in-(ter)-view TRAVEL JAPAN & BALI
Name: Lara Melrose
Destination: Japan (Osaka, Hakuba & Tokyo) & Bali (Nusa Lembongan & Seminyak & Kuta (BONUS 2 DAYS))
Why did you choose it?
Why not incorporate both summer and winter into a months holiday. Okay, we didn’t really think about this when we booked. We were just way to excited at the time and figured that if we travelled all the way to Japan we may as well have a pitstop via Bali on the way back.
Season of choice:
We went over Christmas and New Year.
What to pack?
We had to pack EVERYTHING from bikinis and boardies to snowgear and jeans. It was quite amusing that we took a snow board to Bali. We disguised it as a surfboard. For Christmas we got a selfie stick so that was handy for some good photos on the ski fields but EVERYONE had one and we were a little embarrassed to use it towards the end.
How did you get there?
With my partner working away on a fly in fly out roster he had accumulated lots of frequent flyer points so we were able to book our flights with points. Therefore when booking we just went with what we could get with our points. We managed to get flights from Sydney to Osaka and then Bali to Brisbane. So we just had to work out everything in between. We flew Jetstar on these flights and then airasia from Tokyo to Bali via Kuala Lumpur.
Best moment of the trip?
The snow was nothing short of amazing. It was our first white Christmas and it was beautiful. It snowed and it snowed. On the last day it was snowing so much that I was convinced if I went outside and stood there too long I would be covered and would be a snowman. I have also been to Bali a few times and Nusa Lembongan is also incredible.
What did you learn about the country? Culture? About yourself?
Sounds crazy but I studied and learnt Japanese for 6 years at school and can still barely say or understand a word. Therefore, I had a basic understand of the culture and language although nothing compares to the real thing. On new years day we did the traditional thing and visited a shrine and threw money in whilst saying prayers (New Years Resolution) It was a great atmosphere with thousands of people doing the same. Having being to Bali a few times I was aware of their culture and find it very peaceful and humbling with offerings on every corner and bend and inside each shop.
Did you miss anything from your normal routine?
Not really. We were dreading coming back to reality. It is definitely worse than it seems when you first hit home soil.
Tell us about a person you met?
We met a lovely couple on the ski fields from Melbourne. They had a very similar itinerary to us and were the same ages. It worked out well as us girls were beginner skiers and the boys were quite advanced snow boarder so the girls stuck together and the boys went off and we would all meet up during the day.
Anything go wrong (that seems funny – or still not!) now?
Where do I start? We had a dream holiday and nothing was going to ruin it but we had a few actually quite a lot of things that went wrong. From delayed flights to lost luggage to the atm eating our bank card to locking our passports and money in the safe to losing items to getting sick to losing power at our villa to locking ourselves out of the bathroom to the best and foremost a CANCELLED FLIGHT! Our flight from Bali to Brisbane was cancelled and we were stuck in Bali for an extra 2 days. At first it was a terrible idea and I just wanted to come home. But we came to terms with it. The airline paid for an amazing accommodation and all meals. We actually really enjoyed our 2 bonus days in Kuta and we were able to relax and unwind before hitting the wrath of reality.
Best place to ….
Get a drink? Bali has so many amazing new bars that you have to visit. We loved the “Woo Bar” (at the W Hotel) in Seminyak and “The Rock Bar” at Anaya Resort. In Hakuba there was an aussie bar called “The Pub” which was pretty cool as well.
Lunch? In Nusa Lembongan there is a bridge to connect to another little island where there is a hideaway resort called Le Pirate Beach. The coolest place around with little beach huts and amazing food. In Seminyak we really loved Sea Circus.
Dinner? Seminyak – Barbacoa our new favourite place! A must do! In Shibuya a must is to go to Uobei a sushi train from the 30th Century. You order on Ipads and your meals are shot out to your sheet on a conveyor belt. Its amazing.
Get a touristy snapshot? Anywhere in Bali where the sunsets over the ocean. In Japan at Shibuya crossing. In Hakuba you cant miss a bluebird day selfie.
A night or two you could do, but Nusa Lembongan is a short 12km from the mainland of Bali and it is breathtaking. We stayed 3 nights but 4 would probably be okay as well.
Stay a week?
We stayed one week at Hakuba and for me that was enough. I am not a huge snow fan but a week was long enough. A week in Tokyo is plenty of time as well. We got most things done in the 5 days we were there. A week is never long enough in Bali. I would say 2 but I wish I could stay forever.
What would you send a postcard home about?
I wish I could have sent a postcard home with a little bit of snow. Sounds crazy as this is impossible. But I just want a little jar of it to put in my house to remind me of our awesome white Christmas.
Story you would like to share?
There are so many good ones to share. May New Years in Tokyo. We all have great expectations of New Years. The Japanese don’t really celebrate the way that we do it was was tough to find what we wanted to do. We decided to head to Tokyo Tower as we googled it and saw that there were fireworks here at midnight. We caught various trains and had drinks on the way to the Tower. We waited there from about 10:30pm with thousands of others and what we waited for was quite pathetic. All that happened was the tower lit up and the numbers 2015 appeared. Everyone waited in anticipation for it to explode in fireworks. There was no countdown and barely a New Years kiss as we just kept waiting for the fireworks. At about 12:05am I turned to Chris and said Happy New Year and we laughed hysterically at the let down of events that Tokyo provided. People were raging but we were happy we were just together and in a beautiful place away from home.
Best shopping purchase?
This is a hard one. We shopped and we shopped. We purchased nearly 30kg of things on our trip! A few of the highlights – Mickey Mouse ears at Disneyland – these were a must! $4 dresses in Bali – I think I bought 12. Paintings – we had some awesome paintings done for our house. We love them so much.
In Seminyak at Barbacoa we had amazing Pork. There was a 18 hour suckling pig and it was divine. The atmosphere and dining experience as a whole was the highlight of our dining experiences and trust me we did a lot. 3 meals a day for 32 days! You do the maths! I was very much looking forward to a home cooked meal by the end.
Travel tips …
Window or aisle seat?
My partners theory is this: Window seat gets the window wall to lean on, Middle seat gets the double arm rests and the aisle gets the extra leg room. I totally disagree and nothing beats a window seat or an exit row.
Solo, plus one, or more?
I couldn’t travel solo, I need company. We had so much fun as a couple as we could go off and do our own thing and meet up later. We also meet up with other people so were a little bit of a small group. Travelling in large groups is hard as it is so hard to please everyone. On the trip we did I would say 2-6 people max would be perfect.
What did you take and not use?
Okay so by confessing this my partner, brother, mother, sister in law and father all win the bet but for Christmas I got an adorable “The Beach People” roundie. I was determined to take it and snuck it in my suitcase but I never really used it expect to snap a few cool photos. But shhhh I never confessed this.
What can’t you travel without?
A camera. We just used our phones and the photos are the memories we hold. We had a competition who could snap the best photo. Sadly Chris one with the panoramic photo in Nusa Lembongan. We had this blown up onto a canvas and have hung it in the house.
Now that you have been there, what pops into your head where you hear the destination mentioned?
Japan + Bali = Shopping. We were over with 65kgs altogether with one snowboard, one winter suitcase and one summer suitcase and we came back with 92kgs. You name it we bought it!
(one to five stars. One being meh, 3 being glad I went, 5 being you-betcha-gonna-hear-more-about-it)
6 – seriously amazing. We are already booking our next holiday!
Romance factor – I wouldn’t say it was a romantic trip. It was more a get out and about and explore trip but we made it romantic. It was no trip to Bora Bora or the Maldives. If you like romance in an adventure kind of way and find it romantic when your partner eats a face full of snow 10 times a day and was going too fast around a corner that they ended up planted on a cliff face edge with one ski on and one ski missing. You have your romantic factor right on the ski fields. Bali was a little bit more romantic than Japan. There are some beautiful places to watch the sunset, grab a drink and of course my favourite (much to Chris’ loathing) a couples massage! We were really on the go for a month straight and didn’t have much down time but that is what we wanted so it just depends on your personal preference.
Expand your mind …
I think the best part was we went from a wealthy country which is so technologically advanced to a third world country and was witnessing poverty first hand. It was from one extreme to the other and we loved it. It was an all rounders trip with different options available for people depending on your interests.