Published: May 20th 2012September 22nd 2010
After rushing around for a couple of days in each place we decided to stay somewhere for a week. I also wanted to have my birthday in a main city. So Kyoto was our next destination. We stayed in a hotel near the station. The station was amazing. SO HUGE, very modern and grand, this is where I and James spent nearly every morning watching the world go buy with a coffee and a dunkin doughnut. HMMM….not a particularly a healthy breakfast but as it didn’t contain rice and fish we were happy. The station had everything in it…a garden on the top roof…100s of good restaurants, shops for everything it felt like a modern bull ring instead of a train station.
This hostel was in a high rise building, we had another dorm and settled in. The hostel was very quiet. Our roomies were a few travelling business men and student, whom were very content in watching the TV all night, we tried to engage them in a few card games and drinking but there was only one lad who was willing to participate. We found in difficult to engage with other people in Japan. We either
met couples or group of people that were holiday or passing by, not really the back packers we were expecting. I suppose we are older and this is the kind of the trip we wanted, but we are also not that old either and we missed the backpacker atmosphere that we experienced in Europe & China.
Kyoto is the land of temples. Temples were everywhere. The choice was mind boggling. The largest temple or mostly the royal ones you needed to organise a visit, we thought this was too much hassle and focused on the others. We saw the golden temple, which is the famous one Kinkaku. There was also the Ryoan-Ji whivh a temple devoted to art of the Zen. They had a beautiful Zen garden. Kiyomizu-Dera was the cheesy one. It was a joy to be in this temple. There was a part of the temple where you need to walk with your eyes closed between two 18m apart stones and if you find the other stone you’ll find love. There were shops inside and loads of bustle with tourist and people selling tack. A great place to wander and enjoy the atmosphere. A religious place which
was fun but at the same time quite spiritual. There was also a dark cave in which you travelled through, completely dark and your guided to a rock by a rope where you make a wish. You completely lose yourself in the blackness and then you find this rock with very limited light around it. The whole experience symbolises entering a women. I didn’t really see any of that.
After a few days of temples we took a day out to Kyoto countryside. We went to a bamboo forest, which was one of my favourite days in Japan. I really liked ambling through bamboo, we had to follow a certain track and there was loads of ppl, but you cant really go anywhere in Japan without people. You were also blocked from actually wondering through the forest, but it was grand, simple and very beautiful. We then went to Arashiyama Monkey Park, which was F….U…N!! We had to climb a big hill to get there, but you could get as close you wanted to the monkeys, different to the tours we did in Bali, but these were not orang-utans. To feed the monkey you need to be in a
cage not the monkeys, they had a great playground and a great view of Kyoto. We walked round with the monkeys playing round us.
For my birthday we walked round the culture Gion looking out for Geisha and walking through some picturesque streets, typically old school Japanese style. We headed to the restaurant for the evening down Ponte-cho which is a street full of bar, pubs and restaurants. The meal wasn’t fantastic but it was nice to dress up and have something different to noodles. We then tried to find a cool bar which was recommended to us but we spend the whole night trying to look for it, we ended up in a random bar listening to a band and drinking the night away until it was obvious that the bar staff wanted the place for themselves for a bit of drinking. On our walk back home we couldn’t resist in taking a snap shop of how brilliant the Japanese queuing etiquette.
There are more photos below