I fell into a river today.
Not some small river at a temple, I fell into the largest river in central Kyoto.
And in doing so, I learned that iPhones don’t swim (I’ll be getting a new one of those, I guess) and your passport will, for a period of time. Also that water is cold.
Look, I’ll be the first to admit this blog has been a little boring this time around. To be honest, not a lot of wacky, zany stuff happened. A and I had a great time, ate amazing and fun food, and saw some of the most beautiful sights in the world. This has been the best vacation ever.
However, back to me falling into the river.
So here’s the dilemma: I had to return my bicycle by 3 pm. And A's. Only A had sworn off of riding a bicycle in Japan on account of 3 accidents in a one –hour period. Therefore, I had to ride that back yesterday in the night. When I arrived at the store, expecting to be able to just leave it there, I found them locked up with no parking anywhere. Aware, as you are, that you should not just park anywhere (even though everyone does) I set out to find a bicycle parking lot. Finding a bicycle parking garage, I took my ticket and returned home.
Today, I rode my own bike to the shop. I had only 20 minutes, which look like plenty of time. That is, until I saw an unusual sight – a bicyle submerged in the river, and two sad looking little girls staring at it with their mother.
I stopped, of course (shut up, Bryan, I know), and inquired as to the problem, as if it wasn’t obvious. The little girls had accidently let their bike fall into the river when they parked it on the sidewalk.
So I looked at the bike, looked at my umbrella, belt, and duct tape I keep in my bag, and thought “this will be easy.” I rigged up a bike-fishing pole and caught the bike on the fourth try, pulling it up from the water.
Only the cord broke and I was left with my belt in my hands, with the bike and umbrella still in the water – so close. Probably just 10 feet away. I could reach it, I thought. The slope into the water didn’t look that bad, and I could climb back up on the rock face.
Halfway down, I learned that wasn’t such a good idea, as I slid feet first into the water. Once in the water, I began to quickly ascertain that I was in trouble. There was no way back up onto the sidewalk, no stairs within a mile sight in either direction, and only the people at the sidewalk to not help me. Not good. I also remembered that I still had my iPhone, which I realized immediately was dead.
Suddenly two cyclists stopped – and believe it or not, one of them had a cord long enough to reach me. He threw it down and in about 15 seconds I remembered my “Project Adventure” training from High School on how to scale a sheer wall with a tension rope. Carrying me (and the bike) up the wall made all those long boring days worth it immediately.
Once at the top, I immediately fell into Japanese-mode, doing what any good Japanese person would do – bow repeatedly and deeply and humbly ask their forgiveness for my terrible error and foolishness. They, in turn, expressed great regret at my soaking wet, dirty, and passport/iPhone/all my possessions soaking wet state. No, it was my fault, I insisted. And then quickly left.
Because, as you may remember, the bike was due back, now in 10 minutes.
So, back to my house, quick change, and then back on the road.
Only I had forgotten one thing – in my soaking-wet wallet was the card to get the OTHER bicycle out of the garage. CRAP. I carefully removed it, still wet, and placed it carefully in my bike-basket to dry as I rode.
OK, I KNOW that was a stupid idea. Of course the card flew out in the first 5 minutes. Thus, I spent the next 10 minutes frantically retracing my steps looking for a tiny piece of paper in the middle of a three-lane road on a bicycle. NOT EASY. But I found it
Back on my way, I made it to the store, returned the first bike, returned the second bike (after a quick and VERY rough translation of the garage instructions, unaided now by my handy kanji translation software located on the dead iPhone), and headed straight back to meet Annie.
So here I sit, in an internet café in Kyoto, Japan, having just taken a shower in their somewhat luxurious shower/tanning booth suite, watching my coat dry and letting their massage chair ease my troubles. I got lots of cool stuff here and ate great food, but I think in the end this trip was more amazing for A, since she has never been here before. I know you all were hoping for more zany adventures and silly observations, but truthfully Kyoto isn’t that kind of city, or at least it wasn’t for us this time around.
I am planning to try to write some follow-up blogs when I get back about some of the sights and go into some more detail about some cool things I saw. The truth is that I have been too exhausted at the end of each day to write anything, but also too absorbed with planning the next day.
And then I fell into the river and everything went crazy. A and I ate burgers made of rice-cake buns with carrots and korean Kalbee and I bought a bunch of Jpop CDs. And now I we have to find some way to dry my clothes to pack and leave tomorrow.
There is an expression in Japanese that you say at the end of the day or at the end of a visit - Otsukaresamadeshita - literally, "thank you I am very tired."
Well, Otsukaresamadeshita, Kyoto.