out?  *cue spooky music* How about this one? A shaggy camel perhaps? And this lovely is most definitely a big crocodile!  Can you see its mouth? Look closely up to the top of the hill – can…

A sky full of stars

When was the last time you actually saw The Sky at Night? I mean the real sky; not the mild glow of towns and cities that we are accustomed to. The one that is no longer visible to most of the world, the pitch black, diamond encrusted vastness of the universe? How many places are…

Just F*cking Killme

In the west we tend to have a long standing superiority complex, and assume that other places — you know, those funny far away places with funny names that you can’t find on a map — must be below us. The same applies to international travel. Say the names Delta, Air Canada, American Airlines, and…

Under the sea

Recently I tried my hand at some underwater photography during a day of snorkelling at Hanagusuku Beach, on the south coast of Okinawa. These pics were taken with just a normal point and shoot, and I think they are not bad. Not amazing, but not bad for a first try in somewhat low visibility. My…

Kings and Queens

Once upon a time, Okinawa was its own ‘nation’, the Kingdom of the Ryukyus. With a distinct language and culture, it was, and in some ways still is, very distinct from mainland Japan, which took it over in 1879. Every five years, Okinawans living abroad hold a massive reunion on Okinawa, with tens of thousands…

Manzamo and Cape Zanpa

During our recently staycation (see post below), we stopped at two scenic spots – Cape Zanpa and Cape Manzamo. Okinawa is blessed with a beautiful, rugged coastline, and there are lots of ‘capes’ to go visit. Usually there is a lighthouse, and in some cases a beach nearby. In this case, there were goats! The first…

Lifestyles of the rich and famous… on a pension

It’s been eight months since I’ve been on a plane. For me, that’s a new record. While living in Hong Kong it seemed that we were jetting out as often as possible. But since moving to Okinawa, we’ve just sort of stayed put and nested. I guess that is a good sign, that we don’t…

The beach in the city

Naminoue Beach, the only beach within Naha city limits, is a small but very pleasant patch of sand to go stick your toes in. Situated beneath the scenic Naminoue Shrine, and unfortunately now located under a huge, concrete overpass, it is not a beach that has a good reputation. But hey, I will let you be…

Please don’t go to this place

Under no circumstances should you go to this place, a tiny island off of Okinawa called Aka-Jima. Just trust me, don’t go. You won’t like it. The environment there is so polluted and destroyed, it cannot support any true wildlife. The food at the minshuku, or guest houses, is boring, bland and disgusting. You’re guaranteed…

Yonabaru Giant Tug-of-War

We could hear the festival coming from a distance, starting with the low, mournful sound of huge conch shells being blown, somewhere up the street. Booooooo-eeeee. Booooo-eeeeee. The road had been closed off to vehicles, and a smallish crowd of people were on the sidewalk, waiting, and watching. Then we heard the drums and percussion, and saw…

Tomori Stone Lion

Tucked away on a hill overlooking the quiet agricultural town of Yaese, southern Okinawa, sits the island’s oldest, and perhaps most historically significant, shisa. (Yes yes, ANOTHER post about shisa!! Sorry!) Sometimes Google leads you on an accidental wild goose chase. In my search for information about the origins of shisa, I just happened to…

Legends of the Shisa

It’s only a few minutes away and I drive past it five days a week when I go to school in the morning – an uninteresting looking mound of green grass tucked away behind some yakiniku restaurants and a Family Mart. I had no idea that this tiny hill had such significance! Everyone knows about…

Shuri Castle at Night

Every night, Naha’s most iconic castle gets illuminated after sunset, making its distinctive red colour even more striking. Going to see Shuri Castle in the evening is a great way to beat the relentless heat of summer. Nowadays the sun doesn’t set until almost 8pm, so we got there around 7.30 and were pleasantly surprised…

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…