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Monkeying Around

by Frida Ramos They/her about a year ago in photography
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Getting lost is more fun when you see it as an adventure instead.

The best kind of adventure is an unplanned one. Wandering and getting lost usually leads to a place that will imprint a memory in our minds. You pick a place and just hold on to fate's hand letting it lead the way.

At the ripe age of 20, fate took me on a lifetime adventure to Japan. My first trip overseas with me, myself and I...well not completely alone. I met with college friends here and there but on days when I roamed on my own, I would get lost a lot. I discovered places that I had not planned on seeing, met some great people and ate delicious ice cream!

Arashiyama Bamboo Park Kyoto, Japan

On the day after arriving in Kyoto I headed out on my first venture to the Arashiyama bamboo grove. Getting to Arashiyama was easy but I struggled a little to find the grove. I followed some crowds to a mapping area where everyone seemed to be. That's when I saw a couple who seemed as lost as I did. With high hopes that they spoke English, I approached them. I was so relieved because not only did they speak English, they were looking for the same place as I was! We found our way to the bamboo grove, chatted and took pictures. After sharing a nice walk through the grove they invited me to come along to Arashiyama's monkey park. Which I most definitely wanted to see. I had no idea there was a monkey park and I was not about to miss it.

We walked over Togetsukyo bridge, along the breathtaking Katsura river and up Arashiyama mountain to the entrance of the monkey park. We walked up what seemed like a thousand steps and hiked up a dirt trail to the entrance of the park. The views made it all worth hiking up steep stairs and trails to get to the top of the mountain.

Katsura River, Kyoto, Japan

Before entering we were greeted by many signs. "Don't stare at monkeys in the eye" read one of the rules with a little drawing of a monkey with boxing gloves. I thought it was so funny because I pictured a park full of monkeys with boxing gloves ready for a match. Sadly there were no monkeys wearing gloves. Walking in, instead, you see monkeys walking around with their babies, sleeping on trees and just relaxing by tree trunks people watching.

Japanese macaque watching tourist

Walking through the park was unbelievable. The monkeys were so accustomed to the tourist. They were completely unbothered by us, as long as they didn't catch us staring. Although it wasn't encouraged to interact with them, they had an area where one could feed them. We walked in, paid for their snacks and headed to the feeding area. It was like a reversed zoo, we were caged in a hut while they hung on to the wire mesh windows looking in at us. They'd choose a person with lots of snacks and hypnotize them with their cuteness. I was one of those people. It was comical, they would extend one hand to get banana bits and as they ate that piece they already had their other hand out for more.

Monkey asks for more snacks

After monkeying around and feeding them snacks we went out for more pictures and observation. There were some monkeys bathing in a spring that looked very inviting. I wanted to jump in and join in on the relaxation but it was roped off. Instead I took some pictures and took in the beautiful view of the spring. They were all so photogenic it blew my mind how gorgeous these monkeys were. This was definitely a place I could spend endless hours at. Fresh air, cute monkeys and breathtaking views all around me.

As I sat and admired my surroundings I thought of how glad I was to have asked for help. The couple I met was so cool and we were having such a great time. I would've never seen the beautiful river or even known that there were monkeys near by! This trip taught me that even when lost I'm still on the right path to an adventure. Now when I get lost I look at it as an opportunity to make good memories because you never know what fun things are in store.

photography

About the author

Frida Ramos They/her

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