Back home to Melbourne - Day 1

After some long flights and long layovers, i'm back home in Okinawa, on a recuperating day off and I can't wait to get started on the Melbourne re-cap! The reason I went to Melbourne, was for a conference, and it was doubly a perfect opportunity to meet up with all my favourite people and eat my favourite foods!

I flew back home with DragonAir/Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong and had a 6 hour layover in Hong Kong Airport, which was not too bad because I managed to get tasty food as well as find a comfy bar to while away the time. I was so surprised though by how crazy expensive everything was in the airport! I ended up spending the equivalent of about $50AUD on a neck pillow, but it was so so worth it. Can't believe how long i've lasted in my life flying internationally without one!

Australia is so red!
Taiwan noodle soup and tsingtao

Anyway, as soon as I got to Melbourne, I taxied to my hotel in Chinatown, had a quick shower and changed before racing out to meet up with my friend Aaron for a couple of beers. We used to teach English in Japan together 8-9 years ago, and have been the best of friends since then. We started at a new-ish bar called Ferdydurke, which is in a laneway in Chinatown. I was desperate for my favourite Australian beer, Stone and Wood Pacific Ale, which they didn't have so I randomly chose another beer called Easy Rider, which actually tasted quite similar, so I was really happy. We chatted, got some piroshkis, which are polish dumpling things and were delicious.

View from my hotel room balcony - Punt Hill Apartments Little Bourke



Ferdyduke bar

The bar was lovely and sunny

This beer was a delicious choice for my first one back in Australia

Looking down on the bar next door - Section 8

Catching up with Aaron

After Ferdydurke, I still had a bit of time to kill before meeting other friends, so we went to a mexican place on Lonsdale street for some chips, guac and margaritas! I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it though. Mmm.

Blood orange margarita
After meeting with Aaron, I headed out to my old stomping ground, Brunswick East, to meet some friends as well as a puppy! We went to the B. East on Lygon street, which has amazing vegan and non-vegan food, but one of my friends is a vegan so it's perfect! We basically just picked a bunch of different things and shared them all. I was super tired by this stage though, so it wasn't a late night, and I had to be up early for the first day of conferencing the next day.

Wilco the puppy

Vegan foods - Poutine, popcorn "chicken", Mac and cheese bombs (not vegan), and two vegan burgers.

Blog break - Melbourne

This week you won't be seeing any blog posts from me (not including this one!). That's because I'm currently in Melbourne for a work conference! I'm so happy to be home and am taking lots of photos and trying to be a tourist in my own city. There will be many Melbourne posts starting next week when I'm home.

Life lately- November

I can't believe that we're already over halfway through November and that in two months I will have been in Okinawa for a year already! Time really has flown. We haven't been up to too much recently. The weather has finally started to cool down and there is a chill in the air at night, and the humidity seems to finally be on its way out. Our weekends have involved shopping, tidying and relaxing, with a few play dates thrown in for good measure. 

In good news, I FINALLY got my Japanese drivers licence! It's such a huge relief as I feel like my life has been a bit of a Japanese administrative nightmare recently, and this was my third visit to try to exchange my licence, which I need to do before my international drivers licence expires at the start of January. Basically, as someone with an Australian licence, I don't need to go through any driving tests and can just exchange my licence (sound easy right? - WRONG), but the licence centre needed so much particular information to prove that I had in fact stayed in Australia for more than 90 days since receiving my licence (seems easy right? - WRONG again). Anyway, i'm just so relieved to finally have jumped that hurdle.

In other good news, next week I will be in Australia for a conference! Ever since I found out I would be going I have been planning catch ups with friends, and thinking about all the amazing food I am going to eat that I have been missing these past 10 months. And the exciting thing is that we will all be back in Melbourne again over the Christmas for almost 2 weeks. Lots of Australia in the next couple of months.

Sumo on TV is the best.
Lazy cat

Ollie got a haircut!

Taco salad - Basically we replace the actual taco with salad and it is delicious, and still has a crunch factor. Healthy and delicious!

I learned how to make origami shuriken

rainy day
Beach weather!
Beach pup
Delicious peach booze
Cafe Doka Doka with it's gorgeous view

Finally! I got my drivers licence in Japan!

Ukishima Garden Naha - Vegan Restaurant

While we were in Naha for our little stay-cation I did a bit of research on where we would go out for dinner when we arrived. We decided to try Ukishima Garden, which is vegan and had an amazing looking menu. Let's just say that it exceeded expectations and we went back for lunch the next day, and will definitely be back in the future!

At night, the atmosphere is lovely and a bit romantic, so would be great for a date night. We ordered our drinks (their wines are organic and delicious) and looked at the menu to decide what to eat. We ordered the vegan caprese salad, which was just like your typical tomato, basil and mozzarella salad, except instead of the cheese, it was tofu. I was a little apprehensive about how this was going to taste, but actually the tofu tasted AMAZING and if I closed my eyes I would be fooled into thinking it was mozzarella. It was the highlight dish of the night. We also ordered a vegan carbonara pasta, vegan tsukune meatballs, and some miso onigiri (for the little guy). G actually loved the tsukune meatballs, so I barely got a taste of those. Everything was delicious and even non-vegans would love this place. I was so excited about the food that the only photo I got was of the caprese salad! oops!


Lovely and much needed organic booze

They have a cute little section of things you can buy

I love bubbles!

Vegan Caprese Salad - Tofu, Basil and Tomato
The next day after wandering around Kokusai dori, we were looking for somewhere to lunch, and it happened that we were right near Ukishima Garden again, so we didn't hesitate to go back again. The lunch menu is completely different to the dinner menu. We shared the vegetable curry and the creamy vegetable soup, both delicious. If I had to choose between lunch and dinner, I would choose dinner, but both were delicious. We sat outside for lunch, which was great because it meant G could have a little explore in their garden and we didn't have to worry about him being a bit noisy. 

If you are curious about their menu, you can find both the lunch and dinner menu's on their website. If you're ever in Naha, it's worth making an effort to try this place. 

This guy was perfect all weekend

Gorgeous outdoor seating
Creamy vegetable soup

Veggie curry

This palm was huge!

Naha Stay-cation part 2

After our night and morning in at the Hyatt Regency Naha, we headed out to explore the town. Firstly, we wanted to treat our child for being such an amazingly behaved child at our late night dinner, so we took him for a ride on the monorail. Anyone who knows G, knows that he loves all forms of transport. He was pretty damn happy to get to ride on a new form of transport. 

After the monorail, we hopped off at Kencho-mae station next to the Ryubo shopping mall. We had a look around at all the lovely expensive things there as well as Muji then headed out to wander up Kokusai-dori. Kokusai-dori is the main street in Naha, where there are a heap of shops and restaurants. I'd say 80% of the shops are souvenir places, so we didn't really look in any of them, but it was nice to just wander. 

Eventually we were hungry for lunch, and decided to go back to Ukishima Garden again because it was so amazing the night before, we wanted to try their lunch menu. I will be doing a separate post about this restaurant in a couple of days because it was just so good. 

We spent the rest of our time in Naha wandering the shops and alleyways until we were all exhausted and made the drive back home. Now having finally spent some time in Naha, we will definitely be back again for some more getaways, when we need some time away from our sleepy village.

So many shops packed with souvenirs
Tropical fruits

Kokusai Dori

Walking to the monorail station

Pretty building

Waiting for the monrail

This guy was pretty excited to tick another mode of transport off the list.
Don't catch your fingers in the door!

More souvenirs

spotted in an alleyway
One of the many covered side alleys

Naha Staycation Part 1

This past weekend, we went for an impromptu last minute mini-break to Naha. Even though we've now been living in Okinawa for 10 months, i've still spent no time in Naha (the airport doesn't count right?). I'm not really sure why, because it's the biggest city in Okinawa (and I love cities!), and it's only a 45 minute drive away.

We splurged on the Hyatt Regency (because I LOVE a fancy hotel), and it didn't disappoint. By the time we got to Naha after work, it was already 7pm, so we parked out car in one of those futuristic carparks where your car goes into a garage, door closes and car disappears to the abyss, then quickly dropped our stuff in our room and headed out to dinner. We went to an absolutely amazing vegan place called Ukishima Garden, which i will do a separate post on, because it was some of the best food i've had in Okinawa. 

Where does the car go?
Our room
The next morning we woke up to beautiful weather and lovely views of the Naha skyline. G loved sitting in the window and staring out at all the buildings. We then decided to splurge again, and go down to the hotel buffet breakfast. I was highly amused by the sign for something called Eggslut, however i've now been advised that it wasn't a case of Engrish translation, but it's actually a thing! Who knew! I'll be posting a couple more installments of our mini stay-cation this week so stay tuned!

Good Morning Naha
Even Phoebe the cat was enjoying the view

Apparently Eggslut is a thing?
It was not good....