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Published: December 5th 2011
So this is it, the final highlight in what has been a busy but enjoyable three weeks in Japan. It's funny, we've seen so many monkeys in so many different places and our conclusion has always been "we do not like monkeys". Sure, they look cute at first, but really they are unpredictable little trouble makers. We still have not forgiven that baboon in Samburu National Park (Kenya) that stole our chocolate bar and ate it in front of us 3 years ago... Somehow though, the thought of these cute little furry creatures with beet red faces relaxing at the spa seemed too much to pass up. So we made our way to Yudanaka Onsen to see what these “snow monkeys” are all about. I don't know of anywhere else in the World where monkeys live in a climate that gets temperatures below minus ten degrees Celsius and several feet of snow every winter. We had an enjoyable morning at the monkey park, but monkeys are still monkeys no matter what climate they live in. There are nearly 200 monkeys in the troop that frequents the hot springs and they spend most of their time chasing each other and doing all
the usual monkey things that monkeys do. We were a little disappointed at first as there were only a couple monkeys in the hot springs. Also, the park caretakers toss grains into the water to try and entice them in with food, but the monkeys seemed mostly disinterested. Then at some point a whole bunch of them decided it was time for a bath and they all went in for a swim. They really seemed to just enjoy hanging out in the water, just like people. At the end of the day though, there is only so much time that a person can stand there and watch monkeys.
The other highlight of our stay at Yudanaka was our accommodation. We stayed at a really nice Ryokan with three natural hot spring baths of their own (no monkeys here), and the food was delicious. It was probably the nicest place we’ve stayed at in Japan, although we’re still not used to sitting and sleeping on the floor all the time. I don't think it's as good for the back as they say it is...
And that was Japan…a wonderful country and we have only good things to say about
this place. Something we’ve been trying to ignore is the fact that this is also the end to our much larger journey that began way back in July of last year. Today we fly home to Calgary for the first time in 17 months. We have mixed feelings about this as anybody would and we won’t really get into details here as there will be another blog about that. Mostly we are excited about seeing friends and family, and getting back to collecting pay checks so that we can stop using our budget spreadsheet like a magic 8-ball.
“So, spreadsheet, can we go out for a nice dinner tonight?”
“Yes, it is possible.” ;-)
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