Trips

I WENT ON A BLIND DATE WITH KYOTO AND SHE BIT ME + GIVEAWAY

February 28, 2016
kyoto_featured

I met Kyoto on a Vampire fan site. I’m not a vampire – I was just curious. Kyoto, too, said she wasn’t into sucking blood. We started talking and after months of communications via Skype and email, she convinced me to visit her in Japan. It was a bold move because I was really frightened. What if she really were into vampire stuff? Would she seduce me and suck my blood? What if she turned me into a vampire? These thoughts pervaded my minds for weeks before my flight to Japan. And when it came time to get on that plane, I gave up fear and just said to myself, “Screw it! YOLO!”

Well, I guess this doesn’t qualify as a “blind date” because it was a planned rendezvous, but I barely knew her and to me I really was going in blind. Anyway, after an 8 hours flight and another 2 on the Shinkansen from Tokyo, I arrived at the station, tired and nervous. It was 8 PM. The station was huge. There were so many people speed walking, determined, focused, and unperturbed by my silly presence. Somehow, I found my way out of the station and as I left, I could see behind me a brightly lit sign on the steps, “Welcome to Kyoto.” I knew at that point that she really was a vampire, this was her city, and that I’d be in for the ride of my life.

 

let the adventure begin!

let the adventure begin!

 

By sheer luck, I made it to Shunko-In Temple by taking the Hanazono line. Exhaustion came unto me. If not for the growling in my stomach, I would have passed out as soon I put the luggage down in the minimalistic room. I mustered enough energy to roam around the beautiful temple complex and stumbled into Rakuraku restaurant, a 2-story home with the downstairs serving delicious homemade food to tired travelers and potential vampire meals like me. The food was outstanding but Akira, the owner and chef, made the experience memorable. We shared sake and talked for hours. In retrospect, that was the best meal I had in Japan on my short visit.

 

this delicious meal brought to you by Akira of Rakuraku Restaurant

this delicious meal brought to you by Akira of Rakuraku Restaurant

 

The next morning I came to before the dew had slipped away. I was unnaturally refreshed. Did Akira give me a magical elixir last night? No matter. I showered and took to exploring the beautiful Shunko-In Temple complex once again. The simplicity of the temples here soothed me and I was overcome with a deep sense of tranquility. As I stood there admiring the scene, a cheery voice shot up my spine, “Hung-San, welcome to my city!” There she was, Kyoto, donned in her beautiful kimono, smiling.

 

just serenity at the shunko-in temple complex

just serenity at the shunko-in temple complex

 

more shunko-in temple complex amazingness

more shunko-in temple complex amazingness

 

Before I could blink, we had already made it to Tenryuji Temple. What? Did we teleport here? What great sorcery is this! I didn’t know what was happening. I found myself following her as she walked through the beautiful temple. Abundant autumn colors filled my eyes. Every step was a marvel to behold. Mesmerized, I felt oddly at peace. Kyoto took me to an open area in the temple where earth, wind, air and fire played harmoniously. We stayed here for what seemed like an eternity. My mind was empty.

 

let's go for a walk, shall we?

let’s go for a walk, shall we?

 

beautiful garden at tenryuji temple

beautiful garden at tenryuji temple

 

Next, she took me on a walk along the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. I felt as though I had been taken back into time. Walking under the tall bamboos made me think of those martial arts movies with samurais slashing down bamboo trees like they were butter. I should really invest in a nice katana and a bamboo grove of my own, I thought.

 

this is where i practice my bamboo slashing technique with my imaginary katana

this is where i practice my bamboo slashing technique with my imaginary katana

 

Coming out of the Bamboo Grove, Kyoto took me to Ogura Pond to watch the ducklings and their mother swim around. Once again the autumn colors bombarded me and I took them in with great pleasure. By all stretch of the imagination, this simple pond isn’t grand or famed at all, but surrounded by Zen temples and the serenity of the Arashiyama area, it fits perfectly.

 

pond of relaxation

pond of relaxation

 

We crossed the famed Togetsukyo bridge. Small boats cruised this calm stretch of water, carrying passengers seeking a view of the landscape from the boat’s vantage point. Kyoto mused that we should take a boat ride. When I agreed, she giggled and said she was kidding. I was confused.

 

i could live here

i could live here

 

Instead of doing the boat ride, we went the other way, up the mountain to the Monkey Park. Words cannot describe this wonderful sanctuary. This was the monkeys’ home and we were mere visitors. If you ever wanted to be close enough to get scared, this is the place to be. A small visitor center provided apples and peanuts to excited visitors wanting to feed the monkeys climbing on the other side of the enclosure. Kyoto and I participated – so much fun! Kyoto joked that she wanted to keep me as her monkey pet. I hoped she was joking.

 

monkey gonna monkey

monkey gonna monkey, that’s what monkeys do

 

Alas, we left the Monkey Park on a high, and as before, time flew by and suddenly we were standing in front of the famous Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine. Sorcery once again! Anyway, the throng of people that started the upward hike with us slowly dropped off. At the top of the trail, we found ourselves masters of the world. I stared in amazement at the city vista before me. And all along the trail, the densely populated red torii reminded me of the long history of this fine nation. You, too, can commission a red torii to be placed in your honor. “All it takes it money,” Kyoto said, ”or yummy blood.” I pretended not to hear her say that.

 

view of the city from fushimi-inari shrine

view of the city from fushimi-inari shrine

 

the ancients speak!

the ancients speak!

 

Evening came and we hurried down the trail. Hunger once again reared its delicious head. Kyoto took me to a street vendor who gave us a giant helping of yakisoba noodles the likes I had never seen before. It was too good and I ate it with the fury of a raging river. I was happy. I turned to thank Kyoto for an amazing day and that’s when it happened. She bit me on the neck. Befuddled as I was, Kyoto giggled, “You are not ready.” And poof she was gone!

 

you will not be able to resist this

you will not be able to resist this

 

The next thing I knew, I was on an airplane back to Seattle. What did she mean by me not being ready? Is my blood not yummy enough for her vampiric fangs? Whatever it was, I intend to find out. I’ll be back, Kyoto! You do not bite me in the neck and follow it up with a cryptic message like that and think you’ll get away with it! I’ll be back!

Note: No vampires were harmed in the production of this article.


 

GPSmyCity Kyoto Giveaway

Would you like to go on a date with Kyoto as well? I’ve partnered with GPSmyCity to give away 20 free copies of this incredibly useful app (regularly priced at $4.99). GPSmyCity provides self-guided city walks so you can be your own tour guide. With over 470 available cities in the database, you’ll be able to explore each city at your own pace, at a fraction of the cost.

 

screenshot captures of GPSmyCity Kyoto

screenshot captures of GPSmyCity Kyoto

 

To enter for a chance to win one of the 20 free copies, all you have to do is comment below and tell me your experience with Kyoto. Or if you haven’t been to Kyoto yet – what you would like to do there. The deadline for entering this contest is next Monday, March 7, 2016. You will be contacted via the email you provided while commenting with the code to redeem your copy of GPSmyCity Kyoto (if you win).

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of GPSmyCity Kyoto as well.

Travel on my friends!


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I WENT ON A BLIND DATE WITH KYOTO

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68 Comments

  • Reply Jey Jetter
    Twitter:
    February 29, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Hahaha, great post and nice style of writing! I really like the pictures too!!

    • Reply Hung Thai February 29, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Thanks! It was an incredible trip and I wanted to do something a little different. You’ve been entered for the GPSmyCity app giveaway 🙂

  • Reply Christine K
    Twitter:
    February 29, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Wow, Kyoto looks like a fabulous place to visit. Loved the pics and the narrative. Thanks for sharing the experience.

    • Reply Hung Thai February 29, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Hi Christine, thanks! You’ve been entered into the GPSmyCity app giveaway. I already miss Kyoto.

  • Reply Wendy
    Twitter:
    February 29, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Very entertaining read! My family and I are spending a month in Japan in March and plan to visit Kyoto from the 17-24th so we’ll definitely be checking some of these places out!

    • Reply Hung Thai February 29, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Hehe thanks Wendy! I had a lot of fun writing it. I kept it relatively mild. My mind wanted to write something more insidious but my fingers wouldn’t do the typing. You’ve been entered into the GPSmyCity giveaway 🙂

  • Reply Kirsty Marrins
    Twitter:
    February 29, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Oh wow, your photos are just stunning. I’ve not been to Japan yet but I cannot wait to go!! You’ve given me serious wanderlust.
    Kirsty Marrins recently posted this awesome article… Florence has my heartMy Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai February 29, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Hi Kirsty, thanks! I can’t wait to go back to Japan. I could seriously spend a whole year there… hmmm, there’s a thought 🙂 – you’ve been entered into the GPSmyCity giveaway.

  • Reply ali alloba February 29, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    I’m so jealous, love the article, love the photos, great job man. Keep sharing these experiences, and I will continue to live through your lens and blogs.

    Signed,
    Stuck in my cube

    • Reply Hung Thai February 29, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      Hahah… I’m also stuck in my cube right now but I’m glad I can give you some hope of greener pastures? You’ve been entered into the GPSmyCity giveaway 🙂

  • Reply Tiffany February 29, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    OMG Yes! Me!!! I’ll do everything in Kyoto. I love Japan and I wish I can live there; unfortunately, I still have too many things going on over here to make that jump.

    • Reply Hung Thai February 29, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Get your stuff situated and go over there now! I hear they’re running out of people lol 🙂

  • Reply Chester February 29, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    I’m looking forward to Gion and the Philosopher walk, also turning into a Vampire.

    • Reply Hung Thai February 29, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Who DOESN’T want to be a vampire?!

  • Reply Tal
    Twitter:
    February 29, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    I absolutely loved Kyoto. Your post is hilarious!

    • Reply Hung Thai February 29, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks Tal. I, too, cannot wait to return to that beautiful place.

  • Reply Christopher Uyeda February 29, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Damn I really want to go to Kyoto!

    • Reply Hung Thai February 29, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      Then make it so.

  • Reply Frank March 1, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Cute! Kyoto is a place I want to see in Japan, maybe more so even than Tokyo. Have to admit that the idea of travelling to Japan makes me a bit nervous, everything is so foreign. But that’s part of the appeal, right?

    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted this awesome article… Feb 28, 2016 Newsletter – Complications, Catching up on a month of Crazy Travel…and on reaffirming old feelingsMy Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai March 1, 2016 at 7:43 am

      I don’t think you’ll have any difficulties at all! I love Kyoto way more than Tokyo… well, they both have their moments. I think staying in Shunko-in Temple REALLY swayed me towards Kyoto. I would highly recommend that whenever you make it there.

  • Reply Suzanne - Travelbunny
    Twitter:
    March 1, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Interesting and amusing post – like your style! Your photography is excellent too.

    • Reply Hung Thai March 1, 2016 at 7:43 am

      Thanks Suzanne 🙂 – I’m still trying to find my voice and style; it’s starting to lean towards the weird side, and I’m letting it flourish.

  • Reply Tara
    Twitter:
    March 1, 2016 at 4:09 am

    Great post, and fabulous photos. I’ve always wanted to go to Kyoto – something about aesthetics and beauty of the city that charms me. I think you could actually have a bamboo grove in the PNW. Wouldn’t that be cool!

    • Reply Hung Thai March 1, 2016 at 7:45 am

      Yes! Bamboo grove in PNW would be awesome! I think we’re in the same climate as Kyoto so growing a bamboo grove isn’t out of the question – though I don’t think my neighbors would like bamboos taking over the place 🙂

  • Reply Carla Schipper
    Twitter:
    March 1, 2016 at 8:42 am

    You are a very talented writer, and you just drew me into your story!! I love the pictures, and now I have another bucket list trip!

    • Reply Hung Thai March 1, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks Carla 🙂 – Even though I’ve been there, it’s still on my bucket list because there’s still so much I need to see!

  • Reply Liz
    Twitter:
    March 2, 2016 at 1:25 am

    Gorgeous pictures! And a fun way of telling your story. 😉 I was definitely drawn!

    • Reply Hung Thai March 2, 2016 at 7:26 am

      Thanks Liz! I had fun writing it 🙂

  • Reply Becky Padmore
    Twitter:
    March 2, 2016 at 2:26 am

    Ha ha love this post and from everything I’ve heard about Kyto I’m sure I would really love it!

    • Reply Hung Thai March 2, 2016 at 7:27 am

      Thanks Becky! I would bet 2 cats and a hairy monkey that you would love Kyoto!

  • Reply Ryan Biddulph
    Twitter:
    March 2, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Hung,

    I love your writing style! Super descriptive, super detailed, and most of all, it’s funny 😉 Well done. You are really really really good at bringing your readers along for the journey. I just traveled to Kyoto. Which is nutz. Because I was in New Jersey 5 minutes ago when I began reading your post 😉

    Ryan
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted this awesome article… How to Become a Better Story TellerMy Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai March 2, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks Ryan! I’m still trying to figure out my “writing style” and doing this post was especially fun because I just let my imagination take over.

  • Reply Sally
    Twitter:
    March 2, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Great post Hung, I enjoyed the ride with your “date”. Lovely photos as well – my fav the geisha girls waling the bridge.
    Sally recently posted this awesome article… Arm Chair Travel #2My Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai March 2, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Thanks Sally :). I’m really happy with the way the pictures turned out. This was a new camera and lens combo and I had great hope for them; they delivered!

  • Reply Anita
    Twitter:
    March 2, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Unexpected approach. Nice story, great pictures.
    Anita recently posted this awesome article… Ulli says:My Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai March 2, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Hi Anita, thanks for dropping by and for reading my ridiculous writing 🙂 – I’m afraid that my writing is only going to get weirder and maybe that’s a good thing? Hehehe

  • Reply Hans Guichardo March 3, 2016 at 2:13 am

    I’m looking forward to visiting Kyoto during Cherry Blossom season. Hopefully the weather will provide help to try to get amazing pictures.

    • Reply Hung Thai March 3, 2016 at 7:24 am

      So jealous… you are going to have an awesome time!

  • Reply Jim
    Twitter:
    March 3, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Hung! Great write up! My girlfriend and I are planning on making our first trip to Japan next February to go skiing in the north. I spent years as a fish monger and ate raw fish almost everyday. Can’t wait for the powder and the food!

    Cheers,
    Jim
    Jim recently posted this awesome article… Best PFD for Paddle BoardingMy Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai March 3, 2016 at 9:24 am

      OMG! That’s where I want to go when we come back to Japan (Hokkaido area). I’m dreaming of waking up surrounded by white snow. It would be so romantic especially with the Japanese architecture!

  • Reply Richard Collett
    Twitter:
    March 3, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Hey! This is the first time I’ve properly sat down and immersed myself in your blog! I absolutely love your style of writing in this article, it is…well…it’s unique! Keep it up!

    • Reply Hung Thai March 3, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Haha thanks Richard. I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse. OR better – whichever way you want to look at it. 🙂

  • Reply Laura March 3, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Oh, you have reminded me how much a miss Kyoto. I love the pictures, love the post and absolutely love the destination! Thank you. I hope one day to return there. May it not be too far away into the future.
    Laura recently posted this awesome article… Blue Canoe: The Best Place to Eat in Elvis’ Hometown TupeloMy Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai March 3, 2016 at 10:55 am

      Hey Laura, thanks! My fiance and I have been looking at deals to come back to Kyoto this year. Unfortunately, we also have a wedding in December so there’s just barely enough time to make it work. I remain hopeful that we can make it back as well. Please let me know when you do decide to go back.

  • Reply JAPAN Claims Another VICTIM Who Still Thinks She Had An AMAZING TIME March 3, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    […] you know, I went on a date with Kyoto a few months back. It brings me much sadness to say that Kyoto has gone on many dates… with other […]

  • Reply Jenny
    Twitter:
    March 4, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Its my goal to visit over there & just eat & shop a little & eat some more & walk around & pet some cats at a cat cafe. Simple, really. I actually wrote a blog myself about a month ago talking about Japan being my dream trip to go on… One day!

    • Reply Hung Thai March 4, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Jenny, LOL. I love it your description. I think we did just that in Tokyo – I know, Tokyo has SO much to offer but we took our time. We did visit a cat cafe and ate and walked around relaxed. It was a great time. If that’s your dream trip, you’re in for a great time!

  • Reply Samantha
    Twitter:
    March 4, 2016 at 5:44 am

    Loved reading this and really enjoy your style of writing! I currently live in Busan and I have yet to visit anywhere in Japan. Kyoto is on my list (alongside Osaka, Tokyo and Fukuoka). Japan is sooo close, just a short plane ride over! (I think I’ll avoid the long journey of a ferry). This post has put Kyoto at the top of my list!!! GPSmyCity would help immensely with navigating my way around and to be my own tour guide! 🙂 Can’t wait to see what this beautiful city (as well as the whole of Japan) has to offer this travelista! Keep writing! Look forward to reading more 🙂

    • Reply Hung Thai March 4, 2016 at 9:32 am

      Hi Samantha, thank you! In my short visit to Japan, we went to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto but we had the most fun in Kyoto. I think it was because we took our time in Kyoto. I would suggest staying in a city (whichever one) for a long time and not move around too much to really take in the culture, the food, the sights, and immerse yourself in it. And since you’re so close, you can visit another city at another time 🙂

  • Reply Paul March 4, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Haha great post to read! Kyoto looks really beautiful, I wish we had visited for a day or 2 when we went to Tokyo, but we will definitely go there one day.

    • Reply Hung Thai March 4, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      Hi Paul, I was in Tokyo for a few days as well. It was awesome but I definitely LOVED Kyoto. I think a lot of it had to do with taking it nice and slow in Kyoto versus rushing around in Tokyo. 🙂

  • Reply Kerri McConnel
    Twitter:
    March 4, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    I’ve not been to Kyoto but I would definitely go for the food. Those yakisoba noodles looked especially great.
    Kerri McConnel recently posted this awesome article… Touring the caves of Moët and Chandon | Epernay FranceMy Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai March 4, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      Kerri, the food in Japan is INCREDIBLE! Seriously, you’ll love it so much. I was constantly hungry and full 🙂

  • Reply Svet Dimitrov
    Twitter:
    March 5, 2016 at 4:20 am

    Wow, you have an incredibly creative style of writing and I loved reading your article all over! May I say Kyoto looks like an enchanted sorceress?

    Good job, Hung, I mean.. Mario!

    • Reply Hung Thai March 5, 2016 at 7:50 am

      ahaha thanks Svet – if you go to Kyoto she’ll ensnare you, whatever the heck she is 🙂

      • Reply Svet Dimitrov
        Twitter:
        March 5, 2016 at 2:07 pm

        Unless I have a stealth mode engaged 😛

        • Reply Hung Thai March 5, 2016 at 2:56 pm

          NINJA!!! We are mortal enemies as I am the SAMURAI of Seattle. I’ll see you in the bamboo forest. Bring your katana or whatever sword it is that you creatures of the night use!

          • Svet Dimitrov
            Twitter:
            March 5, 2016 at 10:36 pm

            I am quite peaceful. Diplomatic is my approach and sophisticated words are my faithful weapons 🙂

          • Hung Thai March 5, 2016 at 11:14 pm

            Let us then weave words instead of metal clangs. And to that end let us be friends. Cheers!

  • Reply Dave (Silverbackpacker)
    Twitter:
    March 5, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Japan is one country i still have to visit and Kyoto has been on my list for a long time. I enjoyed reading through your post, with your unique style of writing making it all the more enjoyable.
    Dave (Silverbackpacker) recently posted this awesome article… Palawan in 21 InstagramsMy Profile

    • Reply Hung Thai March 5, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Hi Dave, thanks for the compliment :). Did you know that I tried going to Kyoto and Japan in general a few years back and the earthquake/tsunami happened. We had to cancel, but good things come to those who wait, right? At least that’s what I try to tell myself all the time haha.

  • Reply Rachel Heller
    Twitter:
    March 6, 2016 at 3:41 am

    I love your photos! I didn’t spend a lot of time in Kyoto when I was in Japan, but this article makes me want to go back!

    • Reply Hung Thai March 6, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks Rachel! I loved Kyoto and I think you will have an amazing time there the second time around. We’re thinking of coming back to Japan later this year – but will probably head up North to Hokkaido. Have you been there?

      • Reply Rachel Heller
        Twitter:
        March 6, 2016 at 10:15 pm

        No, I haven’t. I’d also love to go to Iwojima.

        • Reply Hung Thai March 7, 2016 at 10:22 am

          Ohhh, excellent choice as well! I haven’t thought much about Iwojima, but I’ll do a little bit of research to see if that’s some place we’d want to go to as well.

  • Reply travelling chingrita
    Twitter:
    March 7, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Your style of writing is incredibly engaging, have to say I haven’t been to Japan since I was a kid but hope to visit again one day.. once I’m done conquering the rest of the world. If there was something you could do over again, just one, what would it be and why?

    • Reply Hung Thai March 7, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Go conquer the world, one small city at a time :). I’m glad to hear you’re aspiring for GREATNESS! I suppose I won’t conquer the world because I tend to come back to the same place over and over – to really understand the culture and the people there. Perhaps I could try living in each place for 6 months – that might be what I would do if I could do it all over again. For Kyoto, specifically, I would want to take it EVEN SLOWER to really absorb the atmosphere, the people, the food, and the culture.

  • Reply Hana And I Went Streaking In Maui. Only One Of Us Came Back. March 9, 2016 at 12:12 am

    […] It seems that I’m always getting dumped in the weirdest fashion like when I went on a blind date with Kyoto and she bit me. […]

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