One of my favorite things to do while traveling and a good reason to travel is food! I love eating and trying new things. The food in Japan was so good. I don’t know how they do it, but the ramen was delightful.
Ramen is distinctive in each region of Japan and the ramen in Kyuhsu, where Kyle and I were at, is made with a pork-bone tonkatsu broth and thin, non-curly noodles. When I think of ramen I think of salt bombs. In my mind ramen is college boy food. But this ramen was something else. The flavor was so light but still present in perfect proportions. The noodles were a bit chewy and there was usually some green onions, the tiniest amount of pork, and only once was there a bit of mushroom in the dish. It was so simple but something that I am now craving.
I almost forgot. One of my favorite ramen places experienced in Japan was a chain called Ichiran. You go in and get a ticket from a vending machine and then sit down in your own “small booth” space. There is a curtain in front of you and dividers on the sides of you. You fill out a card indicating how you would like your ramen. After you hand over your ticket and order card a bowl of steaming hot noodles appears in front of you in less than three minutes. Then you slurp your noodles in silence. And by slurp, I mean slurp! There is no eating ramen without slurping.
One afternoon Kyle and I went to a baseball game in Japan. It was held at the Yahoo Dome.
The dome is in a nice section of the city called Hawks Town. It is close to the ocean and there is a bit of shopping nearby. The game proved to be exciting for about one inning. The first inning. There were 10 points scored in the first inning with the score being eight to two. The home team, the Hawks, were up. The final score of the game was nine to three. It was fun to experience a Japanese baseball game since baseball is the most popular sport in Japan. The best part about the game was the non-stop cheering. This was the most serious cheering I have ever seen. There is a lot of cheering at Korean games but this cheering was major.
There were several men with trumpets, drums, and other instruments who would start and end the cheers. Everyone had thunder sticks and knew the cheers. There was certain ways to wave the thunder sticks and precise times to make noise with them. The cheering did not stop for more than a minute. The men leading the cheers wore different robes depending on who was up to bat and did some serious flag waving with an array of different, heavy-looking and huge flags. I think the cheering was more entertaining than the game.
Everyone also received flags with their admission tickets. Check out my enthusiasm:
1. The city of Fukuoka was beautiful and did feel European. It was well laid out, the transportation was easy, and the city was quiet. A gorgeous canal ran through the city and the amount of bikes and biking were impressive.
2. Ramen, the real thing, was unbelievably delicious. It was so simple and light but ridiculously good.
3. Less English and interest in Americans compared to Korea.
4. Fun times in a nice neighborhood bar with drunk Japanese business men. The conversation was in broken English and I’m just glad Kyle knows a lot about baseball.
5. Speaking of baseball, saw a game at the Yahoo Dome. The Soft Bank Hawks vs. the Lotte Chiba Marines. There was ten runs scored in the first inning and the final score was 9 to 3. The real attraction was the synchronized and constant cheering though.
6. And one more thing right now….I saw the Power Rangers. No joke! And I have the pictures to prove it!
That is hello in Japanese and it’s about the only Japanese word I know!
After an incident with the scooter (I took off a little too fast….) Kyle won’t let me drive it any more. But, that’s okay. We are off to Fukuoka, Japan. Fukuoka is in the southern part of Japan. I am hoping for nice weather and am excited to experience another country. I am expecting it to be cleaner, nicer, maybe more European than Korea?….I guess we’ll see! I think we will also take a day trip to Nagasaki, the second and, to date, the last city in the world to be subjected to a nuclear attack. Japan has a strong reputation to be expensive and the yen is at an all time high right now so I just hoping I don’t come back broke! Oh, and that Kyle will have forgotten the scooter incident by the time we return so I can drive it again.
Vacation was great. Great place, great food = great time! I was waking up real early to eat breakfast because I “had” to eat two lunches per day to get in all the food I wanted to eat. There was American food, Korean food, Greek food, Mexican food, Persian food, sushi, and much more. Of course, there was Filipino food too. The first thing Kyle and I ate upon arriving was quesadillas and a hamburger. Forget to island seafood, we wanted some comfort food!
Other yummy meals were at a Persian restaurant called True Food; they have a great yoga studio upstairs the restaurant. The yoga class overlooks the ocean and is a difficult but rewarding class (a good class to work off the 2-lunch a day regimen). Another great second lunch was a falafel. And then of course there were the afternoon crepes, which were really fresh and delicious. The crepe was cooked and assembled right in front of our eyes and included bananas, chocolate, and ice cream (how could it not be delicious!).
I don’t have many pictures of the food eaten (probably because I devoured it so fast..yum!) but one of my favorite meals that I do have pictures of is lobster and prawns. Kyle had his mind set about a month before we left that we were going to eat lobster. Near the end of the trip I was a little worried that we would not have enough time to eat lobster but we cleared our stomaches and our schedules and fit it in. We were able to pick out the lobster and prawns that we wanted and then they were cooked to our liking. The prawns were gigantic! They were the biggest prawns I had ever seen and the lobster was very colorful but still a bit scary because of its claws! But…once cooked, not so scary. Both the prawns and lobster were perfectly cooked, buttery and delicious. I would have to say that the prawns were my favorite. I still dream about them….aaahhhh…..
Vacation was in Boracay, Philippines, which is an international vacation spot. It’s growing to be a hot spot and is pretty developed for an island in a country is not all that developed. The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands. Boracay was a small island in the middle area of the Philippines (in the visayas: Info about the visayas). Boracay has a 4 km long beach and is developed for pure entertainment and relaxation.
There are hawkers coming around all day trying to sell you any number of boat rides, ATV rides, or other thrilling expeditions. One of my favorite things was taking a sail boat around the whole island. It took about three hours with a stop for snorkeling. It was very thrilling and relaxing at the same time. Here is the boat that I sailed on…the Hanes boat:
There was also plenty of relaxing. Masseuse were available for less than ten dollars per hour to massage you on the beach and the drinks were ridiculously cheap: $1 for a San Miguel beer and $2 for a fresh fruit margarita or daiquiri. I’m not really a margarita or daiquiri girl but these were too delicious to pass up!
Other vacation activities (which I don’t have pictures of..) included jet skiing, sea kayaking, a sunset cruise, visiting the “zoo” and seeing the adorable monkeys, and inter-island tour which included going to the highest point on the mountain to look out over the island, playing scrabble, plenty of book reading, and eating lots of delicious foods. I can’t decide if I miss the beach or the food more! The zoo (small, not really a zoo at all) took place on the inter-island tour and of course K and I forgot the camera. So we went all old fashioned and bought a Polaroid. So I apologize for no monkey pictures!