A Travellerspoint blog

Konichiwa, Okinawa

The first part of life in Okinawa, Japan

-17 °C

I arrived in Okinawa in late March, which is a good time of the year for weather. Its fairly cool and not very rainy. I immediately got an apartment on the sea wall.

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Okinawa is about 60 miles long and not more than 10 miles wide in most places. To break it down, the south part of the island is where the capital city, Naha is located. Kadena Air Base, which I lived close to, is located in the South central. The north part of the island, away from the cities, is by far the prettiest.
Donnie, my roommate, and I spent most of our first few weekends traveling around the island. We first went to the aquarium grounds, which are fantastic. There are dolphin shows and a lot of sea life to see outside, all of which are free. 317331619JRODQy_ph.jpg
Once work kicked in, most of my time was spent hanging out with friends and enjoying good sushi. I know I'll never again be able to eat fresh fish at those prices again.
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Later in the year, my friend Chris and I trained for and ran the Naha marathon. It was amazing. There were over 20k runners. The support from the community really kept me going. There were kids handing out drinks and giving high fives, people dressed in funny costumes, and rock concerts all along the course. After the marathon, I started doing triathlons with Chris and later with my friend Frank. I'll continue with triathlons once I get back to the states.

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Posted by metke 20:50 Comments (0)

Anyeong Haseyo!

My first trip to Korea: March 2005

semi-overcast 23 °C

I asked my travel adviser at Goodfellow AFB, Texas, "Where can I stop en route to Okinawa and not pay anything?" The answer, "Korea." I said goodbye to my folks at Sea-Tac airport around 9 AM on March 15th, 2005 (this was the 2nd attempt, I missed the flight the day before) and left for the longest solo trip I had ever taken. After watching almost the entire first season of Arrested Development, I arrived in Seoul. If you don't know much about Korea, you will likely want to ask me the following questions: Q1) Were you in North or South Korea? A: South. The DMZ divided the country in 1953 and has made travel between the two countries virtually impossible for ordinary people. Q2) What are the jungles like? A) That's Vietnam. Korea is mountainous with deciduous vegetation.
At around 10 million people, Seoul is one of the largest cities in the world and is the Republic Of Korea's (ROK) powerhouse. I had help arranging the trip before I left and had a hotel and tour already lined up. My first day started off with the "American" breakfast which consisted of eggs, a hotdog and french fries. That interpretation of our diet isn't unique to Korea-I've enjoyed it in Japan and Thailand too!
Anyway, my first stop was the Gyeongbak palace in Northern Seoul. 317331339YMSQFU_ph.jpg
It's pretty fantastic. It was the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty and built around the year 1400. It was burned down by the Japanese 2 times during various invasions, but has been reconstructed very well. I spent the rest of my day exploring different parts of the city via the subway.
I woke up the next day and ordered the Korean breakfast, which consisted of Kimchi (fermented cabbage) and some fish soup. To my immature pallet, this wasn't much of an improvement over yesterday's breakfast. My tour group picked me up and we left for the Korean folk village. Its supposed to be a recreation of old Korea and, true to form, is very cheesy. My favorite part was lying on the punishment block and getting hit by a Korean kid with a piece of wood.

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I met some English teachers there and we agreed to meet at a bar in Itaewon, the westerner friendly district, later that night. Luckily, they were not the last English teachers I'd meet in Seoul...
I spent the next 2 days exploring Seoul via subway. I then took a bus to Osan AB and caught a plane to my final destination, Okinawa, Japan!

Posted by metke 07.02.2008 20:57 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

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