I am now addicted to travelling. I have loved every second of my time so far, even the bad moments, because they put the good into perspective. Japan has been wonderful to me and once you get past the quirks you begin to love it. As I accepted that I was always going to be one of the more intriguing things in every room I learnt to let go of any shame, insecurities and hang ups I had. So from that came a level of comfort and confidence I haven’t found in day to day life away from travelling – you really stop caring what people think and start caring about how you feel and what you want to do, and it’s very refreshing.
I’ve found it increasingly easy to meet new people should I choose to and starting conversations in the common room, talking to strangers on the street, offering directions to those who look lost, and meeting new people for brief moments while you wait for the lights to change are all second nature to me now.
Today I started late due to a really bad sleep, and a lack of even that to boot. I got up and out of my dorm around midday as the cleaning lady subtly hinted that it might be time for me to do something. My plan today was Kiyomizu-dera which is one of the more well known temples in Kyoto. I made my way to the bus via Starbucks where I am known by name now, and I receive pretty little smiley faces on my cups. The bust to Kiyomizu-dera is as easy to locate as the bus to Ginkaku-Ji so fear not fellow woeful navigators.
You get dropped off about 5 minutes walk away from the temple and fair warning it is all up hill! The temple is quite nice, with a burning bright orange pagoda welcoming you the moment you hit the staircase.
There are crowds (Who’s shocked by now?) and you do have to wait your turn to take a photo but the view is worth it even on a dreary day like the day I went.
It’s about 400 yen to enter the 2nd level of the temple and explore the grounds, and it’s here you get to partake in the water ritual that everyone seemed so chuffed to have a go at.
I was a bit disappointed because one of the main reasons I was interested in this temple was the Kyoto lookout up in the mountains above it. My map said there were two paths up into the mountain and neither were accessible by the public. Seriously lame!
I was just so tired and I think my body is crying out for me to take it a little easy so I actually had a nap in the temple grounds on one of the sit down areas and was woken by pretty much every Japanese person gawking and taking photos. Some were sneaky and were taking photos with me in the background, others were just straight up honest about wanting to show people the weird white guy. Either way I obliged and even took photos with some people to keep everyone happy.
The rest of the temples grounds are nice enough, but I don’t feel that it was worth the 400 yen entry in Winter. The view isn’t quite worth paying extra for free (you get the same view for free just a different angle) by staying in the first area and really the rest of the grounds don’t offer anything aside from the waterfall ritual.
I left there with mixed feelings about the place when the thing I love the most happened yet again…I stumbled upon a quieter, and FREE temple that I preferred. There was a Shinto ceremony going on so I had a listen for a bit and then walked around their grounds which were less garden and more statues.
It was a brief stop here as I was just not feeling so energetic. It was pretty obvious to me that my energy levels were shot due to a lack of sleep and for the first time all trip my legs felt heavy. Nevertheless I did manage to have a wander into another temple on my way home and I was pleased I bothered. I found a tree still in autumn stage up the back of this temple’s garden and due to the season it was quite the find. I was the only person in this temple and due to it being next to a major road I can’t blame people for assuming there was nothing here.
It might not look like much but I stood there appreciating it for a good 15 minutes before moving on. We don’t get things like this where I’m from.
The walk home was quick, and it dawned on me that I never needed a bus trip there in the first place…oh well. Today was washing day and so I took my blog stuff down to the common room to get both things done together, but this was made difficult by these two Australian guys who were quite selfishly taking up all 3 washing machines and driers and it slowed the process down immensely. I’ve never seen people take so bloody long to do a load of washing. Kind of an embarrassment for my country really as the line for the laundry room grew and grew.
The rest of my night was spent with my new Finnish friend Olga as she planned her trip around this fascinating country and listening to a new acquaintance who was drunk on several bottles of sake and a few pints of beer. The entertainment comes cheaply in a hostel. Everyone is fascinated when I mention my no sugar thing – as they continue to eat their delicious smelling chocolates in front of me. The drunk guy even laid out a trail of chocolates leading to the main bag for me to follow…I hope his hangover hurt.