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Michael From New York

Travel Reports


Part 3: Tanjung Benoa

Sorry for the delay. My Asia trip ended about four weeks ago, so it is time to resume. Pick up the quill and inkpot, so to speak. My prior posts discussed my arrival and stay at The Sheraton Nusa Indah (Oct21-25), I then transmigrated over to Bali's western coast where I did a four-day stint at the Balisani Suites Hotel (Oct26-29).

The best part of the west coast hotel experience is that one can see the sunsets. The locals come out to sample the surf and romp with their children when the sun is no longer high in the sky. The whole beach setting comes alive. Only children can bring this out. During the day's heat, the tourists and vacationers kept close to the hotel pool and hotel bar in the pool. The late afternoon is refreshes the spirit.

So I tucked myself in that last night in The Balisani's Jr. Suit Kenanga 2 and dreamt that my vacation would last for an infinite number of days. With the dawn I was up, and on the beach shooting the last of my west coast pictures. When I was taxied over to the Balisani from The Sheraton Nusa Indah, I paid 99,000 rupiahs – only $11 US dollars – an eminently fair price based on New York standards. The Balisani arranged a taxi to my next destination, The Coralia Novotel Benoa Bali, in Tanjung Benoa. This destination is even further than a straight hop into Nusa Dua, but they charged only 50,000 rupiah. Inflationary rates were not present in Batubelig. I gladly paid and we were off.

Tanjung Benoa was a wonderful experience. There was the main road which was populated by a string of very fine hotels: The Novotel and The Grand Mirage to name just a pair of them. But what makes this area different than Nusa Dua, and different than Batubelig, is that there are restaurants and stores and shops right across the street from the hotels. You can go to a store and buy sodas or Bintangs or film and not be subject to the rates that the hotel shops charge. And you will also see school children waiting for buses, and all sorts of people living their lives. Nusa Dua is all manicured and kept sparkling and beautiful. Tanjung Benoa has real life, including dogs, and litter, and charming people who want you stop in their shops. In the evenings you can walk on good sidewalks past the restaurants. Each has a nice girl and guy posted as a greeter and they are all smiles as they ask you to visit their restaurant for dinner.

The Novotel is a very fine and very large hotel with facilities on both sides of the street. There were swimming pools in either location. If you stayed on the ‘beach' side you could reach the beach in only a few less moments than if you had to commute over from the other side. The beach side pool had a prettier setting but the other pool was set up for serious swimmers as it had good length and was described as a lap pool. You would need to turn in a towel token to be given your towels, and at the days end, you got your towel token back. The Novotel's beach was not unlike the Nusa Dua area beaches with one difference, there were many more water activities to choose from. There were some hawkers for watches, sarongs, kits, and so forth but they weren't a bother or a problem.

My Room at the Novotel wasn't particularly large but was very nice. It included my own garden and patio. There wasn't much of a view but this wasn't a feature that I was overly concerned with. I liked the feature of the bathroom in that it was somewhat open and you could talk to someone who was in the room while you were in the bathtub. You could also see the TV while brushing your teeth. 

Poolside, you could play ping-pong, and in a terrific feature, they offered free scuba lessons in the pool. There was a wading pool for the smaller kids, and for the grownups some Jacuzzi elements. The beach had jet-skis for rent, parasailing, and there were plenty of boats for hire. Tanjung Benoa's beach had an excellent view of the channel so you were able to see some of the big ferries come and go, including the big catamaran sailboats that sailed off to Nusa Lemboggan Island. The Novotel's beach had plenty of loungers and shade if you wanted that, as well as a close by bar and an icecream/waffle stand.

The buffet breakfast was as good and as varied as any that I had anywhere. And the service was superb. The same facility was used in the evening s for the varied ‘theme' buffet dinners. There was an Indonesia/Balinese night, a Seafood Night, a Thai evening. Etc. Huge selections of food and all of it first class. The Novotel had the best food of my three Bali Hotels.

I enjoyed my stay at the Novotel because it was the best way for me to interact with the Balinese. I bought sodas and snacks, bought some time on the internet, bought some souveniers, and even chatted with a few locals while huddling under a canopy during a rain shower on my last morning. 

I got a bit of Bali Belly on my 9th evening in Bali. Maybe it was the curry that ran through me or ,maybe it was the water...but I was ‘inconvenienced' for about 40 hours. Then it went a way. 

On my last full day in Bali, I did the Wakalouka Cruise. This was an all day event. And well worth the $80 US I paid for it. Door to Door transportation, breakfast croissants and juice and coffee on the ship outbound. Then we had a huge buffet lunch at The Wakalouka Resort. And soft drinks, fruits and cheese were served on the sail back to Benoa Harbor. We left in the AM with 48 and returned with 36 as twelve folks stayed over. The Mate told me that I was the only American on the cruise. I met some Canadians, and some Aussies. And I spent time with a Japanese couple. Most of the rest were British and French, and some Austrians, and Germans.

The Novotel also had very nice activities every night after dinner. There was a Barong Dance show, and a cocktail party on another evening, and a Balinese Market Night where the hotel brought in merchants who sold art, clothing, jewelry, etc like a small street fair right there on the dance floor of the auditorium. 

My overall conclusion was that the Novotel Benoa Bali received the highest marks of my three hotels. I liked the area and it was the most fulfilling time of my vacation. And this despite the fact that I had the Bali Belly while here and that this hotel room was the smallest of the my hotels. I'd like to also point out that all of my bookings were made over the Internet – for my air travel. for my hotels. Had zero problems with any of the bookings. 

I used Asiatravel to book my hotel in Penang and Langkawi as well. Even received a room upgrade in Penang at the Parkroyal in Batu Ferringhi Beach. I left Bali after two weeks. I enjoy everyday that I was there. My travel dates were Oct 19th- November 11th and I only had one morning of rain in Bali, and one evening with showers in Penang. I do not feel that Bali is a paradise but I will tell you sincerely that I was not caught up in shopping or bargaining or barhopping in Kuta. I traveled halfway around the world for the Bali experience and feel I am richer for having done so. Not sure I will return but all of comments are real and meant to help anyone who wanted to read of another's experiences in Bali.

While I was there, I read of the outbreak of the problems in Java regarding Americans at hotels...but I saw nothing like that in Bali. As it turned out I missed the USA elections, the World Series, the Breeder's Cup Horse Races, Halloween, and the New York City Marathon...and I don't regret that I missed any of those. My Balinese experience will stay with me forever. 

I will get some pictures posted on a website soon and will let you know where and when.

Michael From New York


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