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Bali is, I'm told, like no other of the Indonesian islands. A virtually 100% Hindu island the locals are welcoming, easy going, unexpecting and (probably therefore) difficult to read. Within a couple of hours walking around even the most amicable of Englishmen will have a hard nodding back and saying 'good afternoon' for the 55th time without a faltering smile.

The Ritz Carlton is where the Island's best grinners and greeters are employed. Its so jubilant they must be trained for it - there's no way people can be that friendly. I was fortunate enough to be upgraded to a Villa featuring its own pair of 40" plasmas, gazebo, infinity pool, fountain and butler, who would be waiting at my gate should I need anything.

Only here for a short time we managed a half day's surfing on graciously soft beaches and snorkeling on a nearby and attractive reef. Both in idyllic settings, inexpensive, rewarding and hugely satisfying. Bali is an obviously struggling island that feels like a Hawaii for Asia except with a distinctly 3rd world identity, rough around the edges and great food.

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