Saturday, May 04, 2013

Arriving in Okinawa - Japan 2013 trip report part 9

For as long as I've known her, my wife has been trying to get me to Okinawa. She'd apparently taken a trip there when she was younger that sounded similar to a life-changing trip I'd taken to Hawaii many years ago, so I understood. As an American, all I really knew about Okinawa was that it was the scene of a pretty terrible battle in WWII.  But the Japanese think of it differently - it is their Hawaii, and a hugely popular tropical vacation destination. (Of course, like Hawaii or Puerto Rico, native Okinawans apparently have some mixed feelings about the mainland.)

We planned just two days there - enough to get some local flavor, maybe some beach lounging in, and maybe a couple nights just sitting out on our hotel room balcony enjoying the waves like we did in St. Maarten. We really loved the peaceful feeling that gave us, and Okinawa's a similar kind of place.

Unfortunately for us, we were greeted with this:

And that did not stop for the duration of the trip. Well, not until the day we left, of course!

This is the first time we've had weather really mess up our travel plans. And that's including riding out at least two typhoons that I can remember. Tokyo's mostly an indoor city so unless the transit system completely shuts down, it's still possible to do most things no matter what the weather. But Okinawa's an outdoor kind of place - if it rains, you're pretty much screwed.

We did find a few things to do, and I'll write about those in separate posts, along with another post about the food!

Like on St. Maarten, we rented a car in Okinawa - it is pretty much the only real way to get around the main island unless you want to stay completely in Naha (which has a monorail system).

This was our car - a Toyota Allion. An interesting car! I'd requested a compact (and they sure had some on the Budget lot) but inside, this thing was about as big as a Camry. Trunk space, however, was pretty abysmal, and the whole thing seemed pretty stubby. I read later that this car exists basically to satisfy some Japanese legal requirement for offering cars smaller than a mid-size but bigger than a compact, so it ends up being really spacious inside but small on the outside. Anyway, it served us really well and was very comfortable for a tall guy like me. It also didn't constantly rattle like the Hyundai Getz we had in St. Maarten - it felt like a real car.

We stayed at the Kafuu Resort Fuchaku Condo Hotel, which is also an interesting hotel. Just for reference, here's an official photo of the exterior:

Now, I know hotels embellish their photos a bit - I don't mean to sound like a spoiled brat, there's just one point I want to make. Here's a real photo:

Doesn't the official photo make it look like the hotel's right on the beach? Now that I squint, I can see that there's a road there in their photo, but it looks kind of like a hotel service or entrance road. It still looks like you can just hop on over it and be on the beach. In fact, that's a main road and quite busy, and it's down a big hill - it's kind of a trek. Oh, and there's no swimming allowed in that water, because it's used for some kind of fish farming. So, yeah - that was kind of disappointing.

That said, it's still a pretty cool hotel with a great view (if the sun's out). Here's a 180 degree panorama:

And this is the balcony from our room. HUGE balcony. Much bigger than our balcony in St. Maarten. Unfortunately the weather just did not cooperate, and the road is really bothersome. At night it was just wet and sticky out there, and rather than the sound of waves, we had the sound of traffic.

Ganbatte, sun! I see a little patch of water out there getting some rays...

Now, I need to talk about our room, because it was amazing. It was literally a condo, but at a regular hotel price. This hotel has two sides, one condos and the other regular hotel rooms - you can choose either, and there are pros and cons to each side (no room cleaning in the condo, for example). But it seems like what they do is just rent out the unoccupied condos to temporary guests, so you have the full suite of features that anyone living there would have, including separate living and sleeping rooms, a full kitchen, washing machine, etc. We were joking that we could move right in and stay there forever.

That's a panorama shot of the living space only. The bedroom is down the hall to the left. And you should see the shower - it was bigger than one of the bedrooms in my house!

After we dropped off our bags, we headed out to see what we could do in the rain. The first day it rained so hard that we really just couldn't do much of anything - so we went to McDonald's.

That's a Green Tea McFlurry! (With... Oreos in it?)

We did eat some great local Okinawa food and did some cool stuff on day 2, so watch for that soon.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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