Exploring the Local Area

We have a new home!  We moved into the top floor of a building.  You must think we are crazy with all the earthquakes we get around here.  The building is on rollers, so it sways when the ground moves.  It's like being on a boat.  Just hoping I don't get too much motion sickness in my own home.  The places are small, and we have to live on base, but this apartment was the better of the two options.  The usage of space was ten times better and all rooms have ceiling fans. 

Now I know there was the big earthquake on the east coast and I hope everyone is OK.  On our second or third night in our place we had a 5.3 and could definitely feel the place moving and the building swaying.  It is weird to be woken up that way, but I am sure we will get used to it.  As many of you now know, it's a weird feeling.

So now that we are getting settled in our place we are able to get around more and explore more.  In the first few days we got to look around the local town, just off base and then a little further into the town with a tour that the base provides us on arrival so we get to familiarize ourselves with the area and learn about culture and customs.

One of the first things I wanted to do was go to the Indian restaurant just outside the base gates.  We can walk to Indian food...I am in heaven!
The offered a buffet.  Too much meat, so I passed, but Ryan knew right away he wanted this.
We started with papadam, which is what I know this as, but here it is called papad.  Same thing!
When I mentioned I was a vegetarian the server ran back and told the owner.  I am guessing it is rare they get a vegetarian because the owner seemed very happy to show me what he has for vegetarian dishes.  He suggested I order this and said he makes it very well.  This is like vegetable korma, which is a little sweet and has nuts and raisins, plus 9 different veggies.
He wasn't kidding.  This was really good.

The naan was really good too.  I thought the shape was funny.  I later learned why it is shaped like this, but in the US I have never had it this way.  On a later post I will share what I discovered about the cooking of the naan.
Ryan had some soup, and then an awesome selection of items from the buffet.  I love the little dishes.
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So happy to have Indian food again!

Don't laugh, but for our first driving excursion off base in our own car (they use right hand drive vehicles and drive on the left side of the road, just like the UK), we wanted to pick a comfortable and familiar landmark.
Yes, we picked McDonald's.  Wow, I have eaten at McDonald's more times overseas than I ever did in the US.  Guess what?  McDonald's overseas is not like it is in the US.  It tastes much better and the portions are smaller.

Check out the "funny" menu.  Actually this location is pretty cool because they offer a menu in English and they accept US dollars.
Here is our dinner, minus the fries.
For the fries we actually had to wait since they were making more.  So we got this fun card with a number on it.
Then out came the fries!
Later in the week we took the tour from the base that newcomers take to see the local city.  First stop was to a Buddhist Temple.  It was just the recent holiday where everyone prays to the dead and the dead get to go home with them and celebrate (the spirits)...I should mention this is why we couldn't get a rental car...all family members who moved away return home for this holiday to honor their dead loved ones.  Anyways, this cemetery had lots of recent visits for that holiday.  The grave sites are amazing, and we were told they are very expensive.  In other words, careful where you step so you don't break anything.
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Here is the actual temple.  Shoes were to be removed upon entering.  Of course we could not take pictures inside.  It was really neat though and I am so excited to get to see more over the next few years.
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The next stop was like a little museum for a Samurai village.  The inside was set up to show a Samurai house and how life would have been there.
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Of course you gotta love this:
Japanese squatty potty.  Good thing I was familiar with these from China.

This museum also had a little park.  We plan to go back and visit there.
After our little cultural lesson they served us some sushi.  I was so excited that I could eat this.  I hate seaweed paper.  I have this problem where I just can't chew it and I think it has a funny taste.  In the US I always order soy paper when they have it.  I discovered here that I can actually eat the paper used for wrapping sushi.  Not sure what makes it different, but my guess is that it is fresher and just better quality.
For lunch they took us to a mall.  I have never ordered food through a machine with buttons before that correspond to various dishes on a menu up above.  You stick your money in (sorry no picture, it was crowded), push a button, get your change and receipt and then give it to the lady behind the counter (or man).  Note to self, miso does not guarantee meat free.  I ordered miso-vegetable and got this.
Ryan ordered the same thing, so he kept his, but I had our Japanese guide explain to them what was wrong.  They were so apologetic and made me something new using a fish broth.  So I had ramen using fish broth.  It was really good.
As a result of this incident, and the prior curry incident, I asked my friend who is Japanese to send me a written message in Japanese that I can show to the restaurant that explains I am a vegetarian and what I don't eat, and what is acceptable.  So far it has come in handy and I am so thankful that she did that.

Also in the mall where we ate lunch was a grocery store.  We made sure to buy some peaches.  They are local and in season.
I love how everything is pre wrapped.  It's just cute.
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Here are some other random pictures I took in the grocery store.

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Not even sure, but I think just like coke with lemon.
Vending toys:
Little bakery stand.  Everything looks so good...and cute!
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Seriously cute!  Pokemon cupcakes anyone?
I think I am going to really love it here!

QUESTIONS:  Ever been to a Buddhist Temple?  Do you know anything about Samurais? 


Gina; The Candid RD said...

You live in an apartment on wheels?! So neat! Yet, so scary at the same time. I mean I can't imagine living somewhere where mini earthquakes are the norm. But I guess that means they are always prepared.
I agree with you about sushi paper her ein America (or Nori, I guess). It's chewy and hard to tear. For that reason I typically pop the entire sushi in my mouth, without fail.
I LOVE the pokeman cupcakes!! Hilarious.

Astra Libris said...

SO COOL!!! I'm SO excited for you!!!

chow and chatter said...

always great traveling with you Melinda and adore your zest for life

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

Glad you got to explore a bit! I know that many Korean "vegetable" dishes still have some meat in them or are made with beef broth, etc. It's tricky... Glad you got the note from your friend, so you can avoid meat from now on.

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