Sunday, 9 November 2008

Kyoto - Day 3 - Nara for some, Hotel for others

This morning starts with a bit of drama. It seems it is not only me who is unwell but Sis and Dad aren't feeling great either. A visit to the breakfast room shows that another member of the group is staying in bed today - the Japanese maple expert who is here to help us learn about these magnificent trees.
We all face a dilemma; Nara is one of the nicest gardens and it is a day trip so it would not be easy meeting up with the group half way through the day.

Sis has decided she is well enough to go, Dad feels there is no way he can venture too far from the hotel and Benoit is in no shape to be going anywhere at all. I think about it and as much as I am peeved about missing the day out (our trip isn't that long to begin with) I feel it is wiser to take a day off, rest and let my stomach sort itself out.

We, as a group, discuss this with our oh-so-accommodating tour guide and ask him to possibly switch today's schedule for one of the 5 days we were supposed to be visiting gardens and temples in Kyoto. More for Benoit's benefit than for ours. While insisting on how much of a shame it is that we are going to miss the stunning gardens, J-F will not even entertain the idea of a re plan. So we watch the rest of the group leave and head back to bed.

We decide to reconvene at 12 and decide then if we are well enough to attempt finding the group in Nara.

I wake up at 1.45pm after the most refreshing sleep. Fuuucck. I'm feeling a lot better and would have been up for meeting the group. I imagine the other two have left already but a note under the door tells me otherwise.

So I decide to head down to the lobby and get some coffee and do some writing. I know it is a bit sad that I spent an afternoon on the terrace, but it is a great place to get a nice cuppa, have a smoke and watch the people on their way to where ever it is they are going. I love to people watch but the Japanese are so different that it is great fun and I end up spending a couple of hours outside writing. I wish I had the guts to take photos of the people walking past, but I have never been very good at the kind of thing.

While sipping the Cherry Moka sampler the lovely woman behind the counter has just brought me - urgh... at this stage I can still only just stomach black brewed coffee - I think about how polite people are here. Excessively so, compared to Belgium.

It is quite clear that in Japan, the community takes precedent over the individual. They seem to be conscious of not offending, annoying or anything the people around them. It makes for a very pleasant environment, no shouting, no arguing, no honking...
Although I do wander what place is given to individualism and it seems to me to be a bit over the top and unnatural. I like to imagine that they must let their hair down in spectacular fashion once the doors are closed.

And the stereotype of the Japanese bowing is definitely not exaggerated and I enjoy watching a group of business men, on the porch of the hotel, each in turn nodding lower than the previous person. It becomes one bowing frenzy until finally they turn away and get into the cab.

... Oh yes, and they love, and I mean, love their mobile phones!

The group comes back quite late, exhausted but elated from their day. I decide not to join them for dinner, but get some crackers from the nearby 7/11 and head back up to bed.

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