25 June 2017

Sayonara Japan! Yassus Greece!

It is bittersweet to be writing the very last blog post for "Diller Japan Adventures"! We are now completely settled here in Crete now - we moved into our beach house, shipped over a car, Kirk is settled in her job and Joel is finally working, and we're constantly making new friends and exploring this island and the rest of Europe.

After returning from our whirlwind tour of Asia, the pace picked up even more as our time in Okinawa shortened. We do miss our friends and beautiful island...

Saying Farewell...
A farewell brunch at our favorite restaurant with some of our favorite people...

A farewell dinner with one amazing family...

A farewell luncheon and walk on the seawall with some of our best friends and the most hard core Star Wars fans we know...

Moving Day

On the bus to the airport: Bristow looks how we both felt - we just found out that our flight from Tokyo to Chicago was cancelled due to mechanical issues with the plane!

Bruce is still smiling: he's been through enough moves with us

For the sake of time, we're just going to fast-forward 68 hours. We made it to Crete! And this was our view from our hotel:

Proof of life: The dogs were exhausted, but they were troopers and survived the long flights and layovers. 

Our beach & mountain view...

Our Japan chapter comes to a close, but that doesn't mean the adventure is over for the Diller's. We are working on a new venue to continue posting our adventures in Greece. Once it's set up and looking good we will post the link here.

21 June 2017

Our Asian Farewell Trip: Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Day 9 - City Tour

Our first day in KL we visited the City Gallery to learn about the history of this really modern city, and to see the City Show Model...

This is the incredibly accurate, yet tiny, model of KL. The City Gallery puts on a light show of the model to show the neighborhoods and the future expansion plans for the city. 
KL has a really great Bird Park!
  • Day 10 - Breakout Games
We also are getting hooked on "Escape Room Games".
And it turns out there was a great variety of them in the mall close to our hotel!
The game we played was called "Dreadnaught". We did not win...
...so we HAD to play another game. So we picked "War for Rembrant". We also lost this game too, but it came down to the wire and we were so close that we picked a third game, that was easier.  The third time was the charm so we didn't go home without a win.
  • Day 11 - Petronas Twin Towers

The Petronas Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world. 
    Outside the towers is the beautiful view of the fountains and green space amongst the concrete jungle.

We had a fantastic time in KL! Not pictured on the blog was our stay in Little India, where we got to experience the holiday of lights, "Diwali", and all the delicious Indian curries and rice.

Well, folks, that was our farewell whirlwind trip of Asia. Thanks for staying with us! Stay tuned for the highlights of our final days in Okinawa.

16 June 2017

Our Asian Farewell Trip: Bangkok

Our adventure picks up with us leaving Hong Kong and heading toward Bangkok, Thailand.

Bangkok, Thailand
  • Day 4 - Arrive in Thailand

  • Day 5 - City Tour

Here we are at the Grand Palace. The former King of Thailand passed away just over a week prior to our visit, which you can see the memorial behind us. 
We needed a boost while walking the streets of Bangkok, so why not try some freshly squeezed pomegranate juice!

Next, we enjoyed a boat ride along the Chao Phraya river. 

During the canal tour, we visited the floating marketplace where we enjoyed the popular Spicy Papaya Salad.
  • Day 6 - Bizarre Foods Tour
If you've been following us for any amount of time, you know that we love to eat and try new, and sometimes bizarre, cuisine. That's why we signed up for the "Bizarre Food Challenge"! The company says this tour is for "Adventurous Eaters" - that's us!  We definitely got to try some "rare and bizarre items".
We kicked off our bizarre food tour with some blood noodle soup. We had the choice of either pork or beef blood with our noodles, and we picked beef. It was surprisingly very savory and delicious, without any harsh flavors of blood!

A close-up view of the beef blood noodle soup. Yum!

Stop #2: Som Tam Pla ra a.k.a. Spicy papaya salad with a fermented fish. Pla ra is the fish that is fermented for up to six months.  This was one of the toughest foods for us to handle and we definitely we're able to eat the whole fish. Its stink stayed on my fingers the whole day!

We can't remember exactly what this is, but it's a type of sausage and a soy sauce reduction.

Pig Brain Soup! This was my favorite...the brain was deliciously smooth and creamy. The broth was also very good and savory.
Fried frog skin!

Chicken foot soup!

  • Day 7 - Jim Thompson House & Float Pod Center
We visited the famous home of Jim Thompson, an American businessman who helped revitalize the Thai silk industry in the 1950-60's. The Jim Thompson House "consists of a complex of six traditional Thai-style houses, teak structures that were purchased from several owners and brought to the present location from various parts of Thailand. Construction of the Thai house was completed in 1959." He outfitted his home with the many antiques and artifacts he collected from Thailand, but unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take photos.

After all the traveling, walking and eating on our trip, we needed some relaxation. Why not combine it with something bizarre we've never done before? At the Theta State Float Center (now closed), we were able to experience "Floatation Therapy".  Floating consists of getting into the pod (aka Sensory Deprivation Chamber) that is filled with water and enough Epson salt to cause you to float effortlessly. After getting over the newness of the experience, we both found it to be very relaxing.  

13 April 2017

Our Asian Farewell Trip: Hong Kong

Hello Again! It has been a loooong time since our last blog post, and we will try not to let that much time pass between posts again. In our defense, a lot has happened for the Diller's since our last post of our trip to Bali back in April 2016 - we moved to the island of Crete in Greece in January '17! The next couple blog posts will wrap up our time in Asia and detail our adventure of moving to and discovering Europe. Stay tuned!

In October 2016, we realized that our time had come to start saying farewell to Okinawa and the rest of Asia, so we dusted off our "Asian bucket list" and chose Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur to visit.

  • Day 1 - Arrival in Hong Kong
Peace out Okinawa...
The first place we ate at in Hong Kong was a fast-food fried chicken stand because on our way to dinner someone (Kirk) was hungry and needed food asap, lol. 

When we finally made it to the local mall, we found a restaurant with a fixed menu consisting of some fried noodles, bok choy, sushi, and hot tea.
Hong Kong Disney....why not?

Our first stop as soon as the gates opened was to Tomorrowland for the Star Wars exhibit!
The highlight of the day was Kirk meeting her longtime Wookie crush...
  • ...and getting her celebrity kiss...
    Day 3 -
    But just our luck, the super typhoon Haima struck the Hong Kong harbor on Friday causing all city transportation to be shut down and thus canceling all our plans for exploring the city. Instead, we had three meals from the hotel restaurant and an epic Netflix marathon.  
Those were the highlights of Hong Kong, but stay tuned for the continuation of our trip in Bangkok, Thailand...

09 December 2016

The Beautiful Paradise: BALI

As I was going through our pictures, we have a GIANT gap between mid-January to mid-April, but it only took me a split second to remember why: that was the BUSIEST, CRAZIEST four months of our lives. I will not recap here, but needless to say, despite a few highlights with our amazing friends, we were in DESPERATE need of respite due to the operational tempo at both of our work places (it doesn't help that I was covering two full time positions, and three other positions part time, NO JOKE).

Anyway, the GREAT news is this craziness inspired us to commit to a vacation with our Okinawa Besties, the Figueroa's! And Bali found its way to the top of the list. Here are the highlights!

We had a chant going the whole trip: "BA-LI, BA-LI, BA-LI!!!"

Day One: The Spa.

The spa we found (on Trip Advisor, where else?!) was amazing. It was out in the middle of rice fields, super cheap and super wonderful. We tried ear candling for the first time and actually liked it!

After the spa, we spent the remainder of the day in downtown Ubud, which included a walk through the monkey park. Of course, you're not supposed to touch them, but what could I do if I just happened to be near one and it wanted to be held? :)

This is what I mean by "downtown". It was dangerous for pedestrians AND drivers. The way they handle the roads and traffic in Bali is INSANE.

We found an amazing Cuban restaurant for dinner and I caught this stunning, picture of Jose and Drucie impressing us with their incredible Salsa moves! Joel can do the Sloppy Swish and I can only do interpretive dance, so we are not even close to the same caliber as them in the dancing arena!

The next day, we took an amazing bike ride through the mountains and through the oldest Balinese community on the island. That's actually a volcano in the picture!

This is gross to our American sensibilities, but the Balinese people in this community believe that their children will grow up and stay close to home if they hang their placenta in a coconut in the forest for one year.  In addition, they will not let their child touch the floor for a year! They are always being held, in a chair, or in bed.

Still at the beginning of the ride here, so our bums weren't sore yet, LOL.

Somebody's happy to have FRESH guava!

A local Balinese man carving items to sell in town.

Joel looks so cute, but sadly this is a fighting cock.:-/

So beautiful!

The bike ride ended at the Elephant Park where we were crowned by a local.

The second half of the day involved a rafting trip - it was the Fig's first so we let them sit in the front.

Taking a break with some cool rock carvings along the river.

Day three involved a city tour with our own, personal driver, Gusti. He was very informative and drove like a crazy Balinese man (like everyone else on the road, LOL).

We stopped at a coffee plantation and Drucie helped with the roasting.

We sampled all types of coffee and tea... to include the Kopi Luwak coffee.

I fell in love with one of the domesticated Luwaks!

There are so many famous temples in Bali, that I cannot possibly remember all of their names. But they were all gorgeous, old, picturesque, stunning, etc. etc.!

The tide was out so we were able to see this temple up close and personal (with everyone else and their mother apparently - it was busy!)

Photo bombed by a kiddo, LOL

On our return, we passed a ceremony in action. It's incredible what these women can balance on their heads!

Day four involved a dive! It was a shore dive to a sunken ship and It. Was. So. Cool!

Hangin' with some rays...

All three of us have different diving styles, LOL

"Hey, buddy..."

We caught sight of a barracuda!

If you were wondering where Drucie was while we were diving, well, THIS is where. :)

Our magazine ad pose. Who wants us to be their models? :-p

This temple required us to wear wraps around our waists, males and females. They were provided at the entrance and totally didn't match my outfit that day, he he.

Stunning cliffs and a perfect day for site seeing!

We spent so many fun nights having dinner out in Ubud. There are so many delicious restaurants that we wound up hopping from one to another to another and having a course at each so we could enjoy as many as possible!

Our last night, we spend at Urbana (a restaurant we liked so much we went twice!)

The Urbana staff made this for us - they treated us like royalty and were so excited to see us when we came back the second time.

We would go back to Indonesia in a HEARTBEAT. Thank you, Bali, for the memories at such a needed point in our lives. And thank YOU, Fig's, for being such wonderful friends - we have had some amazing experiences together!