Speaking of not being able to lie in the grass, 10 minutes after starting to cycle this morning I found grass. And plenty of it, all along the riverside. It's still not the 'real' grass, cause it's not nearly thick enough, but still. It's close.
I started off my day by zigzagging my way to the other side of Kyoto. I ended up near Kinkakuji, the golden pavillion. It was still quite early in the morning, so I figured I might as well take a look. It's not golden week yet, and it was early, so I was hoping to find the place quite empty. I could not have been more wrong. There were at least six tour busses full of annoying school children, screaming and running all over the place. The very young children were just playing and running around, but the middle school children just stood there looking annoyed, following their teacher around, taking photos whenever the teacher tells them they should. Must be pretty boring for them. As a big scary foreigner I am mostly ignored by all the boys (except for the occasional scary look or rapid step-out-of -the-way when I approach). The girls start screaming and yelling 'HARRO!!! HARRO!!!'. Yay, I'm back to being a stereotype again.
Getting the hell out of kinkakuji I asked a random person where I could find my real goal: Arashiyama. There's supposedly a mountain just outside of Kyoto which offers a great view of the city, and also has a monkey park. In other words: monkey mountain! It turns out I had to cycle 30 minutes to get there, but the route was amazing. Beautiful nature, great landscapes and wonderful buildings along the way. I'd say that the road between the golden pavillion and Arashiyama is a must-see if you're tired of temple-tripping in the inner city. Really great.
I did take a wrong turn in the end and climbed the wrong mountain, which went remarkably easy without luggage (which I had left at the hostel). When I asked for directions a guy told me I could either go back down the mountain and around it, or climb a little further and go over it. I went on climbing, but it turns out the guy failed to mention that the only way to go down at the other end of the mountain was by taking the stairs... Well, stubborn as I am I carried my bicycle about 50 steps down. Ha!
This area was again amazing. A river surrounded by forest and mountains appeared in view. I took a lot of photos in this area which I must share some day. I cycled along the riverside for a while until I could go no further, and then went back to find the monkey park. Well, the monkey mountain was just awesome. I'll show some photos instead of ranting on.
This guy was busy taking a picture of a monkey far away when this other monkey just walked up to him and sat down next to him.
After the monkey park I zigzagged my way back to the river near the youth hostel, and stayed there for a while until the sun set. A very relaxing day, I must say.
Some thoughts about Kyoto:
- There are a LOT of foreigners. Big scary foreigners that make loud noises all the time.
- There are a LOT of (Japanese) tourists. Tiny loud school children that talk in annoying accents all the time.
- Kyoto's city center is surprisingly ugly. You really have to go out of your way to find an interesting neighborhood to random around in, otherwise it looks just like any other Japanese city.
- Despite that, I really really like Kyoto. I said before that I liked Wakayama, but I admire Kyoto. It's different somehow.