Hotspot #22 and #23 : The Romantic Train and Thousands of Bamboos
When we woke up, the Thai guy already in his non-flowery shirt. He’ll be in Kiyomizudera Temple, that was what he said. We prayed not to bump into him since Kiyomizu is listed in today’s itinerary, alongside Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari, Sanjusangendo, and Gion.
There were two shared bathrooms and one shared toilet outside the dorm. Luckily, we, Asian, woke up earlier than others, so there was no definition of queuing to bathe. Since we booked this hostel for two days, we left our bags in the dorm lockers. After a quick light breakfast of 2 packs of cereal each, we went down and started our journey.
The hostel reception provided us the map to bus stop, 750 meters towards a shrine located at the end of the street. Posting postcard isn't my thing, but here in Kyoto, it was quite fun to do. I posted a postcard to MasMZ since she personally requested it. Same to Fatt, who requested Hiroshima postcard for her personal collection.
P/S: Thanks to Chawana again, for the advice of getting around Kyoto via bus.
Walking along the Gion district gave a different view compared to Tokyo and Hiroshima. In Tokyo, everything was fast, informative, and helpful. In Hiroshima, everything was slow, peaceful, and friendly. But in Kyoto, it was some sort of something that was stuck in between of Tokyo and Hiroshima. Not too fast, not too slow. Not too friendly, not too ignorant. Touristy was my first impression, but I still love it.
Too early to make any conclusion, we hopped on a bus via back door, to Kyoto Station.
P/S: Thanks to Chawana again and again, for telling us that the bus entry is at the back door, while bus exit is at the front door.
On the bus, we purchased Kyoto City Bus One-day Pass with 500yen each. Once arrived, we had a quick pose in front of the Kyoto Station, before we walked into the station, and took a train ride to Saga Arashiyama Station on JR Sagano Line.
The train was completely full with teenagers in school uniform and officers in coat. We had to squeeze in, to run from these school kids who disobeyed the train policy, by talking loudly. Kore wa kyoka sa rete iru? Shinai yo!
Once arrived, we had to walk out from the JR station, and walked to the Saga Torokko Station. There, we saw an info board of map around Saga Arashiyama, IN JAPANESE!
Again, I sang “Gunakanlah bahasa kebangsaan kiiiiiita, marilah amalkan ramai-ramaiiiiii…” Hahaha!
To recap, back in Malaysia, we did discuss with Chawana of getting on this Sagano Scenic Railway a.k.a Sagano Romantic Train, since they didn’t include it in their plan. Due to that, hubby and I kept on watching the scenic train’s video that full with sakura trees along the track, over and over, to convince ourselves that it is worth to ride. Eager to know whether the video is true as it takes, we decided to try.
We then walked in, and purchased two tickets, with the price of 600yen. That was the price for one way ride, right to the final stop, Torokko Kameoka Station. Meaning, to come back to Arashiyama, we are needed to walk to the nearest JR Station, and take JR train for free. Else, another 600yen is burnt.
“Ok. The moment of truth is yet to be revealed, in one hour time.” We waited for the train to board at 9.07am.
“Eh, wanna eat first?” It was 8 in the morning. Cannot tahan already.
“There, got oba-chan (auntie) selling onigiri.” We approached her.
“Sumimasen, korewa…fish?” I looked at hubby and said “Fish apa? What is fish in Nihongo?”
“Cookbook…cookbook…” Thank god hubby asked me to copy some keywords in our Tour Cookbook! “Haa, sakana.”
“Ah…korewa…sakana?” I repeated to the lady.
“Iye. Ano…” She said no and paused. Looking for the right word, I guessed. So we paused, as well. Nganga.
“Ee…salmong! Salmong!” She confidently told us while pointing to one of the onigiri.
I looked at hubby, “Haaa…salmon la tu…”
“Ni, salmon, kudasaiiii.” Ignoring proper grammar, I showed two fingers for two pieces of salmon onigiri. We then ate in front of the classic steam coach, outside the Saga Torokko Station.
Once finished, we went back inside and got into the designated red-yellow coach and sat on assigned wooden bench, as per printed on the ticket. No one was standing. But trust me, the moment the train started to move, everyone was standing! You know why???
COZ IT WAS TOTALLY SCENIC! PEOPLE CAN’T STOP TAKING PICTURES!
Taking photos while standing in slow-pace-moving-classic-train wasn’t easy. I gave this task to hubby since he managed to get one spot near the window, behind another passenger’s seating. Meanwhile, I just continued agape.
The train, once, stopped in a very dark tunnel that showed the old signboard of Arashiyama Torokko Station.
With JR train, time taken to get back to Arashiyama was cut into half. Once arrived, we went back to the info board (that written in Japanese), trying our luck to find the Bamboo Groves’s location.
“I remember Chawana said, they had to walk in between small alleyways between houses. Let’s not wasting our time, I’ll ask him.” I walked to the rickshaw puller nearby. Luckily, he spoke English very well and showed us the direction. He initially invited us to ride his two-wheeled rickshaw but I rejected. No money lah. We can't even afford to rent a bicycle pun...
Though locals didn’t really know what is Bamboo Groves, more or less, they understood that I was asking for “BAMBU”. The direction became easier after I asked one urban-Japanese chick (and she spoke English quite well too), where she was helpful enough to walk us to the small alley.
“Is she a real maiko? What is she doing here?” We looked around. Clearly, no customers to serve.
“Can’t wait to see real maiko in Gion, tonight!”
“Let’s go. We have three more places to go before chasing maiko/geisha.” Hubby smiled.
Read HERE for Travelista version.