There are highlights to every trip, and there can’t help but be some low points as well.  Here is my reflection on my thirty-day trip to Bali and Lombok.


1. Price

I am a bargain hunter and Bali was a dream come true.  It might cost you a bit to get there, but once you do the cost of living is so much lower in Indonesia than many parts of the world.  The biggest savings are accommodation.  For example, when I landed in Toronto and got an airport hotel it cost me $150/night.  A similar hotel about the same distance to the DPS airport in Bali cost $17 per night.

I had many massages in Bali. A 90-minute massage will put you out less than $20.  I had to keep checking exchange rates to make sure I wasn’t inadvertently getting it wrong.  There are a lot of zeros in the Bali Rupiah!

Indonesia manufactures for companies around the world and so there are also deals on clothing of high-end brands.  Surf gear is particularly cheap in Bali relative to countries where those big brands are originally from.

Private bubble bath after a massage and scrub - the height of luxury

2. Surfing

Until this trip, I had only ever surfed in Barbados where I learned the sport.  The surfing in Bali is amazing, from advanced surf breaks where I would never imagine surfing, to beginner spots with gentle rolling waves, to intermediate waves that I found challenging and exhilarating.  Much of the surfing has stunning back drops of mountains or cliffs.  I found the attitude to be friendly and sharing, although I was not on the advanced breaks where the competition sometimes becomes fierce.

It is not uncommon, even at the intermediate level, for the “guide” to push you onto a wave.  Most of the surf in Bali are point breaks, which is different than the beach breaks that I am accustomed.  I found it difficult to get on a lot of the waves, but then the drop was big, and the wave was fast.  The guides also communicate with each other and decide who gets the next wave. Stress-free surfing.  A ton of fun!

Small fishing boats would take the surfers and their surf boards out to the breaks

3. The People

It is true, the people of Bali are very friendly.  The island is primarily Hindu and I believe that gives the people a sense of openness and authentic happiness.  As one guide put it, a smile is a practice of the law of attraction; putting positive karma out there attracts the same.

I had many spirited conversations with drivers of GoJek, the Bali Uber equivalent.  They all spoke English and were curious about me and my travels.  In return, I asked them about where they grew up and about living in Bali.  By the way, the equivalent 1.5-hour Uber ride in Ontario for $120 only cost me about $30 in Bali.  There is reason to be a happy rider.

There literally is always a smile

The Low Lights

1. In a Land Far, Far Away

It depends where you are coming from.  Australians told me that they could fly to Bali from Perth in three hours!  No wonder they are overrunning the south of the island.  For me, it was more complicated coming from North America.  My travel involved a 14-hour flight from Toronto to Dubai and then another 9 ½ hour flight from Dubai to Bali.  I could barely remember my name by the time that I arrived.

Coming home was worse because I had to fly into Boston and take a third flight to Toronto.  Then when I landed at Pearson (YYZ) I was randomly selected for a PCR test.  It didn’t matter that I was fully vaccinated, boosted, and had a recovery certificate from getting COVID in April.

This past week was a rough one.  I caught a cold and had some bacterial thing messing up my digestion.  I am grateful that the trip was a success, or I would have wondered why I had gone through all that.  Never underestimate the toll of a long-haul flight.

Cows graze amongst the trash

2. Pollution

Indonesia has a serious problem with garbage, plastics in particular.  Several times surfing and snorkeling, my legs and arms would become tangled in a plastic bag, or I would have to avoid a plastic cup floating on the top of the water.  It makes me so sad to see the ocean in that state.  Apparently, some of this plastic is ours, dumped on the shores of Indonesia by the ocean currents.

Their problem is prevalent on land.  I have pictures of cows grazing in a yard full of garbage and piles of garbage being burned with plastics sitting on the top.  There doesn’t seem to be an appreciation of the toxicity of this.

It makes me so sad to see such beautiful lands and water contaminated like that.  It hurt every time that I had to buy a bottle of water because you cannot drink from the tap anywhere in Indonesia.

Linda snorkels amongst the plastic floating on the surface in South Bali

That’s it for the disadvantages of traveling Bali.  Once you get there it really is a wonderful experience.   The reports are true – they told me that I would love it and they were right. If you are resilient to make the long flight, you should consider it for your list of places to experience.

Cliffs overlooking Uluwatu surf break