Bali, Indonesia
Review by Ross Anthony

Bali, Indonesia, high class touristing without the high class price. Myself, I'm a low class tourist. You know the story -- backpack, street food, inns at $10 a night. But my girlfriend -- not a big fan of the squat toilet. Don't get me wrong, she's not a high-heel, high-maintenance type, just not cool with a splash bath and squat toilet down the hall. Plus, she was very willing to do all the research, take care of planning and travel, so we did it her way. And here is my review of the hotels, beaches, snorkeling, and travel we enjoyed within Bali.

First off, we flew via the Taiwanese airline, EVA. With just a little more on the ticket price we upgraded to "Elite Economy" status. We appreciated the little extra legroom, the video screens with movie on demand for each individual passenger. Yes it's a long flight -- from our front door to the place we stayed -- 24 hours. Still, if you know you're in for a haul -- you'll be fine. I brought scrabble and a video game, but we never took them out of the bag. Sleep and movies and food filled the time. If you're coming from the States like us, give yourself three days to recover from jetlag. If you can get a direct flight do it.


poppies poolWe stayed at POPPIES cottages. Totally happy. Gorgeous pool, cute cottages -- I loved the partially open ceiling in the bathroom -- the rain comes right into the portion meant for that. Sadly, we never got to see it rain there. The grounds were beautiful and it's a quick skip to the main street and or beach. That said, we weren't that impressed with the beach. Kind of crowded and lots of garbage. We were told the garbage goes away after the rainy season. Still, we have to admit -- beautiful sunset!!! In fact, everywhere we went in Bali, the clouded skies added volumes to the already rich scenery. This was March and it so happened that we incurred a Bali holiday --Nyepi Day. This is a day of silence and, odd as it may seem, we weren't allowed to leave the hotel grounds -- and even then we were to keep our voices down. That might seem rather limiting, but we had a wonderful day at Poppies.

We hired a driver and car for $45US and spent the day traveling to various spots. I really liked Bingyin Beach, Padang Padang Beach, and Uluwatu area, where surfers go. The accommodations (which were as cheap as $10US a night) clung to the edges of cliffs overlooking good surfing water (Nyoman & Nyoman looked good & Thomas Hotel too). But the walk to the tiny beach was quite steep and my girlfriend felt the place was rather inaccessible with the luggage, etc. We didn't stay there, but had I known of this place the first time I was in Indonesia -- I would have been there trying to learn to surf. As for TRAVEL by this method, we greatly enjoyed it. The Driver was hip to our wants and needs, knew the island extremely well and helped us decide on a day long agenda. You can also rent Motorbikes, if you're a risk taker, get yourself an international license.


hyatt pool We stayed at the Hyatt. I wasn't used to that. While the room was quite standard by western standards, the grounds were spectacular. I kept using the word "Ridiculous" to describe the over-indulgence. Huge, huge lobby, beautiful gardens and grounds, two incredible swimming pools with trimmings: waterfalls, bridges and even drink-serving bars with bar stools in the pool. The backpacker in me just couldn't stomach the $2US per shirt ticket price for laundry, so there we were hand washing our own sweaty underwear in this 5 star hotel -- I love the irony. 2 Days later, they still hadn't dried, the country is so humid. Next time I'll find a place along the road and drop them off. Beachwise, again, we weren't impressed. Yes, it looked gorgeous, and even somewhat private to the hotel, we liked that, but the waves were breaking 300 feet or more off shore. In fact, the ocean was only about 2 feet deep most everywhere there wasn't massive seaweed. That said, we loved the pools -- loved 'em.


poppies view

Ah Ubud. We stayed at a lovely, lovely place called Alam Shanti. While probably the cheapest, we enjoyed it's cottages best. Huge rooms. Magnificent large marble floored porches overlooking deep forests and sweet rice fields. It's about a half mile from the monkey forest and you can see the little guys if you look hard enough from the porch. We were also lucky enough to watch the rice harvest from our porch. Very relaxing, beautiful grounds, nice pool, great service. You can order food right from the front desk, they bring it to your room, for less than half the price of eating at Denny's. If you go there, order the grilled Red Snapper -- it rocked.

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permut sunrise Though quite out of the way, everyone was saying the best snorkeling was off of Menjangan Island in the NW. So we took a 3.5 hour ride to Permuteran and stayed at Taman Sari Cottages for the night. Again, beautiful grounds and pool, but this time, a very useable beach. I snorkeled just before dark and then in the morning just there off the hotel beach. I loved that beach above water and below. Though the hotel can arrange a boat/snorkel trip for you to M. Island, I suggest you walk to the beach (the hotel is right on the beach) turn right 20 feet and make arrangements with Bali Dive -- because for the same price, these people have a boat that picks you up right there. For $45US each we got the boat ride to the island (actually you never set foot on the island -- you just dive off the boat about 50 feet from its shores), 9am-2pm -ish, everything included -- snorkels, fins -- I don't like fins, food -- which was quite good and filling -- soda, water, return. The crew were fun and knowledgeable, boat good and sturdy, snorkeling quite nice. Certainly a highlight of our trip.


nusa dua hotel

Yes, this is somewhat sterile, perhaps more western than Balinese, and the hotel seems designed to almost trap you into its little world of shops, pools, 3 restaurants, shuttle to the mall, etc. We suggest you get out. Just a 10 minute walk brings you to very nice restaurants out on the street that would love to have you. So much so, they'll even send a car to rescue you from your hotel and return you. That said, we enjoyed pampering ourselves at the NUSA DUA hotel. While the beach suffered the same problems as Sanor, the pools were equally awesome and the grounds also hosted tennis, basketball net, racquetball court, lap pool and a very nice spa: Jacuzzi, cold dip, sauna. I enjoyed it, but couldn't help feel I was indulging too much.

We mostly avoided street food or anything that looked iffy, because on previous visits we'd both ingested stuff that sent us to the toilet rather continuously. The first few days we had Chinese, or Indian, and eased into Indonesian food. This seemed to work quite well. Although a day or two before we left the country, I ate at a fast food fried chicken place. Not sure if that was the reason, but I came home with runs that lasted a week. Be careful!!! Overall, Surfers like Southern Coasts, party animals do Kuta, for peaceful greenery Ubud, and the sweet swimmable, un-crowded snorkable beaches -- the calm waters of the Bali Sea at Permuteran area.

monkey around

-- Books by Reviewer/Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --

  • Bali, Indonesia. Article and Photos Copyright © 2008 Ross Anthony.

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Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Wednesday, 08-Apr-2009 11:31:27 PDT