The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Kyoto - Day 3: the final day


Tuesday was our last day in Kyoto, and we were scheduled to return back home on the 13:00 train. We woke up early in the morning to check out Kiyoumizudera, another popular tourist-y temple. The three temples we've visited thus far were the ones recommended by my JTE (Jap Teacher of English), and to tell you the truth, I was all 'templed' out after three temples - I don't know how anyone else can visit more. An American dude (teaching English in Korea) who'd just arrived that morning into Kyoto mentioned he had no idea where to start, so we invited him along with us.

This temple was full of tourists by the time we arrived at 9:00. It is situated at the top of the hill, and it certainly was a workout trying to ride up the hill on the bicycle! There were many students perhaps on a school trip to the temple, and there were so many omiyage (souvenir) shops along the hilly road to the temple and inside the temple itself! I felt that it was rather mercantile which tarnished traditional image of the temple.

The entrance at the top of the hill:

The view of the city from inside the temple grounds:

The people drinking the water must believe it would do them some good. Unfortunately there wasn't any English signboards explaining the significance of drinking the water:

Gion during daytime

We returned back to the traditional streets of Gion to show the American where to go in the evening, and also a chance for me to take a photo of the streets during daytime.

Cancelled train services!

After checking out of our lodging, we headed back to the eki (train station) to grab lunch and hang out while we wait for our train ride back home. Being a weekday, the eki was more quiet and less crowded than on the Sunday we arrived in Kyoto. The same Grand Stair was empty which gave a great photo op:

It was a very windy and chilly day, and it was nice to have shelter from the wind while we waited for our train to leave. Except that it didn't leave. This was the first time we'd bought unreserved tickets, and it shall be our last time - the few dollars extra for a guaranteed seat is so worth it. The trains homeward-bound to our prefecture had not been running since morning because of the bad winds, which we later found out was because of a freak tornado that hit Hokkaido. We waited for two hours, and still it was not certain whether there would be any homeward-bound train service leaving that day. I was quite stressed out because
1) there was only one bus service from Kanazawa to our town, and we'd already missed it (but I'd arranged for friends to pick us up from the next town); and
2) I would be forced to take nenkyuu (paid leave) for another day if there were no trains running home at all.
3) there was the communication language barrier problem we'd had to deal with while trying to figure out what the hell was happening!

By 14:45, we decided that we weren't gonna be waiting around for a train that might never leave. So we called our lodging to make sure our room was still vacant, got a refund on our tickets and called my school to let them know that I wouldn't be heading in to work the next day. There wasn't really anything else to do in Kyoto, so we jumped on the local train and headed into Osaka to spend our evening there, where we had a great time!

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