Friday, October 11, 2013

Japan Part II

Day two in Kyoto I got to meet up with +Aubrey and +Philip and go adventuring together. I really wanted to go back to Arashiyama, so we all hopped on a train and rented some bicycles! I really love Arashiyama because it's on the outskirts of town and the building are smaller and more traditional. It's still touristy, but really quite lovely and set along side the river. The roads were easy riding and we only rode about three minutes until we decided to stop at a random temple. Tenryuji temple just happenes to be a world heritage site and had a garden to stroll through that actually dumped us out into the bamboo grove we were going to seek out.

We explored further by riding along the river for a while. Unfortunately the usually serene river was still running high from the typhoon and flooding earlier in the week, so the water was rapid and murky brown. A lot of the little shops I had wanted to walk around and explore were still busy cleaning up from the flood. Along the river was practically a construction site of people working digging up bricks and removing damaged floors. I still loved my visit, and I realize that not being able to enjoy the shops is a really minor inconvenience for me compared to the destruction caused to the locals.

We decided to head for higher ground, and made the trek up Monkey Mountain. It was every bit as enjoyable as my first trip there, although a bit more rushed since we had to return out bikes by 5pm. While hiking up the trail there were two monkeys just chilling in the middle of the path who remained unfazed as we passed by them not even two feet away. I haven't had very much experience with other monkeys but I must say that these guys are really well behaved. After all my primate behavior classes, I know not to underestimate what clever little monsters they can be. Luckily the park has a pretty good system of educating visitors and making the tourist-monkey relationship mutually beneficial. Visitors can feed the monkeys, but only in the designated building where they can purchase cheap monkey goodies. About $1 (100yen) will get you a bag of food (today's menu was raw yams, or peanuts) and you can feed the monkey's through the fence. If a monkey is hungry he just hops up on the side of the building sticks its arm through the fence and waits for an eager tourist to hand him some food. This system prevents tourists from feeding the monkeys garbage and also prevents monkeys from ransacking tourists outside for food.

While outside of the feeding hut you can just hang out with monkeys who are walking around freely doing their own thing, usually ignoring the people happily snapping away photos. At one point I noticed a rather large monkey running straight towards me and I nearly tripped over myself while standing still. I clearly remember wanting to get out of it's way but my mind flashed to what you should do if a Gorilla is charging you, so I passively stood my ground. At the last minute the monkey changed course to go around me and I realized that I was just directly between it and the food hut. It's funny the information that sticks with you, but I'm glad I remembered what to do in a moment of pressure, even if it was completely unnecessary.

Guys look! There is a human trapped in this cage, and he's got a camera!

After returning our bikes and heading back to central Kyoto we went out in search of Burnt Ramen. There is a trendy little ramen shop called Gogyo that specializes in this dish. According to reviews you can actually see your ramen go up in flames in a wok when you sit at the front, but we were placed in the back room at a comfy table.There were two main flavors of burnt ramen you could choose from: Burnt Miso or Burnt Soy Sauce. Aubrey and I got the miso, and philip got the soy sauce. Both flavors were quite tasty and had a pleasant smokey aroma. It was really like having barbecued soup with little crispy-charcoaly bits in the broth. The result is a much more complex flavor of broth with all your favorite ramen garnishes. The verdict: YUM!

Of course there is a shrine in the middle of a market area! Why wouldn't there be?

After dinner we wandered around and stumbled upon a little french bistro. Much to our surprise, it was actually french! The menu was in french and Japanese and we ordered wine and some snacks. We had fun reading through and reminiscing about our time in France together. I've been friends with these guys on three continents now! After our evening snack I headed back to my Airbnb place to pass out from the day's excitement.

Next up is Part III, coming soon!

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