Ubud was an excellent introduction to Bali life. Read on for stories from our stay, or skip to after the photos for a quick guide to the city.
Bali was never on our list of places to visit this year, but once we realized it was a possibility, we couldn’t pass it up. This island is a dream destination for so many people… and for good reason, we found out!
We started our whirlwind tour of this Indonesian island in Kuta, near the airport on the west coast. To be honest, we had a terrible first impression and ended up being glad it was only a one night stay at the start. Our next stop was Ubud, where so many of our Malaysian friends had given us recommendations and rave reviews.
Ubud turned out to be a step in the right direction for our travel style. Instead of crazy partiers and streets packed full of pushy vendors, we were able to relax in a hippie’s paradise. After all the greasy– albeit delicious– Malaysian food we’d been gorging on for three months, I was more than ready for the classic fresh and vegan style of Ubud! We also found that the tourist traps were still traps, but they had a little more local charm. It seemed that the kitschy vendor stalls fit in a bit better against the old stone walls and along the tiny winding streets.
We stayed in a delightful– is that a cheesy word? it is. but it’s the perfect one for this spot– family-run bed and breakfast. Although we were a little alarmed to find that it was open-air and without air conditioning, the fan kept us cool enough at night. It was a good introduction to Bali living. We enjoyed mornings and evenings out on our balcony, listening to the wildlife and trying to catch a bit of a breeze while also avoiding the blood-sucking mosquitoes. Tyler especially enjoyed taking his coffee out there each morning, and I couldn’t get enough of the banana pancakes that were delivered along with a giant plate of fruit each morning.
Little did I know, banana pancakes are all I was served the whole time we were in Bali. Eventually, I would have enough (;
We were only here for a couple of days, so we didn’t get to explore nearly enough. I feel that’s the anthem of our Bali trip: “Not enough time!!” But we are certain that we’ll return some day and linger a bit longer in each of our favorite places.
But back to Ubud. It was such a unique place. Our friends had drawn an elaborate description for us, larger than life. And the real thing certainly filled that outline out with vibrancy and color. Our bed and breakfast was tucked away off a small alley right by the center of the city, so we had quiet when we wanted, but also quick access to town. It was the perfect location. However, the center of town was a bit cramped for us for a stay any longer than a couple days, so if and when we return, we’ll be certain to rent a motorbike to head out and explore some more out-of-the-way spots.
We did our best on foot one day though, just happening upon a little sign posted to a stone wall on the side of the road. “Rice paddies” it said, with a skinny little arrow pointing secretively down a side alley. Like two kids in a horror movie, we naively struck off to the right with certainty that only a great experience would follow. Well, the path led up and up and through the backyards of a few restaurants and homes. I have to admit, my attitude took a nosedive, but Tyler was not to be deterred. In the end, we were rewarded. We were able to trek along through a quarter mile of rice paddies, a sea of green on either side of a narrow elevated dirt path. Local farmers passed us every so often along the path, or we passed them as they worked harvesting rice, waist deep in water. We eventually stopped for a drink of fresh pressed juice and beer– at a little wooden hut of all things! oh the beautiful stereotype!– and then headed back to town, refreshed from our excursion into nature.
Another morning we spent working away in Starbucks, thankful for an “office” that feels about the same anywhere we go. But it was funny to look out the window and see the tops of ornate temples peaking over the tree tops. And then we spent an afternoon walking the streets, melting in the humidity and popping into store after store to admire the pottery and other handicrafts. Of course, I insisted on hunting down the perfect bowl for our collection, testing Tyler’s patience as I debated between “the bowl at this store, or the last one, or that one we were in earlier today”!
In the end, we can say Ubud was a true introduction to Bali life. It got us excited about what was to come, and now, looking back, it’s one of the places that makes us most excited about returning again one day.
We loved the vegan food at this restaurant! The photo of the Mediterranean platter was taken here, while we enjoyed a leisurely and flavorful lunch, with a view from their wide balcony to boot! It is a bit expensive, so expect almost Western level prices. But the food is all fresh and plentiful, and you can even shop for ingredients and home and bath products in the store below.
I’ve already talked all about this place and how much we enjoyed it. It was a convenient location, quiet and surrounded by trees, included a delicious breakfast that was delivered to our room each morning, and the balcony was perfect. Plus, it was about $25 a night. The only cons were the lack of air conditioning and the related mosquito problem. If you aren’t keen on wearing bug spray to bed, perhaps you ought to skip this one, but we feel it’s a perfect representation of Bali living and we would definitely return ourselves.
Ok, this might be a bit of a stretch under the “shopping” category, but I have to mention it. For all my ladies out there– this is the place to go to spend some of that holiday money in Ubud. First off, if you aren’t already waxing, why not?! But either way, it will be a fantastic experience. I highly recommend coming at the beginning of your vacation and getting a professional, inexpensive wax to keep you smooth at little to no effort the rest of your time. It cost about $15 for a leg and armpit wax, and I was set for the next few weeks. If you aren’t down for any professional waxing, they also offer facials and other spa treatments!
We didn’t get to enter this park because of a mix up on the timing of our departure. We were so bummed to miss it! The Monkey Forest is a definite must for any visit to Ubud, and so we will have to return just for this (; Make sure you allot at least an hour and a half to stroll around. The entrance fee is very minimal ($5 at the time we visited) and you can buy bananas to feed the monkeys too. Just be sure to follow all instructions to ensure the cheeky animals don’t run off with your things!