Friday, November 06, 2009

Old Meets New

Sunday, 11 October 2009
Kamakura

I looked at my face in the mirror today in shock, not that I don’t look in the mirror every day, but I had on my contact lenses and could clearly see my skin peeling around the left side of my nose. I blame it all on the cool wind (despite the sun shining at your face)

Today we visited Kamakura, an ancient place with shrines and temples aplenty. We checked out Engaku Ji, a shrine that houses Buddha. Unlike the last time where we did an Amazing Race type visit, this one was very relaxed and laid back. Personally, I preferred the Amazing Race type. At least I managed to get some background info on all the places I visited, but I shall refrain from complaining. These people sacrificed their weekend to take us around.

After the shrine, we took a train to the town, where we had lunch at McDonalds. As weird as it may seem, I welcomed the idea because
a)    Their menu is different from ours
b)    Change is good
c)    See above

Apparently, Kamakura is another tourist destination because there seemed to be streets dedicated to shopping, filled with brick brats famous in local culture and loads of people walking along those streets. Some of us did some souvenir shopping here. I refrained from getting too many things this time… I saw a toy katana and the sidekick sword, but wasn’t too sure if the airport authorities would be pleased by it, so I didn’t get it. After all, it was only a toy, so it beats the purpose.

At the end of the street was another shrine. It was a pity that I never got its name. The trainer tried explaining the religious beliefs of the people of Japan, which would best be summarized by saying that it is a blend of Buddhism and God (Shinto-ism) I caught a glimpse of a Japanese traditional wedding ceremony (although I think I saw two separate brides and ceremonies, JC says there were three brides and three ceremonies, one after the other), little kids dressed in traditional costumes for the 3,5 7 ceremony. This one involves girls aged 3 and 7 and boys aged 5. 

We climbed up the stairs to the building above and our Japanese trainers were worried about the stairs. They are apparently unaware of the existence of Batu Caves and it’s 272 steps. Once again, it’s not as though any of us visit Batu Caves on a frequent basis. The last time I was there was maybe around the late 90’s or early 00’s. Anyway, the steps were not daunting to say the least, I climb more flights of stairs at work daily.

After this particular shrine, we walked back along the shopping street and went back to the train station to head back to Hiratsuka. It was still early when we reached there, and we wanted to hang out a bit more to make the weekend more worthwhile. Our invitation to the rest of the group was once again declined with excuses of wanting to rest/wash clothes, etc. So CK, JC and I hung out again to look for Monday’s lunch (we were asked to get a bento box because the cafeteria would be closed), and do some window shopping and exploring that particular part of Hiratsuka. We then had dinner at a place that specialized in soba, buckwheat noodles in cold soup and lots of wasabi. Then it was back to the room.

I started reading Adrian Mole’s - The Lost Diaries tonight after finishing 1984, which took me about a week. I strongly believe that I am going to run out of books to read before my three weeks here are up.

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