Times I've hit my head on low doorways in Japan: 5. Yashi who owns the hostel in Kyoto took us out for a walk on Wednesday night, definitely had a few flashbacks to Memoirs of a Geisha while walking through dark narrow alleys. Lots of closed doors makes you wander what actually goes on, I think they call it the shadows of secrets here. It absolutely pissed down raining and I got drenched (no umbrella) and we saw a few shrines and had dinner at a little place which sold deep fried skewers. I had beef, black mushroom, asparagus, sweet potato. Finished off having a beer with Ryan from Toronto (Canada) and everyone went to bed at the same time (10 people) which was quite weird. The hostel is really really cool, a bit more community that any other hostel I've been in.
Thursday morning I got the train to Arashiyama and rented a bike. Got lost finding the monkey park and asked an old guy sweeping a temple driveway. He said lots of things, none of which made any sense to me. I just said 'hai, hai' then 'ii yo' then arigato gozaimusu. Yes, yes...it's ok...thankyou. He pointed me in the wrong direction and I was off. Ignored his instructions and found the monkey park. Trekked up the hill which was killer (33 degrees again). Covered in sweat by the top but about 30-40 monkeys made it worthwile. Got lots of photos and a melon snow cone.
Got to the bottom and checked out the Zen garden at Tenryuji temple which was pretty good, relaxing anyway. I was hungry by that point so went and got Niku Don (beef with rice) at a little restaurant...I was the only foreigner which is a good sign.
You can pretty much leave your bike anywhere and noone will touch it here, and no helmets. I rode off into the bamboo forest which was a bit cooler but spent most of the afternoon getting lost and riding up hill. Was trying to find Gioji shrine but ended up riding off the map apparently. Stopped into a little shop and the lady gave me some cold wheat tea (komugi) and gave me another map and drew some lines for me. She was really nice, asked how tall, do I hit my head, where have I been, where am I going etc. Most people here are genuinely thankful that you actually visited their country. I bought some things and she saw me out. The shrine I was going to was ok, the journey exceeded the destination.
Headed back to the hostel, had a shower while noone else was there (there's one shower in the hostel). Did a load of washing hit my head, went back for a quick sleep and went to Daimaru with Priyanka from New Hampshire, USA. Got an Apple Pie moochi (little rice sweet thing) which was awesome and checked out the food court (like Market St DJs on a much bugger scale)...and better.
Went out for dinner after that and then about 6 of us bought some beers and headed down to the river. Also had a Soda flavoured Kit Kat. Talked crap with Ron from New Jersey and Rushna from Sydney. Yashi brought his Mum down to meet everyone which was cool, but odd.
Coolish is an ice cream, you have to wait til it melts a bit to 'drink' it...hence coolish.