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Japan and Bali  Preview
20 May 05 from Ben 2
Kyoto and Osaka are very close to each other and offer a nice contrast between the pre-WWII bombing architecture and the modern city. Osaka is a hip little Tokyo, and you can probably find some cool bands playing on any given night. Tripod Jimmy is a lot of fun. Go see them (if they haven't broken up). Lonely Planet is the guide everyone I know used while living in the country (myself included). Hiroshima is great. Miyajima isn't too far from there and is also a nice day trip.  

If you like Mariah Carey, you must make a trip to a used CD store. Banana Records is a new/used chain in several major Japanese cities.  

There is a northern beach in Bali that has black volcanic sand. There is a certain town associated with it. Spend some time exploring the various places to stay...some are quite nice and quite cheap.  

There is an incredibly expensive hotel ($300) a night that sits over a valley a few minutes from Ubud. I believe it's the Alila Ubud Hotel. You will be passing through Ubud anyway, so check it out...you might not want to stay there, but if you go a bit before sunset and order dinner at the restaurant, you will have one of the most spectacular views of the valley. You'll spend $40 per person on a really nice dinner, which is expensive relative to the rest of the island but it's worth it and it's not too crowded...or at the very least, it's upscale and a bit secluded (no drunk frat boys). I sat down with a casual outfit and it was quite alright. I remember that dinner more than anything else about my trip to Bali. For the full experience, get one of the locals to take you on on the back of a scooter to the outskirts of town!  

Have fun!
Ben Krieger
19 May 05 from belle 1
So, Mr. Cool Wiz Forum Programmer and I are going to Japan and Bali soon. Yay! Anyone have any travel/food/sights/shopping/etc. tips?  

Even tips on how to survive the long plane trip would be welcome. For instance, I've been reading about the various battery packs you can add to an iPod, and while I'm intrigued by the idea of making one myself, I don't have time. I can't tell what the deal is with the Belkin one -- it's reviews seem totally bipolar. The Griffin one seems a little more reliably reviewed but doesn't last quite as long.  

--b
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