December 28, 2013

A word about toilets.......

 I didn't know about the world of fancy toilets until moving to Japan. Almost everywhere you go has a heated toilet seat (ahhhhh), bidet, music (to mask any embarrassing sounds), and many other functions! (On our first weekend here, Eva hit the bidet function, thinking it was the flush, and got doused with toilet water. Poor kid! I don't think she has fully recovered!)

There are special seats to hold your baby.

There are toddler seats that fold down over the adult seat. If you have ever taken a toddler to a public restroom, you will appreciate the genius of this!

There is also almost always a low sink for kids. How nice would that have been to not hold a toddler up for hand washing! Again, why don't we have this?

Many of the malls have these special kid bathrooms in the hallway. Mom or Dad can easily help, even with other kids or strollers in tow. There is a tiny urinal, which I am sure would be nice, and a very small toilet behind the little door. Genius!

There is always seat sanitizer you can use. However, I have yet to see a disgusting bathroom. We have been in train stations, public parks, McDonald's, truck stops, you name it, they are always clean and I have NEVER seen any graffiti. Amazing!

This chart was in a truck stop to alert you to an available stall. Also to which stalls have what amenities.

You could even buy new nylons in the truck stop bathroom's vending machine (the subject of vending machines will be a whole other blog!) . Haha!

And last, but not least, this is a traditional Japanese toilet. Most bathrooms have both styles (thankfully), just hold on to the bar and squat! Ella asked to try this kind (my adventurer) and giggled the entire time, Eva had to use it once out of necessity, and I am still holding out! Haha!

But one thing is for sure, I will be bringing back a heated toilet seat to the States, as a gift to myself!

December 14, 2013

A Japanese farm and Sushi-Chu

We had the opportunity to visit a Japanese farm today with the other pharmacists from the hospital. This area of land was sectioned off and different families owned plots.  I really had no idea how many different vegetables are unique to Japan.

This is a daikon, it is like a very large raddish.

This is Kobayashi-san, the very generous owner of this plot of land. He helped the girls pick the ripe vegetables. 

Also, kabu (turnips).

A very big hakusai (cabbage). 

When we were there, a very kind neighbor came running over with gifts for the girls. A braided bread Christmas wreath and a little container of Japanese bread (it was very egg-y tasting). The Japanese are very gracious and generous people like that! 

Yet another neighbor came over with tangerines to share. Yum! 

After visiting the farm we went to lunch at Sushi-Chu restaurant. It is a family owned restaurant and the family grows all the produce for their restaurant on the property. Our friend, who organized this outing, is teaching this family English. They were able to practice on us and they did great! (As a side note, I have a new found respect for people who have learned a different language as an adult. I am learning Japanese and it is VERY difficult). The restaurant had an 800 year old bar, (I wish I got a picture! )and also these separate rooms for dining.

This was our first experience with Japanese style dining in a tatami room with pillow seating! 

We ordered the lunch set, which was a five course meal. I am not a very adventurous eater, so this was a good way to do it for me. I tried lots of things that I would NEVER had ordered if I was choosing myself. The first course included some amazing carrot soup!

Matt was lucky to have the wall to lean against! Sitting on a pillow for 2 hours was difficult for me! The girls had tempura shrimp and rice, but tried almost everything we had and liked a lot of it.

The sashimi was so fresh, it has no fishy taste or smell at all.

This is typical Japanese sushi, the rolls are not as common. The one on the right was an egg sushi and was very good. It was sweet, kind of reminded me of french toast. 

The dessert was fruit in a gel (like Jell-O) and some Japanese yogurt. I was surprised that I liked everything so much, even the octopus! It had a texture similar to beef, which I wasn't expecting.

This was our room, after the meal. It looks exactly how I pictured a Japanese restaurant to look! The servers brought in each course, kneeled to the ground, served everyone on their knees, and got back up. They did this over and over again during the course of the lunch. Talk about a work out!

We will definitely return! 

December 11, 2013

The world's BEST rainforest zoo!

While researching our trip, the Singapore Zoo kept coming up as a top attraction. Not being much of a zoo person, I told Matt that I would only go if it was the world's best zoo. Well, when I googled the zoo it indeed said "the world's best rainforest zoo"! Ha! So, we decided we had to see it. I am SO glad
we did! We loved everything about this day!

This was the view from my room upon waking. How can it not be a great day?! 

We attended the Breakfast at the Zoo event. This was a breakfast buffet and a meet and greet with the orangutan's. They talked about the animals and we got some photo ops. Awesome! 

The orangutans are literally, right behind us, not in a glass enclosure. They were busy eating their sunflower seeds and sugar cane.

The only way to poach a baby orangutan in the wild is to kill its mother.

So sweet!

The girls got brave and held the snake too! 

Ella had been dying to volunteer in a show. She finally got her chance! The man jokingly asked if she could swim and she said "Oh yeah, THAT'S not a problem!" Haha! I think she really would have swam with that seal, too, if given the chance! She dropped Matt's watch into the water and the seal brought it back to her. She loved the applause!

Next was the elephant show. They showed how the elephants work together to build things.  

It was quite thrilling to see these tropical animals in their natural habitat. This is exactly how I would picture seeing this magnificent animal in the wild!

The girls always love their picture taken! 

There was a nice polar bear viewing area.

This zoo had a "feeding trail", so all day long we saw different animals being fed. There would also be a host telling you information about the animals. We really learned a lot about the diets of each animal by following the feeding trail.  I have never seen animals so active!  

King of the Jungle.

Apparently this zoo is one of a kind in its layout. There are no visible cages for the animals, just use of water moats and foliage. I have never been so close to the animals!  

Such a beautiful backdrop for the giraffes.

The pygmy hippos.

The orangutans were called "free range" at this zoo. They don't really have an enclosure at all, just spikes at the bottom of certain trees to keep them in an area. From the path, you could look up and see them hanging from trees overhead. So fun!

There was also a "tree house" type platform to view them from a higher spot. 

My own monkey's!  

My favorite of the entire day... the baboons, 90 of them! And they were so much fun to watch, we went back a couple of different times!

At the end of the day the girls played in this spray park for a while. A nice way to cool down after a very hot, but fun day! 

So, from a non-zoo person, the Singapore Zoo gets two BIG thumbs up! That concluded our trip to Singapore, but we cannot wait to return!