Okinawa day 3: Back to Naha city

Today we slept until the alarm rang at 7:30 am. This time there was no loud pecking sound to wake us up. Knowing that I still needed to pack my luggage, I quickly changed. There wasn’t really much to pack because we only stayed two nights at Minshuku Sendan so most of the stuff were still in the luggage. I finished my packing so fast that even I was amazed by myself.

Breakfast was as good as yesterday’s. We took our time to enjoy the delicious food. Yesterday, we took about one hour to eat breakfast, but according to Bell we took even longer to finish breakfast today. Yesterday, the owners played a CD while we were having breakfast. Today, they played the same CD and Bell said that it had finished playing all the songs we heard yesterday and had started a new song.

Today we had rice cooked with green peas, which made Bell very happy. Bell loves eating rice in the morning. Both of us asked for a refill.

We had sauteed pork with onions. The wife told us that the pork was from a local black pig. The pork was tender and the onions were cooked until soft. The sauce was sweet and savory with a bit of ginger flavor. It was very tasty and went well with the rice.

There were some finely sliced seaweed and radish which was tasty.

There was also Japanese egg roll. Unfortunately, it was not the sweet version I like, but it was still tasty. There was also papaya salad on the side. The wife told us that the papaya was grown in their garden.

Each of us were given two pieces of pork marinated in miso. The meat was a bit hard and the miso too salty to eat on its own. But it was just nice when I took a bit of miso and ate it with a mouthful of rice.

And of course, like yesterday, there were fruits and yogurt. So the breakfast still felt healthy even though we ate a lot. I thought the selection of dishes was good. The husband seemed to take into account which dishes would go well together when planning our meals. Yesterday’s breakfast dishes were more suitable to eat with porridge while the today’s dishes were better with rice.

After breakfast, we played with Charlie and Nora for a while as we would not see them again. Nora immediately laid down beside me and gave me her belly to rub. She seemed to know the routine well. I’m not sure who was the well-trained one here, me or her. When I stopped rubbing, either because my arm was tired or when I got distracted talking to Bell, Nora would hit my hand with her paw, as if to say, “Hey, pay attention when rubbing my tummy! Don’t stop! It feels so good!”

We checked out at 10 am and paid our bill for dinner. We tried to give the wife the box of biscuits we bought at the aquarium. However, the wife refused to take it. She said, “No, no, no! It’s easy for us to buy it as we live here. You bring it back to give your family and friends. Next time when you come, you can bring something from Singapore.”

When the wife said that, I could not help thinking, “You want the pandan cake isst?” For some reason, foreign visitors to Singapore seemed to like the pandan cake a lot. On my flight from Singapore to Taiwan, I saw many people carrying many boxes of pandan cakes. Bell and I could not understand why the pandan cake is so popular. It was so common in Singapore that it was no big deal. But perhaps because we could get the cake so easily and cheaply in Singapore, it wasn’t as big an attraction for us compared to the foreign visitors.

The husband had already left to go to the market in town to buy supplies for the next guests’ meals. So the wife drove us to the Hotel Mahaina Wellness Resort where we could wait for the express bus back to Naha city. Even though we told her that we could walk to the bus stop, the wife insisted on sending us off. It was nice of her as I’m sure she had a busy day ahead. There would be six guests arriving today, so she had a lot of work to do.

We left Minshuku Sendan early even though the bus was scheduled for 11 am, because we did not want to get in the way of the owners’ preparations for the next group of visitors. So we had to wait quite a while for the bus. There was a souvenir shop in the hotel, but it was pretty small, so it didn’t take us a lot of time to finish viewing it. We did not want to sit in the hotel lobby either because we were not able to see the bus stop. So in the end, we just stood at the bus stop, which was only a simple sign. It was a very sunny day so we stood in the shade. Even though I was in the shade, the sunlight was so strong that my transition lens turned dark. It turned darker than it ever got when I was in Singapore, which just goes to show how strong the UV rays were in Okinawa.

The express bus arrived on time, just three minutes earlier. This time it was a different driver, one that is younger and more cheery. Seeing that we had luggage with us, he quickly got off the bus and helped us put it in the storage compartment. Then we got on the bus, all ready for our two hour bus ride back to Naha city.

Although there were some stops for the express bus in the city, we decided to take it all the way back to the final stop at Naha Airport instead. The journey would be longer, but it would be easier than having to keep a lookout for unfamiliar bus stops. We got off at the domestic terminal and the helpful driver came to help us unload the luggage. Since we were already there, we decided to take a look inside the domestic terminal.

The domestic terminal is much bigger than the international terminal. It also looked more modern and new than the international terminal. There was an area filled with lots of souvenir shops selling local produce and snacks. There were a greater variety of snacks than at the rather small souvenir shop at the international terminal. As we were not feeling hungry, we decided to skip lunch and head directly to our hotel.

View from our hotel room. Click on the image above for the wallpaper version (2673 x 1176 px)

We would be staying at Hotel Tokyu Bizfort Naha, which was very near the monorail station. From the airport, we took the monorail to Asahibashi Station. According to instructions from the hotel, there was a linked walkway from the station to the hotel. We found the link from the monorail to a building opposite. The link brought us to the second floor of 南部合同庁舎 but we couldn’t figure out where to go from there. Should we continue walking on the second floor or go down to the ground floor? Luckily, while we were looking at the map, a security guard came up. He offered to show us the way and led us to the hotel lobby.

I pulled my luggage along, but I thought the wheels sounded quite loud as it rolled over the tiles. I tried to stay as far back as possible so that I would not deafen Bell and the security guard. Apparently I stayed too far back because the security guard turned and asked Bell whether we were friends. He showed us to the elevator which would bring us to the hotel lobby on the 4th floor. We got into the elevator with some other people. For some reason, both of us had difficulty finding the button for the lobby. Luckily a woman noticed our confusion and she pressed the correct button for us, which was labelled “L”. Boy, did we feel stupid afterwards.

A short-haired lady at the reception counter attended to us. Her English was very good and we were quite glad that we could understand her perfectly. Then she directed us to the self-payment machine near the reception. She helpfully stood next to us and guide us through the process. I wondered what was the point of having the self-payment machine if the staff had to assist every guest. It sort of defeated the purpose, yes?

I took out three ¥10,000 notes and was going to slide them into the slot one by one, but the lady said I could just insert all of the notes at the same time. So I did. I was impressed that the machine could count the notes correctly and give me the correct change back. It also gave us our hotel room key card and breakfast vouchers. So cool! I’ve always liked to buy things from vending machines. This was similar enough to a vending machine for me to get a kick out of it. Bell was quite amused at my excitement.

Our hotel room looked comfortable and clean. It was small but not as small as I had expected. Our room was quite warm and felt a bit stuffy. I found warm air coming out of the vents and realized that because it was winter, the centralized system had changed to heating instead of cooling. We had to open the window to let in some cool air.

Canal beside Asahibashi Station

After we had rested and freshened up, we took the monorail to Makishi station, which was right at one end of the Kokusai Shopping Street. There were many shops along the street. Some were typical souvenir shops selling a variety of local produce and snacks. There were also clothing and accessories shops, some novelty shops and restaurants. Bell felt that the street was a bit touristy, but I pointed out that it was no more touristy than our own shopping street in Singapore, Orchard Road.

We had dinner at a steakhouse called Yakiniku Kokusai. We were attended to by a Chinese staff who spoke to us in Mandarin.

The steak came with a salad with a tangy, sweetish dressing. It was quite nice.

The steak was tender and flavorful, although a bit fatty. I was surprised that the steak came with a mountain of bean sprouts. I really hate bean sprouts, but since I had paid for them, I thought that I should eat some. I took some that were soaked in the meat’s oil and juices into my mouth. I chewed. I swallowed. Okay, they were not that bad, mainly because they were covered in the more tasty flavors of meat, oil and smoke. I ate about a quarter of it before I started to feel a bit sick. “Okay, that’s enough bean sprouts. I’m starting to feel nauseous,” I said. Then I went back to attacking the meat with great delight and relief.

The steak came with a bowl of rice. Because the steak was fatty, it was very nice to eat it with a mouthful of rice. Although the experience felt somewhat tiring because I had to keep changing utensils, from fork and knife to chopsticks and back again.

We also had sea grapes. This time they came with some vinegar to dip in. After eating the sea grapes three times with different dips, I found that I liked the way Minshuku Sendan served it best.

We found a department store along Kokusai Street and went to the basement to buy a slice of strawberry cake to share for supper. The cake was soft and creamy. The cream tasted a bit buttery. I liked it, but Bell didn’t as she felt it was too heavy.

We also bought some snacks from the Lawson outlet near our hotel. It was a big outlet so it had a good selection. Bell and I ate the snacks while we watched TV. We enjoyed the interesting variety shows and dramas, even though most of the time we had to guess what they were saying.

Bell had the sesame bun which she said was quite nice.

I had the pizza bun which was surprisingly tasty. The filling was tomato sauce, cheese and onions. The tangy tomato sauce made it quite appetizing and the savory filling just made me feel hungrier.

We also shared a piece of crunchy fried chicken. It was a little spicy and quite tasty. Bell liked it so much that she regretted sharing the chicken with me and said, “I’m going to buy a whole piece for myself tomorrow.”

I rolled my eyes. I replied, “This from the person who kept saying she wasn’t feeling well since the start of the trip. If you feel sick after eating too much fried chicken, I’m going to laugh in your face.”

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One thought on “Okinawa day 3: Back to Naha city

  1. Such a great blog! Headed to Okinawa at the end of the month. Thank you, I’m so excited after reading your posts!

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