Growing up reading mangas and watching animes (hello fellow Doraemon, Dragonball Z & Detective Conan fans!), I have always felt a connection with Japan, a beautiful place filled with cherry blossoms and maple leaves. With that being said I'm not sure how it took me 25 years to set foot in the country so to rectify that mistake, I have been there 4 times in the past 15 months. My latest trip was solely for the purpose of participating in the ultimate Japanese act, conquering Mount Fuji!
Okay conquering is a big word, more like slowly trekking it up to the top, whilst cursing at myself almost every second for putting my body and mind through hell. A well-known Japanese saying suggests that a wise person will climb Mt Fuji once in their lifetime, but only a fool would climb it twice. I agree.
STAYING AT KAWAGUCHIKO
Kawaguchiko (河口湖) is the second largest lake amongst the Fuji Five Lakes, the area located at the base of Mount Fuji in the Yamanashi prefecture of Japan. It is the most easily accessible via public transport and the lake area is nothing short of beauty. With cherry blossoms in Spring, lavendar in Summer, maple leaves in Autumn and snow-capped Mt Fuji welcoming you in Winter, Kawaguchiko really has it all. Our accommodation Den's Inn (stop 17 at Music Forest Museum on Red Bus, cost ¥380 (~$4) from Kawaguchiko Station) is basic dorm-style guesthouse that was clean and spacious, run by 2 helpful hosts and offered free bicycles rental. We arrived here at around 2pm on Friday, checked out the surrounding area, geared up and left early for the climb Saturday morning, took a well-deserved rest Sunday afternoon and came back to the lavender garden at Oishi Park early Monday morning before leaving to return to Tokyo. We were treated with the most amazing weather the whole time we were around Mt Fuji, with the most perfect blue-sky-white-clouds combination climbing up on Saturday, the misty Sunday that helped ease up the heat on the way down, and the most beautifully clear sky on Monday. Poor Emily got a bit burnt but she didn't regret a second of it!
When we made a reservation ($11pp) for our accommodation at Fujisan Hotel ($110pp) we were advised to start trekking up no later than 3pm as dinner would only be served until 9pm. Emily and I agreed to start early as we didn't want to rush it and I knew that I would need more than 6 hours to make it up there (and I did). The trip from Kawaguchiko Station to Mt Fuji 5th Station took around an hour and when we got there at 10am, the place was already packed full of people. We went into 1 of the souvenir shops and bought a trekking pole each (~$25). Having a pole to support your weight on the way down is a great idea, so I'd recommend that you get one. I didn't care about getting stamps along the way so I didn't get an "authentic" wooden pole with bells on it, instead I chose the retractable one as it was super light and easy to carry around. We also stocked up, went over our equipment list, emptied our bladder and it was time to rock 'n' roll (pardon the pun)!
I often get asked how I manage to travel so frequently and the answer is simple really: I’m very good at saving and planning. My favourite saving tip is Warren Buffett’s “Don't save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving”. The man isn’t worth USD71 billion for no reason. This is what I do, and you can do it too!
1. Get your priorities straight
- I know someone who has “been wanting to go to Japan for yearrrs” and they would always talk about it. This was more than 1.5 years ago and while they’re at home doing their nails, still have not set a foot in Japan, I’ve been there 3 times. If you really want something, work hard for it, and save for it. Don’t use mortgage as an excuse, because everybody has debts, it’s how we prioritise. I don’t put all of my money into mortgage, not even half. Each fortnight 1/3 of my pay goes into the house, 1/3 goes into savings and I spend the remaining 1/3. If you want to fast-track it and reduce the interest, good for you, but don’t feel sorry for yourself and feel sorry for yourselfwhenever you see people travel, you just look pathetic. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that person anymore.
2. Know who your friends are
- It's good to have friends, be sociable, go to parties and all but they all cost money. There are only a handful of people that I am more than happy to spend money on, and they know who they are. If I'm invited to a party by someone whom I'm not close to, I have no problems declining it. If you have FOMO (fear of missing out), this might be something you'd like to overcome.
3. Subscribe to services
- I subscribe to a lot of airlines, mainly because of their cheap fare alerts. I also check out flights often, as sometimes airlines have unannounced sales. I scored return tickets from Perth to Osaka last year for a mere $420, true story. FuelWatch is a fantastic tool to compare fuel prices within WA, the prices are accurate and displayed a day in advance so that you can make plans to fill up accordingly.
4. No expensive habits
- I don’t smoke, have fake nails, pay for gym memberships (I go for runs instead), go to masseurs or spas or anything like that. I'm not fussy with my hair so I get it cut by student hairdressers at Taylor Weir, which costs ~$20 each time instead of ~$70 at professional hair salons. I particularly don’t enjoy going shopping. Being obsessed with clothes, shoes, handbags, beauty products etc, especially paying for them at full price, is a strange concept to me. My favourite pair of shorts is 5 years old, cost me like 15 bucks, and I still wear them. I don’t watch TV anymore but even when I used to, we never had paid channels. It’s a waste of money, that’s what fast internet is for.
5. Use cheap mobile/internet plans
- My phone plan has been $10/month for nearly 3 years (200MB data + $165 text n’ talk credit) until recently, I increased it to $15/month to enable 4G reception (400MB data + $200 text n’ talk credit). My Naked ADSL plan is $60/month for 100GB. This doesn’t apply to me but a lot of networks combine multiple mobile plans, home phone and internet together so shop around until you find the one that suits you.
6. Reduce electricity and water usage
- Sounds straight forward and downright cliché but not everyone does this. I opt for the fan instead of air con in summer if the temperature is below 36oC (97F), and in winter I layer up instead of using the heater. For the garden I use solar lights. If no one is at home for more than a day we turn the water valve and wall power outlets off.
7. Enter competitions
- Don’t have the mentality of “I’ll never win, so many people are entering”. You’ll never know your luck until you win it. So far I’ve managed to score a $100 Grill'd gift voucher, double passes to a Kesha concert (don’t ask), a movie, a musical, a festival, and a 24-month magazine subscription. At the end of the day, you only regret what you didn’t do, right?
8. Work over-time
- People always question my sanity whenever I do OT after a 10-hour shift but you know what, that’s where the money is. Let’s put this into perspective: If I could earn 1/5 of my return tickets to Vietnam for doing 2 hours extra, bring it on!
9. Tax refund
- Always keep receipts and declare them when you do your tax. Also remember that if you go overseas, you can claim GST back (normally 10%) according to the Tourist Refund Scheme, if your purchase is valued more than $300 and the purchase date is no more than 60 days before your travel date. If you buy technology off the internet though make sure the items aren’t tax-free.
11. Avoid paid parking
- I never pay for parking unless I really have to. If I go somewhere that doesn't offer free parking, I'd find free parking around the place and walk there. Whenever I need to go to the city, I'd park in Northbridge and walk down, even in summer. It only takes 15 minutes, I can take as long as I want and what a great way to exercise! Saving 3-5 dollars at a time doesn't seem like a big deal but if you can save that amount three times a week, that's $500-800 saved a year. Return tickets to New Zealand anyone?
12. No branded things
- Unless it’s a Tiger rice cooker, or anything else that requires reliability, I'd buy the generic brands. You think it’s only a few dollars cheaper, but it all adds up. Fashion-wise I definitely don’t go for designer brands. I tend to buy dresses from dotti, jeans from Jeanswest, underwear from Victoria's Secret and other things for cheap on eBay. If it has a bottom, 4 surrounding pieces of fabric and sturdy handles, I’d opt for that $20 bag instead of the $2000 Gucci thank you. I especially don’t spend a lot of money on wallets. I think it’s ironic to spend shit load of money on the one thing that is supposed to hold your money in the first place.
13. No full-priced or unnecessary things
- I can’t remember when the last time I buy anything full-priced was, be it grocery, clothes, electronics or even books. If I have to shop for summer clothes, I wait until the end of summer and do it, and that applies for every season. I hear you say “But you won’t get the sizes you want!”. Well if I didn’t buy it 3 months ago, probably because I didn’t need it then, so if I can’t get the sizes that I want now, it’s fine. Consider it money saved, I didn’t really need it anyway. Even when I'm buying discounted clothes, there's a price range that I stick to: Tops/skirts/shorts < $15, casual dresses < $30, jeans < $65, fancy dresses < $100. Just remember though, only because something is on sale doesn't mean you need it. If you buy things because you like or want them, rather than need them, they're just gonna cluster your home and empty your bank account.
14. Don't be afraid to haggle
- It's probably the inner Asian in me that comes out everytime I go shopping but I almost always ask for discounts. If you're doing grocery shopping and it's the last item of the day, ask to combine with other products for a cheaper price. If you're going clothes shopping and there's a (washable) stain or (fixable/hideable) tear on the garment, ask for a few dollars off. If you're buying a new laptop, ask for a free bag. What about free memory cards, pouches or cleaning products while getting a new camera? Don't be shy, be persistent but polite. Once in Hong Kong, a teapot set that I wanted was priced at something ridiculous like $75 each. I walked away with 2 for $40.
10. Shop online
- There’s a stigma for online shopping, a lot of people don’t trust it, and that’s fine. But I’ve done it on eBay for 10 years now and have not had any problems. Shopping online is cheaper because the businesses obviously don’t need to pay rent or labour. If you don’t need the items straight away, are willing to wait for 4-6 weeks then eBay is the place for you. Of course always check the credibility of the sellers. If they have more than 2000 positive transactions, that’s normally a good sign. I recently took advantage of eBay’s 20% discount off electronic goods and bought a new camera body plus 3 lenses for 3.6k instead of 4.5k from Kogan. $900 saved right there!
OUT n' About
15. Buy in bulk, cook in bulk
- We buy groceries in bulk, cook meals in bulk, freeze them then reheat them when we need to. It saves us a lot of time, electricity and gas. I’m an easy eater so it works for me, but might not work for those who want different (fresh) meals everyday.
16. Buy coupons/deals/vouchers
- Ever since I started buying vouchers online (2011), it's saved me a lot of money. Being a foodie it enables me to try food at new places without costing an arm and a leg. Spend only $45 for $100 spending credit or $129 for a 3-course truffle degustation for 2? Don’t mind if I do! Just make sure you don’t forget to use them, because a lot of businesses count on buyers’ forgetfulness. The main deal sites that I use are Scoopon, Groupon, LivingSocial & OurDeal, they’re trust-worthy, have good deals and great customer service in case you need a refund. Dimmi has fantastic flash sale deals for 50% off food bills and you earn points by simply using the site to book and write reviews. It's also a good idea to check out reviews on urbanspoon to see if the place is really worth it.
17. Join free membership/reward programs
- I have around 30 memberships that I’ve signed up for over the years. I only use about 5 mostly (flybuys, Priceline, Boost Juice, utopia, Nando's), but the others, I signed up because I could. I don’t say no to the chances of getting discounts. At one point I had a separate wallet just for membership cards. A lot of these places offer freebies on your birthday, even if you haven’t been back for ages, so milk it!
18. Use credit cards
- Unlike most money saving tips out there that advise against the use of credit cards, I know my spending habits and how to manage my money so I take full advantage of my credit card’s awards system. I try to pay with AMEX as much as possible as it offers way more Awards points for every dollar spent, compared to Mastercard (2.5 vs 1). Also if using AMEX is only a few dollars more than Mastercard (AMEX usually incurs a higher fee), that would be my choice of usage. By using credit card to book flights, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) gives me complimentary travel insurance, given that I spend more than $1000 on return flights and accommodation. CBA also offers extended warranty on purchases covered by Australian warranty, what’s not to love?
19. Take advantage of your credit card’s Awards system
- I have a friend who mainly redeems credit card points for flights and fancy hotels. Travelling for free, yes please! But she lives in the US and our Australian banks are stingier than that. Okay I can’t really speak for any other banks but CBA makes us redeem points with Flight Centre, whom only works with full-priced tickets. If I can get a return trip to Sydney with Jetstar for $350, no way I’m gonna spend $600+ with Qantas. On my birthday, however, my bank offered me a 10% discount for point redemption so I exchanged them for some fuel vouchers. Free fuel for months! If your bank has an amazing redemption system, let everyone know so we can all save!
20. Pack food before going on a trip
- Whether it’s a road trip or a flight, I always try to bring my own food. I make things that don’t have a strong smell nor require heating up, and can stay fresh for long, like sushi, or fried eggs on rice.
21. Sleep in the car
- My boyfriend and I take a lot of road trips together and recently I’ve been doing a lot of milky way/star shootings. Since we’re gonna be awake during the night, it would be a waste of money to book accommodation so we rent 4WDs and sleep in them. They’re big enough for 2 people (Hyundai ix35 is my favourite, so roomy and my boyfriend can stretch his legs fine (he’s 175cm or 5’8” tall)), run more smoothly compared to 2WDs and have loads of room to store things. Probably not the best thing to do during winter but imagine a cool summer night, sleeping by the beach, under the stars. Yep, been there done that!
22. Look up currency exchange rates at destination
- If you’re going overseas, look up the currency exchange rates at the local banks, and compare it to several banks and currency exchange agencies at home. You then can make the decision to either carry cash over there to exchange, exchange money at home, or withdraw from overseas’ ATMs. I don’t use a cash passport or travel money card, I’m more comfortable with carrying cash because more often exchanging cash at the destination is more profitable. Although if I have to pay for anything more than $50, I’d use my credit card if possible. The exchange rates won’t be that much different, yet I get to earn points. Also check out Citibank Plus everyday account, which offers no monthly account fee, no international ATM withdrawal fee and free international transfers with selected banks (thanks Aosheng for the tip!).
23. Plan your trips in advance
- If you have your trips planned months in advance, more often you would get cheaper tickets. If possible try not to go during school holidays, plane tickets are way cheaper during off-peak periods, and so are accommodations. Furthermore, planning early ensures you have the flight, accommodation and/or mode of transportation that you want, at the price that you want.
24. Travel light
- I travel extremely light so most of the time I don’t pay for luggage, which saves me at least $100 per return flight. If your hand luggage doesn’t look bulky, the check-in staff most of the time won’t ask to weigh it. I also opt for web check-in option, print out my boarding pass and go straight to the gate. Again if your hand luggage doesn’t look bulky, the boarding staff will greet you with a smile and let you through. If all else fails, pray. I find travelling light works for all seasons except winter. I normally only bring 2 shorts, 3 tops, PJs and enough undergarment for my summer trips, an extra pair of jeans, a beanie and a scarf for spring & autumn. In summer wash my clothes everynight and hang them out to dry, in spring & autumn I don't sweat as much so not much washing is needed. This wouldn't work in winter due to the bulkiness of the clothes themselves, they won't fit into your little suitcase too nicely, are heavier and no way they would dry overnight, unless you resort to a dryer.
25. Fly with budget airlines
- I don’t really care if the airline serves complimentary food during the flight, I normally sleep through my flights anyway, so flying budget suits me just fine. If you know you’d get hungry on the flight, stuff yourself before you go, or buy something small that you can eat on the plane. No flight entertainment, no problems. I have an iPod, that would keep me entertained for hours. I know a lot of people have had problems with AirAsia and Jetstar but they are my favourite budget airlines, AirAsia for their on-time performance (plus they have the BEST inflight magazine) and Jetstar for their ease of online check-in (during which you get free seat assignment).
26. Sleep in dorms/hostels/capsule hotels
- If you’re a solo traveller and don’t mind sharing space with strangers, staying in dorms or hostels is the way to go. Instead of spending $70 on a hotel room, a bed in a dorm can be as cheap as $7/night. Capsule hotels are my new favourite things, you get privacy in your own pod but still have the human contact. My favourite capsule hotels include Capsule by Container (Kuala Lumpur airport, klia2 terminal), Nine Hours (Narita airport, terminal 2), Hotel Shin-Imamiya (Osaka) and Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae (Tokyo). Just make sure you read reviews before booking, some aren’t as clean and/or quiet as others.
27. Use booking websites instead of booking directly
- I use agoda and booking to book my accommodation. I used hotels briefly to take advantage of their newcomers’ stay-10-get-1-free reward but that was it, they don’t have the variety that agoda and booking offer. Agoda is my main resource, as I can earn points, and I like pre-paying for my accommodation, in Australian currency. I use booking as a back up to cross check prices and sometimes prices on booking are cheaper than agoda. The good thing about booking is that most places offer free cancellation until a few days before, unlike agoda where they charge you a USD15 cancellation fee for the majority of places. Same goes for car rentals, I always use Airport Car Rentals because it cross checks all car rental companies, and most of the time it’s cheaper to booking with ACR than booking straight with the company. Skyscanner is a super useful tool to check and/or book plane tickets but always cross check with the airline’s website, sometimes it’s cheaper booking straight with the airline if you only travel with hand-carry. Skyscanner opts for full service, hence the higher price. Hopper is a new service where it predicts price drops in plane tickets but I have yet to try it out.
Last but not least...
30. BE HAPPY 😄😄
- The happier you are, the less stress you're gonna feel and the less "retail therapy" you're gonna need! Most people like to reward themselves after a stressful time by splurging on an expensive purchase or booking a holiday last-minute. If it's within reasons, you can afford it and will not beat yourself up about it, go for it. Otherwise always think twice about the "reward" that you're getting yourself (into). I like to reward myself with food and would not hesitate to splurge on special occasions, but I always ensure that I am financially prepared and will not physically feel guilty after eating a 10-course degustation at Balthazar.
28. Eat local food
- For example if you’re going to Asian countries and constantly want pasta, a steak or burgers, you might as well stay home. Firstly you’re not getting the full experience being overseas and secondly, Western food is a lot more expensive over there. Why not try the local food such as nasi lemak when you’re in Malaysia, nasi campur in Indonesia, bibimbap in Korea, chicken rice in Singapore; stuff yourself with bánh mì thịt (pork roll) in Vietnam, dim sum in China, siu yuk (roast pork) in Hong Kong, kaeng phet (red curry) in Thailand, lechon (suckling pig) in the Philippines or simply pig out at night markets in Taiwan? Whenever I’m in Japan, I’d eat on average of 8 onigiri (rice balls) a day. They’re about 110yen ($1.3) each and I’d have 4 for breakfast and 4 to snack throughout the day. They’re cheap, come in 10+ different flavours, easy to carry around and fill you up!
29. Budget your trip
- Every trip is as cheap or as expensive as you make it. Everybody questions how I can afford Japan 3 times within 13 months when it’s such an expensive country to travel to. It really is all about planning and sticking to your budget. Last February I booked my November return trips 9 months early for $420, my accommodation usually cost around $40/night, and I only spent $700 on a 12-day trip in April. I’d also rather sleeping at the airport overnight, than spending on accommodation for only a few hours, unless the airport offers capsule hotels at a reasonable price.
So those are my tips! They might not work for everyone but that’s what I’ve been doing for years and looks like things work out just fine :). Thank you so much for reading the lengthy post, let me know if these are helpful, which your favourites are, and feel free to share your own!
If you're feeling especially generous and want to make a difference today, please donate to Live Below the Line! The organisation focuses on improving education conditions in Cambodia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea. Otherwise you can just follow my LBL blog for fun and see HOW I SAVE ON FOOD MONEY for 5 days by spending only $10! 😄😄
Have a happy hungree day!
I first came to Bali in March, 2012 with my best friend Vy and I gotta admit that I hated it. I enjoyed her company, it's just the things that we saw and did wasn't my cup of tea. I didn't like Bali for several reasons and one of the main reasons was it's Perth bogan central. Being only 3.5 hours away from Perth, people can count on partying hard here on the weekend because it's significantly cheaper than spending money anywhere in Perth, and with Sydney or Melbourne being 4-5 hours away, Bali is a safe haven. Actually, "safety" is debatable. There have been numerous irresponsible behaviours reported over the years, coming from Australians and it has deterred me even more from spending any more time here.
So what made me come back this time? Well, photography did. Ever since I got into this new hobby last year, it has taken me to many places, challenged me to do the things that seemed impossible, created wonderful memories, made new friends, taught me valuable life lessons and last but not least, let me discover the strength, passion, endurance, creativity, and abilities that I never knew I had. Since then I have wanted to give Bali another go. I did some extensive research on scenic locations in order to convince myself to return and I finally booked the tickets! I took this trip with 2 other trusting travel buddies Mandy and her boyfriend Sin, whom have never been here before, so I knew that even if Bali was gonna be bad, at least I would still have excellent companies.
I arrived at Bali around 11am and was shocked to find out the visa fee has increased to a whopping AUD42, compared to the humble AUD15 2.5 years ago. Not a good second impression. The taxi fare from the airport to our hotel (Jocs Boutique Hotel & Spa) was IDR100,000 (~AUD10), which was quite reasonable for a 20-minute drive but still more expensive than what Mandy paid (IDR80,000) when she arrived last night. After I've settled into our hotel, we took rest, caught up and planned our itineraries for that day and the days after. We finally booked our private car for 4pm, for 5 hours and was told a total of IDR500,000 (~AUD50), which matched the price shown on the brochures I took from the airport. We paid a deposit of IDR200,000 to the hotel and later on found out that the driver was only charging us a total of IDR300,000 for the 5 hours and that the deposit the hotel took was actually their "commission"! What a rip-off. Lesson learnt, we arranged our transportation for the rest of the trip with our driver (Nengah) and not with the hotel. Nengah was a lovely man with such a gentle nature. He was very understanding and patient with our requests to shoot sunrise and sunsets and he didn't just drop us off at the locations like other drivers would, he actually accompanied us everywhere!
Our first scenic destination was Uluwatu Temple, it was meant to be a great place for sunset but naturally, Mother Nature was not on our side. What thought to be an amazing sunset was let down by this massive cloud formation that came out of nowhere and hovered over the sun for half an hour, just in time for sunset. Luckily I managed to take this shot before the disappointment swept over. We were all hungry at this point so we gave up, took our gear back to the car and headed to Jimbaran for a seafood dinner.
The next day Nengah picked us up at 12pm and drove us to GRAHA Adventure where we would be doing white water rafting. We negotiated the price the night before so we ended up paying only IDR400,000pp (~AUD40), instead of the USD65pp they advertised. We were all so excited but something unfortunate happened on the way down to the river, Mandy twisted her foot and was in excruciating pain the whole time. She probably would have had more injuries than just a swollen twisted foot if it wasn't for Matt, Shane (the 2 awesome Perthies in our group) and the 2 guides' sprinting to the rescue, especially Matt who sacrificed his shirt to wrap it around the injury. It took us a bit (okay, maybe a lot) longer to get down there but with everyone's help, Mandy was able to enjoy her day, one that she would never forget.
We planned to only stay in Legian for a few days to check out the busy Bali and were already feeling a bit uninspired so when it was time to move to Ubud, the forest, we were ecstatic! We didn't do a lot today as we were on the road for 4 hours so after checking into our hotel (Jati 3 Bungalows & Spa), we were driven to Tegalalang to see the rice terrace. This probably wasn't the best season to view it and I gotta say this had nothing on the ones in Lào Cai (Vietnam). Also we saw some "rice terrace walking tour" on offer for USD45pp and had a chuckle, they really knew how to milk money out of tourists.
I had to farewell Mandy and Sin in the morning as they flew back to Vietnam at noon. As I was having a whole day to spend by myself, visiting the Gitgit Waterfalls was appropriate. Nengah was busy today so he arranged someone else to drive us instead. Little did I know this other driver, Mr. Dewa Antara, was the boss of the other company himself! What a humble and respectful man, even though he owns 15 cars and 5 villas in Bali, he still works everyday. That is something we all should learn from, not taking life or money for granted.
The 2-hr drive to Gitgit from Kuta was winding, to say the least, but we got to see so many monkeys on the way. They were just hanging out on both sides of the road, eating off tourists' feeding. When we arrived at Gitgit, I met with a guide (#36) and he stayed with me the whole time. Ever since the waterfalls became popular, a guide was appointed with every group of tourists to ensure their safety and I guess to enforce the entrance fee. The Gitgit waterfalls consist of 3 different ones, the twin waterfall which was the most popular, the main single waterfall where people would swim under and the terrace/multi-tiered waterfall was the least popular yet most photogenic. The fee to visit all 3 waterfalls was somewhere around IDR350,000 (~AUD35), which I wasn't willing to pay because 1. I ran out of money and 2. I didn't have enough time anyway so I opted for the multi-tiered waterfall only, which cost me IDR250,000 (~AUD25). It might seem a lot but I was told that the money would go to maintenance and education for the village's children so I didn't mind. The way down was only about 500m but the "road" wasn't that easy. It was basically just a walking track made by the locals for the locals so I was glad that there was someone there with me, and literally held my hand as I descended. The guide was super nice and friendly and we had such a great chat, about his life and about Bali. It didn't take long for us to get down to the waterfall and I was so happy that I chose to do what I did.
After visiting the Gitgit waterfall, it was still early so Dewa suggested that we go to Echo Beach for sunset. I have never heard of this beach before and the fact that he knew exactly what I was looking for to photograph was incredible. This beach was full of rocks and it was 1 of the best beaches I've ever been to! I could easily photograph this place everyday for a whole week! Before dropping me off at the airport, Dewa kindly bought me dinner after he learnt that I have run out of money and only had enough to pay for the car. He said he didn't want me to starve and wanted to treat me a good meal before I left Bali. When I told Dewa I would like nasi campur for dinner, he took me to a place near the airport and even though my meal only cost IDR40,000 (~AUD4), the food was super delicious and I was extremely grateful.
So here comes the verdict, do I still hate Bali? The answer is no, but would I hurry to go back? The answer is also no. I would love to be back next time and finally get a good shot of Ulun Danu Temple, trek up the Kintamani volcano in the dark, photograph sunrise from Nusa Dua or Sanur, visit the lusciously green Pesaban traditional village, watch people submerge in the holy water of Tirta Gangga water palace or explore the untouched Negara region; but for now I would rather fly over to Malaysia where I could be more independent with transportation, put my broken Mandarin to good use, satisfy my laksa cravings and last but not least, not have to pay a single cent to enter and depart.