17 August 2009.
17.08.2009 - 17.08.2009 41 °C
Well my Obon (Japanese summer holiday) which has been short, expensive, hot, sweaty...but good fun and well worth it!
Part of the reason my Australia trip didnt go as well or work out how I wanted it to, is because of expectations. Expectations plays a huge part in life. Before something happens whatever that may be, its difficult not to have any expectations of it. Now as I mention i believe my expectations i had of Australia definetely played a part on my enjoyment of the trip. There has always been a lot of hype about Australia and i had been looking forward to it, so I conjured all sorts of fantastical ideas of how my trip would go and what i would do etc. There was other things that contributed to the fact that it wasnt the trip I'd hoped for, so Id say expectations were 30% of it. Dont get me wrong, I had fun down under, there were some good times, I visited some amazing places, but on the whole it wasnt at all how i imagined it to be, but then again thats life.
Now once i had booked and sorted myself to go to Japan, I had already heard the touristy hype of Japan as the hugely cultural country it is and Id heard the huge hype and talk of teaching english in Japan/Asia, and hadnt really heard any bad news on the subject! Although I made sure i didnt spark my mind off on a high expectation mental vision of how it will all play out. Which was great, i went to Japan with basically not expectations and so far its worked wonders!
Now, it's the same sorta thing with the greatly hyped and highly renouned city of Kyoto. Kyoto is always said to be the city in Japan that has most preserved the countries hertiage, ancient culture and architecture. I hadnt seen any pictures of the city itself, although i had seen pictures of Ancient Japan. So before I went i believed Kyoto city to be sprawled with all kinds of Japanese style buidlings and covered in Japanese culture.
When we arrived in Kyoto (I was angry/tired/sweaty) I was gravely dissappointed. Due to my expectation, my high-anticipation of Kyoto was dropped as i immediately stepped off the bus. The city, was like a ghost town, the buildings were very run down and some quite derrilict, and there was evidence of westerisation on every corner. However my opinion of Kyoto began to change, and you should never just a book by its cover, or a city by a few normal looking buildings and convenience stores.
We checked into our hostel when we got there, and might I say it felt damn good being back inside a hostel! I spent an extensive period of time living out mostly dingey hostels, in Australia. Hostels have their up's and down's, but once you get out of living in hostels after a long time, its like being released from prison (not thats iv been released from prison ) however as with the prison some ex-cons/ex-hostelites find it hard to live on the "outside", its always a matter of time before they find themselves back inside, whether that be in prison or in a hostel, theres no rehad or conselling or hostelites, no help to get them on their feet and in the real world. Sounds a bit much...but believe me some 35+ yr olds who iv met who live out hostels need help!
Back to feeling "damn good". The hostel was as it should be and im always rating hostels, on price, cleanliness, location, facilities and social atmosphere. And the Sparkling Dolphin Inn seemed to fair not badly all round!
I was saying before about Up's and down's in Hostels, ill briefly clear up what I believe those mainly to be. Up's come under = 1) Meeting people from all over the world/all walks of life who are travelling 2) Finding somewhere cheap rather than a hotel, so you can spend your travelling money on better things 3) Cultural mixing, and learning to mix/live with strangers. If you can do this sharing a flat/apartment with mates will be a breeze! (as i have friends who complain about this).
Downs come under = 1) Living in a hostel for a long time sometimes, especially if your working also, you just want some downtime, and coming back to a booming dingey hostel is the last thing you want, after a stressful day!
2) Everythings in competition, its a dog-eat-dog hostel-world, as far as internet access, tv lounge, plates/cutlery, floor space etc.
3) You get prettty much NO PRIVACY! best privacy you can hope for is in the shower!
All that said, it was nice to be back in a hostel, knowing in the back of your mind you have a homely apartment in Tokyo to go back to.
Ok...so i digress. Kyoto's many Temples sprawl dotted across the city. And looking at the map of them is like looking at where the attractions are located in a theme park map, systematically planning your attack. We saw 4 Temples. All in all AMAZING.
1st Temple, To-ji temple; now i dont have any background information or history on the temples, so if you wanna know that shit look it up yourself!!
To-ji temple was pretty interesting it was the tallest one, and was stacked high, with one Japanese hut on top of another.
2nd Temple, Ginkaku-ji temple; This temple was soooo beautiful and felt very traditionally Japanese (however that feels), it was iddillyic, and made for picturesque postcard like photos! Iv seen pictures of this temple in winter and it looks even more beautiful!
3rd Temple, Kinkauji temple; this temple, is probably the most famous, and its Golden Pavillion can be found in many tourist books. The Golden Pavillion is the only attraction here, big golden temple, sitting on a lake, certainly drew a crowd!
4th Temple, Kiyomizu temple; this temple took the longest to reach, however it was very very interesting, and was quite high up thus providing a great view.
Iv seen 5 temples in Japan now, the 1st one being in central Tokyo. I dont know if it would be fair to say "Once you've seen one Temple you've seen them all" because, they are similar in some respects, but very different in others. Kyoto turned out to be a worthwhile trip overall, despite my expectations...and I even spotted a much acclaimed Geisha Girl at night!
On the final day, we (me and my mate Liam who was teacher training in LDN with me) woke up hungover. We didnt have any plans to do anything but watch the endless stream of films on the only English channel in the air-conditioned hostel. However "doing nothing" isnt as easy as it sounds, someone will undoubtedly start making conversation which will lead to "doing something", which in this case was a day trip to Japans second largest city, Osaka. It was only Y540 (£3.50) one way, so when in Rome as they say. Osaka was much like Tokyo exept with less skyscrapers. Its streets still overrun with people in a rush and its subway still as confusing as a plate of spaghetti!
We went to the port and went on what was claiming to be the worlds biggest ferris wheel! it was ok.
Later we got the subway to where the famous Osaka castle is, it also had a very Ancient Japanese feel to it. We didnt pay to go in though.
The Nightbus. I'll start by saying, travelling in Japan is extremely expensive, the best ways to travel are the Shinkansen (Bullet train) and Plane, however these are not cheap! Those who cant afford them, are left with the local train or bus choice. A Japanese girl I know managed to get us a dirt cheap Nightbus tickets on the internet, Y7,300 (£42) return, which is cheap believe me. We were unsure where the bus was leaving from in Shinjuku (central TKY) as the ticket didnt say. so it took us a long time to find out. As a result of this running around, by the time we were boarding it looked like we'd been swimming in a pool of our own sweat!...on top of that the bus had shit air-conditioning, and had about 5 unnessesary stops, in which they turned on the lights like on an operation table, to wake everyone up! It was a grueling 8 1/2 hours! I have to say, iv slept sweaty before, iv slept rough; at 3 airports and outside a train station, but the bus was as bad as i thought it was. I did some mental prep for the bus back, luckily it wasnt even half as bad, and had great air-con and i slept pretty well considering!
Lat thing i feel i need to mention. Is Earthquakes! Theres the saying "be careful what you wish for" this might be true for me. I've been wishing for an earthquake (not a huge devastating one obviously) since I got to Japan. Last week there was 2. The first one you could call a tremor, as it was just a little shakey.
The 2nd one was when my mate who was teaching in Osaka left. I thought i need a decent nights sleep. However i was woken up about 4.55am, to the whole apartment block shaking, at first because i was still 1/2 asleep, i thought i was still dreaming, then i woke up to the fact it was an earthquake! I stood up and thought, what I should do, before i decided what to do it ended and i went back to bed.
Japan is apparently overdue a devastating Quake. Lets hope i doesnt come.
Well....Im back teaching (if i can call what i do that) on wednesday, and will be in an attempt to knuckled down get in a routine and save some Yen!
Thats it for another installment of Japanorama. Stay tuned bitches