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Ocean breeze, turquoise waters and a whole lot of amazing cuisine. Marko and Alex are soaking up that island life in Okinawa, Japan and learning what makes it so unique.

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Transcript

- I almost bought a nudie mag and I was gonna be like it gets lonely in the castle. I'm Marko. - I'm Alex. - [Both] And we're the Vagabrothers. - [Alex] We love traveling and a little brotherly competition. - [Marko] So we're crossing the globe and putting our local trivia skills to the test. - [Alex] To see who's spending 24 hours living like a baller. - [Marko] And who's pinching pennies. - [Both] This is Basic Versus Baller. - Welcome to Okinawa, an island in the East China Sea often called the Hawaii of Japan. Its strategic location made it one of the most intense battlegrounds of World War II. But today its tropical beaches are a top draw for travelers. - Neither of us have ever been to Japan and we hear it's not cheap. But to find out which one of us is ballin' and which is on a budget, it's time for a competition. - Nice to see you, brother. - Here we are, dude, Okinawa, Japan. - First time in this country. - Yeah. - And Okinawa's a very distinct part of Japan to experience for our first day here. I don't know if it's gonna be affordable or expensive, I mean, because Japan is the land of instant ramen but also Kobe beef. - Yeah, you can pretty much get anything from a vending machine here but there is a lot to explore. This is a unique corner of this country and I'm excited to get into it. "What is the statue you're standing in front of called?" Oh, yes! - Okay, congrats, congrats. Enjoy your time here. I have to say, with weather like this and beautiful beaches, I don't need a big budget to have a good time. - Ballin' in Japan? I'm kinda stoked on this, not gonna lie. - Okay, well, enjoy yourself, I'll see you on the flip side. - Good luck. - Enjoy Okinawa. - You too. - [Marko] My brother may be headed to some fancy suite but I'm gonna be having a uniquely Japanese sleeping experience. Well, it's time for me to find an affordable place to spend the night. Japan is one of the most densely-populated countries in the world, space is at a premium. So to save cash, I'm gonna stay in a place that's very unique to Japan, a capsule hostel. Konnichiwa. - Konnichiwa. - Hi, my name is Marko Ayling, I have a reservation. - Okay. - This looks like a pretty cool spot. - Oh, thank you. - I've heard a lot about the capsule hotels. Any advice for sleeping inside a capsule? - If you need-- - Do I have to bring oxygen? - I think you'll be fine with that but if you need extra-- - Ear plugs? - Yeah. - Okay. - Help yourself. - Thank you very much. - All right, thank you. - This is the densest hostel I've ever seen. This floor has 50 capsules in it. They look like something out of a Mars mission. There's mine right there. Whoa. This is a trip. It looks quite comfortable, all things considered. There's a sign right there that says no eating, drinking, talking on cell phones, using hair dryer or smoking and I'm picturing the one person who was trying to do all of those things together and they said, you know what? This is enough, someone's gotta put the line down somewhere, there is not gonna be someone sitting here eating a hamburger, smoking a cigarette, talking on the phone and drying their hair at once, that is just too much. Decency, people, decency. It's like a Tarzan workout to get in here. Okay, okay, I can work with this. This is a space capsule. Light control, light control, more like... ♪ Ground Control to Major Tom ♪ ♪ I'm sleeping in a capsule ♪ I got a TV here. Don't think it works. I think I'm going stir crazy, I have just got here but, you know what? It does seem kinda cozy. It's very comfortable. I just need to make sure that I breathe deeply and don't feel the walls closing in on me. Budget, it's fine. Maybe in the future I'll get baller. I hope Alex has more space than I do. Okay, time to meditate. - [Alex] Feels good to be a baller in paradise. My resort has stunning views of the Iejima Island and Mount Gusuku and I can't wait to soak it all in. - Konnichiwa. - Konnichiwa. - Hello. - Hello. - I'm checking in. - Okay. - Yeah, my name's Alex Ayling, I have a reservation for a suite. - Hai. - Arigato. - Arigato gozaimasu. - Thank you. - Thank you very much. - Oh, yeah. Wow. Beautiful view, what a view. Man! Got a big kind of coral reef right out front, there's some waves breaking, a big lagoon. Two beaches, a pool. Wow, this place is incredible. I can't wait to get in the water. I think that's on my to-do list. - My brief meditation inspired me to seek out the more spiritual side of Okinawa. Okay, we're at Naminoue Shrine which means above the wave because it's a temple built on a rock above the ocean. At this temple, there's a ritual where I have to wash my hands and rinse my mouth before I can enter. And that's because here in Okinawa they have not only their own culture and their own language but their own religion, Ryukyu, and it's based upon a combination of ancestor worship and animism. This temple is dedicated to Nirai Kanai, the mythical source of all life. And when Okinawa was an independent kingdom, the king would come here every year to pray for the good fortune of the nation. It's a beautiful place and it's a great introduction to what makes Okinawa so distinct from the rest of Japan. One of the central aspects of this religion and this temple is amulets, they're basically like little good luck charms that you can buy. All the sailors that used to sail out of this harbor would come here before their voyages and I feel like this is a pretty good idea for me, I travel a lot. Arigato. Oh, this is cool. As you can see, this is the ancient symbol of the airplane, dating back 2,000 years. I'm feeling pretty safe. Got luck on my side. And maybe next time I'll win the baller. - Here in Japan, they do it a little different. They have natural hot springs call onsen and Japan is located on the Ring of Fire. It's an extremely active geo-thermal area which means that there are hot springs all over the country and this hotel is actually located on one so I'm going to go enjoy their onsen facilities all by my lonesome. One rule, no pants allowed. ♪ In the sky ♪ - This onsen is particularly special, it's called Jurassic Onsen. Why Jurassic? Because the water comes from 1,500 meters below us and that layer of time is actually from around 130 to 270 million years ago, basically the Jurassic period. So right now I'm quite literally soaking in dinosaur bones and I'm not gonna lie, it feels incredible. - Few places offer a window into the soul of a country like a market. I'm sure there's gonna be some funky stuff, hopefully it's cheap. You know, nobody told me that this place was so hot. Nobody is wearing big kimonos and heavy clothes here, no no no. So to fix my problem I'm gonna come up with a cheap solution, gettin' a fan. Arigato. Now that's how you stay cool. Well I am finally cool enough for some hot noodles. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for dinner. - I'm at Shabu Shabu Nakama, this is an incredible hot-pot-style dinner restaurant. Ooh, I am in for a treat. Shabu shabu, strange word, it's because it's onomatopoeic, it's the sound that the hot pot makes when you're boiling and cooking the meat. It goes shabu shabu shabu shabu. It originated in the 20th century in a restaurant in Osaka and it's basically a hot pot. You get the broth boiling, you get some vegetables, you get some meat and you basically create a little stew. When you put it in it's pink and when you take it out it's kinda white. That's how you know that it's been cooked. - Shabu shabu. - Hai. This is a full-blown cultural experience. I've never done this before. Arigato. All right, we have some leeks. Mushrooms, also we have some bitter gourd, traditional vegetable here in Okinawa. And, the main star of the show, seaweed. That's how you get that umami flavor. So I'm gonna leave those in there, let that boil up and while I do I am going to have the first bite. Mmm. Oh yeah, we're in business now. We're gonna shabu shabu it. Just gonna chuck that in there. That's ready to go. Get some of that salt, chili powder. Mmm. There's something to be said for how simple Japanese cuisine is. And shabu shabu is showing me the light. - It's dinner time, I'm hungry, and I've come to a local noodle joint to try one of Okinawa's specialties and one of the best budget meals around, soba. Okay, shoes off, eating on the ground, Japanese style. So this place specializes in soba. At 500 yen, that's under five bucks which means I've got a budget for a cold beer. Oh, arigato. Okay, here we have the Okinawan soba. This one in particular has a bit of pork rib which looks delicious. I was really worried about finding affordable food here in Japan but, you know, I think that the noodles, these are all very affordable foods. It's kinda like the comfort food and also one of the cheaper options for a budget traveler. I've been very worried about doing things that are rude here in Japan because it's such a different culture than my own. One thing I have learned is that it's actually very polite to slurp your noodles very loudly. This is a way that you show that it's really good, so, here's how you say compliments to the chef. Okinawa also has a craft beer. Ooh. Cool down hot soba with cold local beer. Kampai, Alex. Ahh. - Good morning, everybody, it's a beautiful day here in Okinawa. But today I'm switching things up a bit, I'm gonna head off to a new island, it's called Minna Island, kinda looks like a croissant. It's famous for its coral reefs. The Ryukyu Island chain has over 100 islands, Okinawa being the largest one. Most of them, though, are these small little coral outcroppings which are great for SCUBA diving and snorkeling so I'm gonna hop on this ferry, head out to Minna Island, go explore the tropical ocean. - Woo! Well I have just woken up from a night in my shoebox and I have discovered that breakfast is not included at my hostel so it's on me to find my own breakfast but conveniently enough there is a convenient store right down the street and the food does not look half bad. Here's to breakfast on the cheap. Not bad for about three dollars. I got green tea. Figure that's better than coffee here in Japan. Rice with seaweed and something resembling either bull testicles or boiled eggs, I'm hoping it's the latter. - [Alex] After a short 15 minute ferry ride I've found my way to Minna Island, one of the best places to snorkel near Okinawa. It's a tiny crescent-shaped island and is surrounded by an extensive network of coral reefs. The water is so clear. The coral reef stretches for miles and it's so cool to swim in the shallow waters. Pretty amazing. ♪ Hey ♪ - Well, here we are, Chura Sun Beach. I was told this is a local's beach, there are certainly no tourists. There's a bunch of kids over here in this pool, they have this like net around them. I'm not sure if that's designed to prevent against jellyfish, sharks or some Godzilla-sized Kraken, I have no idea what's lurking in these waters. So I'm just gonna get some sun and enjoy this wonderful day in Okinawa. - I'm back on Okinawa after a long morning of swimming and I'm gonna reward myself with an ice-cold refreshing beer, straight from the source. Right now I'm at the Orion Happy Park but I am a happy camper because Orion is a brewery and as you may be able to tell, this is a tropical island which means it's hot but the beer is cold, let's go inside. Would you like to know how to make a beer in 10 seconds? Ingredients, malt, milling, mashing, fermentation, maturation, beer filtration, filling of cans and kampai, beer time. Most craft beers that I know of really only use kind of either hops, a little bit of malt and barley but Orion, this is kind of unique. We have corn grits, corn starch and it wouldn't be Japanese if it didn't use rice. So let's check it out. This is definitely the hottest brewery I've even been in. It's 44 degrees Celsius just in here and inside the vat it's over 100 degrees Celsius. There is something immensely satisfying about watching a production line of beer. They do over 1,200 beers a minute here. And eventually they'll find a home somewhere. Potentially in my belly. Konnichiwa. - Hi, Konnichiwa. - One Orion beer please. Ooh. The moment of truth. - Arigato. - Arigato gozaimasu. - All that swimming has me in the mood for lunch, Okinawa style. Okay, one of the best things about being on an island is the fresh seafood. We're literally surrounded by the Pacific on all sides. This is some of the freshest fish around. Let's go inside and get some lunch. There's a lot of great options around here that don't cost a lot of money but you know when buying raw fish, you don't wanna go super cheap so we're gonna try and stick in the middle of the range. I got 1,000 yen, that's about 10 bucks and I'm gonna use this to get a pretty big lunch. Gonna pick up some sea grapes which are basically like grapes from the ocean. It's the caviar of the sea. There's some mackerel here for only 60 yen which is like 50 cents a piece. Holy mackerel. Sorry, I had to do that. Ooh, that's not bad, all right. Teriyaki tuna. Okay. All right, last but not least I'm gonna get some fresh tuna sashimi, it's served in a shell. Looks incredible and that, ladies and gentlemen, is lunch. Ooh. I don't know how to say bon appetit in Japanese but bon appetit to me, this looks amazing. Octopus on a stick. Oh! Man, octopus, when done right, is amazing. Okinawa is what's known as a blue zone which is basically parts of the world where people live well over 100. One of the reasons is because they have low stress, it's an island, everyone's very chill. The elderly are still very active in their communities as they grow older. But also because of the diet. This is really really healthy, this is all fresh fish. Okinawa, it's not just an island, it's a lifestyle. Got this beautiful scallop right here. Oh wow, look at that. I don't know how much Alex is paying for his food but I'm living pretty large on a budget that is certainly not. So my brother wants me to meet him to fulfill a life-long childhood dream of his. Knowing him, this could go either way. Konnichiwa, Alex. We meet again. - You're late. - When the student is ready, the teacher appears. - When the teacher is waiting, the student suffers. - Let's go. - Let's. - [Marko] Ah, karate chop. - I feel like it would be important to understand what he just explained right now. - Ooh. We're done. - You've got it, you've got it little dude. It's this. - Back scratcher. Come on, beat the kid, beat the kid, beat the kid. Yes. Victory. All right, let me try. Still single, got that forearm strength. No, I'm just kidding. Arigato, thank you. - Arigato gozaimasu. - Thank you. - Arigato. - After a strenuous lesson in ancient martial arts, it would only be fitting that we end our time here at a castle dating back to the 14th century. I think that after, you know, a little bit of karate I'm just kinda ready to take on the world, you know? - [Marko] Sure. - This is so cool, dude, this place is awesome. - [Marko] Wow, what a view. This has been an excellent, excellent trip. - Excellent is a word only really used by Bill and Ted but I feel like it's-- - This has been an excellent adventure. - It has been an excellent adventure and I'm glad that we can kinda bring it all together here. Shuri Castle, Ryukyu Kingdom, quintessentially Okinawan. What an adventure it has been. - [Marko] It's kinda like a two-for-one deal. - The best of both worlds. It's tropical. - So nice. - I was blown away by the weather, the water, the ocean is just absolutely gorgeous here. Okinawa is awesome. - I'm extremely happy to find out that udon and soba noodles are like the budget food here because I can eat that all day every day. - Speaking of like broths and soups, I went and had shabu shabu. Oof, to die for. If I had to choose, my favorite experience, hands down, was going out to Minna Island, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I also really loved that we could do a karate class together. - Mm-hmm. - Coming here to Okinawa, the birthplace of the martial art was awesome. I'm a little bit jealous of that little kid, honestly. - [Marko] That kid was way better than we were. - Yeah. Well brother, on that note, I think it's time to say goodbye so... Sayounara. - Well, they don't say goodbye here that often so how 'bout this? Until the next episode. - Hmm. - See you guys soon. - Deep. Always gotta get the last word in, bro. - [Marko] You're still speaking.

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