Japan Part 1
Japan Part 2
For day 3 we were undecided whether to leave Kyoto for Osaka earlier or just have the whole day in Kyoto. We had to go to Osaka to get to the airport for our early flight the next morning, but we didn't really know what to do in Osaka besides the aquarium and Universal studios, both of which were expensive, so we decided to just take it easy and spend the day in Kyoto.
Our bus route headed towards Arashiyama was apparently an old folks route, since our bus was full of cute old grannies and grandpas getting out and about with their daily business. Arashiyama is a district to the west of Kyoto, quite outside the main city area, but well worth the visit. Our bus passes didn't cover the Arashiyama area but we could still use them, just needed to pay a bit extra for the journey out of the city. Once there, me and Munira rented bikes for ¥800 each for the whole day, and it was really nice and relaxing to cycle everywhere as the Japanese do. Bike rentals are easily available around Arashiyama, and we took the cheapest most convenient place we could find. Some places charged ¥1000 per day. It took a while to get confident enough to cycle on the roads, but after some practice runs in the park we headed to the beautiful bamboo groves.
|cute teacher and schoolkids out for a morning excursion|
|me a lot of the time. logistics wrangling|
|obligatory daily selfie|
|cute old people :3|
The bamboo groves are one of the main attractions in Arashiyama, and there is no admission fee. (¥A¥) Walking through the narrow pathways surrounded by the tall, swaying bamboo is an experience like no other. When the wind blows through the forest and the bamboo rustle against each other, it's just like aaahhhhhhh~ The bamboo forest is actually a plantation, with bamboo there harvested and used for everything from building structures to souvenirs. We spent a few hours just walking slowly up and down the hills before stopping for some matcha "softu cream" at the Torokko Arashiyama Station, which was the next thing on our list.
|Practice run around the islet park|
|Bamboo forest ❤|
|cute bamboo goods shop along the way|
|mystical swaying rustling bamboo|
|scale and proportion|
|waited to get a pic in this spot only for it to turn out with harsh shadows. oh wells|
|matcha softu cream with crunchy cinnamon biscuit. Yummmm|
Another attraction in Arashiyama is the Sagano Scenic Railway, also known as Romantic train or Torokko line. It runs on an old portion of mountainous track to and from Kameoka and Saga-Arashiyama. We decided to take the return trip on the scenic railway so we rode our bikes to the Saga-Arashiyama station and parked them there, then boarded he JR line to the last Torokko station, near JR Umahori. along the way on the JR train we'd see glimpses of breathtaking scenery, deep ravines with swift blue rivers flowing through them. So exciting! From the Umahori station we walked past expanses of paddy fields (I admit, this was the closest I've ever gotten to a sawah padi >.< )
|actually i was the jakun one...|
|Romantic train has arrived|
|IRL it was 10x more breathtaking|
|traditional boat tour down the river, which we didnt take because of yens.|
|rafting down, also no because of yens. would've been awesommmeeee though.|
|one of several JR railway bridges|
|merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily|
|life is but a dream|
|through the forest|
|model town at the station|
|shinkansen tumpang lalu temple|
After the train ride we decided to just cycle around Arashiyama, stopping at cute second hand book shops and pretty train stations, along the river watching people canoe around, to the Tenryu-ji temple and some interesting statues before returning the bikes and walking across the bridge again to the park to people watch, pray, and soak in the relaxing atmosphere.
|our first second hand bookshop. instant love|
|how awesome is that breakfast at tiffany's book?|
|the shop and our 2 red bikes|
|Arashiyama is apparently a popular break-up spot. i can't imagine why..its so beautiful here|
|the bridge at late afternoon|
|pretty train station|
|skodeng dari jauh, and then|
|asked for a pic up close :) we felt so selekeh next to them|
|air, water, earth|
|quaint (expensive) restaurant|
|Music Box Museum *saaakuraaaa*|
|done ferrying for the day|
|pretty train station again at dusk|
Dinner with friends, Catalonia, and surprises
By this time it was nearing dusk so we got back on the bus to get our bags at the hostel and head to the airport. when we got back to the hostel though, we decided to have dinner first (maggi) since it would not only lighten our load, but also we didn't want to have to look for food along the way. As it turns out, our hostel mates were planning on having a big dinner altogether, and asked us to join them, so we did. A Spanish/Catalan couple, Albert and Nuria, made a delicious potato onion omelets and tomato-olive oil toast. so simple but so tasty! our Japanese hostel caretakers made teriyaki chicken with eggplant, radish and other veg, but we only at the vegetables, which were also soooo delicious. Dinner conversations firstly revolved around food, and later I asked Nuria what the deal was with Catalans, what the difference was between a Catalan and a Spaniard, so we got into a serious and eye-opening discussion about the Catalan situation. Really interesting and learnt so many new things :D If we ever find ourselves in Barcelona, we have a home ready to receive us, and vice versa yayyyy!
|our hostel mates :D|
|maggi dinner hewhew|
|yuko, the main hostel caretaker :D|
In the middle of our discussion, I noticed the hostel caretaker was switching off lights, which was odd because we were all still in the living room. Suddenly it was pitch black, and out of the staff room, another caretaker emerged bringing 2 cakes! as it turned out, they planned a mini-belated-surprise birthday party for 2 of the guests, Albert and this other Japanese guy. we were all so surprised! so sweet of them ^___^ so we all had a bit of cake, but it was getting late and we had to get to the airport. so after saying our goodbyes to everyone and thanking everyone for their hospitality, we rushed off to the bus stop and literally had to run across the road with all our luggage to catch the bus. Barely made it!
Got to the train station and bought express train tickets to Kansai but we were told the express train service was finished for the day, so we had to take the regular train and switch to another train in Osaka. After a whole debacle with the ticketing machine (you'd be surprised to know there are people, yes, people, behind those machines. I swear) we ran for the train (up and down stairs I might add) and just managed to make it through the doors before they shut. We were running really tight with the train switch, and there was a high chance we wouldn't make the transfer, which ended up being the case. So we found ourselves stranded in Osaka, at Tennoji station. the last train to the airport had gone and the station would close in a few hours, opening again only in the morning.
At first we were kind of lost, wandering around the station thinking of options. we considered just waiting outside the station, but we didn't know how safe that would be especially being so tired. my sister suggested finding a 7-11 and camping out in front of one since it was open 24/7. We asked taxis how much it would cost to get to the airport, and had a good laugh over the ¥10000 fare (after discount). then I remembered something I read about while researching cheap accommodation: manga/internet cafes or manga kissaten. It's basically an internet cafe which is open 24hrs and you can stay there and surf the net/sleep/read manga for a relatively cheap hourly/packaged rate.
We asked the train ticket counter where the nearest one was and it wasn't so far, so we walked over to see and decide our next move. after a loooong stare at the price menu, we decided to get the 5 hour night package for ¥980 per pax, which was the cheapest they offered. basically a desk cubicle with internet, and ours included free drinks, access to bathrooms and a free shower. It was actually not bad at all, if a little uncomfortable to sleep in a moving chair and at a desk, but if you wanted to pay extra, you could get a much more comfortable sleeping cubicle, which had more privacy and a reclining massage chair. not for us though.
The bathrooms were very clean, well stocked with soap and tissues, plenty of drinks from free vending machines (which I didn't know how to use so I just drank warm water), for showering they give you a towel and a hairdryer and the shower has shampoo and soap ready for you, and the place was totally non-dodgy. Rows and rows of manga available to read if you like, fast internet, relatively quiet, felt very safe and even managed to sleep for an hour or two. definitely an experience, that.
|our place kinda looked like this, but a bit brighter.|
|rows and rows of manga|
The next morning we got up super early and rushed to the train station for the first train out (5am). there was no way we were missing another train, and we really needed to be at the airport asap to drop off our luggage and board the plane. Alhamdulillah we made it in time, and before we knew it, we were on board the cutest flight we ever flew, straight on to Sapporo.
Day 3 expenses: ¥6660
Matcha Ice cream:¥150
Sagano Scenic railway:¥600
JR Tickets to Umahori:¥190
Train ticket to Osaka: ¥1830
Internet Cafe: ¥980
Train ticket to Kansai: ¥1010