The lights came on in the cabin which created a stir of weary travellers. My overnight bus journey was coming to an end as we reached Kyoto. It was 5:45am and already really warm. The bus dropped me and a handful of others off at Kyoto railway station. I stood there for a minute or two just taking in my surroundings. Today was going to be a long day as check in was not until 4pm!
My first order of business was to secure my bags in a luggage locker so I didn’t have to carry them around. The station was quiet and peaceful but that would all to change in a matter of minutes as the first trains started to arrive. I located a Mcdonalds for a drink and some free WiFi so I could plan my next move.I felt bad for taking up a seat when people were trying to eat, so I moved myself outside to read my book to kill some time. I found a spot that was also good for people watching and witnessed a family reunion between a family and their niece/cousin who was living in Thailand.
I managed to keep myself occupied until 9:30am and I then set off for my hostel to drop my bags. A block over was the Aquarium which I thought I would spend some time at. It was now scorching hot with humidity to match. Inside the Aquarium was a lovely dark air-conditioned room with a large floor to ceiling fish tank. The silver fish were mesmerizing as they all swam in unison, creating the most pretty patterns, until this asshole sting ray would swim in between them and break up the formation. Call me crazy, but it looked like he was doing it on purpose because the other 2 sting rays would give the fish a wide berth to do their thing. After a while I decided to get some lunch. I was horrified at one of the options, which was a whole fish on a role, “here is were Dory lives, and here is where she died….on your lunch roll, enjoy children!’. I went for the chicken burger. I went to check out the dolphin show and yes, gasp I was horrified again. They were giving all the crowd straws with slits cut into them to be used as make shift whistles. Absolutely no regards for marine wildlife and the damage plastic straws do! So I walked out and went back to my dark room to watch the arsehole sting ray annoy the fish.
I went back to my hostel around 2pm and sat in the common room under the air con with my laptop. There was an English guy there and we had a good chat about Japan and travel in general. Our little chat inspired me to get back out there and I went and visited the Nijojo Castle in the afternoon. I wish I had the audio guide, but at the same time my attention span was short. The heat in Kyoto was insufferable. It was now up near the 40 degree mark with bad humidity. You just poured with sweat. I had found out later that Japan was suffering through a heat wave that I would spend two weeks in before moving onto the heat wave in Korea. Anyway the grounds were large and would have been pretty to walk around on a cooler day. At one of the pit stops the vending machine had run out of water, but you could purchase peach flavoured water. It was different and I finished my bottle in seconds. In the end it didn’t matter what fluids you had, as long as you kept yourself hydrated.
One the way back I stocked up on a 7Eleven dinner, complete with beer and ice cream. That night when I had my shower after my over night bus ride and sweaty day, it was the best feeling in the world.
The next day I headed back to Kyoto station. I had stopped off at the shops on the way to purchase a UV umbrella. Now as a sun-kissed bronze Aussie, I had always made fun of the Japanese carrying umbrellas in the sun. In our culture umbrellas are only for the rain, but as I observed the locals, it made sense as it did create a nice patch of personal shade. I was quite chuffed with my investment.
From Kyoto station I caught the train to Nara with one objective….to see deer. Deer roamed the small city of Nara, mostly in the large park areas and around the shrines. My first mistake was I didn’t play it cool. I lost my shit at the first group of deer I saw. I clambered off the bus and searched for the person selling the special biscuits to feed the deer. This group was street deer and they were vicious!! As soon as they spotted their victim with the bickies they would surround them. I was trying to film my “feeding experience” and managed to get some great footage….of one biting me fair in the stomach!! Serves me right I guess as I was only laughing at another lady getting the same treatment only minutes earlier! Once I managed to get a few cool happy snaps I got back on the bus and headed further in to see some shrines. I also found much more placid deer! I did the hike into the forest and it was very pretty. On the way out of the park areas I came across an ice cream van. I set myself up on a bench with my ice cream and my UV umbrella as I watched the deer continue to terrorise tourist. I then made my way back to Kyoto once I had seen enough fun. At the Nara train station I went to purchase my ticket. Something went wrong and ended up purchasing 10 tickets for $76. The station workers had a giggle at me when they asked how many people were travelling and I said just me. They were so lovely and refunded me the money and then I went to another machine and purchased my 1 ticket for $7.
The next day I hopped on the bus and went to see the Golden Temple. It was a beautiful temple all done in gold on the side of a lake. After walking around the grounds and taking pictures, the pathway takes you pass street vendors. Now after being in Japan now for over a week, there is not a lot of English spoken so when people call things out, I had sort of blocked it out because chances are I couldn’t understand them, except for this one guy selling chestnuts. He was not Japanese all though he first said his spiel in Japanese and then saw me and changed it to an English version which I have a suspicion he was not saying the same thing to the Japanese. I heard “Come try my nuts, try my warm nuts, do you want to try my nuts?”. I burst into laughter and yelled back “Only if their salty!!” He gave me a startled look and went back to his Japanese.
I tried to catch a train out to the bamboo forest. I say try because I made it all the way to the train platform. I was sitting next to this lady on the hot hot platform and suddenly I wasn’t feeling too good. I had a pain in my stomach. Now you know I am brutally honest in this blog. I did something I would normally not do, I farted in public. I did do it discreetly by waiting for an express train to hurtled past to mask the noise but unfortunately not the smell. The lady next to me got up in disgust holding her nose! I giggled. She came back still waving her hand around. That’s when I decided that maybe I should go home and rest up.
That night I made my way to the Gion district for a walking tour. This area is where the Geisha’s trained and work and still do to this day. Our guide showed us where they live and we were lucky at the end of the tour to see a couple of the Maiko walking around. The Maikos are Geishas in training. They train for 5 years before they become a fully fledge Geisha.
After the tour, I was really wanting to try authentic Kobe beef. I found a place and treated my self to a plate and some red wine. Most expensive raw beef and raw egg I have ever had!
Today was check out day. I stayed at the hostel as long as possible in the air con working on the blog. I then headed back to Kyoto station where I had some lunch and then boarded the train to Osaka which thankfully only a 90 minute ride away and my last stop for Japan.