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Devi's Japan Travels Part 9: Nara and its countryside

Judging by the titles of my blogs, this trip consisted out of countrysides. Well, mostly. After our Tottori trip we spent our last night at Ujitei, and in the morning it was time to say goodbye to the Uji family. Taeka gave us some homemade presents I am using daily nowadays. Taeka is very sweet, throughout our stay she kept on giving us stuff. We also got some dinner and kinako yakipan before which is DELICIOUS. I am already a big fan of kinako so I was ommm-ing and nommm-ing. Yuka also came with An-chan luckily so we could say goodbye. Before we left we took pictures with the family, it feels like they are our Japanese family now. 

I really feel blessed that I have these awesome, creative and warmhearted people in my life. Meeting people like them is a great blessing while traveling, it is what it makes worthwhile for me. After one last look at the house, it was time to go.
We were on our way to Nara, which was quite the drive from Ujitei. It would take us about 3 hours to get there on the highway but in reality it's a bit longer because of traffic and stops on the way. Driving on the highway is such a blast (except for the high toll fares, yigh), again we see the cute city signs that apparently show a picture of what the place is famous for. Also the robots waving their arm show us the way whenever there's a construction are fun to see, and we even saw some sakura trees on the side of the road!

 Kasai City, never heard of it but isn't the sign cute and pwetty??

 Arigato, Mr. Robotto!

 Sakura trees! Hidden behind the wall

 Miki city, never heard of it never been there but... cute sign!

 We passed by Osaka, entering the prefecture we saw this sign. Of course the main attraction of Osaka would be the castle as shown here

Such busy roads! Trucks everywhere! We have definitely left the countryside... We are not in Kansas anymore Toto! (But we ARE in Kansai.. get it?? lol)

Arriving in the city, we decided to go to the park. But first we went to the post office, which has a sign similar to a T thus easy to spot, and got some cash. Sometimes it's hard finding an ATM but the post office usually has ATM's that takes international cards as well. Convenience stores don't always take our cards. The post office ATM accepted our UOB card so no problem there. I know from experience it also accepts maestro cards. After getting some cash, we went on our way to get some food, seeing the city while driving.

We found a sushi place, a chain called Kura sushi which is extremely cheap and the quality is reasonable. I think we paid a bit less than 2000 yen (about 24 SGD) for the two of us and we ate A LOT I can tell ya. It had the ipad order and personal conveyor belt service, whoosing your sushi to your table. You could put in the trays at the opening on the table (see picture) and for every 5 pieces of (empty) sushi trays a game appeared on the ipad, if you won you got a prize (see picture, above the ipad). You could hear the game being played all over the place, the sound of the losing-tune reigned though. We won a cute character and gave it to a kid on our way out.

After eating we went to the park and saw some deers, temples and the usual tourist attractions. One main difference we noticed was that there were way more flowers blooming in Nara, which was great! We have suffered the long-and-cold-winter aftermaths this year making the sakura bloom very late. The weather was also amazing, nice and warm (and more important: blue skies!). I won't put too many pictures of the park as many people have been here and it's a well-known tourist place.

 There were a lot of Chinese tourists laughing and screaming and running away from the deers. I heard a lot of 'xiaolu hen keai', which they were indeed!

So grateful to finally see some sakura.. readers who have read my previous blogs know how much pain and suffering we went through to see some (lol). You can see a wedding photoshoot on the left, great season for some beautiful shots.

 I like wide fields, and Nara park has really nice wide places well as cute little paths

It was beginning to get dark so we decided to go to my friends' place. My friend Linda whom I knew from my internship in Osaka, invited us to stay at her place. She used to have a raw food cafe and made the yummiest healthy foods I have had back then. I even volunteered at her cafe for a week to learn more about raw food and gotten to know her parents as well. Her father and I had an adventure in Osaka once, trying to find some kitchen tools at a market I wanted to buy for personal use. We drove out of the hustle and bustle of the city once more, and went to the countryside once more. I should change the title of the blog to Devi's Japan Countryside Travels.. Again, we saw some gorgeous places and a beautiful sunset.

Quaint little villages on the way 

Yas yas yasss! More sakura, even if it's getting dark

Crossing Nabari river after sunset, the water was really still so the reflection was beautiful 

 It's getting dark, where are we??

 Are we there yet?

It was getting dark and we were quite lost, it's not easy finding a countryside house in the mountains.  After finding the place we were quite surprised, I did not expect a place like this! It was really in the middle of nowhere, an old house. It was pitch black by the time we arrived. Linda welcomed us into her house, which was partly renovated with a new bathroom and toilet. The rest was left as it was, an old Japanese countryside house, very authentic. Linda and her partner cooked us some (of course healthy) really nice foods. I expected nothing less, as I met her at her raw food cafe so I knew she was well-versed in organic and healthy foods.

 All the ingredients were organic produce and homegrown

Doesn't it all look healthy? Apparently her partner used to be a cook and it shows! Look at that perfect tamago-yaki! He turned out to have the same birthday as me as well. Of course, because I am a good cook as well (ahem ahem..). Afterwards she served her signature raw blueberry cake she made because it was hubby's birthday. So sweet of her! And after that (we were reaally stuffed at this point) they even made some raw ice cream!

Linda knows everything about the Vitamix and does demonstrations and sells them too as shown on her blog

Boy was I full after this.. I got a present as well, Linda gave me a haori. I could choose from 3 colors and I chose the purple one. That was very sweet of her. She was wearing a traditional kimono as well which suited her really well. That was my second present in 1 day and it wasn't even my birthday! So luckyyy..

Together with Linda, she started wearing kimono's everyday since about a year. She has a lot of kimono's from her grandmother and they look very good on her. Me on the other hand, I am a bit too fat for it lolz..

Chillin' & drinkin' 

After having some drinks I took a bath: they filled a bathtub the old-school Japanese way where you heat the bathwater from outside with wood in an outside boiler connected to the bathtub. It's tricky as the water was boiling hot when it entered the bathtub, best not to touch.. After taking our baths we were so tired, the futons were ready and so were our tired bodies to get cozy in them.

Road trip day 18: Kyoto, our last destination

We slept like babies, I woke up early and took some pictures of the house. It was gorgeous to me and I would like a place like this too, Ujitei style renovated. No worries, I got permission from Linda to post pictures.

From left to right: main entrance, kitchen, living room

 Kitchen workplace, and to the left the kitchen

 The kitchen, I love the wood works in this house, makes it feel nice and cozy

 The wooden detail of the mirror is quite lovely, I like this style

Sorry for making a mess Linda!

The sliding shoji doors with tatami floor mats, the main entrance of the house

We had some green smoothies, Linda's signature smoothie, and healthy foods as breakfast. I got another present from Linda, a bag with familia de linda written on it (I use it often nowadays). I am part of her family yay! Very cute bag. We went to see her neighbour's house, the old geezer asked me if I was 10 years older than my husband! Very direct and insulting for a Japanese! I lol'ed. We took some pictures together outside of her house and checked out her little garden.

On our way to the car we saw some friends of Linda, very nice people. Hope to see them next time I visit. We went on our way to Kyoto, our final destination. Our road trip is almost coming to an end, but not before we explore Kyoto. More on that in my next blog! Vrrrooommm...

~Written by Devi~


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