Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Okinawa a-go-go!

From Sept 27-30, Natsumi and I flew down to the island of Kumejima, in south-western Okinawa. We caught our flight out of Haneda (Tokyo) Airport at 1:40 pm, and landed in sunny Kumejima at around 4:00pm. The first thing I noticed about the place was how truly isolated it really was. We had passed over the main island of Okinawa and its capital Naha, on the way down. Naha seemed to be a fairly densely populated place, and looked to have all the amenities of home. Kumejima, however, was a completely different story.

We caught a taxi and headed to our hotel, located at Eef beach, on the eastern side of the island. All the raods were so narrow, and it was the forst time on "Japan" that I saw old, run-down cars, something I would never see in Tokyo. The hotel was right on the beach, and was fairly decent. As soon as we dumped our bags, we set out for a walk down the 2km long beach. The daily temperature in September still hovers around the 30 degree mark, with none of the humidity that the main islands of Japan have to deal with. After that we headed to a local restaurant to try some local fare, which was very interesting.

Day 2 involved nothing but serious R n R. We enjoyed a nice buffet breakfast, and then headed straight for the beach. I had managed to get a bit of a tan over the summer, but it had since faded, so I quickly became a victim of the powerful Okinawan sun. Regardless, the beach was absolutely great, the water was super warm (almost like bathwater), and we were able to snorkel and see many cool and colorful fish. That night we sat out on our balcony chatting and drinking the local beer, Orion beer.

We had originally planned to go scuba diving on the 3rd day, but we decided instead to take a day trip to another small island called "Hate no hama". That morning at around 9am, we left Kumejima harbour and headed east by boat for about 45 mins. The "island" that we got to wasn't really and island at all, it was really just a gloified sandbar. That said, it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The island itself would only have been about 300m x 100m at most. There were no trees or buildings of any kind, just crudely made shelters to get out of the sun under. Standing on that little island, you could get a 360 degree panoramic view of the ocean, and see Kumejima on one side, and the main island of Okinawa on the other. The beach was all white sand, and the water was truly amazing. I will try and upload the pics and video of this place shortly, so check the links out. We stayed there until about 4pm, just relaxing, swimming, laughing, eating, and generally just chilling the f*** out. Paradise.

The fourth and final day, we headed down to the beach early, and chilled out until about 2pm. After that we had o head to the airport and head back. Our flights were a bit later this time, so we didn't get back to Tokyo until about 11pm. This posed a bit of a problem, as we were going to be cutting it super close to make it home before the trains stopped running. After a bit of running, and a bit of stress (admittedly brought on by my frustration of being rushed, as anyone who knows me can attest to) we managed to make it to Kita-Senju. Unfortunately, we missed the last train to Kasukabe, so were stuck there for the night. As a cheap alternative to a hotel, we rented a "room" at a local Manga Kissa (Manga and Internet cafe). For about $15 cdn, we could stay in a room with a sofa, computer, and free drink bar, a more than acceptable alternative to a $100 hotel room. We caught a train at 6am, and were back at my place in kasukabe by 7am. The trip was fast and furious, but it was a great time. Check out my pics and videos, they should be up soon. Now where's the aloe-vera, I need to sooth this sunburn and take care of these damn raccoon eyes...

To see the photos, click here.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Sounds like you had a great time in Okinawa. I've lived here for 2 years now and it is a beautiful part of the world. It sounds like you didn't manage to dive in Oki while you stayed here. That's a shame as the water is beautiful (as I'm sure you know) and there is some of the best diving in Asia here.

Well, if you ever return and need a dive buddy, be sure to get in touch. I'd be happy to show you around Okinawa's beautiful underwater world.