Shitty day in Kyoto today: warm, humid and raining with thunder. Stayed in the hostel til about 11 and jumped a bus up to the Golden Pavillion. You pay when you get off the bus here. And they turn the bus off at every stop or traffic light, not that the traffic is particularly bad..I'm assuming it's fuel or greenhouse related. With the trains you find out how much it is to your destination and get a ticket for that much. If you didn't get enough 'credit' you can do a fare adjustment when you get off before going through the ticket gates.
I've been trying not to swear too much on the blog but there is no other way to say this. It, fucking, pissed down. Full on Japanese summer rain belted down for about 30-40 minutes when I got to the Golden Pavillion. I had to walk about 200m from the bus to the ticket counter, and by that time my shorts and half my shirt were soaked (I had an umbrella). Whilst waiting for the rain to die down I met a Dutch guy named Alexander who was on his own as well. We went to the Zen garden at Ryoanji temple but were a bit disappointed, renovations on the building pretty much made it useless.
We got the bus back to Kawaramachi (not far from my hostel) and I walked the streets west of the hostel for a few hours. Had Tempura-don for lunch (Tempura fish, prawn etc with rice) and met a nice girl Ami who worked there.
Kept walking for a while and took heaps of photos of the streets. There isn't much graffiti around, the odd tag or sticker but nothing big. Ended up in Gion again and wandered through the narrow streets. It's a really cool area as all the doors are shut, and you hear whispers or laughter or musical instruments playing or you smell food or incense as you go past each particular place.
Saw another Geisha, took a photo but was about 20m away and tried to be a bit discreet. Most of the other tourists are so shameless, walking right up to within a metre or two and taking photos or video as they walk past. I saw some tourists pose with one with their arm around her? She's not Mickey Mouse. It's also rude to have your arm around some one you don't know, so Yashi tells me.
At night there were only 3 of us (Soren, a Danish pure math lecturer at Stanford, and Stephanie from Montreal). Yashi took us down the Pontocho which is a long narrow street with lots of restaurants and bars. Ended up in a bar and had skewers (mushroom & green pepper) and Ko-re (fried chicken with rice). Apparently my pronunciation is good, my memory for the words...not so good. Washed it down with cold Sake and one beeru kudasai.
Saw what I thought was a huge strip club with a very good looking, but very young looking girl plastered all over the front with pink writing and bright lights. Apparently it's a Korean BBQ place?!
Went down to the river again for a few beers which was full of foreign uni students, met an American couple who were ok. But they were American. The guy dropped this howler "it's weird cause we bombed the fuck out of them, and now they want to be like us, cause we have the best stuff". Right. 33 years old and this was his first trip out of the US of A.
Some 21 year old London metal head drinking Vodka and Coke decided to fill everyone in on Japanese history so I walked home along the river about 1am.