Sunday, September 8, 2013

Day Four Okinawa

DAY FOUR: OKINAWA Sunday September 8, 2013
Today our lovely host took us to Bios on the Hill, which is a Botanical experience.  This awesome outdoor site features some amazing plants and cultural experiences.   This is a fantastic place to take kids and caters to them.  Also a fantastic place if you are a plants and flowers fan.  The Orchids were amazing and beautiful.  I unfortunately was a bit distracted and did not get some of the cool pictures of all this stuff that I should have.  However, I did get some so here they are!

The first main area of the site is a fairly open area.  There is a tea house that serves refreshments and sells the tickets for the Water buffalo cart ride.  There are lots of picnic tables that are shaded.  There is also an amazing natural play area/ jungle gym.  Many of the structures are made from natural local woods so it has a rustic appearance but is pretty cool in my opinion.  In this are there are also several games (Frisbee, hula hoops, jump rope, stilts, water guns made from bamboo/ reeds etc.) This is also the animal area.  Below are pictures of some of them.  First is the pig enclosure.  Next is a chicken running around one of the picnic areas, then you have the water buffaloes who were getting ready to have lunch (the male is on the left, and a female in the middle, the care taker did not tell us anything about the one on the right; notice that the ropes are tied through there noses) and last the roosters just outside of the picnic area with their enclosure behind them. I did not get a picture of the goats you could feed carrots to, or the baby goats you could walk around on leashes.  Our timing was good today because they were just getting ready to feed the Water buffaloes and were unyoking one from the cart.  I was fascinated by the fact that the care taker unlatched everything and then made a single click with his tongue and the buffalo simply twisted her head and slid one horn out and then twisted the other way and slid the other horn out; almost like it was simply getting undressed.

Next we got ready to take a boat ride through the river area that winds through the site.  Similar to a pontoon, there were about 30 people on board for the tour.  Unfortunately the entire tour was in Japanese so I did not understand much; however, I did manage to catch the sites by paying attention to the non-verbal signals of those who did understand.  Wherever they looked, so did I.  Below are the key moments and my best guess for what you are seeing.

On this tree there is a naturally growing orchid on the tree branch.  I did not get the shot zoomed in very well but if you magnify or enlarge the shot you can see it.

We came around one bend to find a Water Buffalo hanging out in the river.  The rope indicates that this was not an accident but a purposeful part of the experience.

This is a fruit bearing tree.  My best guess is blood oranges but I am not sure about that.

The tree at the front of the boat is another fruit producing tree that appears to be mangoes (if you zoom in you can see the fruit hanging on the tree)

We came around another bend to find a traditional Okinawan dressed dancer, performing some cultural dance on a moored boat. Again not accidental as we had passed the boat 10 minutes before going the other way and it had been empty.

After disembarking the boat we went on to explore the other paths.  On path lead us to a marshy Lilly filled pond that had a two board plank bridge zig zagging across it.  Indeed, I walked that bridge with only very flimsy ropes to grab on the side.  I made it across, but I was not absolutely sure at the onset I would. Below is a picture of the area and you can see my friend through the trees who was in the middle on the plank bridge.

This topiary construct was near the tea house.  The lattice looking supports are actually the branches of the bush that were shaped over many years to achieve this look. 

After exploring all the areas (Including some really fun adult size swings and green net hammocks in some absolutely gorgeous areas) you exit into the greenhouse and gift shop in which the next picture was taken.

After our adventure in the hot sun all day our host took us by a pet store on the way home called the Pet Box.  While you could find your normal array of pets in the shop (dogs, cat, goldfish, hamsters) there were also so interesting options.  Some of those options included: a ground squirrel, on owl, several types of beetles, some very interesting varieties of turtles, snakes, lizards, and fish.  One of those interesting fish is pictures below, though the picture does not do it justice.  All the tags were in Japanese so I can only guess at the name.  I called it a dragon fish- because frankly, this is the only thing I have seen in real life that actually looked like a dragon.

We wrapped up the day with some Ice Cream from Blue Seal.  I passed over my favorite Green Tea ice cream to try the Beni-imo smoothie.  It is some kind of vegetable that grows on the island. The color is purplish and the taste reminded me of a sweet potato.  It wasn't too bad I have to say.

Well it is almost time for me to hit the hay, and when this post it will be Mid-day Sunday in Kansas.  I believe that tomorrow we are going to have a low key day.  Will keep you posted as I can get time to type it all out!  Best of luck to all those showing in the Kansas State Fair.  Cheers from Okinawa!