By 4pm, the shops reopen for business. The area around my hotel goes from a quiet sunny ghost town to a bustling lively mini cosmopolitan city. In Arabic, the word souq means market. Souq Waqif means standing market. It doesn’t look like much from outside, but the moment I walk in, I’m transported into a maze-like metropolis with shops selling everything. And I really do mean EVERYTHING.
The Tokyo – Doha leg of the journey is an overnight flight. How fun? I don’t know anyone who likes long haul overnight flights. And although I love love love travelling; flying is the bane of my existence. I bloody hate it. Thankfully – I’m the kind of person that can sleep anywhere. And although I manage to get some sleep on the plane, it wasn’t the restful kind. I was tossing and turning and shifting about the whole time. I felt a little sorry for the guy sitting next to me.
When I found out that I was coming back to the Kansai area for a business trip, I crinkled and raised my eyebrows at the same time. It wasn’t on my plans. But when life is ready to bring you full circle, it will do it with a big smile on its face.
I got a seat at the counter and boy was I tickled by the sight of all those okonomiyaki neatly assembled. One chef was cutting the cabbage. Another was preparing the okonomiyaki. Another was making the negiyaki: made with scallions instead of cabbage. And another was expertly tossing noodles to make yakisoba. If you love cooking like I do – open kitchens like this one are a HUGE treat.
I spent the past three days in Nagano on a business trip. A popular destination for school trips, camping and skiing – Nagano was exactly what I needed for a couple of days. I slept well, ate well and overdosed on nature. Although I was working, I finally managed to get a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of daily life in Tokyo.
The cuisine in Japan varies from region to region. And I must admit – Okinawan cuisine is my personal favourite. Due to a long history of trade, Okinawan cuisine has strong Chinese and Southeast Asian influences. Given my own cultural background, every bite felt a little like home.
There’s nothing like seeing Mother Nature’s gift to mankind stretch out for hours and hours on end. Could there be anything more glorious? As I felt my bare feet sink into the sand, I was home. Relaxed. Stress-free. The energy from the ocean washed away the mad schedule of the past three months.