Thursday, 15 April 2010

Thursday April 15th [Nara - Kyoto]

20100415 [Nara]

Flickr set for Nara - http://www.flickr.com/photos/fractos/sets/72157623896927960/
Flickr set for Kyoto - http://www.flickr.com/photos/fractos/sets/72157623896950306/

checking out and shopping

Late in the night, a German/Vietnamese family arrived, including screaming youngster and a Vietnamese grandfather whose party trick was falling over. Paper partition walls and glass windows into the lower floor of the house are not very conducive to sleeping when their kid was screaming. I tried to sleep in, but it really wasn't happening. Early shower then checked out, leaving baggage behind for a few hours...

3 storey pagoda and temple next to sarasawa pond

It was time to see a bit of Nara since the whole hangover and Nagoya thing was a bit of a waste of time. I set out and found a very nice 3 storey pagoda and a pond. To be fair, I found those by incident with where I wanted to go, which was the tabi-ji "ninja footwear" shop in town, which was ace :) I've always wanted a pair! I'll be amazed if they get worn outside the house but fuck it, I think they're ace.

deer and wandering up to Nara's most famous attraction - the Todai-ji temple

Mangy, pacified, and that's just the tourists. Deer are everywhere once you get near the Todai-ji temple. These ones treat "deer crackers" pretty much like crack. They are addicted. They'll eat just about anything and I daresay it'll kill them, but the crackers you can buy from various street vendors in the temple and park complex. Apparently a favourite trick is to put a cracker into someone else's back pocket, because they will follow you -everywhere-, such is their blind addiction. According to the signpost information, they keep the mother's sedated at a different location due to them being aggressive around their fawns. Also, if you bow at these deer, they bow back :) To be honest, I never saw this in practice. They also poo a lot.

todai-ji and daibatsuden

This is apparently one of the oldest wooden structures in Japan. It houses the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world, and it is, really, very bloody big. And that's just Buddha. He's got some friends, and they're all huge. They, I tell you, they ate all the pies.

mos burgers

Oh God. There's a fast food outlet in Japan called Mos Burger. They make small, but perfectly formed burgers (and, allegedly, coffee too). Amongst the various things they do is a Teriyaki Chicken burger. I'm addicted. I'm horrendously addicted. My name is Adam and I am addicted to Mos Burger Teriyaki Chicken burgers. Beautiful, non-stringy piece of chicken, dripping with this amazing sauce, really fresh, crisp lettuce on top with a huge dollop of mayonnaise. Oh God Yes.

leaving nara

Time to walk back along the little road to the station, so I picked up my bags and did just that. Local train ride to Kyoto was pretty uneventful. I like Nara. It's tiny, but it's got a great deal of character. As the first city that existed in Japan, it's pretty nice. The houses and the people - both in step with each other.

arriving kyoto

Bit more time spent looking around the station, which is huge and impressive. Finally found the right line to get to a place called Nijo ("second castle" I think) which was on the JR line so no extra charge! Yay. So, arrived at Nijo, which was only two stops away, and set out according to the directions for the hostel "in direction of Nijo Castle"...

shocking directions

So, 15 minutes later when I was very confused, having just found Marumachi Street, I ended up asking a woman behind a counter of an ice cream and cake shop where the hell I should be going. This, it turned out, was a bad idea. I walked 15 minutes back to the station, then took a different road at the intersection, found the castle, or one corner of it, and picked up the directions from HostelWorld there... leading me back to about 200 yards from the ice cream and cake shop, but headed in the right direction. Quite tired now.

kyoto's cheapest inn

Massively massively basic. No frills, no pretension to even thinking about frills. This was a very small 3 storey building with one room per floor and dorm bunks with curtains that didn't quite go all the way to closing. Awesome. The showers, it turns out, are basically in the common room and are 2 shower cubicles in length. When you're sharing the first cubicle space with a large basket, this makes changing quite tricky.

wandering down to station

Up and out of there as there wasn't a lot of point in hanging around. Wandered down to the JR Nijo station again to try and get some sightseeing done. This district of Kyoto is quite strange, in that it's pretty much building - temple - building - school - tv station - castle. The city is filling in the gaps between the sights, growing like background radiation.

kyoto central station

The station has got the weirdest roof, from inside, of any place I've been to. Check the photos. It's extravagant and quite, quite bold. It's also totally ugly from the outside, but maybe they weren't thinking of that at the time. The shopping plaza inhabiting the space is named The Cube, so you can imagine the architecture.

temple next to it

Along the road, not 500 yards from this monstrosity is a massive temple complex called Higashi Honganji. Wasn't much going on here apart from a biting, cold wind. Quite weird how the construction work next door to it had interlaced with its roof, though I guess this could have been a repair job on an existing building... After taking some photos, I went along the street towards the station to do my usual trick of confusing the hell out of people in Starbucks. "dekopi?" "Do you want me to write out the label for you, it'll save you the bother?" "decahinat kopi?" "Yes." "10 minute!" "Fine."

walking downtown

In a fit of piquem, I decided to walk the 2km back downtown, towards something I meant to see, the International Manga Museum of Kyoto. However, when I got there, it was 5.30pm and the place had just stopped accepting new visitors. Boo.

merry island cafe

Rough Guide informed me that there was a place doing Thai and Indonesian style menu near the river bridge along from the manga museum. I found it, but once I was told that the Thai Green Curry was off, somehow, magically, they'd manage to run out of it "Will this be on tomorrow?" "No no, it has run out." "Fiiiine."  In the end, I had a beer and a spaghetti carbonara while realising, slowly, that I was feeling absolutely dreadful.

feeling completely awful and walking home in the cold - allergic reaction?

Walking home in the cold is a good way to sink a lot of heat, and I was pumping it out. Not felt that ill in a while. Couldn't tell if it was some kind of delayed reaction from getting a bit sunburnt 2 days previous, or some kind of allergic reaction. I really haven't a clue. In the end, I got back to the hostel and went straight to bed at around 9pm. Rocking.