Aaaaaaand we’re back in Okinawa for stories about day 3, 4 and 5.
Since I love visiting islands and seeing the nature and culture of it, on the third day we went to Mina island. After a bit of a hustle to get there (taking a taxi to the right ferry port and then the ferry), we set foot on a really small island fairly close to Okinawa main island. The island was kind of abandoned. The one restaurant we saw was closed and the
houses and sheds seemed empty. Well, that meant we could focus more on exploring the island! We walked around three quarters of the island in about I think three hours during which we saw almost everything you could find on tropical islands; large dead crabs, a small mangrove forest, a mud plain where crabs where hiding, beautiful clear white sand beaches, some thick forest and rock beaches. It was beautiful and we had so much fun walking around and exploring the beauty of the place that we almost forgot we could also swim! So at the end of our walk we all jumped in the water and enjoyed the warmth, view and each other before we hopped on the small ferry again to return to Okinawa.
After this we split up again and some of the group went to the aquarium on Okinawa, which is famous for being one of the biggest in the world. I don’t like aquariums, especially not in Japan, since the animals are treated really bad and kept in tanks that are just too small to sometimes even move properly in, so Gabriella, Eva and I went on a walk around the park next to the aquarium. The park was huge. We saw a rebuilt traditional village, ate some ice cream and I secretly picked some local fruits and tried them since the tree was called …. citrus, so I thought it would probably be safe. I later noticed that this was the local fruit of Okinawa and they put it in a lot of drinks and so on for tourists to try. It was delicious, very sour. Wieke, you would like it! If I could’ve I would’ve brought some home for you. Before we met up with the other again, we also encountered something strange; three big tanks in which it looked like dolphins were swimming. We walked towards them and there we were, eye to eye with these sad animals locked up in way too small tanks. It made me sad to watch since these animals are so intelligent. One moment I will never forget. I kneeled in front of the outdoor tank’s glass and watched the animals, when suddenly a huge dolphin appeared in front of me. It stopped while almost passing by and turned its face towards me. About two intense minutes past when the dolphin kept staring me in the eyes, it almost seemed like he was asking me for help. It made me so sad, and when the dolphin disappeared again in his tank, we went back to others while I was rethinking what happened and that I should never forget this moment.
On the fourth day, the thing I was most looking forward to finally happened, we went SNORKELING. It was something that I really wanted to do and was not planning to let go, so I can’t off dragged the others into it, but in the end everyone enjoyed it I think. After visiting pineapple park (don’t look up the pineapple park theme song because it will be stuck in your head forever) and eating a huge pineapple parfait, we took a takushi and a bus to a small harbour where our instructor, Daisuke-san, was waiting for us. Most of us put on our wetsuits and snorkelling gear and there we went on a small boat filled with Japanese people, to the blue caves about 10 minutes away. The snorkelling there was good, the animals were beautiful and it was cool to recognise some fish that I had seen in Borneo and Thailand. I think it was mostly being back underwater that excited me, since the actual corals and fish were not as beautiful as I’ve seen them in other parts of Asia. Also, I didn’t like that the feed the fish to attract them for the tourist. To me this is not how it’s supposed to be, in some way you disturb an ecosystem by keeping fish around and alive even though the naturally maybe shouldn’t be. But all in all it was so much fun and it was great to see everyone enjoy it, especially because for some it was the first time. After 50 minutes we had to get out of the water and we returned to the restaurant where we went on the second night.
-Actually, I forgot to tell you in the last blog, but the restaurant owner asked us on the first night how we were going back to the hotel. We answered that we were walking and he replied that was a really bad idea with the very poisonous snakes around. So he insisted on bringing us in the back of his truck and he brought us to the hotel, which was amazing and so friendly. –
This time, we ordered some good food and had an amazing time. The owner recognised us and asked me whether the vegetarian food was good, which it really was. At the end of the meal he surprised us again with some Okinawan doughnuts and apologised that he couldn’t bring us to the hotel this time since he only had his small car. We gave him a postcard, on which we wrote our name, country and a thank you message, with a small present and then said goodbye for the last time when we left the restaurant. Half way through our walk home, we saw a car’s headlights and we moved to the side of the road as the car stopped. It rolled down the window and the, I assume, cook’s wife held up a pen saying one of us forgot it. We were all stunned that she came all this way for Eva’s simple pen and we thanked her about a thousand times when she turned and went back. Wow, the friendliness of Okinawan people is something you will hardly find anywhere else in the world. It was amazing.
The next day we went to Naha early in the morning where we spend our last day. We walked around, checked out a fish market at the harbour (where they sold WHALE) and then split up for dinner. The others wanted to eat shabu shabu where they had almost just meat so Hassan (who only eats hallal meat) and I decided to insist on them going for shabu shabu while we would try to find something else. We walked through a street you could call a tourist trap and saw some really Japanese things again, like a giant Pickachu entertaining and hugging kids with around 30 adults taking pictures. While through some smaller alleys around the big street we found a pizza restaurant where we had some nice pizza. After that we went back to meet the others, went to the airport and arrived around 1 in the morning in Osaka where we spent the night at the airport.
All in all it was an amazing trip. I hope I was able to help you imagine what Okinawa is like and to inspire you to go there sometime, because it’s beautiful.