Sunday, March 22, 2015

Overview - Our Japan Essentials

I just came back from a trip to Japan (Tokyo - Kyoto - Hiroshima - Osaka).

From my car, to my household items, Japanese influence is massive if not the biggest in my life, but I had never intended of visiting Japan ever until my trustee travelling partner, Daren invited me to.

I did all the research I could and next thing you know - I'm in love. AGAIN.

Like most of the countries I visited, and the amount of annual leaves I have, I am only able to explore a few cities within a few days. That means, a lot of walking or travelling!

We stayed in Tokyo for a few nights, took the train to the beautiful Kyoto (if not my favourite) and then stopped by Hiroshima for a day and then took the train to Osaka where we eventually flew out back to Malaysia. Safe to say, we made complete full use of the Japan Rail Pass.

The number one essential for us was the Japan Rail Pass, which to us was godsend. Especially if you plan to visit different prefectures (or states we call it) in a span of either 7 / 21 or beyond days. Which I think is ideal, and might as well since you're in JAPAN already! It did us a huge favour because we were in Japan for about 9 days and we completely used the Japan rail all 7 days of it. And not only did it connect us to the prefectures, it also connected us to some of the big streets within the big prefectures itself like Shinjuku, Shibuya etc which saved us tons!

Minus the Japan Rail Pass, we Googled on accommodation one too many times to decide that the best way to go about our ideal requirements (which is to kill two birds with one stone - living close to the Japanese culture as well as getting an accommodation) was AirBnB. Just like I did in Sri Lanka. 

Read my homesteads via Airbnb in Sri Lanka here. 

I messaged the folks at AirBnb at least one year in advance right after getting my tickets because I WAS JUST TOO EXCITED !!!  Eventually I settled on three families / individuals separately at Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka (which I will blog about them later) and started communications and bookings with them.

Ms Rumi - Kyoto

Ms Noco - Osaka

Mr Ume - Tokyo

Transportation and accommodation done, there was just one more thing that comes as important as these two. FOOD.

The food in Japan is just GLORIOUS. We put aside the amount of money to use for food, some for the streets, some for more luxurious ones, but most of the time - it doesn't really go according to our budget *grins*. We stumbled upon good food ALL THE TIME in Japan that we decided that food should be one of our essential.

Eventually we spent most on our bucks, even much more than shopping (I mean it's Japan!) on food, and *wipes saliva* did not feel one bit guilty of it.


Got questions? Please leave in the comment! 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

3 Simple Reasons to love Bali

I am one of those (lady) that was charmed by the beautiful Bali, through the movie Eat. Pray. Love. 

YES, there I said it.

Prior to the movie, I had absolutely no intention to go to Bali, mainly because of the hearsay that it is a tourist hive. And in reality? It IS a tourist hive. I have never seen a community of that much internationals in a local Asian town in my life. There were all kinds of nationality in Bali, that at one point I forgot that it's actually an Island of Indonesia.

I was reminded of Bali when Mum and I had a chat about the place the other day. I loved Bali but I understand why some people think it's lamented as an international village now.

And despite it being already SO popular, I've decided to list down, THREE reasons why Bali is simply awesome (and WHY we always come back for more).

1) Culture

Most of the places in Bali as I have said, are tourist hives. There is no escape from any tourist who is there on a holiday or working (everyone loves Bali), sitting in a perfectly manicured Balinese restaurant somewhere, may it be in cities like Ubud, Legian or Kuta. If they're not there on holidays, we are most probably living there already, loving everything Bali is. And if there is one thing Bali never fail to is at embracing their culture. Each place, restaurant, settlement, has a Balinese feel, in terms of designs (stone rivers, embedded by intricate Hinduism designs), wooden timber chairs, with gamelan and bamboo music sprinkling through the air.

That's when you just know you are in Bali.

And then you realised everything you know about Bali at your favourite joint back home, the Balinese designs you see in TV were at the end of the day are just imitations, and that Bali is as it gets when you're finally there.

2) Activities - All ages  

For whatever reason, sometimes, some people think Bali is only beachfront. Which is true for Kuta, Jimbaran etc but not for the whole Bali island. There are just SO many things to do! The best part is that each of us get to engage in whatever activities that we'd like to. If you trust your kids enough to stray on their own, surfing, diving, parasailing or engage in all kinds of other water activities, options are available at abundance from Kuta, to Pecatu, Ngurah Rai, Jimbaran etc.

Then there's the beautiful temple running as well historical visits. Parents and cultured soul (like myself) LOVE this. From the legendary Besakih, to the world famous sunset, Tanah Lot. Some people say the Hinduism in Bali is one of the oldest in the world, and has since then kept most of its originality. If you've read my post on Yogyakarta, you'd know that I spoke to some of the folks in Jogja before that the Hindus from Bali were originally from Jogja. After the Sultans came into the picture, they figured of finding a new place, and Bali Island was the place they chose. 

I chose a bit of temple running and relaxing, which was divine for me.

3) Designs  

Not one soul that discovered Bali, will leave Bali not loving its beautiful Balinese "designs". From intricate furnitures, to its garden, to its simple layout and arrangements, to its breathtaking paddy views. Bali is king when it comes to designs. Almost seem effortless.

If you're an astute designer, wanting to learn things, Bali is one place you MUST learn from. They're just born with it!

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.