Sunday, July 8, 2007

Kyoto - "Alone In Kyoto"

I had a tearful goodbye with my room before setting off for Kyoto. It took only two hours to get there, and the hostel was directly next to the subway exit. Very convenient.

The hostel is actually pretty nice. First of all, the girl at the front desk is not only fluent in English, but from her total lack of an accent, it seems she was raised in America. She's very nice and helpful and, by the way, totally hot. The place has air conditioning, a big screen TV with lots of movies to choose from, free internet, yadda yadda yadda. But here are my only two complaints: I have to share a room with 11 other people, and the place doesn't have western toilets! Call me prissy, but I'd really prefer not to squat. God knows what I'm going to do for the next 9 days.

I had no plan for the day, so I just explored downtown Kyoto and went to a couple nearby shrines. It was still the weekend, and I couldn't believe how packed the streets, stores, and restaurants could get. For those first few hours, I wasn't too happy. It was extremely hot, loud, there were lots of people, everything was way more expensive in this city, Kyoto seemed like any other big city, and worst of all, I was realizing that I still had five days all alone before Pearl joined me.

But then the sun started to set, and things got so much better. First of all, it wasn't 90 degrees anymore. But then I started to walk along the river that runs through Kyoto, and all of the sudden I heard this really loud jazz music. I just assumed it was some loud stereo, since there is no shortage of those in Japan. But it was a band made up of what looked like 15- or 16-year-olds. There were five trumpeters, a guitar, a standing bass, a drum set, a piano, three trombones, and four saxophones. And these kids were amazing. Without a doubt the best live amateur band I've ever seen. They played a lot of jazz and funk, and I sat and watched with the rest of the crowd, all of us just sitting on the pavement next to the river. It was a really great way to start my ten freakin' days in Kyoto.

I returned to the hostel after they finished, intent on reading and watching TV or something. But when I went into the first floor lounge, I saw three people were already in there watching The Departed. So I joined them and got to see the awesome end of the movie again.

Long story short, I ended up staying in the lounge for about five hours. The majority of the time it was me, two Australians named Ben and Andrew, two London girls named Katie and Laura who were traveling in Asia for six months, and some girl also from England whose name we tried to remember when she left the room - I think Roxanne? The night was pretty great, as I haven't had a real English conversation in ages. We talked some politics, which was awkward for the only American in the room, made fun of all the Scandinavians hiding up on the fifth floor lounge, and then watch Lucky Number Slevin, which I figured out about halfway through, impressing everyone (but, really, when do I not impress everyone?) Now, if only that place had Western toilets...

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