Saturday, April 28, 2012

Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 1

Date of travel: 2-6 April 2012

Kyoto Tower from Kiyomizu Temple

Kyoto is great! It is an all-rounder city that has everything packaged into one place. The transport system is topnotch and easy to navigate to all the tourist areas with a single daily pass card. The city is super clean where you won't find cigarette butts on the floor. Tourist sites are naturally beautiful and very tourist friendly. Shopping is great with most major departmental stores on one street. I loved it!

Day 1: Adjusting to customs

Our AirAsia flight landed at Osaka Kansai airport at 3:45pm. Having been pre-warned by others, we ran for our lives out of the plane (we were the first one out) and arrived first at the immigration counters. Another flight had landed before us and there were about 100 people ahead of us in the queue. It took us 45 minutes to clear immigration! I do not know how long those poor people had to wait after us.

Getting to Kyoto was fairly easy. There is a direct train from Osaka Kansai to Kyoto station, but it costs 2980¥ if purchased through the machine, but only 2000¥ if you buy the JR West Rail Pass. You can buy this only once when in Japan, or as many as you want from outside of Japan. When in Kuala Lumpur, just visit the Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) at Amoda building Jalan Imbi to buy it, and you will get an Exchange Order. Locate the green office at the Kansai station and exchange it for a real ticket. To use this ticket, don't scan it through the normal gates, but just show the ticket to the agent at the special lane.

Inside the train from Osaka Kansai airport to Kyoto

Silly me didn't know how to use the baggage area. Lift the horizontal metal rod, and wheel in your bag.

The train took approximately 76 minutes, and took us back in time. I felt like I was in the 1950s Japanese movie, watching all the old houses go by. And the train moved really really slowly, not the high-speed type of rail I was expecting. When we finally arrived Kyoto station, it was 6:30pm and the after-work crowd greeted us. We followed the directions to our accommodations in Kyoto, which you can read about here.
Rush-hour crowd at Kyoto train station

Being none too adventurous on our first night there, we opted for the restaurant around the corner, which was Sukiya. We later found out that this place is the neighbourhood competitor to Yoshinoya, offering one of the cheapest meals in Japan - Beef Rice Bowl. A full meal will set you back only 400¥ = RM15, or if on a tight budget, a simple bowl was only 230¥ = RM8.80. One thing to note about dining is how to pay. At  every restaurant we visited, after ordering, a chit will be placed at your table. Simply bring it to the cashier where they will tell you the cost. Place your money at a little tray. The cashier will not touch your money, but will give you the change first. For 1000¥ notes, they will count the change in front of you, followed by giving you the coins. This is a very good practice at ALL restaurants, to make sure that there are no arguments over what bill was handed over. Thumbs up to them!
First meal: Hamburg curry rice with soup & salad: 460¥ = RM17.50

Beef rice bowl set: 430¥ = RM16.30
Related posts:
Japan2012: Top 5 Favourite Restaurants in Kyoto - Part 1
Japan2012: Top 5 Favourite Restaurants in Kyoto - Part 2
Review: Super Hotel Lohas JR Nara, Japan
Japan2012: What Did I Buy Back?
Review: Hana Hostel, Kyoto
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 1
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 2
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 3
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 4
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 5
Japan2012: Nara 3D/2N Itinerary - Day 5,6,7
Japan 2012: Osaka 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 7
Japan 2012: Osaka 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 8
Japan 2012: Kobe Day Trip - Day 9 & 10 (Final) 

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