Tokyo, Japan (August 2014) – A Culture I Didn’t Expect To See (Day 1)

It was quite a unique experience.

Both of us took the afternoon flight and arrived in Tokyo (Haneda airport) by 11.30pm (Japan time).

A 30 mins delay in the air due to bad weather.

I wasn’t really happy with it because it could mean that we would miss the last train departing the airport at 11.59pm (Japanese people are very very VERY punctual).

Investing in calling a cab is super expensive so it wasn’t really an option for us.

The worst case scenario was to spend a night in the airport (ugh!).

Nonetheless, I wasn’t in a mood to sleep on a bench in an airport just to wait for the next ride out.

(Because I’m too cheap to pay for a night stay in one of those night stay lounge)

I’m not a spoiled brat, but I do appreciate a good night’s sleep (A LOT!) before starting my long day exploring the city.

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We were already tired from the eight hours flight with kids on the plane and if we needed to spend a night in the airport without a proper bed would seriously put us both in a very bad mood.

So we took our luggage from the compartment above our seats and started walking really quickly to the check-out counters.

Most of the passengers were taking their own sweet time walking out of the plane , maybe some of them didn’t know what time the last train leaves or they had a tourist bus waiting for them outside.

REGARDLESS, we RUSHED and managed to check-out on time and purchased our train tickets.

All thanks to my hubby!

He remembered all the steps by heart and needed no guidance to purchase our tickets at the kiosk.

Everything was done within 2 minutes! 😀

YAY!

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Took the train and switched to another one to get to our hotel.

Within this traveling time, I saw a few weird things that I didn’t expect to see.

(couldn’t really process everything until the next morning)

Drunk men and dozing workers in the train after a long day at work (which was pretty much expected).

BUT the most surprising thing I saw was a young lady who was pushed by her “boyfriend”!

She fell butt first onto the floor with her personal belongings spilled out because her handbag burst open.

I stood there for a few second in shock because I didn’t know what to do and how to react!

My husband told me that the lady looked drunk and it was most likely an argument between the two in a very abusive way.

The station officers did nothing but watched and tried to assist the lady after she got back up to her feet (quite wobbly as I must add).

Her girl friend was beside her throughout the whole scene and to my surprised, she too did not know how to react to the situation.

So anyways… my husband nudged me to move on because he didn’t want us to miss the next train and he also said that we wouldn’t be of much help since we didn’t know their language.

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We moved on and managed to find our next train station to connect us directly to the hotel after getting some directions at the Help Desk.

Got to the hotel like 45mins after arrival in Japan and we were pretty tired, but happy about it!

Happy for the fact that we didn’t need to pay for a pricey cab! 😀

It was late, so I didn’t take any photos of the hotel outside, but I did take photos of the room that we were staying in 🙂

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This is it! The whole room! I can’t complain much since it was bigger than the room we had in Singapore for the same price. LOL!

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Our mini kitchen 🙂

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Their friendly message about the water bottles in the fridge

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A bottle of deodorant that you can use it in the toilet after doing the Number 2. Quite considerate of them! 🙂

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The instruction manual that came with the bottle 🙂

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The compact toilet with almost everything prepared (yes, the toilet seat does warm up every morning with special buttons at the side of it :))

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Facial and body towel with a hair dryer available (doesn’t really work for long hair)

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Basic grooming products

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Additional towels for our use

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I really liked the hair conditioner 🙂

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I really liked the fact that they prepared fresh sleeping clothes and lay it on the bed for you on a daily basis.

It is like getting fresh laundry washed clothes on a daily basis 🙂

Although I have to say that the front desk looked a tad bit sad without much warm smiles.

But oh wells!

Everyone will have their good and bad days.

So this is basically our first night in Japan 🙂

Mixed feelings, but totally prepared for the day scene the next day!

Toodles!

Bali Retreat (February 2014) – Day 2

IMG_2593-copyOur second day in Bali and we had breakfast in the hotel like other guests.

Westin’s breakfast buffet was a good one with loads of fresh fruits, pastries and other type of food.

I didn’t manage to take any photos cause of the bunch of people around.

It was still early after breakfast and we decided to take a walk around the hotel premises.

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The view when we left our room in the morning

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Nice ambiance even at ground level

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A pool located outside our breakfast area

DSCF5472-copyThe swimming pool of the hotel

DSCF5473-copyLazy chairs for people to either sun tan or dump their belongings onto while they head out for a swim

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Ambiance of the hotel

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Calming environment for guests

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After a short walk, our cab driver arrived on the dot.

He drove his own private car to bring us around because he wanted to earn a little from the whole trip.

He wasn’t pushy on where we should visit or spend our money.

Instead, he asked where we wanted to visit on the island.

Some private cab drivers that offer such a tour package would usually force you to go to places which you are required to spend money on their merchandise.

So with that, he asked my husband what did we like about Bali and what we were expecting to see…

My husband told him that we love the beach and intend to see a few nice ones here on the island.

He brought us to a popular new beach (according to him) called Perdana Beach.

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DSCF5488-copyLook at the beautiful view 🙂

DSCF5489-copyThe other side of the beach

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The view was fantastic even though the sun light was blinding (I forgot my sunglasses).

We then requested to see the Seminyak beach.

It took us about 20 minutes to get there since traffic was good.

Overall, the beach was pretty clean with people cleaning it constantly.

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Entrance of the beach

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A small restaurant at the side of the beach

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Beach chairs ready for sun bathers 🙂

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The beautiful sand and sea water of Seminyak

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After Seminyak beach, it was to Kuta beach!

The beaches in Bali are mainly clean because of a few men and women cleaning the area.

This helps the beach since some tourists do not understand the fact that littering is a very disgusting thing to do to nature.

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DSCF5498-copyTraditional entry gate located near the beach

DSCF5499-copyIdols located at the side of the hill leading all the way down to the beach

DSCF5500-copyPretty and simple stalls located at the side of the beach

DSCF5502-copyLazy beach chairs for visitors to enjoy the beach

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We had a short stroll at the beach because of the blazing sun.

Nonetheless, a beautiful beach to be at 🙂

Uluwatu was next on our list.

Upon arrival, we were supposed to pay the entrance fees required and wear a purple sarong.

Apparantly, monkeys will not harm you in any way as long as you are wearing one of it.

It is believed to be blessed.

So I really recommend spending a bit on that piece of cloth than being a cheap person saving because I saw a lady being harassed by a monkey (she wasn’t wearing a purple sarong).

People would usually stay till night to see the fire presentation, but we were not really keen with it.

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DSCF5507-copySome monkeys chiliing around the area

DSCF5508-copyThe main entrance of Uluwatu

DSCF5509-copyThis open area would be crowded during peak seasons

DSCF5511-copyBrick walls surrounding edge of the hill

DSCF5513-copyA breathtaking view

DSCF5516-copyOur cab driver insisted that we take a photo here at this spot because apparently it is the most popular spot for tourists

DSCF5521-copyPretty traditional looking gate

DSCF5523-copyThe beautiful ocean below

DSCF5525-copyThe long stretch of Uluwatu

DSCF5533-copyThe pretty blue view 🙂

DSCF5532-copyThe edge of the hill

DSCF5537-copyThe purple famous sarong (please excuse the kangkang pose)

DSCF5542-copyThis famous tourist must take photo

DSCF5546-copyTrying to fit the whole stretch of Uluwatu in this photo

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A long walk from one end to another.

Quite a tiring one I must admit for an unfit person, but the whole experience was worth it 😉

People started pouring in after about 2pm and we were quite glad to be leaving the place.

I doubt that I’ll feel comfortable knowing there’s so many people around me at the end of a hill (any thing can happen, ACCIDENTALLY).

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Our cab driver asked if my husband loved coffee.

Well, my husband loves coffee.

Pretty much answered the question.

He brought us to the most famous stop for coffee, most expensive coffee in the world.

Animal poop.

Yup!

Animal poop is made into coffee and it is also one of the most expensive coffee in the world.

This unique coffee is called Luwak coffee, which is quite well known in Indonesia.

100gram of its powdered substance is about RM50 or more depending on which shop you end up in (if I remembered correctly).

I only took some photos at the beginning of the experience and not during the tasting session :p

I was quite fascinated that an animal’s poop can be used as coffee…

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DSCF5504-copyHerbs and other things growing in the shop’s garden

DSCF5503-copyA very nice green environment for people to taste different type of teas and their famous Luwak coffee

DSCF5549-copyThis is where they “cook” the poop

DSCF5548-copyDifferent type of dried plants from their garden and the animal poop

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After our animal coffee experience, we went to our last destination in Kuta.

Shops were selling things that I wasn’t really interested in.

HOWEVER, I saw the most beautiful wooden salad mixing bowl, which I regret not getting.

I personally think it is worth getting their handmade items.

Beautiful and affordable 🙂

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I managed to purchase two dresses here from a shop.

Handmade dresses 🙂

Then bought a couple of t-shirts from Hard Rock Hotel at the Kuta beach.

I assumed that I would be buying quite a lot in Bali, but it was quite the opposite.

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A clean street without much rubbish to be seen

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A very pretty hotel located at Kuta 🙂

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A nice wall promoting alcohol and food for this bar

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A very nice entrance 🙂

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Shops selling mostly clothes and random things

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This shop selling clothes, bags and other tourist things

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Temples are located every where around Bali

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Another row of shops selling almost the same thing as the other shops

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Motorcycles are a popular thing in Bali even with tourist riding it

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Beach clothes anyone? 😉

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Our lunch was pretty cheap for such a filling meal. This is my share, while my husband gobble up his. Grilled prawns with mash potatoes and cucumber juice 🙂

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The famous Kuta beach

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Quite a pretty beach with people enjoying the sun 🙂

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The Rock Shop which I bought a few shirts from

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Their signature electric guitar in front of their Rock Shop

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Another signature of the hotel – surf board

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Sunburn and sore backs, we went back to the hotel to soak everything off.

Had dinner at one of the restaurant in the hotel.

Overall, the whole experience was pretty nice.

Left with a full tummy 🙂

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If you would like to chill outside while having dinner

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Wide open space of the restaurant

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Complimentary bread (tasted yummy with butter) *yums!*

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His meal: Grilled chicken with vegetables

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My carbonara which tasted good piping hot 🙂 Super creamy!

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Had a good warm yummy meal and a nice bath in the hotel room.

Hubby booked us a spa session that is pretty famous in the hotel itself.

I didn’t manage to take any photos because I didn’t wanna leave my camera in a changing room locker.

The whole experience was pretty damn good 🙂

Something that was a great positive in the entire trip 😀

*loves*

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Check their Heavenly Spa website (and yes, their reception area of the spa looks exactly like that)

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On our last day, we wanted it to be relaxing after breakfast.

But guess what?

After breakfast, we head over to the pool to have a swim.

However, SOME people were not considerate AT ALL.

A man just started talking on his phone LOUDLY as if everyone needed to hear whatever he needed to say over the phone.

Everyone found him to be quite irritating and some decided to leave the pool for the beach instead.

I decided to stay and enjoy the huge pool.

Swam for awhile and relaxed for awhile on the lazy chair.

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After spending time at the pool, we walked around the hotel grounds for awhile more and headed back to the hotel room to pack up since we had to check out by 12.00pm.

Flight was later in the evening and we didn’t know what to do.

But the hotel was pretty amazing having a lounge area for guests to stay in while waiting for their flight.

They have a kids area for younger kids to be entertained, a private pool for guests to swim in in case you didn’t want to leave for the main pool, movies on tv to keep adults occupied and just comfortable chairs to sit or sleep in while waiting.

Quite a good deal as compared to waiting in an airport 🙂

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A very beautiful cabana view

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The raked sand behind the cabana

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The road leading to the spa area

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Another beautiful set of cabanas

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Lounge area for guests who checked out from their rooms

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Kids area for them to rest or play while adults have their corner

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A private pool for waiting guests

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A beautiful pool to rest in before heading to the airport 😉

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The whole trip to Bali was as mentioned, mixed.

It was not as relaxed as I thought it would, but the hotel was fantastic (minus rude tourists and loud).

But be prepared to have some spare change to check into the Bali airport.

You are required to pay at least RP75,000 (RM20++) per person to check in.

It is a compulsory airport tax to pay before you exit the country.

I was honestly unprepared for that and dug out every penny I had left in my pocket to pay that airport tax.

For those first timers, it is good to keep some spare change in your pocket to pay for that.

To wrap things up, Bali was alright but not what I expected it to be.

I might want to spend more time in the hotel next time if I ever do return 😉

I loved the spa too much.

Hehe.

Toodles!