Author: Bree James

TOP TIPS TO SHOPPING AND BARTERING IN BALI|||||

TOP TIPS TO SHOPPING AND BARTERING IN BALI

Every two metres you walk in Bali, you can buy something. Bali really is a shopper’s paradise.

There are several tiers of shopping options. At the high end are the designer shops like Polo, and there are a lot of international designers that base themselves in Bali too. There are also Malls and Shopping Centres just like you would find at home. Then, on the lower end, you have discount stores and the markets. Some have fixed prices and others want you to barter.

So, let the Bali shopping journey begin! Here is what you need to know.

Shopping Smart

Here are the best stores that you should visit for all your shopping needs:

Bintang Shop

(located in Seminyak, Ubud & Dalung) is a great place to buy household items, fruits and vegetables and anything else you would buy in a store at home. Some items are cheap others are more expensive due to importing.

COCO Marts, Mini Marts, and Circle K shops

Are the best for general items. Some are open 24 hours and at some of these locations you can also safely exchange money.

The Krisna

(four locations Kuta, Tuban and two in Denpasar) is THE place to buy traditional Balinese items and souvenirs cheaper than anywhere else.

The Matahari

Is great for the Myer experience of Bali. You can buy great shoes here ladies!

Designer shops

Are mostly located in Seminyak, but they can be found in most tourist hotspots. They have great quality clothes at similar prices to home, but some really unique designs that will get you lots of compliments back home.

The markets

Are where you will find sarongs, dresses, pants, shorts, shirts, hats, sunglasses, DVD’s and pretty much anything you could imagine! Some items are genuine Balinese items, or imports from China, others are not genuine and are sold on the black market like fake Billabong clothing, DVD’s and other designer brands.

Top Bartering Tips

1. Never take the first price you are offered as it is often double or even triple the real price.

2. Knowing a little bit of Bahasa (Indonesian) will often get you a better price. See the basics on our website to print and take with you.

3. Check out the set price shops where you can still buy most market items for a reasonable cost. This will also give you a general ideas of pricing in Bali.

4. When shopping in Bali if you are buying multiple items you should expect to get a better price.

5. Stick to your guns and walk away if you don’t get the price you think is fair. Or say you will come back later and give yourself time to think about it, in most cases you can always go back!

6. Remember that Rupiah sounds like a lot more money than it is. Haggling for a price of $50,000, and they want $60,000 is only a dollar difference and will not impact your bottom line much, but remember, this is a meal or more to them. You want to pay what is fair, absolutely, but try to be kind too.

Make sure you check out our top things to see, do and try in Bali, our guide to planning the perfect family trip and our tip tips for safe Bali travel in our Bree’s Family Passport section

BREE'S FAMILY PASSPORT - TOKYO DISNEYLAND AND DISNEYSEA||||||||

EXPLORING TOKYO DISNEYLAND AND DISNEYSEA

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea is everything Disney you can imagine, but in Japanese, of course! If you can’t make the trip to America, then Japanese Disneyland is an excellent alternative for a magical day out with your little ones.

Disneyland is a theme park on its own, but within the park is DisneySea. I would recommend spending at least a day at each of these parks. You can buy discounted tickets that allow you to visit both or you can opt to stick to only one.

The rides

We loved every moment at Disneyland and 90% of the rides were suitable for the kids as they were taller than 102cm. For younger children, you cannot look past Toontown. Here you can get your photo taken professionally with Mickey Mouse at his very cute house. There is a great rollercoaster for the littlies – my boys loved it so much they went on it five times in a row.

This led to our boys wanting to try out the bigger rides and attractions. I would say the highlight of the park for the entire family was Space Mountain rollercoaster, which takes you through plenty of ups and down but in pitch black.

The fun doesn’t stop

We decided to have a buffet for our dinner and then watched the Grand Parade with all the Disney characters. It was amazing to say the least. The boys were so thrilled to have their favourite characters wave at them and we had the opportunity to get photos with a lot of them. We had so much fun and we were the last family to leave!

DisneySea is the more rustic, Mediterranean Disneyland with plenty of great areas for children and fantastic attractions.  As soon as you hop off the train it is time to board The Disney Resort line monorail, or “Mickeys Monorail” as my kids called it. It costs an extra 260 yen ($2.50) but the extra cost is certainly worth it.

One of the highlights is the smell of popcorn that fills the air as soon as you arrive. There are ten different types of try on the menu – caramel, black pepper, jalapeno and cheese, milk tea, white chocolate, salt, curry, and cappuccino.

The best area for youngsters would have to be the Mermaid Lagoon. This amazing replication of Under the Sea is amazing, and the kids loved hanging out here for some downtime. These rides suit children of all ages and there is a great roller-coaster for kids 90cm and over. The Arabian Coast and American Waterfront were the other areas that rated highest with our kids.

In terms of the other rides at DisneySea, most of them were suitable for children of all ages but there was a few that have a height requirement of 117 cm. Our six year old’s favourite was the Volcano and the Indiana Jones Raging Spirits which was a roller-coaster with a 360 degree loop.

What makes them so great for families

Both Disneyland and DisneySea cater well for families with fantastic parenting facilities. They have a full baby centre where you can buy items you may need, like formula or an extra outfit.

They have the Fastpass (express line-up pass) single riders, and the alternate ride system, or the “child switch” which enables guests with children who do not meet an attractions height or other requirements to take turns and enjoy the attraction without having to line up again.

There is plenty of shopping, of course, and lots of great souvenirs that are not as expensive as we thought. $20 will get you a Disney shirt of your favourite character (be prepared for most visitors to be dressed up). There is also a fantastic show at the end of the night in the Mediterranean Harbour complete with all characters in boats with a lightshow, music, singing and fireworks!

Check out Tokyo Disney Resort for more information on park opening times and costs.

Check out Bree’s Family Passport for additional things to do, try and eat in Japan. 

10 THINGS ALL FAMILIES SHOULD DO IN BALI|||||

10 THINGS ALL FAMILIES SHOULD DO IN BALI

Bali is a holiday destination where you have the ability to ‘live it up’ and enjoy an affordable holiday all at once. The atmosphere is warm, the locals are welcoming and the scenery is gorgeous.

As soon as you hop off the plane and get through Customs, the tone of the holiday begins.

With direct flights from Australia that only take about five to seven hours in most cases, Bali would have to be one of the closest, most affordable destinations outside of Australia.

In addition to lounging on the beach, cocktail in hand, what else does Bali offer for families?

Visit Waterbom Park (or another water park)

8 hectares of pristine gardens with hours (a full day) of entertainment for the whole family. World class slides and rides which are maintained at international safety standards. There are about 14 slides and it’s easy to see why it was voted the number one water park in Asia.

Take a daytrip to Ubud

See the monkeys at the monkey forest, dine with views of the volcano or rice fields, and visit the markets for gorgeous wooden crafts, clothing and art.

Go to the Bali Zoo

See over 450 rare and exotic animals in a gorgeous tropical environment. You can feed a Bengal Tiger, ride an elephant, have your photo taken with an array of animals, hang out in the petting zoo, take a pony ride and lots more. They even have a new Jungle water park. Ticket prices vary for what you want included in your pass.

Enjoy sunset drinks on the beach

This is a very affordable fun way to end the day. Pick any restaurant on the beach that takes your fancy (my favourite is the Seminyak beach stretch or Jimbaran Bay), listen to live music, order a Bintang, sit on bean bags, order a meal if you wish, watch the kids play and watch the sun go down.

Indulge in the Seafood Feast at Jimbaran Bay

Even if you don’t eat seafood (there are heaps of other food choices), the sunsets at Jimbaran are stunning and you should certainly spend one night (or a whole day) relaxing in armchairs here if you can.

Beat the rain at the Canggu Club

Perfect for a rainy day and located 15 minutes from Seminyak, the Canggu Club includes an indoor trampoline park Bounce Bali, Splash Water Park, Strike bowling alley and an indoor tennis centre.

Take a Balinese cooking class

Discover the spiced flavours of Bali’s virtually unknown cuisine. Classes offer a fascinating introduction to the exotic ingredients and unique culinary heritage of Bali. They provide a valuable insight into the various techniques of food preparation and the cooking style used in their island homes. A lot of the resorts and hotels have their own cooking classes where they will even take you to the markets to buy the produce first.

Visit Uluwatu and Dreamland Beach

Surround yourself with beautiful crystal clear water and reef. The beaches here can be dangerous, but sitting in the cliffs watching the water is a very relaxing experience if your kids sit still. It’s quite a hike going up and down the hill, but a great day out.

Shop at the markets

Here you will find sarongs, dresses, pants, shorts, shirts, hats, sunglasses, DVD’s, and pretty much anything you could imagine! Some items are genuine Balinese items, or imports from China; others are not genuine and are sold on the black market like fake Billabong clothing, DVD’s and other designer brands.

A lot of the shops are the same and each location has its own market. Kuta and Sukawati Markets are by far the cheapest that I have found and sometimes the hawkers on the beach are cheaper too. The general rule is to divide by three from whatever they first offer and don’t go any higher than half, or ask for Bali pricing (which they won’t give you really but it will give you an idea of their cheapest rate to tourists).

Get pampered at a beauty salon

Get a massage, a pedicure, manicure, salt scrub, facial, hair wash, and more. The prices are ridiculously cheap at the smaller spas ($7.50 an hour) or you can go to more upmarket ones that will cost you about the same as in Australia.

Stay tuned for our next Bree’s Family Passport for our top tips when travelling to Bali.  And make sure you check out Bree’s Family Passport’s 10 things all Australians must try when in Bali.

HOT TIPS FOR FAMILIES TRAVELLING TO JAPAN||

10 TOP TIPS FOR FAMILIES TRAVELLING TO JAPAN

Japan is a whirlwind of activities which can be great for touring but may also be slightly intimidating and overwhelming. When travelling to Japan, it’s best to have a game plan.

Make the most of your trip with these top ten tips:

1. Take your mobile phone but leave your SIM behind. There is free Wi-Fi everywhere so you can use the internet wherever you are. You can also buy “pocket Wi-Fi” for approximately $3 per day.

2. Get familiar with the train system. All trains run on time. If it is early, it is not your train.

3. Forty minutes of travel may seem like a lot but it’s really not. Stay in one hotel and travel for the day rather than move hotels every few days.

4. The transport system is amazing. Don’t be afraid to catch two or three trains to get to somewhere. If you miss a train or make a wrong move, in most cases it doesn’t take much to get back on the right track as trains come every few minutes.

5. When on trains, ensure you all hop on and off at the same time. Hold hands with the kids to make sure you stay together.

6. Communicating in Japan can be difficult, but as they say, communication is only seven per cent verbal, 55 per cent body language and 38 per cent tone of voice. Stick to a handshake or a slight bow upon meeting, with little or no eye contact.

7. Silence is a natural and expected form of non-verbal communication. Do not feel the need to chatter.

8. Don’t show affection in public, such as hugging or shoulder slapping. Touching or standing too close to a Japanese person, and prolonged eye contact are also considered rude.

9. Stop for meals. It is also considered rude to eat while on the go. Take the time to stop, sit down and eat rather than eating on the trains or while you walk among the crowds.

10. Take good walking shoes for the entire family and make sure the kids have broken their shoes in before you go. You will walk a lot!

Make sure you check out Bree’s Family Passport for tips on what foods to try when in Japan and how to plan a Japanese holiday best suited to your family.

BREE'S FAMILY PASSPORT - TOKYO TOY MUSEUM||||

TOKYO TOY MUSEUM – A MUST-VISIT FOR FAMILIES

Kids and their toys – is there a stronger bond out there? If your kids are like my two boys, then they will absolutely adore a trip to the Tokyo Toy Museum. This is an affordable way to spend the day with your family and learn something new in the process.

What is there to see?

To put it bluntly, this place was amazing! There are three levels, and each will encourage your children to play, create, and learn. We were the only non-Japanese family here on the day, and the staff speak very little English but this was no barrier. The atmosphere is clean, vibrant and well ventilated and the entire family felt relaxed and at ease.

Our children simply loved playing with all the traditional Japanese wooden toys and we loved watching them.

There is also the Wood Toy Forest where you can relax in the aroma of cypress. The floors are cypress and there is a wooden ball pit filled with 20,000 wooden balls – the boys loved laying in here.

The workshops

I would highly recommend a visit to the Toy Factory where we paid an extra $10 to participate in a workshop. We made a Panda family Babushka doll and it now sits proudly in our living room as a keepsake.  There are several different classes throughout the day so you can choose something the whole family will enjoy.

There is also a wooden toy room for children under two years of age, a games salon with amazing analogue games that are educational and fun, and Toy Red Square where the boys loved playing make believe with the Japanese wooden kitchen.

Our boys didn’t want to leave, but they were getting hungry!

I would suggest allowing at least three hours to explore the museum. The museum is open 10.00am to 4.00pm every day except Thursday and costs about 700 yen ($7) for adults. Children two and under are free.  Find out more at Good Toy.

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BREE’S BUSINESS BUZZ – APRIL 2016

BreesBusBuzz

Hello and welcome to April.

This month I want to talk about the importance of your personal brand.

I, for one, have not used this powerful tool to its full advantage in my business. And I know that I am not alone.

Most of us are too scared to “put ourselves out there”. We would prefer to work hard, and hope that the business we build has a strong enough brand that people will support and love it and that will be enough.

That has been the case for me with PakMag. For nine years I have built a wonderful brand that our readers and advertisers trust, know and support.

But now that I am trying to start a national magazine for small businesses, I am struggling. Why? Because people want to know who I am, and unless they are from North Queensland, I am just some regional business woman that they believe should “think smaller” (not going to happen by the way).

Consumers don’t only want to know what your brand stands for; they want to know what the leader of that brand stands for too.

Think of some of the world’s best business brands: Facebook, Apple, Virgin. They are all massive brands with incredible leaders at the forefront.

Whether you have a global vision, national vision, state vision, or local vision, you need to build your personal brand. Do it right and it shows your expertise, your authority, and it gains you respect.

Here are five simple things that I suggest implementing in your business:

1. Produce a video telling your story, and share why you are in business. Load it to YouTube, put it on the homepage of your website, add it to the link of your email address and share your vision. (Check out my story here).

2. Start a newsletter that gives helpful advice. Add it to your website, send it to your database, and share it through social media channels like LinkedIN and Facebook.

3. Speak at events on a topic that you are passionate about, or write a story for a publication or a blog and get it published.

4. Fill in the “About Me” sections on all your social media channels, invest in a great photo, and ensure that you are consistent with your wording.

5. Have an opinion on things. Comment on people’s posts, give advice, be an authority.

I understand your trepidation. I have it too. I don’t want to be seen as having a huge ego, that my business is all about me, and that I am someone who thinks I have all the answers.

Like you, sometimes I see some people promoting themselves all the time, I do get turned off too, but then I stop and think- why are they doing it? If they are doing it to be famous, and self-serving then sure, this is off-putting.

If they are doing it to grow their business, and make a difference, then I applaud them. It is a brave step to be an ambassador for your own brand, and we as business owners are all looking for ways to market our business better. Within you is knowledge, experience, and passion that no one else has.

So be brave, be bold, and stand up for your brand by building your brand too. If you come from a place of the heart, it can only improve your business. And who doesn’t want that?

Bree