Bali with kids: tips and hints

If you want to introduce your young children to Asia, I reckon Bali makes a good choice. Singapore would be the best in terms of cleanliness and orderliness, but you won’t get the most bang for your buck like you would in Bali πŸ™‚

I found Bali to be the most relaxed and easiest Asian holiday destinations for less than $150 a day (depending on your accommodation, obviously). Since it is basically an extension of Australia, you will be able to find most everyday things that you need there. Plus, with the strength of our dollar, you will get luxury for a lot less. There are heaps of cheap flights to Bali, and though there are also articles trying to persuade readers to ditch Bali, I reckon it will still be one of the most popular places to visit.

So, here are my tips for travelling to Bali with young children – based on my experience travelling with a 10 month old (not yet walking) baby and a 3 year old boy. Continue reading

Bali with Kids: Accommodation

There are numerous blog posts for recommendation on places to stay. You are almost too spoilt for choice in Bali. There are many types at all levels that you would almost guaranteed to find one that you like. However, during our search for β€œBali’s best places to stay with young children”, we didn’t see the Pullman Hotel come up, so I thought I would start this blog series from here.

Why we chose the Pullman Bali Legian Nirwana Hotel: Continue reading

Fruit peels, snail goo and charcoal mask

Here’s another reason why I love Japan.

If you remember my post on skincare (read here if you missed it), I get “holiday” skin. Pimples, oily and dry patches and extremely enlarged pores. But not in Japan, and I’ve been there in autumn, winter and summer.

I eat just as badly, though my idea of “going all out” in Japan meant eating an ocean of fresh sea urchin and roe. Fresh vegetables are hard to come by, unless you want them as tempura (deep fried). Fresh fruit is exorbitantly expensive. With the number of vending machines and convenient shops selling hundreds of different drinks, water is the last thing I buy (and why would you, if you can have this drink instead).

I put down my lack of “holiday” skin to two things:

1. Onsens: perhaps the minerals in the water and the heat bring out the badness and detoxify your body? Maybe?

2. The extremely accessible and large number of skincare available. I got three “wins” this trip:

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The pink bottle is Detclear fruit peel, it comes out like gel and you massage it on your dirty skin. After a while, balls of supposedly dead skin and gunk will start to form and you just have to wash it off. The result is clean soft skin, it’s awesome! Quick, effective and fun way of washing my face.

The black tube is a charcoal mask that comes out like black super glue. You put it on clean skin and wait until it dries. When you can’t move your face, it’s time to peel peel peel. I love this part of the process, it’s so satisfying. If I read the pictures correctly, it is supposed to lift up the gunk in your pores. Or something. Whatever it is, I like this mask, clean and soft skin afterwards!

When I first put this mask on, my inlaws did double takes and said a couple WTF comments lol with no previous exposure to “girly things” like these, seeing it would be pretty weird πŸ˜‰

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A snail goo mask, I am excited to try this one. I’ve tried their “pearl” mask before and it was awesome. This brand is Korean but is everywhere in Japan. I wanted to buy the “snake venom” one too, but Mr E vetoed it lol

Have I told you that I love Japan? πŸ˜‰

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of “beauty”?

Japan: Osaka, Osaka Prefecture

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The famous Glico billboard in Dotonburi: the food and shopping mecca of Osaka

We spent the last few days of the trip in Osaka. Like Nagoya, we’ve all been to Osaka in previous trips, so we didn’t do anything other than doing last minute shopping, eating and taking day trips (to Uji and Kobe).

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Osaka at dusk

My plan for Osaka was to do absolutely nothing. Sleep ins, eat, shop, alone times and pampering times; basically things that I don’t get to do when home with the little man. Thankfully, I got to do all that πŸ™‚ One of the highlights of my Osaka time was a pampering session at the hairdressers! For hours, I did absolutely nothing but just be. Most of the time, my feet were attached to their massage machine, it was amazing! Mr E and his brother joined me in the experience and it was so much fun πŸ™‚

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What my hair looks like when bleached...

Another highlight was our Nagomi visit organised by my sister inlaw. It was such a fun occasion, getting an insight into Japanese people’s home and cooking. A snippet of their lives, really. If you’re ever going to Japan, please do make sure you get to do it too! For the whole 3 hours we were there, I smiled the whole entire time. The experience authenticated my trip, if that makes sense?

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DIY sushi! Soooo good!

Before long, it was time to pack and go home. I truly enjoyed the trip, like I have said before, I learnt so much more about my inlaws! They’re fun quirky people πŸ˜‰ My kind of people!

Missing Little E meant that some parts of the trip were almost unbearable, most especially when hiccups happened. Consolidating five differing opinions, desires and ways of doing things were tricky at times but like my brother inlaw said, we don’t normally live in each other’s pockets for 3 whole weeks straight, let alone sharing a room for more than a whole week! After two weeks, even Mr E got annoying πŸ˜‰

As our Nagomi dinner host remarked, I feel privileged that I have inlaws that I get along with to go on holidays together, so I am thankful.

A humongous thank you to my parents inlaw who took care of Little E and for giving me the opportunity to be me. Mr E and I found each other again; we were never lost but we definitely broke apart a little πŸ™‚ Marriage after children takes a lot of effort, such a difficult request when time is not something you have a lot of. I am very blessed.

Japan: Kobe, Osaka Prefecture

I am home now, reunited with my precious. I am so happy to be back, however, I am about a week behind my Japan posts so here’s one for our day trip to Kobe.

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The day started late with a quick walk around the town, sussing out which restaurant to go to for lunch. We stumbled across this beautiful shrine during our walk.

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We watched a group of young people dipping their fortune paper into this pond. From what we gathered, the fortune only shows up when the paper is wet. The kids seem to be happy with theirs πŸ˜‰

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We also did a quick walk through the Western Houses area of Kobe. It is interesting to see the architecture of the place, you’d think that you’re elsewhere. Also another thing to note, there are many wedding shops around the area, I assume it’s because of the possibility of holding your wedding in anyone of these Western houses. Definitely a case of “the grass on the other side is always greener”, as I would love to wear beautiful kimonos on my wedding! πŸ™‚

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The clock on the photo above is stuck on the time when the 1995 earthquake happened; apparently, one of the highest ever recorded in the world. Like true Japanese style though, just like what we saw in the museum in Hiroshima, recovery time was super quick! Amazing.

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The main reason why we’re in Kobe: having a taste of Kobe beef. The picture above is probably about AUD15 of beef. I actually preferred this over the Hida beef we had in Takayama, however, I do still prefer Australian beef πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ We were told that all the Japanese calves came from the same farm, though they’re raised in the different areas of Japan. Curious, right?

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While the boys went to a sake museum, us girls trekked through a giant hill in the highly humid weather to see this waterfall. My sister inlaw can’t remember what the significance of this waterfall is but it’s one of the top three something waterfalls in Japan hahaha it filled the time πŸ˜‰

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We ended the trip at the Kobe port, looking through the experimental samples of ferries/boats. It was a pleasant experience πŸ™‚

I enjoyed Kobe, though I won’t rush going back there again πŸ˜‰ it is an easy trip from Osaka, so if you’re after a daytrip option, Kobe could be one of them πŸ™‚

Japan: Uji, Kyoto Prefecture

Reason #46633869 why Japanese public transport is frikkin awesome: go to your local train station at any time of the day and almost always, you could be in any other major city in no time. Without much hassle. One morning, within 30 minutes, we arrived in Kyoto (from Osaka). Another 20 minutes got us to Uji, a small town famous for its green tea and a world heritage shrine. Amazing!

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This building, Byōdō-in, is so beautiful that it is featured in Β₯10 coins. The phoenix on top of its roof is featured in the Β₯10,000 notes. Apparently, this building was made into a Buddhist temple, dedicated for people to depart to their next life. I think.

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Sample set of different soba: one of which is matcha soba.

I had another emo-period of terribly missing my precious, however, as if my dad inlaw knew, I got emails from him with happy photos of Little E. He looks very well loved and spoilt. He’s a blessed boy to have such loving grandparents, who are generous with their time, attention and love. The three most important, and so precious, things anyone can offer. I felt a lot better after seeing the photos πŸ™‚

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After lunch, we visited a registered UNESCO world heritage shrine, Ujikami-jinja. I love going to shrines, again, because they remind me of my grandma and my childhood. I also like seeing the bundles of people’s prayers hung up around the place. I personally think that without hope and faith for a better future, what kind of life would you have? πŸ™‚ regardless of your religion or lack thereof.

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We then went to the oldest continuing green tea producer and shop. We met the one of the owners, who is a 14th generation of tea producer and saw a photo of his grandson (the 16th generation). He proudly showed us the many awards they won and how apparently, their tea is the tea of choice for the emperor of Japan!

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There, we did an introduction to Japanese tea ceremony, including grinding our own matcha (green tea powder). I am not a fan of matcha but I wanted the experience, so I’m glad that I did it. Also, at least now I know for sure that I really don’t like the stuff, because Uji is probably the place to have it πŸ™‚

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I liked Uji, it is only a short trip away on the train from Osaka and/or Kyoto, which makes it a good day trip option πŸ™‚

Japan: Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture

The same with Sendai, we spent most of our time in Nagoya doing more shopping. Most of us have been to Nagoya before so we’ve done the touristy things, with my brother inlaw living there for the last 4 months. We did go to the Nagoya castle though as it has new sections recently opened.

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On one of the days, we had boys and girls day, with us girls spending the whole time shopping πŸ˜‰ specifically, shopping at Uniqlo lol while the boys went to see some cars. So stereotypical really.

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My favourite building in Nagoya

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Random park where people sat eating their lunch

Nagoya was also the place where I got to meet a new side of my inlaws that I’ve yet to meet before. My bother inlaw has a friend who works at a very good restaurant, so he kindly organised a dinner there for us. The 6-course disgustation dinner came with a 2-hour unlimited drinks. Unlimited. To say that we made the most of the offer would be a severe understatement. The night didn’t finish until 2am for some of us, with recuperation time lasted a lot longer than expected. I have so many hilarious stories and photos that I’m sure will make me grin stupidly for a long time! It was so fun.

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The bar where we ended the night

Mr E also had one of his rare shopping urges during our Nagoya trip, so I made sure I took advantage of it. In one shop, he got almost a whole new wardrobe. I am so happy! We both love Japanese fashion, preferring the uniquely shaped/patterned items. Another example how compatible we are πŸ™‚ I am blessed with someone who accepts my weird dress sense.

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That calligraphy brush holders on the top left corner were Β₯120,000!

On one of the mornings we have in the city, we went to an antique market held on a temple grounds. I love antique markets, this one especially, since they have things that my grandma had at her home πŸ™‚ I found a stack of mini photos that I was so tempted to buy to frame, but Mr E said that they’re of wartime entertainment. It didn’t seem right to buy them as some of my relatives suffered under the Japanese occupation of Indo. The smell at the antique market reminded me of my childhood; spending time with my grandma while she prayed at the temple, a mix of incense, rain and mosquito repellant πŸ™‚ I enjoyed the market.

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We found a vending machine selling what we thought were bottles of tea. On close inspections, we saw a fish in each of the bottles…. this would have trumped all the gross drinks we’ve had so far!