Asia Tour – Kyoto, Japan

Jan 6th – First full day in Kyoto. And unfortunately the day my cold decided it was all out war, leaving me bed ridden for almost the entire first day, I didn’t even get get the hotel breakfast. I finally forced myself out for the late evening, and was so hungry when I emerged from the hotel, I had a Mc Donald’s to make up for no food that day – it was slightly better than the standard cardboard in the UK, and clearly the Japanese version actually had meat in the burgers, although was not even close to MOS Burger (a Japanese burger chain, where everything is made fresh and tastes like real food). I then decided to take the subway one stop, change lines and end up in the down town area. In reality, I went one stop, couldn’t find the line to change to, decided to walk instead, walked about 15 minutes only to emerge back at the hotel, turned around and went back in the opposite direction and got to the right area some 30 minutes later.

I then came across the one thing you can never fail to find in a far off land (except for a Chinese restaurant) the good old Irish Pub. Yes, its Kyoto, Japan, cant get much further from Ireland, yet theres an Irish Pub. I went in and got a Guinness. The Gael Gion as its called, is pretty authentic, fantastic décor and nice selection of drinks, and the Japanese bar staff spoke good Irish (well English). Currently owned by an Englishman from Liverpool who wasn’t in that night, but am told it was once owned by an Irishman some time before. This turned out to be an excellent night out, and made good friends with 3 of the regulars, one who kindly gave me a tour of the near-by area.

Most people headed home by this time, but on the way back a particular bar caught my eye as still being open, and after a beer and some chatting with the staff, I decided to stay out a bit longer. After spending about an hour chasing down a foreign compatible ATM, I ended up at the highly recommended Sam & Dave night club. Quite a nice venue and was quite enjoying the atmosphere. Shortly later a Japanese gentleman approached me, and after a couple of minutes I discovered he wanted to challenge a westerner to an arm wrestle “because westerner’s are meant to be really strong” now, me knowing a thing or 2 about Japanese strength, namely that even the smallest of Japanese seem to have amazing strength, I really wasn’t expecting to stand a chance, but I thought I might as well have a go anyway. Sure enough I lasted about 4 seconds. By the 5th second we were already bowing to each other furiously, by the 7th second he’d taken my beer. Fair enough I suppose, he did win fair and square. That little manoeuvre had me laughing to myself for the rest of the night, a very intuitive way to get a free beer if ever I saw one. About an hour later it was 4am, and I headed back via a taxi to the hotel.

Jan 7th – This was meant to be the day I visited Nara, and also I was looking at a trip to the Steam Locomotive Museum, unfortunately my cold decided it was having none of it – probably not helped by the previous late night admittedly, and lost most of the day again feeling quite ill with a cold and even a fever thrown in for good measure. Opted for dinner in the hotel with the intention of going out again that evening, however following the long meal I really wasnt up for it and ended up having an early-ish night.

Jan 8th – Got a nice early start, hotel breakfast finally, packed and headed off to the JR Kyoto station to make my way to Hiroshima. After just missing my train I got to watch several of the really high-speed Nozomi trains leave for Hiroshima, and then I got my Hikari superexpress which took me the majority of the journey to Okayama, where I then changed to a Hikari RailStar superexpress for the final section to Hiroshima. Upon arrival in Hiroshima, it was a 5 minute taxi ride to the hotel, the Sunroute Hiroshima.

Asia Tour – Takayama to Kyoto.

Jan 5th – Takayama to Kyoto.
I was quite sad to leave Hirayu Onsen and the Hodakaso Saganoyu Ryokan, I had really enjoyed my stay there as well as the hot springs – although I could only stay in there for short periods, as unfortunately I was still suffering with the cold which nothing could kill – any form of medication, full heating in the room, even the hot spring wouldn’t kill it. I then made my way back to the bus, for the 1 hour trip back to Takayama, then the 2 hour 16 minute ride back to Nagoya. The bus trip was fine, and actually a newer luxury coach as it happened, the train however posed it own problem – overcrowding. Unfortunately there were no seats left, and actually no standing space left on the entire train, luckily the guard managed to find a small only partially occupied standing space on a far carriage to shove me into, and I began the 2 hours and 16 minute journey – standing the entire way.

From Nagoya, I took the Hikari superexpress 377 to Kyoto, another luxury trip on the Shinkansen, from there is was a single stop on the subway to my hotel, the Aranvert.