Yesterday morning, I returned home from the last leg of my amazing holiday! In 18 days, I spent a week each in Japan and the Philippines, with a couple short visits to Macau and a few days at home in between. Now, it's back to work, but I'm feeling refreshed, if not completely rested.
My first trip took me to Okinawa, where a college friend lives with his wife (they're practically family). He's stationed there with the USMC (Which does not stand for US Military, as the Japanese immigration authorities thought, but United States Marine Corps.). Although Oki is a subtropical island, it was definitely their winter weather, with chilly temps and drizzle for most of the visit. We did get one blessedly sunny morning/afternoon, which was providentially the day we went to the beach, for which I was thankful. The couple I was visiting is expecting a baby, and I was privileged to be present at an ultrasound. Wow. It was amazing to hear the baby's heartbeat and see it moving on the screen.
I ate a lot of delicious Japanese food, and one of my favorite things was the ramen egg - a marinated boiled egg with a luscious, jelly-like yolk. Yum!!! I also enjoyed soba, udon, donburi, and some sushi! I came to the conclusion that Japanese food is great. Yep. Pretty much.
Unfortunately for my adventurous palate, the won-to-yen rate wasn't terribly friendly... I've had to learn the hard lesson that the won, no matter how stable and trustworthy, isn't respected in other countries... So sad.
I did a lot of shopping in Japan, mostly looking around in touristy stores at nearly-identical contents... the best shops, I think, are the ones with candy - lots and lots of different candy! One store my friend showed me had a wide variety of salts, which was very cool!! I brought home some green tea, hibiscus, and melon salts, as well as some coarse salt. At that store, I also tried salty ice cream. It was good!! You were able to add different flavor salts to create unique creamy tastes. I also got to do a bit of shopping at a commissary, and picked up some great American favorites, including grits, nutty buddies, and pork rinds! At the Japanese grocery store, I picked up rice seasonings, instant ramen, and amazing pink ginger (closer to scarlet than pink...). I also found some cute stationery (a must in every Asian country, seriously!), and now I need to purpose to do something with all the stationery I'm stockpiling... (One of my primary ideas is to make birthday notes for all my students... We'll see if I follow through with it...)
Next time, I will write about the Philippines and Macau, perhaps Macau will get its own post!
Signing off until then!