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‘The Art of Slow Travel’ is back up and running

Dear readers,

A while ago, something horrible happened to my beloved blog. Let’s say it was hit by the proverbial bus. One day I woke up to a number of widgets I needed to update on WordPress. Once I had, I found out the website just wasn’t displaying.

After a chat with my lovely web designer, I was informed that the creator of my theme had stopped updating it, which means that any new wordpress and theme updates were corrupting it.

After a lot of research, she told me she could get it back up and running on a simpler theme, which is what you’re seeing today. I do miss my old theme, but finally ‘The Art’ is back up and running and it doesn’t look half-bad. Pictures are displaying properly, and the theme is nice and spacious, just the way I like it.

Unfortunately, while all this was happening I found myself wanting another blog, one which did not limit myself to the topic of travel. Once again, my lovely web designer came to my rescue, and we started chatting about a new blog which she’s now putting together for me.

I think the problem is that for the longest time, I have defined myself as a travel blogger and a travel writer, but the truth is, I am a writer. Full stop. I want to write about travel, but also life. I want to write stories for children and for adults. I want to write whatever I feel like writing during my million types of moods, and I want a platform that will take it all. This is what the new blog means to me.

If you care to join me for this next crazy ride, please hang around and I will let you know when the new blog is up and running. It will still feature some eye-popping photography from around the world, but I believe it will be a better place than ‘The Art’.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a selection of photos from my last 3-week trip to Malta, Italy, Switzerland and Singapore.

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Zabbar, Malta

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The Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

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The Duomo, Florence, Italy

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The Chili Crab, Singapore

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Florence, Italy

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The Trevi Fountain, Rome

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @www.theartofslowtravel.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan

The Art of Slow Travel 2013 travel wrap up

I’ve been doing end-of-year wrap ups ever since I started this blog, and they have always been very focused on my travel experiences (duh, this is a travel blog after all!) – 2010, where I took several trips around Europe during the year I moved to Switzerland, 2011, the year when I finally achieved my goal of finding a way to leave and work permanently in Australia, and prepared to do so the following year, and 2012, when, quitting my 3 jobs in Switzerland, I spent 2 months in Vietnam and Singapore, then landed in Australia and did a short trip to New Zealand.

It was all amazing, but 2013 was even amazing-er (so amazing it deserved the creation of a new word). There was, of course, travel involved this year, even if to a lesser degree than during previous ones, as there is no way I will ever be cured of my chronic travel bug. Here are the places I travelled to and some of my favourite moments and places.

Japan

I cannot think of a country I wanted to visit more than Japan. The year before I had opted for Vietnam instead because I could easily spend three months there for the price of 2 weeks in Japan, and at the time I needed the long break. But this year, I didn’t want to keep making any more excuses. The Yen was at an all time low, several Japanese friends had offered to host me and Boyfriend and several more wanted to show us around their home towns, so I booked tickets to visit in May. In the space of three weeks, we did a lot without it feeling to rushed. we started in Tokyo, taking day trips to Mount Fuji, then flew down to Fukuoka where a friend took us around the magnificent island of Kyushu. Next up were Hiroshima and Miyajima, then a quick train up to the Kansai region where we explore Osaka, Nara, Kobe and Kyoto.

Finally, we headed off to Nagoya to be with friends, and got to explore the city, plus some other areas like Ise and the Japanese Alps, where we saw some late blooming cherry trees. From here, we returned to Tokyo to catch the flight back home.

Favourite Photos

Odaiba, Tokyo

Giant Gundam in Odaiba, Tokyo

Eating black eggs (boiled in the sulfuric water) in Hakone

Hiroshima, you are unexpected

The Peace dome, Hiroshima

The plains beneath Mount Aso, Kyushu

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People gathering under the Torii gate, Miyajima

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Feeding the deer, Nara

Beautiful Kyoto

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 Koi Fish and Boat in Nagoya

Best Bits

Seriously everything – the amazing food (if you are a bit open minded), the natural scenery with the beautiful Mount Fuji, covered in snow, the ancient architecture (Temple fatigue does not exist for me) and the amazing friendly people who opened their homes to me, took me out to memorable meals and showed me their Japan – apart from one thing, which brings me to…

Worst Bit

The fact that smoking is allowed in eating places. Japan is filled with small traditional hole-in-the wall places to eat, but Japanese men will always be smoking there. In fact, I was a bit surprised as to how many of them smoke. Only more modern establishments seem to (not always) have different zones, though sometimes the divider is nothing but an invisible line on the floor.

Melbourne and Victoria

I am still calling Melbourne and Victoria home, and have no plan on leaving. I never wanted to be a nomad. The reason why I moved countries and travelled so much is because I was looking for Home. Melbourne is Home. The weather never gets too cold or too humid and hot, the food is amazing and there are great restaurants everywhere, the public transport is frequent, reasonably priced and efficient, and you can have a comfortable life even if you’re not a lawyer, a banker or a doctor. Here are my favourite photos and experiences in and around Melbourne from this year.

Melbourne Arcades and laneways tour

Discovering street art during a Melbourne lane ways and arcades tour

Great Ocean Road

Beach and Surfer along the Great Ocean Road

Moonlit Sanctuary, Victoria, Australia   moonlit sanctuary, Victoria, Australia

Feeding Wallabies and stroking Koalas at the Moonlit Sanctuary

point nepean victoria australia

Spending my Birthday at Nepean National Park

Thailand

I must admit that, for some reason, I just never felt the urge to go to Thailand. To be even more honest, I loathed the idea. All that came to mind when I thought about Thailand were scams at every corner, old European men buying local women and tacky tourist shops and inedible Asian-Western food. When I got the opportunity to visit Thailand for ‘work’ and to travel a bit more off the beaten track, I thought that I couldn’t possibly be this prejudiced towards a country I had never visited, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I started in Bangkok, travelled up to Sukhothai where I was lucky enough to be in time for the Festival of Lights celebrations, went up to Lampang and visited the world’s first elephant hospital, then did a home stay in the outskirts of Chiang Mai before moving to the city proper for a couple of days.

Favourite Photos

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Stupa illuminated for the festival of lights, Sukhothai

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Elephant at the Elephant Hospital, Lampang

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Festival of lights, Night Market, Lampang

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Doi Suthep temple, Chiang Mai

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Lady restoring mural at Wat Po, Bangkok

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Model posing for Japanese photography tourists, Sukhothai Historical park

Best Bits

I really enjoyed Thailand. Because I had read up on all the scams, it was easy to avoid them. The people were extremely friendly, and while Bangkok and Chiang Mai are very touristy (which is ok) the places I visited in between were less so and absolutely stunning. I am a sucker for beautifully preserved ancient ruins and temples (can’t get enough of Buddhas) and rice fields frames by soaring mountains.

Worst Bits

This is entirely my fault (because the trip was quite fast and I was not staying in a particular place long enough), but I found it really difficult to find authentic Thai food. The closest places to eat (so again this is my fault because I did not take the time to go out of my way) were these weird, 100-page-menu places with bad Thai and tasteless Western dishes (which I didn’t want as I don’t travel to eat Western food abroad). My best meals were those were locals cooked for us at homestays, straight out of their kitchen. Everything else was…meh.

This obviously means that I need to go back and find proper, amazing Thai food.

***

So what’s in store for 2014?

In January, I am off for a week in the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. I haven’t had a beach holiday in ages, so I am really looking forward to that. Then in May is the big trip back to Europe to visit friends and family. All together I will be visiting Dubai, Malta, Italy (for the first time!), Switzerland and Singapore before coming back home 3 weeks later.

While this is all I have planned at the moment, I am quite sure I will be able to squeeze in another trip to an Asian country, though I am not entirely sure where. I am really intrigued by mainland Malaysia though…

And of course, Australia still has plenty to offer.

***

ON A DIFFERENT NOTE…I had plenty of fantastic non-travel moments too.

After a dark start to the year, I managed to go from a job I really hated and which was affecting me physically and emotionally, to one I really loved (within the same company, which is great – sometimes something just isn’t the right fit). I reached my goal of being financially comfortable. After years, I finished my first novel (!!!!!) and am now embarking in the long and complicated process of finding a publisher. My head is already buzzing with the next book, the second in what will eventually be a trilogy.

How about you? What were your best 2013 travel moments (feel free to post a link!) and what have you got planned for 2014? What were your best non-travel moments?

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @www.theartofslowtravel.com

Cycling around Sukhothai Historical Park

My first introduction to the Sukhothai historical park was on the evening of the festival of lights. The park was filled with market stalls selling delicious and cheap local food, the stupas were lit up with candles and for once, locals outnumbered tourists. But to do justice to this UNESCO world heritage site, I needed to go back during the day, hop on a bicycle (the park is vast), and visit its many ruins and Buddhas.

On the day I visited, a group of Japanese tourists were walking around in the company of a woman dressed in traditional Thai clothing and taking pictures of her in front of various ruins, and of course, since she was practically ‘blocking’ the view, I took the liberty to incorporate her in some of my shots.

This post is part of the Thailand Travel Post series. Click on the below banner to access the Thailand post library.

Thailand

-Text and Photography by Denise @www.theartofslowtravel.com. All rights reserved.

Loy Krathong: The Festival of Lights in Sukhothai, Thailand

I buy a little boat in the shape of a duck from one of the many sellers in the park. There’s a long thin candle in it, and I light it up, cupping my hand around it to make sure the wind doesn’t blow it out as the flame settles itself. I make my way to a pier leading onto a small pond, and do it as my guide has explained it to me.

First, I apologies to the water for what I am about to do, for the fact that I am about to make it dirty with my little duck boat. Then I make a wish, and after placing it on the water, I give it a gentle push so that it’s able to float away. This is the festival of lights in Thailand. Though everyone knows the version which is held in Chiang Mai (Yi Peng) and which features floating lanterns which are released in their hundreds in the air, everywhere else in Thailand the traditional way to do it is like this, with small or more elaborate floating vessels lit up and left to float on water.

Below is a collection of images I took during this year’s festival of lights in Sukhothai (Loy Krathong). The festival was held in the historical park. Even if you’re  in Sukhothai outside of the festival, the park is home to a night market, and is beautiful during the day, but more on that in my next post.

Those are not stars…they are floating lanterns.

Thai sausage stand – Sausages are a mix of rice and pork, and come in spicy and standard

This post is part of the Thailand Travel Post series. Click on the below banner to access the Thailand post library.

Thailand

 

-Text and Photography by Denise @www.theartofslowtravel.com. All rights reserved.

 

Crazy, touristy, beautiful Bangkok

It’s the end of November. I am in Bangkok. It’s hot, bearable until the sun comes out from behind the clouds and then I reach for my cap, and start sweating. ‘This is our winter’, our guide Gigi says, as she takes us through the marvels of the Royal Palace and of the Wat Pho. Whatever time of the year, Bangkok seems to be constantly clogged with tourists, and yet, on this walking tour, I can hardly feel it.

As Gigi explains the meaning behind murals, statues and stupas, the crowds melt away, and it feels like it’s just us and all this beautiful architecture.  Later, she takes us on a long tail boat trip, exploring the small canals which twist and turn around houses, both simple and grand,and  past temples where monks give you bread to feed to the healthy population of river catfish in exchange for a donation.

I join Gigi’s walking tour pretty much straight after getting to Bangkok – I had flown the night before, and gotten to my hotel so late that all I had time to do was sleep. Later I’d look at the streets around my hotel, filled with western bars and restaurants with their bland Thai food and massacred western dishes and think, is this Bangkok? What about what I had seen with Gigi – the quiet canals where local lived, and the impressive architecture? What is Bangkok really?

Like so many other places where tourism has become one of the most important ways for locals to make a living, Bangkok can feel oppressively tacky and touristy, but I have always understood, and will always understand. And it is almost inevitable that when tourism comes, a country has to sell a small part of its soul to this industry.

I thought I would hate Bangkok.In fact, I had postponed going to Bangkok for a very long time because of all the horrible stories I kept hearing about it. In fact, I ended up loving it, but maybe because I have travelled enough to understand that with tourism, compromises have to be made, and beautiful things are always there to discover, even in the most touristy of place.

Below is a collection of shots from my time in Bangkok. I saw very little as I soon moved on to other parts of Thailand, but there was still plenty for my camera to capture.

  

  

   

Have you been to Bangkok? What’s your overall opinion of it?

This post is part of the Thailand Travel Post series. Click on the below banner to access the Thailand post library.

Thailand

 

-Text and Photography by Denise @www.theartofslowtravel.com. All rights reserved.

 

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Goodbye Japan

Nagoya

nagoya castle, japan

Nagoya Castle

nagoya garden, Nagoya, Japan    nagoya garden, Nagoya, Japan

nagoya garden, Nagoya, Japan

Nagoya garden, Nagoya

Nagoya, Japan

Japanese alps    Japanese alps

Japanese Alps

Japanese alps

sakura in the Japanese alps   sakura in the Japanese alps

Sakura tree blooming in the mountains

sakura in the Japanese alps

Suwa-taisha Shrine    Suwa-taisha Shrine

Suwa-taisha Shrine, Nagano Prefacture

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In the end, the only thing left is memories.

 During the last few days of last May’s trip to Japan, I met up with an old Japanese friend who hosted us at her beautiful home in Nagoya. She took us to see her city, showed us its pretty castle and its garden, filled with Koy. She and her family welcomed us. Her parents welcomed us too, and gave us gifts. Her mother went through a traditional green tea ceremony with us. She laid delicate cups and small, carefully wrapped sweets on a low table, then proceeded to prepare the tea for us out of powder which foamed up when she mixed it with a thick brush. The tea was bitter and delicious.

Then our friend took us into the Nagano prefecture. We took gondolas up in the mountains which were still covered in snow, walked through forests filled with still-naked trees, occasionally coming across a blooming cherry blossom tree. While in areas like Tokyo and the Kansai region, sakura had long gone, this high and cold up in the mountains they were not an uncommon sight.

She took us to shrines and temples, and made us eat even more amazing Japanese food. Every meal was memorable, every bite something special.

This time was filled with the bitter-sweet happiness of knowing that you’re having the time of your life, but are about to go home. Home. Of course I was missing home, but there was something about Japan.

Now all I have is memories, and I have shared them with you in a series of posts which I hope have captured my Japan, so I can always remember.

This post is part of the Japan Travel Posts series. Click on the below banner to access the Japan post library.

Destination Guide: Japan

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @www.theartofslowtravel.com. All rights reserved. This is part of Travel Photo Thursday.

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The Art of Slow…Living

Australia Garden, Cranbourne

Australia Garden Cranbourne, Victoria, Australia

Australia Garden Cranbourne, Victoria, Australia

Australia Garden Cranbourne, Victoria, Australia

Moonlit Sanctuary

Moonlit Sanctuary, Victoria, Australia    Moonlit Sanctuary, Victoria, Australia Moonlit Sanctuary, Victoria, Australia    Moonlit Sanctuary, Victoria, Australia

moonlit sanctuary, Victoria, Australia

moonlit sanctuary, Victoria, Australia    moonlit sanctuary, Victoria, Australia

Lunch in Sorento, Victoria, Australia

Point Nepean National Park

point nepean victoria australia

point nepean victoria australia

point nepean victoria australia

point nepean victoria australia   Sorento, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Sorento

Sorento, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Around a month ago, I celebrated my 28th birthday. I asked Boyfriend not to buy me anything, but to  simply take me on a day out somewhere in Victoria, and away from Melbourne. We were lucky to be blessed with a warm and sunny early spring day, which we ended up spending walking through the beautiful Australia Garden, feeding wallabies and stroking koalas at the Moonlit sanctuary, walking on soft sand at Point Nepean national park, and then finally stuffing our faces at the amazing Three Palms restaurant in Sorento.

It was the best birthday of my life, not only because of all the wonderful things I did, but because, for some time, I had been practising the art of slow living. Being such an advocate of slow travel, I recently realised that I did not have the same approach to life. I rushed through life, did jobs I did not enjoy which made me wish day after day away until my next trip. I didn’t want it to be that way. I wanted every single day to be precious, and my working hours to be more than just a way to earn money.

I changed my job, found something which I was passionate about, and which , if I worked hard, would reward me financially. It was not easy, and I almost ended up with no job at all, but somehow, the risk I took worked. I rediscovered the pleasure of going to the supermarket once a week to stock up on fresh produce which I would then slowly turn into yummy food, and so cut down on heavy take away. I took time to work on the novel I’ve been wanting to finish for years, and went out to see places around Melbourne and in beautiful Victoria.

Travel is always at the back of my mind. In November, I am going to explore Northern Thailand for a week, then in January, I’m finally visiting the stunning Whitsundays. In May next year, I am going home to visit family and should be able to squeeze another European destination, though I am still not sure where (I am thinking Italy though).

But travel no longer defines me. Travel is no longer the only thing which makes me happy and gives me a deep sense of peace. Simply looking out of the window of a train on my way to work when the morning light falls softly on the Melbourne cityscape does. So does cooking a good meal at home, and setting up a table for two, then having fresh strawberries with cream for dessert.

I will always love travel, but I am glad that I have found a way to live my life slowly as well.

What things give you joy in your everyday life? I would love it if you could share.

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @www.theartofslowtravel.com. All rights reserved. This is part of Travel Photo Thursday.

Come walk the streets of Ise with me…

Sitting here on a sunny Saturday morning in Melbourne, writing this post and looking at the photos from my 3-week trip in Japan(I’ve probably done it an unhealthy number of times since May), I know that it really won’t be very long before I decide to visit again. I am way too in love with everything that Japan is, have way too many friends there and am way too close to miss out on another trip there, possibly in the next couple of years, not to mention that Japanese food changed my taste buds, like, forever.

My favourite part of Japan and one which is rich in local character and sights is definitely the Kansai region, and while I’ve already spent a while there getting to know Kyoto, Osaka and Nara, there’s still more to see and do. Because while these three spots would definitely be considered the super stars of this part of Japan, there is more.

Speaking of more, there is Ise. I actually visited Ise from Nagoya while staying with an  Japanese friend, which means I had the pleasure of being there with a local, which to me is just the bee’s knees.

There are parts of Ise which are very, very photogenic, and let’s say that visiting on a sunny day helped. Come walk the streets of Ise with me…

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Ise Jingu

Ise, Japan   Ise, Japan

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Ise, Japan    Ise, Japan

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The river-side street leading up to Ise Jingu is lined with traditional Japanese wooden structures, so you’ll find Seven Elevens, banks and even vending machine fitting this style.

You can easily spend a couple of hours just browsing for quality souvenirs and eating from one of the many restaurants, followed by tasting Japanese sweets, which for me, are still an acquired taste.

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Frog statue at Meoto-iwa

Nearby Futami is also worth a visit because of Meoto-iwa. Meoto-iwa is a natural formation composed of a couple of rocks in the sea, one considerably larger than the other, with a heavy rope tying them together. The rocks represent the union between a man and a woman, with the rope tying the two together. On the larger and male rock, there is a  Torii gate. Don’t let the pictures fool you. It’s not that the rope is giant. It’s the Torii gate which is tiny.

Ise, Japan   Ise, Japan

The Ema at Meoto-iwa

The Ema at Meoto-iwa

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Meoto-iwa

There are many statues and images of frogs around the shrine, and the word ‘frog’ in Japanese sounds very much like the word ‘return’. On the last day of my trip to Japan, the two Japanese friends who hosted us at their home for a few days in Nagoya, presented us with a tiny ceramic frog which they had bought on our visit together to Meoto-iwa, and explaining the significance, they said goodbye, expressing their hope that we would ‘return.’

This post is part of the Japan Travel Posts series. Click on the below banner to access the Japan post library.

Destination Guide: Japan

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @www.theartofslowtravel.com. All rights reserved. This is part of Travel Photo Thursday.

Kyoto deserves a million posts

Kyoto, like Tokyo, deserves much more than just one post, and in fact, it also deserves a much better camera than I had to capture its gorgeousness. And, as mentioned in my previous post about Kyoto, it deserves much more time.

And I suppose I could write a lengthy article describing every single shrine and temple and location I visited, and its history, but if you read this blog regularly, you’d know by now that that’s not what I do, because everything is already on Wikipedia, or in your guidebook. So instead I am going to show you a series of images where I tried to capture moments, and I will leave you wanting more…

 

Kikaku-ji, Kyoto

Kikaku-ji, Kyoto

Kikaku-ji, Kyoto

I will leave you wishing that it was you, not me, walking in union with the crowd on a rainy yet spectacularly moody day to see the magnificent Kikaku-ji, the colour of its gold covered walls harmoniously dancing with the colours of all the open umbrellas.

locals dressed as geishas

Locals dressed as geishas – the giveaway is the fact that they don’t have white makeup on their faces and necks

I’ll make you want to go geisha-spotting on a Sunday afternoon in the fantastically traditional neighbourhood of southern Higashiyama. You’ll secretively sneak pictures of  local girls dressed as geishas for the day, and openly take shots of the real deal, because, remember, it’s perfectly ok to do so, as long as they are real geishas.

Kyoto Bamboo forest   In the bamboo forest, Kyoto, Japan - Ema   In the bamboo forest, Kyoto, Japan   Real Geishas, kyoto

You’ll want to walk through tall bamboo forests and tiny shrines with their own distinct Ema designs (wooden plaques), and you’ll want to buy and take a few home with you (again, this is perfectly ok, and they are lovely souvenirs).

Kyoto Bamboo forest

Bamboo forest, Kyoto

Tainai-meguri

Tainai-meguri

Tainai-meguri

IMG_3481 (461x614)   Totoro In Kyoto, Japan

You’ll want to be there, with thousands of other people crowding that temple on the top of the hill, looking down over a valley filled with trees, and beyond it, the cosmopolitan concrete jungle which is modern Kyoto.

This post is part of the Japan Travel Posts series. Click on the below banner to access the Japan post library.

Destination Guide: Japan

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @www.theartofslowtravel.com. All rights reserved. This is part of Travel Photo Thursday.

I want to go back to Kyoto

When people ask me what my favourite part of Japan was during my 3-week visit, I tell them that I loved all of it, and that I really can’t pick. I loved both the traditional and weird aspect of Tokyo, the bulk of Mount Fuji and the unexpectedness of Miyajima. And it is true, I really did love every single corner of Japan which I got to visit, because everywhere had its only unique flavour. Every temple or shrine I visited has something different about it, something which I would come to remember as being specifically there.

Tofukuji Temple Zen garden, Kyoto, Japan    Tofukuji Temple Zen garden, Kyoto, Japan

Tofukuji Temple Zen garden, Kyoto

Tofukuji Temple Zen garden, Kyoto, Japan

So it’s not that Kyoto was my favourite part of Japan. It is more about the fact that Kyoto was the only place I visited where I found that I had nowhere near enough time to see it properly, and therefore, I was left craving for more. Much more.

Tofukuji Temple Zen garden, Kyoto, Japan   Tofukuji Temple Zen garden, Kyoto, Japan

Tofukuji Temple Zen garden, Kyoto, Japan   Tofukuji Temple Zen garden, Kyoto, Japan

Tofukuji Temple Zen garden, Kyoto, Japan   Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

The fact is that to really do Kyoto justice, I needed at least 5 full days, and I only had 3. Though not as big as Tokyo, its most beautiful sites are scattered around the outskirts of the city. With each area rich in things to see, and the public transport mostly consisting of buses to reach them, it takes time to get to places, and you need time to explore them.

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

I remember my first day in Kyoto. I remember being on the roof of the central station, looking around and seeing only line after line of modern, ugly building. I remember thinking, seriously?? But it turned out that you need to head to the edges of the city, those areas where countryside and mountains meet, where the streets are small and full of character, and temples and shrines can be found everywhere.  And when I searched more closely, I found that even within that seemingly grey modern city, there were pockets of tradition, and street after street lined with traditional Japanese Izakaya and cute little gift stores.

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan    Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

I started my first day in Kyoto with a walking tour of Tofukuji Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine and the Geisha district of Gion. Our guide, a Chinese student who had been living and studying in Japan for 6 years, taught me what the concept behind the Tofukuji temple zen garden was, with each stone, and each stroke of rake having a specific meaning. She explained how locals pray at shrines and temples, and translated my fortune from Japanese. She took me through the long corridor of Torii gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, and told of how each Torii gate had been donated by someone or by a company over the years, gradually adding to the grandeur of the shrine.

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Gion district, Kyoto

And when the light started growing dim, she took me to Gion, the district where real geishas mingle with Japanese ladies dressed as geishas for the day. She explained how the tell-tale sign of a real geisha was the white make up on her face and down to her neck. She assured me that it was not rude to take a picture of them as their role was in part to preserve and promote Japanese culture to the outside world, but the unfortunately thing was that many tourists were clearly taking pictures of normal Japanese women dressed in geisha clothes without asking their permission, which I found exceptionally rude.

And instead of chasing geishas who were darting as quickly as possible, wooden sandals and all, out of one building and into another in the hope of getting that iconic picture, I chose to just soak up the moment. I listened to the pleasant chatter, and looked at the changing light. I watched the lanterns on the facades of the many restaurants light up, and when my stomach started emitting audible noises, I found a place to satisfy it with some great Japanese food. I needed all the energy I could get, as the next day, I had more Kyoto to explore.

Which place in the world has left you wanting more?

This post is part of the Japan Travel Posts series. Click on the below banner to access the Japan post library.

Destination Guide: Japan

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @www.theartofslowtravel.com. All rights reserved. This is part of Travel Photo Thursday.

stop and smell the roses

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