Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Definitely not in Kansas anymore...

(sorry in advance for weird spacing - Blogger is not cooperating today)

On Sunday, we decided to hop in the hoopty and go exploring. We've spent a lot of time between the various bases and on the north side of the island, but we haven't been south of Naha since I got here. We intended to go to the south end of the island, but discovered that all roads led back to Naha. So we gave up. But, I did get some pictures of some of the things that exist for the sole purpose of reminding us that no, we are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

A view of one of the towns, not really sure which one: (Agricultural, industrial, commercial and residential are all pretty much mixed together everywhere. So yes, makers of Sim City, it is okay to put houses in between industrial zones...)
This green and yellow symbol indicates that the driver is a young/new driver. There is also an orange and yellow teardrop to symbolize a senior citizen driver. And woe be unto thee if you road rage someone with one of these "I'm allowed to drive like a douche and there's nothing you can do about it" stickers...

One of the tombs, as viewed from an intersection near Naha. (We learned we are allowed to photograph them, we just can't show disrespect, trespass, etc.) These are absolutely everywhere.

Our toll ticket on the Expressway (where we are able to drive at a heart-stopping 80 km/h, the fastest you can drive anywhere on this island). It could've said we owed them 6 months of housecleaning for all I could tell (turned out to be Y550, or about $5.50):
Sugarcane is everywhere here:

Yes, that car is parked on the sidewalk. Yes, that is a common sight.
Ha! I found something familiar!

Magazine rack at the convenience store...

Oh, sure, I'll be able to survive just fine here without ever learning any Japanese:

The architecture is certainly different. I'm not actually sure if this is a house, an apartment, a business, or...?

A really crappy picture of the ruins of one of several castles on the island. I don't remember which one this is, but it's not far from Kadena AFB:

I also bought my first set of ShiShi dogs that day. Pictures to follow shortly; they are currently keeping my Foo Dog company on our International End Table of Asian Dog Statues.

Today I actually set out on foot and went exploring a little bit. It's definitely a different world. You don't often see a young child (maybe 4 years old?) walking down a city street by himself in the States. And you sure as hell don't have said child look you square in the eye, smile, and say hello when he passes you.

I went into a neat little pottery shop, and it's probably a good thing I only had about Y1000 with me, because I could have gone freaking bankrupt in that place. Everything from bowls, pots, cups, etc., as well as funky cat/dog/dragon statues. And they really weren't that expensive. Something tells me that when we go to move off the island (*cry*), we'll have at least three or four boxes marked "breakables".

I have only two complaints from my little jaunt today:

1. The smell. Oh my God. There's a drainage ditch running perpendicular to the road, and the smell carries for about half a block. *gag* A lot of the sewer covers are rather aromatic too. But hey, that's city life. I can deal. I did also smell something I haven't smelled in years: creosote. They say smells trigger memories more than any other sense, and boy did that bring back memories of working around the barn and such in the years before they stopped selling creosote in the States. Not exactly a pleasant smell, but strangely nostalgic.

2. And this one's for the Americans in base housing: Clean up after your dogs. *hitlerface* It's bad enough I have to listen to the little bastards bark constantly: would it kill you to do something about the little presents they leave on the sidewalk and in the grass? Clean it up, or I swear to God some of you are going to start finding flaming bags of dogshit on your doorsteps.

So there you have it: another day in Paradise. Minus the smell...

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