Tuesday, September 29, 2009

a new friend

She's arrived! We have a new little nugget of cuteness to buy presents for and hug and squeeze, and most definitely make awkward. We want to congratulate our very, very great friends on their new baby girl! Charley was born Thursday, September 24, and from the looks of it, is very happy and healthy. We are so excited for Ben and Andie, we only wish we could have been there to bring the obnoxious "It's a Girl" balloon! We can't wait to return and share in the joy that I am sure Charley is and will become.

*due to the fact that Ben & Andie don't use any social networking sites we're going to assume they don't really want any pictures of their little lady on the intraweb quite yet, sorry. But, trust me...she's CUTE!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

current happenings

It turns out the fore mentioned Navy ships are actually like that everyday. Turns out we should pay more attention when we are walking around. It has been awfully foggy lately. It's foggy like the big island was on our honeymoon, accept there is no ashing volcano to blame it on.

big man burger

Introduced by, believe it or not, Navy guys in about the 1950's, the Sasebo Burger has become a reason for eating in our city. There are multiple restaurants that each pay homage the wonderful sector of the very small type of cuisine that is labeled "American". You can spot them all over the city because of their proudly displayed Sasebo Burger Man, that's right, the burger has a mascot.

We went ahead and tried it out yesterday. Actually, we tried it out the second day we were in Sasebo, but were left pretty mystified at how something with a soggy bun, soggy bacon, a 1/4" thick patty, and and 1" of mayonnaise could give a city bragging rights. Well, it turns out that we just had a bad version and have long put that experience behind us.

So, here we are almost 2 months later, standing in line at Big Man. We have been observing the line at Big Man for sometime now. It often wraps around the building and you watch locals diligently holding their numbers waiting to be called. This line can go on for hours. Just like the line at the restaurant right next to our apartment-which we have yet to try, since every time we try to go now, it's closed-but that's another story.

We finally decided to brave the line and give this burger a second chance! We ordered two different versions, including one without mayonnaise for Jewell the mayonnaise wimp, and some hand cut fries that looked amazing.

So, here is what the burger is. A hand made bun, lettuce-lots of lettuce, thick cut bacon-that this time tasted more like the ham we get at Christmas, the same 1/4" patty, cheddar cheese, tomato, mustard, a fried egg, and for Brandon a 1/4" of mayonnaise. So, this burger was much, much more satisfying. Not only because the burger-to-mayo ratio was more appropriate, but because it was put together in a way that said, "my kitchen deserves it's Sasebo Burger Man mascot". Oh, and the fries, were awesome. They were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and seasoned with salt and pepper, just the way you want them.

So, get ready America. When the Willett's return, we hope you aren't expecting a sushi party. . .because you are getting a Sasebo Burger Party. Where the eggs will be fried, the bacon will be like ham, the mayonnaise will be optional, and the patties will be, well we will make the patties bigger. Hope you're in for one heck of a time!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

current happenings

Our neighbor's roof top bonsai tree garden. it's nice to see every morning, day, and night when we step out of our front door.

Some ships on base. We have never seen them lined up like this, something must be happening?

Cheapest melon we have seen yet, and it was at the grocery store across the street. It would be roughly $15.19.

This base fiddle sat outside all day long. Another testimony to how honest the Japanese are, and this is also the view from our new apartment, just in case you were wondering. Sort of a downgrade in a view that's for sure.

Saw this in the vending machine. Aloe & Grape Minute Maid. My mom (jewell's mom) would cry if she found out I didn't at least try it. She is a BIG fan of the aloe, I have to fight her away with a stick from rubbing it all over me when I have a sunburn, which considering I was a lifeguard for 9 years was quite a fight. . .but, mom's do know best, I credit her %100 to my amazingly gorgeous tan skin. Anyway, I haven't tried it yet, I am diligently waiting for Brandon to get home. But, that is our collection of tiny cacti in the background there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

a bit of buiness

just wanted to tell everyone that we made some changes to the blog!

do you like?

also, we were getting a lot of questions about how to leave comments. not that we are selfishly asking you to comment or anything, but, we fixed that too. so now you can comment anonymously or leave your name, but you don't have to go through the crazy process of creating an account! Hallehluiah!

sorry about the lame-o post here, business is boring we know, but we felt it the easiest way to reach everyone that wanted to know!

thanks for the steadfast commitment to us! we miss everyone . . .and to the new friends we are making through this, welcome to our life! we are so glad to have you.

rainy holiday

This is the American food joint right next to our apartment, which just missed being in this shot. This is the line that forms everyday day around noon and does not let up until dark. It is very small with only 4 tables, like mots places in Japan, but I have never seen a place with a line this intense, like a bakery after Oprah gives her seal of approval. It must be good, and we are looking forward to trying it out. We aren't sure why we haven't, besides the fact that we don't want to wait in that line, but from the looks of it we might just have to suck it up. However, we will save the sucking it up for a sunny day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

food adventure

Do you ever wonder what makes someone love a certain restaurant so much? For weeks now, a waitress at the restaurant has been begging Brandon to try out her "favorite restaurant in Sasebo". He wasn't ignoring her, it's just very infrequent that we have a night off to dedicate to the exploration of a new restaurant. I mean, there is a lot that goes into it. Do we have enough yen? Can we walk? Should we walk? Because, let's face it. . .we have discovered there is a major difference in the 2 questions. So, being too tired to do anything of major substance tonight, we felt that a nice, relaxed dinner would be deserved. We forewent the walking option, and the taxi drove us high up the mountain to a little house, perched on a hill, over looking the whole of Sasebo. The view was spectacular. It was here, at this little house restaurant decorated like a bungalow, that we had the best Thai food of our lives.

The menu. You could get lost in the menu, not to mention they had a full out English menu. Not the kind with pictures, but a full written menu. We ordered spring rolls to start, then followed by green curry with chicken and jasmine rice, and finished with grilled shrimp pad tai.

The spring rolls were amazingly simple, filled with chicken and shrimp nestled between the most perfectly fresh julienned vegetables. They came with this dipping sauce that was so good it could bring enemies together. Our mouths were on fire. But, oh so good. The Green Curry, served in a mini cauldron of awesomeness, was the kind of thing that makes you break rules and lick your plate in public. Milky in a coconut kind of way, spicy in a red chili kind of way, and accented with our favorites; cilantro and tai basil. Last to be delivered was the pad tai. This is the favorite dish of the waitress that diligently pushed us to visit. The curry was a tough act to follow up, but did an amazing job. The shrimp, noodles, and peanuts come together quite deliciously. We must have looked like we were really enjoying the pad tai, because the waitress literally boxed up the last scraps we left on the plate.

All things we've had before? Yes. All things we've had in Japan, over looking a mountainous city speckled with bright lights, while the single waitress conducts her version of a symphony and the Thai chef prepares our meal from scratch? No. This my friends, was a first time experience.

It was pretty amazing. Sitting across from each other, enjoying a new experience. All very elegant, until the CD stopped and restarted with believe it or not. Britney Spears. At least it was the old stuff. . .the good stuff. Followed closely with Destiny's Child, Avril Levine, and as we were walking out of the door. . .TLC. They totally redeemed themselves with the TLC.

** We must apologize at the horrendous quality of the pictures. Not to worry, a new camera is coming soon. **

Saturday, September 19, 2009

current happenings

It's official. The hotel rooms are getting booked, the maps are getting highlighted, the research is beginning!

Rick & Sue are coming to visit! For those of you who don't know, Rick & Sue are Brandon's parents, and they are taking their first adventure outside the United States! It means so much to us that they would fore-go their beloved trips to Disney World and Hawaii and try something new. All be it, they have the bonus of seeing their lovely children, but still. They are coming! And have you know, they still get a little Disney; Disney Tokyo is on the itinerary!

current happenings

Monday is Honor the Aged Day here for the Nihon-jin (Japanese). It's an actual celebrated national holiday, not a Hallmark holiday that most Amerika-jin (Americans) have to google the date of. For those of you in shock, yes, we have a Grandparent's day and it falls the first Sunday after Labor Day. Get this, some people have a 5 day weekend because of it! Jealous much?!

After expressing great fear to his staff about how we might obtain some candy corn with October approaching, a sweet waitress went out and bought us our October supply of candy corn! If you don't know, we eat candy corn for a month straight in this house hold. November 1st is a very sad day around the Willett's. Yes, we know you can buy it year round, but there is no justification as to the amount that we intake, except to blame it on Halloween, and you can not blame it on Halloween approaching in let's say, mid-March.

We have been collecting things for the dorm room. The theme seems to be approaching shades of green with some white and blue. Wasn't planned it just seems to be happening. We have a table being delivered tomorrow, and then the decorating can ensue. We are trying to keep it low budget, but we really need to make this place like home stat. One can only hang out in a white room for so long. . .

Thursday, September 17, 2009


We went to Nagasaki City for the first time yesterday. Again, we got a bit "over-adventurous". "Over-adventurous" is our new term for "where the F!#* are we?!". This city is HUGE. I mean, it's probably the size of Houston. We did however start out on the right foot. See, we have now learned to go with a plan. When all else fails you can get in a cab and have someone else take you! But, when you don't have plans, you end up wandering the streets wondering where the awesome stuff that you hear about could possibly be hiding. See the other thing is there are no little books on Nagasaki. Which I find so weird. They cover it extensively in all of the big books, but there are no little one's that come with those convenient fold out maps and zoomed in sections of awesomeness. Do you know of one? Please indulge us if you do. Now, this isn't going to become another long entry of how we got lost, because we did do some rather AMAZING things.

Nagasaki is so beautiful. Granted it's rather new; that's right, I'm looking at you A-Bomb. But the thing is, I don't think it would be what it is today had that not happened. That does not in anyway justify the use of bombs, it just means that they obviously have made the best of the worst.

We got off the train, which was a beautiful ride of ocean and islands, and headed to the Nagasaki Peace Park. The Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum sit in the hypocenter of the drop. That's right, how creepy is that, to know that we were standing in the place that the oh so famous mushroom cloud once was. The grounds are huge, about 3 kilometers or so. I am sure there is an exact amount, but who knows. The Peace park is about the size of a football field and is scattered with statues which have been given as gifts to contribute to the idea of world peace that the park promotes. The feeling at the park is very mellow and meaningful, as I am sure most massive memorials are. Not much general talking, but a constant hustle and bustle of tour groups, mainly children, being shuffled around from statue to statue, posing for class pictures in front of the Peace Statue, and dutifully listening to explanation's from the guides (which happen to be dressed like flight attendant's from the 50's).

Right hand pointing up to warn of the bomb, left hand pointing out to symbolize world peace, left leg ready to defend, and the right leg bent to symbolize harmony and meditation.

This sight immediately brings back memories of 5th grade (pardon me if you didn't grow up in San Antonio, and can not relate to this next story). Every 5th grader in San Antonio is taken to visit the Alamo, and to see the movie, Alamo: The Price of Freedom at the IMAX. You do your duty, moving quickly through, standing at and crossing the line that Davey Crockett drew in the sand, and if your're lucky eating lunch at MacArthur Park before you have to go back to school. I bring this up, because of the fact that we American 5th graders show no excitement to honor a building that was host to a horrific death battle ultimately ensuring our future freedom. We wine because it's hot, and don't pay two ounces of respect, and we even have the actual building to look at. I bring this up, because we spent a good 10 minutes watching a I'd say 6th grade class conduct a heartfelt ceremony at the base of the statue. They started with a speech, then 2 special classmates walked side by side carrying peace offerings in which they simultaneously placed in the altar. Upon returning to their uniformed lines (all wearing red hats have you know) there was another small speech. Then, the back row picked up some plastic instruments, which if I dare explain, were Casio Key Boards with a mouth piece attached recorder style. The class proceeded to sing a song, in complete harmony, with complete passion and a few cracked notes. That my friends, is a way to honor your country's sacrifice.

We continued to walk around, traveling through the statue gardens making our way to the Atomic Bomb Museum. The museum starts with the moment the bomb dropped, which is displayed rather intensely with a single wall clock recovered from someones home displayed in a glass box battered and broken with the hands stopped at exactly 11:02. The museum is silent at that point with the exception of a repetitive "tic-toc, tic-toc", and there is no light from overhead. As you proceed, you pass by parts of buildings, and the actual parts, not reproductions like at the Civil Rights Museum. You look at burnt clothing and wooden fences with patterns of tree leafs left on the surface after the sudden burst of light. Then you get to the intense stuff, like fragments of human bone melted into cement and glass, and helmets with bits of skull bone embedded, pictures of little kids trapped under rocks, it all gets quite graphic for a bit. Then you move on, and they take you through the replicas of relief efforts, give you the opportunity to hear survivor stories, and then into the aftermath and long term effects. You then proceed to exhibits on where nuclear bombs are today and they lay out who has them and what they intend to do with them. After looking at all of the things previous, you aren't left very interested and are a little emotionally drained, so we pretty much breezed through that part. Except to learn that Russia has the most nuclear bombs, something neither of us knew.

The bridge is directly over the center of the hypo center where the Atomic Bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

It wasn't a museum about WWII so there was no mention about the war at the time. Many people might think that is unfair, to not show that American' forces had their reasons to drop the bomb, but to us, it's okay they don't address that side. It's a memorial to the massive bomb that was dropped on a city, not a memorial to WWII. They don't need to talk about what happened before the bomb, it doesn't matter. The fact is, it was dropped, a great many people of many different countries were killed and hurt, and it was built to honor them.

We left very humbled Americans, to say the least.

Needless to say, nothing we did after that was very satisfying. Chinatown was cool, but not very festive at the time, and then we walked around for 3 hours trying to find Nagasaki Station. Which turned out was quite far from where we were and we probably should have taken a cab. We weren't even leaving from that station, we just insisted on finding it to prove to ourselves that we aren't complete idiots and can find our way when we are over-adventurous. I did a lot of whining, after all I didn't wear socks with my chucks and that gave me the right to complain about everything else but my feet, but the better half emerged in the form of Brandon and did a lot of motivating After asking many people many things in what could have been Japanese we finally made it back to our rightful train station, grabbed some drinks, and headed back home to our delightful dorm room.

Monday, September 14, 2009

current happenings

Starting today: Current Happenings.
Small segments of everyday life. Not everything can come with pictures or a long story friends, but somethings are definitely worth sharing.

So it turns out that we missed the spectacular fireworks display at the dutch theme park. We were back in Sasebo eating ice cream cones and walking home when everyone else was back in the Netherlands livin' it up with fireworks! No wonder everyone was staring at us like we were crazy for leaving!! Granted our minds were slightly impaired for the 1,000ml carafe of red wine we polished off, I'm still not sure how we managed to miss FIREWORKS!!!

Oh, and not to mention we didn't know we were standing in one of Micheal Jackson's favorite places on earth. Go figure it would be a cheesy dutch fairytale land, but still, at one of the attractions they actually have his favorite seat engraved and people lay flowers on top!! I am so saddened at the fact that we can not read one bit of Kanji...stupid symbols. But, the good thing is a tribute show to him starts this weekend and lasts for a month. So, you can only bet that we will be heading back for MJ stalking, wine, pear & blue cheese pizza, and for goodness sake, FIREWORKS!

year one


Dallas to San Antonio to Japan, who knew? My oh my, what a year can bring. Yesterday we celebrated our first anniversary of marriage! We rang it in with champagne and Casablanca and then woke up on Sunday and went to Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch Theme Park about 20 min by train outside of Sasebo. I would like to take a moment to point out there are so many great elements to the sentence that I just wrote. Anybody else think so??

Here are some pictures from our day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

soy sauce isle

let us introduce you to the soy sauce isle...

yep, and some are actually packaged in a bottle much like what we might package a sport drink in...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

wishing a peaceful day to the USA.

rest in peace those who have lost their lives in the struggle for peace.

thank you to those who continue to protect our freedom.

Bansky street art.

old navy guys & chu-hi's

Ever wondered what old navy dudes do? Well, they come back to Navy towns, work on Navy boats, and spend the rest of the time getting innocent bystander's super drunk on the amazing concoction known as the chu-hi. Think about the most intense vodka you could ever imagine, in every flavor you could want, pour in some ice and soda, and that's pretty much it. A calorie filled goddess of a beverage.

That is a picture of what it looks like in a can. However, the place we stumbled into in all of its American glory with said navy dudes, had it on tap for happy hour. I couldn't tell you their names, but they wouldn't let us pay for a single drink, making the night reminiscent of a night when Rocky was bar tending at Hailey's. So, for those of you who don't know what that means, it means you spend the night laughing so hard, dancing around to the Beatles, and stumbling home because lord knows you should NOT drive. In our case, all of the above happened except we took our selves home in a taxi.

Good times, not to be had too often!!

Pearl Sea Resort

We know we have been holding this kayak adventure over everyone's head, but we just keep getting everything wrong. Which is unbearable to Jewell and her planning obsession. We arrived at the Pearl Sea Resort Monday afternoon, only to find out that they only offer kayaking on Sunday's. Grrrrr, Autum. In an effort to rescue our long awaited adventure we hoped on the pirate ship for a lazy cruise around the 99 Islands instead. What do you know?! It was amazing! Talk about beauty at our fingertips. We passed by islands that were so small with tiny beaches and topped with lush greenery. They just made us wish we could crawl up on the beach (this is where the kayaks would have been awesome), unpack a picnic, and spend the day on our own personal island drinking chu-hi's and waving to the crusies that go by. Pardon my fantasy, but tell me that doesnt sound amazing?

see, they do exisit!

the bouey's you see are used for pearl farming, 2 million lbs. of oysters a year.

they filmed landscape scenes from The Last Samari in the 99 Islands. Rightfully so.

Mandatory Sno-Cone Break!!

mango and sweetened condensed milk.

Moving on, we went to the aquarium. That was a good time. The Jelly fish exibit was the best, but we saw a great amount of crabs and sea turtles as well. Sasebo seems to really love their wildlife.

finger sea weed & sea turtles
dolphin show!!

horseshoe crabs & jelly fish