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…

Hiking the Olympic Trail

When the first week of January presents you with 22’C and a perfect blue sky, there’s no way you can spend your day indoors. So we grabbed our Bush Baby (that’s the name of the baby carrier, not our nickname for the kid), filled up some water bottles, strapped on running shoes, and headed out…

A Very Expat Christmas

Just because you’re a million miles from home with no family around, there’s no need to feel lonely on Christmas day. You simply assemble all the other eager expats and celebrate with your friends, of course!

Chinee Parang

“Chinee parang, Chinee parang, Chinee parang, Gimme Char Siu Kai Fan”….. Are you offended yet?

I guess I need to go buy a tree after all

It’s been about eight years since I’ve ‘done’ Christmas. But now that I have a kid, I might have to shed the Scrooge McDuck disguise and put on a Santa hat instead. Tis the season to be merry, right?

Once Upon a Time in Tokyo

Tokyo is not a particularly pretty place. It consists of miles and miles and miles of prefabricated houses, stretching as far as the eye can see, on a mostly flat area of land. But if you want to see what Tokyo looked like before it got burned to the ground during World War II, all you have to do is go to Kawagoe.

Three Things to do in Saitama, Japan

If Tokyo is the hot blooded, sexy, pulsating supermodel of Japan, Saitama is its buck-toothed, slightly chubby, less attractive sister. But that doesn’t mean there is anything to do. Here’s a list of fun things to do if you happen to have to spend some time in the kanji-less prefecture…

Spirited Away in Gunma

You get this spooky feeling sometimes in Japan once you get out of the big cities and into the countryside. The Japanese countryside, with its traditional style wooden farmhouses and picture perfect rice paddies, is incredibly beautiful and scenic, but it doesn’t take long to realise that something is missing from the picture — people.

Share a Coke with Chan Jao-Yiu

There’s been a lot of fuss recently about the Coca-Cola cans that have people’s names on them. The can craze has finally reached Hong Kong, but with a twist.

Mellowing out in the Maldives

It’s not something that one often gets to say, unless you are fabulously wealthy and have a private jet, so I’m going to take the opportunity to say the following sentence because I may never get to do so again… “I woke up this morning and decided to fly to the Maldives tomorrow”.

Be careful what you wish for

As I sat there at the remote Cape Bise in northern Okinawa, with the sun setting, the warm sun on my shoulders, and a cold Orion beer in my hand, I felt I could stay there forever. And ever. And ever.