The Kyoto Road Trip started early in the morning. By this time, our Indonesian friends were on the way to the airport. Our friends from Thailand were with us until the train station where we parted ways. Those left were the Malaysians and the Singaporean. We were requested to take the 7:52 am bus from the bus stop near the dorm, but thanks to the unofficial party the night before and a bad case of having the wrong time on the handphone by one of our party (Japan is 1 hour ahead of us, so go figure) the 7:52 am bus had come and gone. Nevertheless, we got into another bus which brought us to the Hankyu train station.
From there, everything was a blur, as we were practically running from one train stop to another, switching trains at unbelievable speeds, and racing through the tourist destinations as if there was no tomorrow… which is partly true, because we were bound to be back in Malaysia on the next day. If we had participated as a group in the Amazing Race, we’d win hands down. Seriously…
Nevertheless, I shouldn’t be complaining as we were brought around on a pro bono basis by one of the Malaysian Japanese.
Upon touching down in Kyoto (I can’t remember how many trains we switched) we walked along the streets which seemed to be filled with culture. We passed along a dance theatre (Kabuki) and walked ahead to one of the shrines
Yasaka Shrine - from across the street
Yasaka shrine was the first one we visited. Here we had the chance to experience the ‘cleansing ritual’ one goes through when visiting a shrine. And you can drop a coin into the pit, and ring the bell (and most probably say a prayer, I guess)
The cleansing ritual
20 minutes later, we left the Yasaka shrine and hit the road again. The scenery was amazing, the narrow cobbled streets looked like a scene from some old movie (Kyoto is an old town, very old indeed, in fact, the word ancient would be much more appropriate) Our next stop was Kiyumizu Dera. The scenery here was gorgeous… It’s a shrine which is supported by wooden beams arranged together and supports the weight of hundreds if not thousands of people at any given time. We were here for about ½ hour before we had had to rush out again.
Kiyumizu dera, as you can see, it's fully supported by wooden beams
We took a hike, got into a bus, and then another train station and err… (like I said, it was all a blur) and we then headed to Kinkakuji aka the Golden Pavillion. My memory fails me at this point, as I cannot remember whether we had our lunch before or after this, but I think it’s most probably before. I had this dish called sapporro – sort of similar to our fried rice except for the part where I had to break in a raw egg and mix it all up with the rice before eating, but I seriously was getting bored of food by then (despite being hungry!) and I just left the egg untouched. Instead I showered my food with a large dose of seaweed powder. It rocks!
Anyway, Kinkakuji is believed to have a coat of gold all around it, and with all the leaves flapping in the wind in all the different degrees of redness, the place looked awesome. It was one of the prettiest buildings I’ve seen in a while, though I must admit that the word pretty seems to be not good enough for it. We also hung around this place for about 20 minutes, and continued with our mad dash to the next destination… the Arashiama bridge.
This is basically a long scenic bridge across a river with a gorgeous view. Once again, the forest at the foot of the hill looked like a colourful woolen blanket of greens, browns, reds and yellows. I didn’t really catch the significance of the bridge (historical or aesthetics?), but they had all this touristy places on the other side. Sadly time was not on our side and we were given about 10 minutes for shopping. Sad!
The scene at Arashiama
It was another long train ride back, and darkness enveloped us.