Monday, September 29, 2008

Mrs Tan Tan turns 28

As most of you would have guessed, Mr Tan Tan cooked up a feast for Mrs Tan Tan in celebration of her birthday. Probably the best present one can ever ask for :)


A flawless 3-course set meal comprising of prawn bisque, vogole in white wine and wagyu beef steak. Complete with a bottle of Hokkaido red wine and a mean chocolate cake.


Breakfast - yummy, crispy, apple pancakes topped with maple syrup!



Taste of Singapore - traditional longevity noodles.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The World Heritage Sites at Nachi

After the Whale Museum and Onsen, we proceeded on to the World Heritage Sites on Mt Nachi - 熊野那智大社 (Kumano Nachi Grand Shrine)and the nearby 那智大滝 (Nachi Great Waterfall).
The Tan Tans actually counted the number of steps they had to climb after happily hopping down. Their count: 132!

Awesome sight which greeted the Tan Tans together with all the negative ions that made us feel really good. (Especially after the onsen).
Oh well, Mr Tan Tan was afraid of getting drenched .... haha

Mr Tan Tan also took the opportunity to pray for good health and happiness and the offering (in the form of a wooden stick) burned brightly.
After the waterfall, the Tan Tans proceeded to the Nachi Grand Shrine with their friends. The Shrine was built in approximately 1590 and is the oldest in the region. Mr Tan Tan also found many similiarities between this shrine and a Chinese temple. There are 2 lion statues guarding the gates and one of the shrines also had dragon and kirin cravings on its roof (but i forgot to take a picture of that... sorry)
Oh ya... this is the year of the Rat and there was a painting of a giant rat there.
Anyway, this area also worships crows and there are tons of crow figurines and pendants for sale. (can you imagine that?)

Katsuura Onsen!

The second stop of our trip was actually our main purpose of the trip. The ONSEN!! For this, we went to one of the hotel with Nanki Katsuura hot springs. Hotel Nakanoshima. It is the only hot spring on an island in Japan!

Well, we definitely needed a ferry to reach the island and look at the cute ferries below:




And a satisfied Mrs Tan Tan after the nice onsen.

Oh well, what do you expect? Of cos it was impossible for me to take photographs in the onsen right. And I was enjoying every minute of it with no camera on hand. Just to be clear, it wasn't a mixed onsen (disappointed...) and there were just me with 2 other ojisans in the open-air onsen (rotenburo).

But it felt great! The onsen directly faced the sea and one could enjoy the panoramic sea views while soaking. Definitely very very therapeutic and outstanding!!

For more information, you can visit their website at http://www.hotel-nakanoshima.jp/english/index.html

Japan and Whales

The Taiji Whale Museum in Wakayama is a mystery in itself.

It was the Tan Tans' first visit to a whale museum and it was insightful, educational but yet strange and confusing. Why? hmm... read on.

The place comprises a museum, an aquarium, a underwater world etc.



There, the Tan Tans and their friends were treated to Dolphin and Whale shows. The same stuff one would get at Dolphin Lagoon in Sentosa.



This performance showcases a combination of short-finned pilot whales, risso dolphins and false killer whales.

And have you ever wondered how whales sound??
video




And yes, this are the standard bottlenose dolphins that everyone loves.





Oh. I believe everyone knows "Willy".




Don't worry the sea lion on the left is taking a nap and not dead.


Next was the exhibition area where the Tan Tans learnt about the giant mammals of the sea.

It was educational as the Tan Tans walked through the exhibition halls where different parts of the whales are being displayed.




That's the tongue of the whale and this pic on the right shows the food that the whale consume including the giant squid!




Yes, this is the Ass and the Balls of a Whale so do not fool around with them. Either their fart will blow you away or the balls will flatten you.





And these are the various stages of the whale's foetus development.


These are the gills and the one on the right is... you guessed it... the penis...



This is an exact replica of the ancient ship that the Japanese used for whaling in 15th century.



Look at the bright red thongs they are wearing...





And this is the more advanced 16th-17th century whaling. In fact, the people who built this museum seem to be pretty proud of their heritage and advancements in whaling through the centuries. Tools and methodologies were well depicted through the exhibits.



Comparing myself to the height of a typical bottlenose dolphin.. not too bad right?




And of cos, the Tan Tans took the chance to have some photos taken too!




But come to think about it. What is the intention of this whale museum?

Is it to educate the public on whale conservation? Is it just as a theme park for the greedy business men's pockets?

Frankly speaking, I do not really have a clear idea.

I would say the mammals aren't kept in an ideal environment.




2 to 3 dolphins are kept in every sector.




The square in the middle of the pic also kept 2-3 dolphins.

And also, after all the educational stuff and show on the whales and dophins, guess what we found in the souvenir shop?

The top left pic shows frozen whale meat, the top right, canned whale meat and the bottom two, curry whale.

Yes, whales are considered a delicacy in some parts of Japan - Wakayama for sure, it seems. Along the way we saw many, many restaurants serving whale (kujira) cuisine in all forms - from the kujira sashimi to the kujira ramen to kushi kujira (skewered whale meat).

Hmm...

I can only say this is a strange relationship between Japan and whales.