Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Everybody Rides...

... in Kyoto. This city is built for bicycles and the local population is taking full advantage of the broad bikepaths along the major roads, as well as the opportunity to hit one another (not to mention pesky foreigners!) with their bikes in the crowded market streets. (I would liken this a bit to Romans` abuse of scooters, albeit with a higher chance of getting an apology when hit and a lower likelihood of permanent damage.) After spending an afternoon alternately enviously eying the riders (who, amusingly, range from high school students to primly dressed "OL"s -- Office Ladies, business women) and practising my "deer in headlights" impersonation, I`m joining the race today. Given that coordination isn`t high on my list of God-given gifts, this might be a good time to start praying for the city. :D

Japan has so far been one marvel after another -- arguably the biggest of which is my place of lodging. Let me be clear: At $10/night in a decent part of one of Japan`s most popular tourist cities, I was expecting "comfort" and "privacy" to range in the same realm of likelihood as "peakcockfeather-studded duvet provided." What I didn`t expect was Kyoto`s self-advertised Cheapest Inn: Imagine, if you will, a room roughly half the side of the NewSong Kid`s Connectino room -- or a long-ish, decent-sized living room. Now picture a garage door shielding aforementioned room from the by-walking, by-riding public. Add a shower-stall an a couple of toilets, and you`ve got the bottom floor of the Inn. It gets better, though! Add a steep fire-exit walking up 6 floors. On floor #2, you have aforementioned room filled with 8 bunk-beds, a couple of futons and (and this is where yours truly comes in) tatami covered floorspace equal to about 2 futon. Upon aforementioned floorspace, picture 6 little cubbies, separated by partial, low dividers -- in these cubbies, lone travelers lounge on sleeping bags ... except for the cubbie next to mine, which is occupied by a couple. Thank God for earplugs! :D

The rest of the building is filled with junk, aside from the rooftop, which overlooks Kyoto and is quite lovely in the morning hours when the smokers have cleared out. I admit, I was a bit put off by the arrangements upon arriving, but a night`s rest and shower (10 minutes/100 Yen) later, things don`t look so grim. The plan for the day is to explore some of Tokyo`s stunning architecture, the mid-city market whose delicacies I couldn`t even begin to sample yesterday (note to visitors: international ATMs are slightly rarer than gold in Kyoto -- and Lonely Planet is *wrong* about virtually all of the locations it describes), and in the evening partake of a special treat: The Japanese public bath. Beforehand, though, I think I`ll be catching up on something I omitted to do a couple of months ago and will now have a far more interesting setting for -- watching Fahrenheit 9/11 ... or rather: watching the Japanese audience watch Fahrenheit 9/11 :D (Arguably, I may need that ritual bath after the experience, but I can neither confirm nor deny such reasoning ;)

... so, what`s new in the old US? :)


At August 31, 2004 at 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you made it out of Kansai and into Kyoto. For $10 a night in Kyoto you should be happy you got the low dividers! I can only imagine what your accomodations in Tokyo will be like.

America - not much going on, watching Fah. 9/11 will be appropriate for this week though, as the Republican national conventioon is underway. My second favorite Austrian is speaking tonight :)

Enjoying the daily posts,


At September 2, 2004 at 3:18 PM, Blogger Expat Birds said...

Wadester! My favorite third party voter ;)

I just finished "Prayer for Owen Meany" -- great recommendation: I laughed, I cried, etc. Now I really have to see Simon Birch, though --- I don't see how this could have been "captured" as a movie without some heavy-handed editing.

Don't get too high on the politics rush! ;)


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