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Of bicycle riding and kimonos Why it possible to cycle and wear kimonos not necessarily at the same time in Japan.
I DID two things during my recent holiday with my daughter in Kyoto, Japan, which I never imagined I would. The first was cycling in a city. I was never good at it and the last time I got on a bike was three years ago at Club Med Guilin, China, where I joined a group led by a guide who took us on a ride over fields and through woods. The bike and I made it back in one piece so based on that experience, I agreed with Jill to rent bikes while in Kyoto. She had done so during an earlier visit and highly recommended it. Kyoto is easy to navigate. It laid out like a chess board and the roads are mostly flat, she said and so I was persuaded. After all, the road where our hotel was located, Gojo dori, had a very wide sidewalk and clearly delineated cycle path. And plenty of Kyoto folk pedalled like it was the easiest thing to do. My maiden ride was from our hotel to Kyoto Station for breakfast and it was indeed an easy route which we followed on Google Maps. Just how many people cycled was brought home when we entered the bike parking facility at the station. It was humongous with space for what seemed like a million bikes. This was louis vuitton the birth of modern luxury amazon a clear indication that cycling in Kyoto, and even in the biggest cities of Tokyo and louis vuitton agenda nederland Osaka, is a real alternative to public transport. From Kyoto Station we headed out for the famous Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine in southern Kyoto, a 20 minute ride away. So tally ho we went and that when I realised that the short Club Med ride over fields and woods wasn the same thing as navigating in a city with traffic lights, lots of vehicles and even more pedestrians. Still, I was doing fine until a car came a bit too close to me in a narrow back lane and like a nervous horse, I panicked and fell off my bike. I scraped my shin, which hurt, but more painful was the embarrassment of crashing my bike louis vuitton bags ksa in front of two Japanese shopkeepers. Unfortunately, I would have another embarrassing moment on the way back from the shrine. As we were coasting down a gentle incline, I saw three women with shopping baskets walking ahead on our side of the road. Jill whizzed past them and I thought I could do the same. No, I couldn In my anxiety to keep my distance from them, I inadvertently leaned my bike too close to them instead and my handlebar clipped one of the women. Luckily, she didn fall and neither did I. I managed to stop and she was unharmed but obviously quite taken aback. Like I said, the Japanese all seem to cycle like they were born to it, so to have a clumsy tourist nearly knocking her down must have been a shock to the poor woman. All I could do was to apologise repeatedly, Gomen nasai, gomen nasai, as I rode off feeling like an idiot. And that was my first rather bad day on a bicycle. I was ready to abandon it for the rest of holiday but since there was no refund, I had to get back on it. But I had learnt my lesson, every time I saw a crowd of people ahead or was not confident about getting through a jam, I stopped or got off and pushed my bike till the path was clear again. I was almost always sweaty handed on the bike but when I was on a wide path like Gojo dori, I loved the sense of freedom and the feel of the cool wind on my face. Bike rental is big business in Kyoto as many tourists enjoy the experience and it actually faster to get around by bike as this city doesn have as extensive a subway system as Tokyo or Osaka. I may have been a tourist on a rented bike but in Japan, cycling is truly a way of life. You see teenagers, office workers in suits and even mums, with their kids and groceries, pedalling away. These are big, busy cities with millions of people. Yet, they can safely cycle because there are proper sidewalks and lanes and respect for traffic rules by almost everyone, even at the tiny intersections. And that is why I will only cycle in countries that make it safe for me to do so. I do respect attempts by our cities like Kuala Lumpur and George Town to introduce cycling but frankly, it can never be a true transport alternative for the public or tourists. Our roads are just too dangerous and the climate too hot.
There is no way I can ever cycle to work in my office wear and heels and be sweaty in just my palms. The other unexpected thing I did was wear a kimono. Not just a drape on experience louis vuitton alma unboxing for a photo but the full outfit, down to the inner wear, white tabi socks and zori slippers which I wore for a day out on the streets of Kyoto.
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