There have been a handful of extra special places on this trip which we have really, really enjoyed and stayed longer than planned in; places that we felt so comfortable in we didn’t want to leave, places that seemed nice but quite ordinary at first glance but turned out to be amazing, and places that we want to go back to again one day. Ubud was another one of these magical places. It totally charmed us and captured our hearts and we loved it, spending a relaxing 5 days there. It’s the kind of place where time flies even if you are not doing very much, because there is just something about it that feels so…easy.
When we arrived we were dropped off by Coco Supermarket (which is great for supplies) and soon found a gorgeous room nearby, just on the edge of the town centre. We both wanted something a bit traditional yet comfortable, and ended up with a huge thatched/wooden bungalow set around lovely gardens, on the upper floor of a two story building, with not one, but two terraces (front and back) and a great big bed. Oh and there was also a pool and breakfast included,
which was bought up to our terrace in the morning…all this for less than £13 a night, more than we have been spending, but completely worth it.
We soon fell into an easy routine, where we would get up quite early, have yummy pancakes or eggs for breakfast, with juice and coffee on our terrace, then spend a couple of hours sunbathing and reading by the pool just feet away. When we got restless, we would get dressed and go for a walk through the town, stopping somewhere for lunch, before doing something in the afternoon if we felt like it. Some afternoons it rained really heavily, so we would run back to our room and snuggle up in bed and watch a film, but if it wasn’t raining we would spend some more time outdoors. Some (most actually) of the Balinese temples dotted around the town are so beautifully designed we were happy to just wander around taking pictures of them and peeking inside. The rice terraces that surround the town are also very pretty and we enjoyed seeing them daily.
On our second day there was an elaborate funeral procession through the town as someone in
the Royal family had passed. It felt more like a parade, with the roads shut off, hundreds of people taking part in traditional outfits, loud music and huge colourful displays which were being carried manually by lots of local men. Unfortunately it rained a lot just as it was starting and we got soaked, but enjoyed watching it all from the roadside all the same as the atmosphere was really good and it was a fun experience.
The shopping here is great and at the market you can get some good bargains, but you have to negotiate hard – I saw a top I liked and the lady wanted 150,000rp (£10), but it was never worth anything near that, so after going back and forth for a while I got it for 40,000rp (£2.70)! There are also plenty of cool arts and craft shops, and places selling handmade and carved goods, plus some very unique clothing shops. We spent time almost every day window shopping in all these and could have easily bought half the town, there were so many tempting things we saw. Some of the artwork that we saw was just stunning too; we thought so many
times 'that would look lovely in our house in a few years'.
One afternoon we fancied having massages and came across a lovely day spa called Samsara, just off the main Monkey Forest Road. They were offering a package which included a 1hr Balinese massage, followed by a body scrub, a body rub and a flower bath, which all sounded great for just over £7 each so we went inside. It was really nice as we were in our own private treatment room, so we each had a therapist working on us side by side, and the massages were the best we have ever had. The body scrubs were also great, with a choice of different ones like coconut, spice, honey, chocolate etc, then a milk or yoghurt rub after, which felt a bit strange over the grainy scrub, and it was cold, but quite nice, then we would get in a large bathtub to wash it all off which was lovely. It was an amazing experience! So good that a few days later we went back again, except this time there was a power cut so the bath at the end wasn’t hot, but still.
saw us spend a few hours wandering around Monkey Forest, which is a huge forest full of monkeys (obviously). There were so many of them, it was like something out of the Jungle Book, all jumping through the trees and sometimes on people! Well if you will tease them with bananas…it was quite funny watching people buy a bunch of bananas at the entrance and walk no more than 10 feet before they were leapt on by a monkey, then hearing them scream ‘get it off me!’ over and over until they dropped the fruit and the monkeys happily ran off with it. We did see a couple of monkeys hiss and bare their teeth at people though so it’s not all funny, but we know to keep our distance from them anyway, and after being in Asia for so long they are not so much a novelty as more of an annoyance so we would never encourage them near to us. The actual forest and grounds were beautiful though and we liked walking around it all.
Evenings were low key, which suited us just fine! We really enjoyed the food in Ubud and dinner was something we would
start talking about in the morning. There are so many restaurants here, some of them are pricey and some are not, but the variety of cuisine in a small town like this is incredible. We mainly ate Indonesian food, which we are still really enjoying, but also indulged in Mexican at Casa Taco, which was one of the best Mexicans we have ever had. We found a great little place called Sagittarius on Monkey Forest Road, which is full of high end restaurants, but this one was cheap and served up amazing fresh salads, with loads of avocado, something which is hard to find in Asia, as well as interesting dishes like pumpkin ravioli, fish curry and chilli and eggplant chicken. We went there several times! We also tried the famous Babi Guling (roast pork) one day, which is a speciality of Ubud, as well as a dish called Gado Gado (vegetables in a peanut sauce), and they were also both delicious. One of our favourite meals was an Indonesian Tapas style lunch, where we ordered several small dishes such as chicken sate, sweet and spicy pork, potato cakes, garlic and herb chicken, beef rendang and rice, which all came
on banana leaves with homemade dips and sauces – just so tasty. We definitely haven’t lost any weight here!
On our last evening we decided to see a traditional dance show, of which there are many in Ubud. We had heard about the different ones, which are all held in different temples, and opted to see a Kecak fire and dance show, at a cost of 75,000rp each. We didn’t know what to expect but it was really interesting and like nothing we had ever seen before. It featured over 100 men of all ages who sat in rows on the floor and chanted through almost the whole show, providing atmosphere, and the actual story was told through this chanting and also through dance, which was performed by just a handful of men and women in the centre of the chanting men. The costumes that were worn were amazingly detailed and we noticed that the eye movements of the ‘actors’ in the centre played a big part, expressing every emotion through their eyes. At the end a type of bonfire was lit in the centre on top of coconut husks and a much older man, who was said to
be in a trance, walked through it over and over again until the flames went out. It was a bit surreal but the rest of the show was great and we were glad we had finally got to see one.
Our time in Ubud was really wonderful and we could have stayed even longer – it was the perfect place to recharge our batteries and we can see why so many people like it here. Hopefully we will be lucky enough to come back again one day...but now the beach is calling us! S&V's Travel Info & Tips: General Info: Approx 15,000 INR/RP (Indonesian Rupiah) to £1. Transportation: From Legian/Kuta a shared shuttle cost us 50,000rp each but we were the only two in it, so it was like a private transfer. Food: So many great options here! Our favourite restaurants were Sagittarius for Indo-fusion food and the fresh salads, Casa Taco for yummy Mexican, Biah Biah for Indo tapas and the Babi Guling (roast pork) at Ibu Oke is a must try. Accommodation: We loved our stay at Ubud View Bungalows, just round the corner from Coco supermarket. We paid
200,000rp (after negotiating hard!) for a lovely big room with Wi-Fi and breakfast served on the balcony, overlooking the pool. It was amazing. Other observations: x) Bargain hard in the market and even in some of the shops in town with 'fixed' prices.
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