Japan - Arashiyama

Hello guys, so I'm back. Landed back in Singapore and the land of english and also chinese Tuesday evening. It was good to be able to understand things and say things in a language that people can understand me. I said it's also the land of the chinese because it is. My head almost got knocked by the taxi's trunk when the taxi driver was opening it and he asked me in chinese if I didn't see it coming. It surprised me that I could understand him, all these years really make an impact on me.

Anyway, all that is not interesting right. Will my story of the trip be? Let's begin from where I last left you. I was leaving Friday night. Lo and behold, just my luck, I had a bit of a flu starting Friday morning. I do often sneeze and get runny nose in the morning, but usually they will go away. That day, it didn't. Went through the morning, then I proceeded with my ritual of praying before a trip. Didn't complete the need for Indonesian food because I just didn't have much energy and I was thinking that seeing the doctor was necessary. So I had chicken soup from Soup Spoon for lunch. I love them. It wasn't that filling though. Went to see my usual doctor who finally found out that I moved. I last saw them in September. I didn't tell her I was leaving for Japan though, too tired and annoyed with the illness to be chatty. She said it wasn't so bad so she didn't give me antibiotics. Only the flu med and lotsa vitamin C. Maybe she's right, I mean if I wasn't supposed to fly in a few hours, I would just carry on as usual. It seemed like one of those things like a lot of rest could fix and under normal circumstances, there's the weekend to rest. However, since I was flying and with the fear of flu in this side of the world, I needed to make sure that I'm not having suspicious runny nose when I walk in Narita airport. I don't want them to suspect me of carrying any deadly disease which I believe I didn't since there's no deadly flu virus outbreak in Singapore and as much as I ate a lot of chicken, all the ones I ate were cooked well. So I took the medicine immediately when I reached my room. Tried to take a nap, but couldn't really. I got up sometime around 6 pm. Still wasn't feeling well. The runny nose wasn't totally gone and my energy level was so low :( Called mom, posted that last post on the blog. Forgotten about my laundry and Jenny took them down for me. Tidied up my things and off I went to the airport. The plane was delayed, well it's departing later than what my ticket showed me. Got quite annoyed with it. Felt hungry because I didn't have dinner and at that point, I needed something healthy. Changi airport close to midnight is not really that bustling, there weren't many donuts left in Dunkin Donuts so I opted for tea and a chocolate muffin at Cedele. Took my flu med again since I was still feeling bad and the energy level just kept on dropping and I felt sleepier. Finally got into the plane. Didn't even bother to plug the earphone and watch things on the tv. I ended up drifting in and out for most of the flight. Only got fully awake when there's around 2-3 hours left in the flight, just in time for breakfast and that's when I decided to watch something. Settled on Quartet. Did a body check on myself, temperature seemed okay. No runny nose but I knew there's mucus in there.

Landed safely. Walked through the part where you can see monitors checking passengers' temperature. All went well. Didn't get stopped, thank God. Went to the immigration. They took a picture of you and fingerprinted your 2 index fingers. All went well. Got my luggage. Got stopped at the custom check and the girl asked me to open the suitcase. Sigh. Panicked when she asked me for the key because I wondered if I brought the key with me. I did. Was pretty embarrassed when she opened my suitcase, but she gotta do what she had to do and I was the unfortunate random one that morning. Proceeded to go to the train counter. Found it easily enough. Got my tickets. Decided to get the package of Suica Card and Narita Express. I already researched all about this and was able to tell the girl at the counter that I needed the next narita express train to Shinagawa and I needed a nozomi train from Shinagawa to Kyoto. The nozomi train is the fastest train to Kyoto from Tokyo and it does cost more. I already knew the time, just needed her to confirmed it. Decided to take the second nozomi train in Shinagawa from my arrival time, since it's my first time and although I had studied the station layout and read all I could find about it, I wasn't sure I wouldn't get lost. You know, I'm directionally challenged and with really low level of alertness and energy level, I needed to be more careful. I think it's really helpful for all parties if you really know what you want. This will not confuse the people at the counter and of course you can get things done fast to get on with the train. The lady at the counter asked if I wanted window seat, that was nice of her. By the time I was done, I think it's only 15 minutes before the train departed. Saw a group of Indonesians but too tired to say, "Hi". Asked the staff there, if it's the correct train. The fellow looked at my train ticket and told me it's correct and pointed me to the door. Got in, sat down, looked at the ticket and something was just telling me it's not quite right. At that time I didn't really listen to the announcement clearly, but something about it didn't feel that right to me. The thing is I felt that I was in the wrong car and since I didn't listen to the announcement from the beginning, I wasn't quite sure, but it seemed that the train would split out and you need to make sure you're in the correct car so that you get to your destination. Asked a Japanese lady who like most Japanese don't really speak English well, but somehow we confirmed I was in the wrong car. I was like oh God, seriously?!? Panic was rising. I was in car 5 and needed to be in 9 I think so I started to walk. I wasn't sure if I was going in the right direction or if the whole thing is right. What got me concerned because the connection between cars is weird sometime, but I guess it's because they made room for toilets, but things like that made me wondered if all the cars are really connected. Can I really get through? Stopped for awhile and was thinking if I should get off to the platform, maybe it would be clearer to me, but I wasn't sure and luckily I didn't. I walked again, found a staff and she confirmed that I should walk on and thank God it's all correct because the train started moving. It was scary indeed that I could have missed the train. Found my car and sat down and thank God. Saw the view as we went along. Tokyo sky tree was the first thing I identified when we entered Tokyo.

Arrived in Shinagawa without much problem. Bought my first meal, a bento box. Took it and went to my shinkansen platform. Found it easy enough and I had to wait for sometime. The train arrived and I got into the correct car. Wasn't sure about where I should put my luggage. The bottom compartment in the luggage area was already full and I sure hell wouldn't haul my luggage to the upper compartment, so I decided to bring it with me and I was worried if there's space. Yes there are. The seats are very spacious. You can fit your luggage but of course you sacrifice you leg space but hey, noone was taking the seat next to me. As the train moved along, I had my bento lunch. It wasn't bad, I just wasn't feeling well so appetite was low and I just don't like food which is not warm. When I bought it, I didn't think about asking if it could be heated up. Ate as much as I could and I took my flu med again. Then I began to feel sleepy and again I drifted in and out. This is out of character for me. I don't normally sleep on places other than the bed, but this time around in this trip, I slept often during the travel. So with that, I didn't see much of the view. Anyways, arrived safely. By the way, everytime I got out of the ticket gate, for some reason the barrier didn't open and the staff had to check my tickets and take it. I'm not sure why. Anyway, got out from the barrier. Got confused with direction. Asked a policeman I found walking there the direction for my hotel. He gave me direction in english, but can I reiterate again on how I tired and how low my energy level was and so I couldn't really register that instruction that came in a few steps. So after some walking which was still inside the station, I asked an information counter. Then I was told the direction again and as I got out from the station, I knew where my hotel is since I was staying at Kyoto Tower Hotel and there's a tower on the hotel building. It's not really pretty, but you can't miss it. Why I chose that one, well there wasn't many hotel rooms left near the station during the period of my stay which was at the end of Japan's golden week.

Couldn't check into the room yet, so I left my luggage there and proceeded to the planned destination, Arashiyama. Found the train easy enough and arrived. By this time, it was sometime before 3. I had a packed plan for this which included visiting Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, which is quite far. Got into the taxi stand but there wasn't any taxi. Went to the other exit, did see 1 taxi and I stood there thinking and decided, no, I was just to weak to hustle. So I decided to just visit Tenryū-ji temple, the nearest temple to the station. As I walked, there's direction to walk there. Now, I would like to urge you to not rely so much when you read information about it takes x minutes to walk somewhere in Japan. I now believe, the Japanese just walk faster than the common people of this world. This is coming from me who live in Singapore who unconsciously have acquired quite a stamina and speed in walking. I mean, I think I can walk as fast as the Japanese, but the predicted time differed with how long I took. I think I read it takes 10-15 minutes to reach the temple from the station, I felt like I took longer and I wasn't even lost. Anyway, got in there. Bought the ticket, decided to not buy the ticket for the building.

Now that I think about it, it has the word temple in it, but it doesn't have any Buddhist related things in it that I can recall off. Then there's a big pond. You may be tired hearing me say how sick I was, but really excitement level wasn't that high with me.

As I walked away from the pond, there are more trees and plants. I got to thinking about Monet. He had a Japanese garden in his estate and there were many Japanese paintings in his small house. I was thinking if these things really inspired him. His flower garden is one of my favorite places on earth, though I've only visited it once, but I can see how wonderful it is to hide and escape in one corner of his beautiful garden. Now in Tenryu-ji, though there are more trees than flowering plant (perhaps it's just not the season), there are just these little paths which you can take and you can just disappear from view and these ideas, these connections between this garden and Monet's was just really nice for me and it made me love this garden. Notice the thought of how I like to just hide and disappear, do your own psycho analysis on me. Anyway, there are also some flowers in the garden, like this one which is the biggest flower I've ever seen, well not counting bunga bangkai, that one is not beautiful. Anyway, this flower just made me stop and be in awe and thought what did they put in her? Are these for real? Naturally like this? I know from this photo, you couldn't get the scale of how big it is, but it's big.

There are other interesting things, like trees with red leaves and the leaves look like maple leaf but I could be so wrong calling it a maple tree. Anyway, walked all around the garden and towards the exit there's a bunch of bamboos and I did read if you follow a certain exit, it would lead you to the bamboo forest so I guessed that was it and I think it really was it. I wish I could tell you that I took nice pictures as the pictures you may be googling now. I didn't. As expected in places like this, there were many tourists and I was still stupidly disappointed with that.

They were quite a something. Very tall and very green and they like prevent the light from coming down. It was something for me, to just stand there and listen when there's a stronger wind blowing them. The way they swayed and the sound, it was really something for me and I walked and stood for sometime. Followed the path until I saw the end of the section. I don't know what's wrong with me that I just often didn't try to get back the way I came, but I decided to continue with the path and stumbled into my first shrine in Japan. Just found out its name as I'm writing this. It's called Nonomiya Shrine. It's quite small, but there were a lot of youngsters praying and I observed them for awhile. These are the wishing tablets, see this cute one in my flickr set.

The day was getting late though and I decided to just proceed to the last destination of Togetsukyo bridge. It started to drizzle and I only had my hoodie. I couldn't really get direction to it, but I found my way back to the station. There, there was direction to the bridge, but with the drizzle and the distance which now I felt wouldn't be so near, I decided to call it the day. So my Arashiyama plan didn't go as I had envisioned, but I did see nice things in Tenryu-ji and I did see the bamboo forest which was the reason why I wanted to go to Arashiyama in the first place.

For more pictures of it, you can go here. I have to tell you something though. I don't think I'm that good in taking pictures, but for some reason the pictures from this trip are not amazing. It's not a good representation of how things really are. So don't take my pictures into account much. So, I went back. Had my first ramen for dinner. It was at the underground mall in between the station and the hotel, called Porta. Chose the mall, just because I understood what the name means in Italian, it means door. Arrived back in the hotel. The staff had kindly placed my luggage in my room. Showered, sat down and write while drinking hot water to help my body. Let out an ugly yellowish mucus. I know this is too much information, but I just want to say that it did mean that I was rather sick. Took my med and just kinda collapsed in bed, it was the best sleep I had in Japan. I felt better the next day but that story is for another day. Hope I'm not so lazy and I can write it soon.

:) eKa @ 11:49:00 PM •

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