Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Kyoto, Japan ( Day 2) - Nava K Did It

Winter in Japan or even Korea is a big major do-do. You must believe me. I know what I am talking about. Though I am yet to conquer the whole of Japan or Korea, I have had my fair share of winter share. Primarily in Hokkaido (Hilton Niseko Village, Noribetsu & Sapporo/Hokkaido) whereas in Korea (Seoul Day 8 &  Korea Incheon) I was told about winter luring tourism by the “half-past-six” tour guide who literally bragged how busy he gets during winter and by the second day in Kyoto, I saw it for myself. Honest to goodness, I really don’t know what’s with winter and the Chinese, but they are mind you the majority of the tourists. In fact, I hardly bumped into another Indian, may be not even Caucasians too in Hokkaido neither in Korea, albeit there are Indian restaurants in these part of the world. Unbelievable true! Chinese just so love snow and coming with it cold wind which literally can blow me apart like winter huge cannons. I have told you before right? Aha! I can also still clearly remember telling you I am not at all a winter user friendly person. It’s really crazy for me. Nonetheless, in all fairness, I admit that experiencing winter is part and parcel of real time globetrotting (Ankara & Bolu, Turkey &  Istanbul). No two ways about it. We must, if we want to know whats weather like in other parts of the world, we must do at least one winter holiday. Remember something. Travelling during different climate zones is definitely our first hand, leg, boobies or even “vjj” exposure. Potentially for adding value to our travelling profoundness.

Was I glad I didn’t refuse tagging along my other half-half for this winter in Kyoto and Osaka? No regrets (Kyoto Arashiyama & Kyoto Part 2). Otherwise, I wouldn’t have found out if winter in this part of Japan is fun-fantastic marvelous as I have been told. Was it? Akin a white fantasy came true? I admit I am someone who tremendously love sightseeing, mainly the historical ancient existing for many-many years spots, and winter in Kyoto is additionally no doubt about the other side of the broadest spectrum nature colors as per say via my Iphone camera and my glasses wearing eye sight. 

Having said that, honestly, for those of you who can’t stand winter, let me assure that you can actually do Kyoto during other seasons as well. You are gonna by the way visit the same sightseeing places like the many millions? Unless of course your main mission is snow activities? Other than that, everything else is literally the same which I found out for myself by this second day in Kyoto . Starting off our day by the same note. I mean, what can be different when you are staying in a hotel? Buffet breakfast is obviously the start for the day. My savior for breakfast was sincerely the Japanese selection whereas my typical Indian man, you may be shocked if I tell you he loves Western breakfast. Looks can be deceiving right? I know. People look at us and assume I am the Western ideology meal woman and he is the typical Indian foodie. The reality I'm telling you is otherwise. I still am the typical Malaysian Asian food lover when we travel (Rome & Milan), my man on the other hand can ditch his Indian food side for Western food (Copenhagen & Bergen). Aha!

An hour for breakfast, by 9.00 am, most of us were already seated in the coach. But as usual, some Malaysians, no matter where they travel or where they are, they must be late.Thanks to our understanding Singaporean tour guide who told me he has already gasped the meaning of punctuality among Malaysians. Awaiting patiently for half an hour for the late comers, off we departed to Kinkaku-ji Temple. Kinkaku-ji Temple, a zen grandeur temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf, is an impressive structure overlooking a large pond, Also known as Temple of Golden Pavilion, it is the only building left of Yoshimitsu’s former retirement complex. Indeed, Kinkaku-ji Temple is such an ancient charm. I truly reckon.

Nonetheless, I can’t confirm if  Kinkaku-ji Temple will be particularly captivating when a blanket of pure white snow sets off its golden contours because snow has yet fallen in Kyoto during this early winter. Whether snow or no show show, I think that's beside the point. I can still vouch that Kinkaku-ji Temple, a faithful restoration of the 500 year-old original design and recognized by UNESCO as a World (Cultural) Heritage site in 1994 is stunning. It is. Looking at the structure itself will make you proud for getting your money and time worthy, coming this far to Kyoto. 

Almost a whole morning in this, one of Japan’s best known sights, lunch was next. Hanazono Kaikan Restaurant. Food in Japan during winter? Do I have to actually spell it out? The same steamboat story. Honestly, I didn't mind. As long as there’s soy sauce for saltiness, Japanese coarse ground red chilli pepper for spiciness, rice and piping hot tasty soups, Nava K is smiley picturesque fine.
After lunch, we popped over to Fushimi Inari Shrine. Sitting at the base of Mount Inari, above 233 metres sea level and including trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines, spanning 4 kilometers, Fushimi Inari Shrine was literally jammed packed and believe me, who were part of the large groups of tourists? Guess? Let me tell you. Notably young hip-hop Middle Easterners. You should have seen the women? All fancy-frilly tightest leggings and short winter jackets. Akin ass showing tightness. Oh-my-my! What a cultural shocking discovery because as far as I know, if you visit their country, you better cover your assets and liabilities by wearing those loose long gowns. Otherwise, you will be stoned to death. 

Fushimiri Inari Shine, once an intriguing shrine dedicated to the god of rice and sake by the Hata clan in the 8th century, for me, yes me, what I love the most is the akin a magical charm path of over 5000 vibrant orange torii gates that wind through the hills behind. Still, I only walked half way through the orange hue canvas straddle of network trials, prior to making about turn towards the garden in this shrine. Recognized as the central location for some 40,000 Inari shrines throughout the entirety of Japan.  

Where to thereafter? Kiyomizu-dera Temple (literally Pure Water Temple). One of the most celebrated temples in Japan and one of the seventeen World Cultural Heritage sites in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera Temple was founded in AC780 on the site of Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto and derives its name from the fall’s pure waters. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is genuinely another mind touching mandra of Kyoto where most probably you will need, most to most, half an hour of your sightseeing moment. 

To reach Kiyomizu Temple, you will walk along the steep and busy lanes of the atmospheric Higashiyama District. In fact, on your way back and forth. The many shops and restaurants in this area have been catering for tourists and pilgrims for century and products on sale range from local specialties, such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets, pickles, aplenty street food. Of course, what is Japan without mochi and macha.  

Higashiyama District by itself is madness. We could hardly walk. Crazy. Damn it craziness. Given a choice, I wouldn't have bothered coming over. Then again, if I didn't do it, I would have been branded as a loser by those who die-die not only sell Higashiyama District for free, they must too speak highly about Japanese street food. Of course, nothing should stop you from munching or nibbling. There is by the way no short of Japanese street food everywhere you turn in Kyoto. Loads, loads and loads, and don't even expect a faint smile from the traders. Anyway, why should they smile because you will still end up buying right? For those of you who are budget travelling, make sure you calculate how much you will be paying, or you don't even have to bother. Hotel buffet breakfast generally does include such items and trust me, this eating in the streets of Kyoto culture is not cheap. A cup of fried sweet potato and a meat skewer will cost at least RM15.00. We akin heroes, happily bought and then realise how pricey it is compared to back in Malaysia. The good thing was that each of us bought one or two items for generously sharing between each other. At the end of all the eating I did, I concluded that nothing like our Malaysian local delicacies. Never, ever will I compromise our local delicacies for anything in Kyoto or any part of globe. God! Imagine now crunching our goreng pisang/banana fritters and our Nasi Lemak Bungkus? Pow-millions of wows! 

Capping off our day by dinner in Tsudoi restaurant, sashimi, cawan mushi, tempura, grilled fish and those standard Japanese sides, I ate, but I wouldn’t dare even a tiny sip of sake for fear of rushing my heart.

Finally, bye-bye Kyoto, off to Hotel New Otani Osaka. Our night home for four days consecutively. Thankfully. I don’t have to worry about packing till we depart for home. Clean, spacious and well set up room. Wifi, of course is very important these days for social media showing off immediately which part of the world we are, some already bought wifi at the airport, maybe you should include wifi budget in your travelling card, wifi didn’t fail us in our room equipped with the things we Malaysians generally directly or indirectly demand. Yes, we Malaysians can be demanding. We want the best of everything even if we have paid for the cheapest tour, yet, we behave as though we are the emperor or empresses of Japan. Ask me and I will tell you. I have seen it all. We can be tyrants if we are not happy with even a small thing in our room. What about Nava K are you asking? Well, sometimes I am. I make sure I get my message across to housekeeping or desk job. Whether its solve or not, I am not guaranteed. But I do speak my mind. Paying a premium means its my right, right?  

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