Monday, 27 June 2016

Okinawa 4-Day Itinerary: Day Three

Read Day 1 here - Cape Manzamo (万座毛), Churaumi Aquarium
Read Day 2 here - Ocean Expo Park, snorkeling in Blue Cave, Sunset Beach
Read Day 3 here - Okinawa World, Gyokusendo Cave (玉泉洞)
Read Day 4 here - Shuri Castle (首里城)

Gyokusendo Cave at Okinawa World
Behind Kokusai-dori, I found one of my favourite food places of this trip. It was recommended to us by a friend who raved about the spam and egg onigiri she had there. Spam and egg rice sandwich is popular in Okinawa and is similar to the Hawaiian spam musubi. This shop is located across from C and C Breakfast (it’s on Google maps).

C and C Breakfast
Shop across from C and C Breakfast
I got a mentaiko (seasoned cod roe) one and a goya tempura (bitter gourd one). The salted seaweed, warm rice, sizzling spam, fluffy egg wrapped around the extra filling was a delicious experience in every bite. I was afraid the goya would be too bitter but it wasn’t and tempura style made it even better. I thoroughly enjoyed this meal which we brought back to the hostel to eat. There is no sitting area in this small shop so you can only takeaway. It’d be a great option to buy for a road trip before driving out of Naha to other parts of the island.

Mentaiko spam and egg rice sandwich
Goya tempura spam and egg rice sandwich
It started out as another hot and sunny 30 C day but began to rain in the afternoon. We went to look for the Naha bus terminal but it was under renovation and the bus stops were all scattered. When we found the right one, we realized we had just missed the bus and the next one was almost 2 hours later. So we waited around and that was when the rain began.

The bus ride to Okinawa World in Nanjo took an hour and was 580 yen. We alighted in the pouring rain and luckily the admission fare counter sold umbrellas so I bought one there. I bought admission for the Gyokusendo Cave 玉泉洞 and Okinawa Village because I wasn’t interested in seeing the snake museum.

Inside the Gyokusendo Cave
Mini waterfall inside Gyokusendo Cave
Gyokusendo Cave at 5km long is the second longest cave in Japan. About 850 metres of it is opened to the public with walkways inside. At least inside the cave we were shielded from the rain. It was eerie inside especially since they played eerie music. The rush of water from the rain dribbled along under the metal bridge walkways. Stalagmites growing downwards from the ceiling dripped water and it felt like the cave would engulf us at any moment. In fact, some parts of the railing were overgrown by stalagmites extending downward.

Leaving the cave, we made our way to Eisa Plaza to see a Shisa dance. Shisa is the Okinawan protector and symbol and resembles the Chinese lion I see during Chinese New Year. There were no photos allowed during the performance but it was very entertaining. The dance was high energy with taiko (drums) and chants.

Photo with Shisa dance performers
After the show, we walked around Okinawa village which was mostly shops selling souvenirs. We waited around for the 6:45pm bus while the parking lot emptied out since most people drove. A taxi driver offered to take us back to Naha for 1600 yen so we agreed because it would have been another hour to wait for the bus to depart.

We asked to be dropped off by Kencho-mae monorail station and walked to Masara Izakaya for dinner. I had read good reviews online. The menu is only in Japanese but the chefs behind the bar spoke a little bit of English to explain the menu. My favourite dish was the garlic steak which had strips of fried garlic crunchy as chips. The beef was tender and retained its juiciness.

Garlic steak
Post-dinner we were walking down Kokusai-dori 国際通りwhen we saw a place selling goya ice cream. We had to try this bitter gourd flavoured ice cream for ourselves and was surprised how well they were able to mix this strange combination. The bitterness was very subtle and its presence was there without being hard to swallow.

Goya ice cream
Read Day 1 here - Cape Manzamo (万座毛), Churaumi Aquarium
Read Day 2 here - Ocean Expo Park, snorkeling in Blue Cave, Sunset Beach
Read Day 3 here - Okinawa World, Gyokusendo Cave (玉泉洞)
Read Day 4 here - Shuri Castle (首里城)
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