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 realise that a Japanese man is about to serve hawker fare to a very fussy Singaporean. I have ridiculously high and stringent standards when it comes to the food of my childhood. It comes with the territory. Whenever most people do something that’s foreign – they inevitably end up leaving their accent on it. It’s not a bad thing. But I know better than to expect it to taste like it does back home.
“We use yuzu in baths on the winter solstice,” she says. “We also make tea, dressings and yuzukosho with it. Yuzu also has a little brother. Its name is Kabosu: commonly grown in the Usuki and Taketa areas in Oita. Unlike yuzu, kabosu is less well-known.”