Oh finally yesssss. I arrived. Cant say that this is the only highlight of my trip – but it is definitely one of them. Cause who knows anything about Okinawa islands???
Its part of Japan – yes. Let me share u some dry datas about this place. Its not just Okinawa Islands actually but it called the Southwest Islands – a chain of semitropical coral-fringed islands. It was a separate country for most of their history so the Ryukyu (dynasty with strong kingdom) cultural heart still strongly beat there. This what gives a pretty magical vibe (especially listening their local dialects). The climate is more than perfect – no real winter (u still can see snow-capped peaks), always around 20-30 degrees. I visited the main island in April and had no weather issues (except one sad rainy day) – i could swim in the sea like a real mermaid. Paradise.
So plenty of pretty islands to visit – Osumi Islands, Amami Islands, Okinawa-Honto, Kerama Islands, Kume-Jima, Miyako Island etc etc… I picked Okinawa because one of my old friend ChefMiki suggested to visit ‘as her most favourite place’ in the whole country. Now it became mine as well.
There was only one issue – unfortunately pretty big. I could not rent a car how i was planning before. There is a very strict driving licence policy in Okinawa Island (i think in the whole country) – as my licence is hungarian i needed to get another ‘international driving licence’. This is pretty straight forward till this point. But…:
“Be careful, however, Japan only recognises International Driving Permits based on the 1949 Geneva Convention. International Driving Permits conforming to the model of the Vienna Convention or other conventions are not valid. Before arriving in Japan you must obtain your International Driving Permit from the national Automobile Association in the country which issued your licence.”
I did not know about this Geneva things – i just went to the Government Window in my hometown and they gave me ‘one international driving permit’. OBVIOUSLY in Hungary they issue only the one after the Vienna Convention – not the Geneva one. GREAT!!!! So i could not fight aganst the whole system – i had to accept not having a car to discover the whole island. Which was pretty shame – as soooo many things i could not see and visit and try – as i was depending on buses. Anyway. Happened.
So the weather in the mainland was not too bad – but when i landed in Okinawa just got hit by this warm tropical wind and the smell of salted sea. Gorgeous feeling. Get sweaty pretty quick while looking for the bus to take me to the central of Naha (capital). Be aware – there is no bus in every 10 minutes – not even every half hour. My flight was landed around 7pm and i think i waited for the very last bus for more than an hour. (of course taxis everywhere not to save money lol). Also there is one and only Monorail – one ride starts from 200yen. Good and fun to take when u have longer way to go (like when i visited the Shuri-jo Castle) but expensive just for one stop. So i took the bus and was not difficult finding My Place Guest House close to the Fishing Harbour.
Before i move on… i have to say how happy i was staying in this Hostel. The guys were just sooooo damn nice and helping me sooooo much. They booked me a snorkeling trip for the first day, than when they knew about my ‘unable to rent a car’ situation they helped me sort out some travel plans to be able to see as much as possible up North (not charging me to cancel some nights) plus when i got back they ‘upgraded’ my dorm to a private room because i was lucky and they had a cancellation. SO THEY ARE HELL NICE GUYS! Recommended big time. Also the hostel was clean and full of easy going (mostly) Americans and Europians.
That was my first day basically. I found a great place to have dinner – was looking for the ‘most authentic okinawan’ eatery – and i def found it. A 24 hours kitchen where u buy your food and beer from a machine (like all around Japan) for like no money and u can still smoke inside and watch the news from the TV. I sat next to a man who spoke little english but helped me choose my dinner – a famous stir fry ‘goya champuru’ with bitter melon and local pork sausages. It came in a whole menu i wasnt expected – some tuna sashimi, bowl of rice, egg omlette, soup, stir fry and another bowl of a weird porridge like cream.
Of course i COULD NOT FINISH – and it cost like 800yen with a big beer. Dolce vita. LOL.