Believe it or not, it is cheaper for West Australians to travel to Asia for holidays than it is to fly to the other side of our country to experience the more well known parts of Australia like Sydney and Queensland (the Gold Coast). A few months ago I became really interested in travelling just half way across the country to see Uluru (Ayers Rock); the big rock that is advertised and known to many foreigners, but something that many Australians will never see outside of photographs. This is because it can become quite expensive to get there, and is the reason why I had to give it a miss. Ok ok, part of the reason why I wanted to go was so that when I get asked by Japanese people while I am on exchange if I have been there I can say ‘Yes!’ loudly and proudly…instead of going into detail about costs and feeling a tiny bit ashamed about not going there to see it in person, considering it is such a significant landmark for our country and its indigenous people. I hope that in the future the site becomes more accessible to domestic travellers, and the fact that some budget airlines have announced plans to and/or are already starting to fly people to the region is an encouraging sign.

In some ways budget airlines are key to increasing domestic travel in Australia, and in the past few years costs to travel to the other side of Australia have fallen because of new airlines coming into the market…but at the same time, costs are falling even further to travel outside of Australia…and to cut a long story short, Air Asia’s increasingly low fares convinced my friends and I to fly abroad…to Bali! Open-mouthed smile

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.Even though it was my 6th or 7th time there (I have lost count!), Bali still delivered an awesome week for my friends and I! Up until 2 weeks ago I had only ever been there with family members, so it was interesting to go there and do things a little differently and independently, and it was especially interesting to see my friends reaction to the place that I have become so used to travelling to! It was the first time my friends had travelled there, so for a little while I felt like I had a little extra ‘responsibility’ to make sure they all had a good time, but everyone settled into the ‘Bali routine’ (if you can call it that!) really quickly, and everyone had a great time! Open-mouthed smile Well, they all assured me of that, and said they would go back! Smile with tongue out 

I am really glad that I had the opportunity to travel abroad independently from family members before I head off on exchange. The experience really helped put what the first half of next year will be like into perspective- having to organise things myself, budget money appropriately and really just relying on my own knowledge, experiences etc. to make decisions where in the past I have had the backing and ‘security’ of family members to help me out (and even do things for me) whilst I am travelling abroad. Now I know exchange will be a little different, as Bali is a familiar environment to me while I have only been to Japan once for a short period of time, but I am happy knowing that I wont be travelling to Japan totally ‘blind’ in regards to the matter of being independent abroad! Smile Don’t worry, I haven’t completely forgotten that it will still be a challenge, as it is for any exchange student, but I like to think that I am now going into this fight with some kind of weapon…if a small experience of independence can be extrapolated and considered a weapon… instead of relying on my physical strength alone…which I wouldn’t even place a bet on! Smile with tongue out

Bali is an Indonesian island about a 4 hours flight from Perth, Western Australia, and has been a popular tourist destination for Australians for many years. But was has surprised me my past two trips has been the increasing number of Japanese tourists Surprised smile. Seriously, if you want to speak to Japanese people and cant afford to go to Japan, go to Bali instead! It surprised me because it seems such a long way for Japanese people to travel for an island holiday…but maybe that is because I am so used to it being our closest international holiday destination. With that said, I have even noticed a shift in the ‘target market’ for tourist activities in Bali. I cant remember not seeing Japanese brochures for tourist attractions sitting alongside English ones, and I am increasingly seeing Japanese translations on signs, restaurant menus etc. Our hotel, Ramayana Resort and Spa in Kuta, even had Japanese staff members, and even many of the non-Japanese staff could speak some Japanese. That reminds me, I also had a short conversation in Japanese with a staff member in the foyer who was from Osaka Surprised smile. I actually got a little nervous because my friends, who don’t learn Japanese, were watching, and were the ones who insisted I have a conversation in Japanese because they wanted to see me speak it! It was good practice, nonetheless, for the many spontaneous Japanese conversations (I assume) I will be having in Japan whilst on exchange, and has definitely encouraged me to study the language more before I leave Perth!

I have to say it again, Bali was awesome! The weather was great like always, and I got to do a number of things that I couldn’t do in the past…mainly because family members weren’t interested haha. These things include quad bike riding, tubing (like single-tube mini white water rafting in a canyon…), mountain bike riding through villages and rice fields, getting our feet eaten by fish…Smile. Other highlights include the usual Bali Safari and Marine Park, Waterbom Park, Bubba Gumps Shrimp Co. (an awesome restaurant)… and even just negotiating prices with shop owners in the markets was a lot of fun!

Besides having a great time and experiencing independence while travelling abroad for the first time, this trip to Bali also gave me an insight into how I can document my exchange experience in Japan. In particular, I experimented with ‘vlogging’ (video logging) while travelling, mainly by documenting as much as I could on video Surprised smile. With that said, I now want a water proof camera!! Smile with tongue out

Waterbom Park, Bali (Boomerang slide)Below you can find the set of five videos I have created, which show some of the highlights from our ‘Bali Adventure’ in 2010! Open-mouthed smile If you like what you see, and want to see more of my videos in the future, I encourage you to hit the SUBSCRIBE button by visiting my YouTube channel here (MaikeruInJapan). I aim to update both my YouTube Channel and blog as much as possible before I leave for Japan, and while I am in Japan I aim to deliver the best and most in-depth first-hand account of my experience as possible!
(I have word that Santa is bringing me a Flip MinoHD 3 camera for Christmas, which should make recording video of my exchange experience much easier! Open-mouthed smile)


Part 1: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. & Bali Safari and Marine Park

Part 2: ‘Doctor Fish’ & Quad Bike Riding

Part 3: Mountain Bike Riding

Part 4: McDonalds Delivery

Part 5: Waterbom Park & Leaving