I’ve seen a lot of impressive things over the course of this trip, but the entrance to Batu Caves — featuring a towering, 140 foot golden statue — is right up there.
I mean, look at that thing.
Then you climb up all those stairs (it’s a lot of stairs), and there’s an enormous cave with multiple temples inside.
It’s pretty incredible.
That’s not to mention the monkeys!
There are dozens of monkeys that just hang around on the steps and near the entrance to the cave.
As you can see, they were pretty much the best.
Even if the caves themselves weren’t spectacular (which they were), it would be worth coming here just to see the monkeys.
Plus, here’s some video I took of a monkey eating a banana. Yes: I got to see a real-life monkey eating a banana, so I think it’s safe to say that my life has peaked and that it’s all downhill from here.
One of the more memorable things I’ve seen so far in Bangkok is an enormous temple complex dating from the 16th century called Wat Pho.
There are so many amazing buildings here.
Not to mention the statues.
And these weird pointy… things… I have no idea what these are. They look quite nice, though.
Then of course there’s the most famous thing here: the reclining Buddha statue.
I don’t think the photos quite give you a sense of how big this thing was, but it was absolutely enormous.
They also had this thing in the same room with the statue where you could buy a small bucket full of coins, and then individually plunk them into various pots lined up along the wall. I had no idea what this was for, so I didn’t do it. I’m sure I missed out on a potential good luck bonanza.
If you’re going to give your hiking trail a name like “the Dragon’s Back,” then that trail had better be pretty majestic.
And yeah, the Dragon’s Back definitely lives up to its name; it features some absolutely jaw-dropping views.
The amount of satisfaction that I get from hiking is something that has really surprised me on this trip. I sort of figured I’d be sticking completely to cities — and that is pretty much what I’m doing — but being able to get out and see nature every now and then is actually really nice.
Of course, it helps when the sights are this spectacular.
I think we’ve reached the point where I’m just going to let the pictures do the talking.
Aside from Sakurajima, Sengan-en is one of those things that comes up a bunch when you’re looking for things to do in Kagoshima.
It’s a former residence dating back to the 1600s that’s been turned into a pretty amazing garden.
It costs 1000 yen to get in (about 11 bucks Canadian), but it’s totally worth it.
Just getting there is pretty spectacular. It’s about two kilometres from the city, and you could take a bus, but the walk is impressively scenic; it’s clearly the way to go. I mean, I think this video speaks for itself.
Then you get there and it’s enormous and seriously impressive.
That’s not to mention the hiking trail that leads to a spectacular view of the surrounding area.
It’s pretty much just endless steps going up, so it’s crazy exhausting, but once you get up there it’s totally worth it.
One of the things Kagoshima is best known for is its proximity to Sakurajima, an active volcano on a nearby island (or what used to be an island — the lava from a 1914 eruption actually connected it to the mainland).
There’s a ferry that goes from Kagoshima to the island every ten minutes or so.
It’s a quick, but scenic, boat ride.
Once you get to the island, there’s a path that goes along the shore where you can see some volcanic rocks, and a pretty great view of the volcano.
There’s also a surprising number of cats, for some reason.
There’s an area in Osaka called Dotombori that’s pretty much tourist central, and when you go there, it’s easy enough to see why. The main street here is absolutely festooned with restaurants, each with a zanier and more elaborate sign than the last.
There are any number of animals, including a crab (I probably should have taken a video of that one — its legs move up and down)….
…and another crab (which also has moving legs).
And the wackiness doesn’t stop there.
I think you get the idea.
Plus, if you go around the corner, there’s a bunch of elaborate ads overlooking the Dotombori canal, including the iconic Glico Running Man, which has been an Osaka landmark since 1935.
Plus, there’s this location of Don Quijote, a Japanese chain of discount stores. Yes, that’s a ferris wheel, though it’s no longer in use.
I mentioned in a recent post that the under-the-radar temples and shrines in Kyoto are where it’s at; well, on the other end of the spectrum is the Fushimi Inari Shrine, which is famous for its seemingly endless pathways of orange gates.
It’s a stunning sight, but it’s also as insanely packed with tourists as you’d fear, especially at the beginning of the trail.
Thankfully, it’s about four kilometres long and leads up into Mount Inari, and as you get deeper inside, it becomes less and less crowded.
Towards the end, it was finally empty enough for me to take a picture like this:
And, because I have a hard time writing a blog post without talking about food, there’s a little cafe about halfway up that sells soft serve ice cream cones. One of them was “soy bean flour” flavoured, and of course, I had to try it.
It wasn’t bad — it had a mildly nutty flavour, and was a nice treat after a long uphill walk.
You also get a pretty good view of the city from up there (which would have been better if it weren’t so hazy out).
I know, more cemeteries? Weird, right? Well what can I say, they’re entrancing.
Many of the temples in Kyoto have a cemetery attached, and some of them are quite striking.
I took a brief video at one of them. It doesn’t really capture it (it’s mostly wind noise from the tiny built-in microphone on my camera), but there was something weirdly serene and kind of eerie about the sense of quiet here; just birds chirping and boards clacking.
Then there was this odd pyramid of sorts at one of the cemeteries; I don’t know what it was, but it was certainly memorable.
I am, however, always vaguely paranoid that I’ll accidentally knock over a tombstone or something and wind up with a Grudge-esque curse, so if I die under mysterious circumstances here, you’ll know what’s what.