Sunday, October 14, 2012

Miwa chan's Visit to Saipan!

 Within 2 weeks of hanging out together in Tokyo, Miwa chan came to visit us in Saipan for five days in September! We had non-stop parties for her tropical holiday. The first night, we went to the Camacho's for an island dinner. With freshly cut coconuts with rum inside, we were ready for our island feast!
 We had BBQ, red rice, chicken kelguen & titiyas and lechen biringhenas (grilled eggplant in coconut milk), which is my personal favorite. It was a festive evening with music, dancing and pool. I love how the Camacho's have a pool table in their living room!
 Miwa and Russ played against Betty and Tim. Although Miwa hasn't played a lot of pool, she had tons of fun! Miwa came to Saipan with a whole suitcase full of gifts (mostly food) that we all got to enjoy.
 The next evening, we had a dinner party at the Goodwin's where Tim served his Belgium beer which he bought in Tokyo. Yes, he carried them back in his suitcase and waited until Miwa came to drink them. There were three varieties, each with a distinctive flavor and all were good (and I'm not a beer drinker).  Tina served doner kebabs which were great!

 After dinner, we played Left, Right, and Center, a dice game where we bet $1 each. Efrain was the big winner for both rounds! Go, Big E!
 The next morning, we enjoyed a tasty Hyatt Sunday brunch with the Gabaldon's. They just found out that they're expecting a baby boy in February.
 After the big brunch, we came back home for Dinner Party #3 at our home. It was Japanese night and Miwa chan and her mom, Katsue san, made dinner for all of us.
 Katsue san was in charge of the "ebi-fry", also known as fried shrimp. The Japanese way is to marinade the shrimp in sake and soy with a bit of salt in pepper for several hours before rolling it in flower, egg and panko. The dipping sauce was a mixture of Japanese mayonnaise, soy and yuzu mustard.
 The three of us really enjoyed cooking together and it was so nostalgic! We spent so many weekends together when we lived in Southern California and it brought back fantastic memories.
 Russ must have took a self portrait without me looking. Efrain and Tim look like they're in deep discussion in the background.
 Aside from the ebi fry, we made nasu dengaku (eggplant with soy zyuzu sauce), miso nasu (eggplant with miso sauce), agedashi tofu (fried tofu), natto (fermented soybean), saba (grilled mackerel), moyashi itame (sauteed bean sprouts), gomoku gohan (seasoned rice), edamame, and for dessert, sweet potato/honey with ice cream. We had so much food!
 The following day, we went to Spicy Thai for lunch! Yes, more food! Afterwards, we headed to Sweet Escapes for coffee and cupcakes. Miwa chan and Katsue san loved the place with its tropical gardens and cool, coffee house interior.
 On Miwa's last day, we went to Marianas Trekking to join the dune buggy tour. We dressed in old T-shirts and shorts, ready for the adventure.
 Miwa and I elected to drive our own buggies while the tourists shared one. it was much more fun to maneuver our own vehicles through the trails and mud puddles.

 The tour is scenic as it tours the Northern parts of the island. The two guides, one in the front and the other in the rear, are helpful, professional and kind.  The buggies and ATV go on the same tour. The difference between an ATV and a buggy can be compared to riding an SUV (ATV) or sports car (buggy). Buggies are low to the ground and feel more like race cars.

 ATV's are fun as well but we prefer the speed and agility of the buggies.
 During the tour, our guides Jazz and Risa, stopped at the fruit farm so that we could drink our coconut juice.
 Then, Jazz cut the coconut and we ate the "meat" like sashimi with wasabi and soy. Miwa chan was so surprised of the flavor of the coconut sashimi. She said that it reminded her of snapper.
 The buggies are easy and most especially, fun to drive! For all Saipan residents and visitors, go do the tour!
 Miwa and I splashed through the mud puddles, getting dirty and loving every minute of it!
 We felt like kids again and loved the sensation and beauty of the natural scenery along the tour. Here we are at Wing Beach, rinsing off some of the dirt. I didn't have my camera with me but  later jumped into the Grotto and swam there amongst the divers and snorkelers. The northern sites of Saipan are truly spectacular, especially when we can enjoy them through the eyes of a tourist.  Hopefully, Miwa will return time and again to Saipan, to her "second home". 

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