As mentioned yesterday, out hotel organized a trip to the Ocean Expo Park for us with another hotel. When we got down from our apartment, the promised shuttle service was already waiting for us and took us to the hotel where we were supposed to wait for the tour guide. Tour guide… aren’t those the guys who walk around with flags in Japan? And yes, there she was, our tour guide… with a flag. Please insert your own Blue Team vs. Red Team or other Capture-the-Flag jokes here.
Anyway, it seems that this tour bus picks up guest from all other hotels along the road and thus wasn’t really faster than the regular bus line. But we got information about the POIs along the road – as far as it was translated in the audio guide… which wasn’t much, since that mainly broadcasted commercials about tourist sites like (brace yourselves) The Pineapple Park – a theme park about pineapples (and other tropical fruits). We were very sad we didn’t book this for our day trip.
After two hours we arrived at our first destination, the Ryugujo Butterfly Garden, where they served us some Okinawa soba (we’re used to higher standards after yesterdays lunch) and allowed us to roam free for a while to visit said butterflies. They really got a lot there, as well as flowers and hats to pick up where the butterflies like to rest (probably scented).
After that we hopped onto the bus for a short trip to our main destination: The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Actually it’s much like any other big aquarium you can find everywhere on the planet, with all the fishes behind glasses and stuff. But what makes the Churaumi Aquarium special is the huge Kuroshio Sea tank where lots of fish, rays (even mantas) and three whale sharks roam around freely. We will post pictures of everything in the Aquarium, but for now, please watch this video as a compensation (best viewed with your own favorite music instead of the video sounds).
After that spectacular view, we also saw a few minutes of the dolphin show and then had to get back to the bus.
But that wasn’t our last stop. You remember that comment above regarding the Pineapple (Theme) Park? Well, lucky us we
got forced had a chance to visit that place as well. We were shown a bit about the pineapple history of Okinawa (I’m sure they told us about that, too, but neither of us understood enough or paid enough attention to be sure) – which included Christopher Columbus (because he “discovered” the pineapple, but was still a strange moment to see him mentioned there). And we were able to taste some cakes and snacks made with pineapples (good part), but didn’t have a chance to drive around the fields in a pineapple car or sing and dance the pineapple song ( even better sad part).
One last stop was the Glass House in the Forest – which was obviously located inside the town – to watch a craftsman form a horse out of hot glass in under two minutes, which would be sold for several thousand yen in the shop. Speaking of the shop, of course we invested in souvenirs, but unfortunately they didn’t have t-shirts. And since someone didn’t want a pineapple shirt, that left him with only one shirt from the aquarium.
The trip ended with the ride back to the hotels (along which a young Chinese lady enlisted us to entertain her), a song by our tour guide (not bad actually) and a missed sundown (but tomorrow we will shoot it!).