The Bali Chronicles continue. After a crazy few days in Kuta, my friends & I hired 2 cars via Grab Taxi to take us about 2 hours(including rain and traffic) to Ubud.
Ubud gained its tourist fame from it’s appearance in the book/movie Eat, Pray, Love. It’s where Julia Roberts’ character goes to talk to the medicine man, Ketut. The Ketut from the book is a real person, and you can go hang out with him, although we didn’t feel the need to do so on this trip.
Fun fact: everyone in Bali is named either Ketut, Made, Wayan, or Nyoman. This is something within Indonesia that is unique to Bali. It has to do with the order they are born in, instead of having surnames. And they all go by them; every Balinese person I met was either Ketut, Made, Wayan, or Nyoman, regardless of gender.
Ubud is like a more mature version of what you think of when you think stereotypical Bali, minus the beaches. It’s tied with Canggu for my favorite place in Bali, and while I couldn’t see myself living there now because of the lack of nightlife, I could definitely see myself retiring in Ubud. Nightlife isn’t very big in Ubud, due to the strong Hindu influence, and most of this small city is quiet by 9PM.
Ubud is full of quiet, full of beautiful Balinese architecture, and constantly has this wonderful smell of sandlewood and incense from the little banana leaf offerings that are left outside of every building. There’s also great coffee, fantastic yoga, and a plethora of different trendy healthy vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Not to mention, some amazing coffee shops. Ubud is a good home base for seeing different famous temples and rice terraces, and it’s where you can do a sunrise hike up Mt. Batur.
I cannot recommend this hostel enough. They had a really nice pool, comfy beds, awesome free breakfast that was more than just toast(what you often get in SE Asia when hostels offer free “breakfast”), and the staff that worked there was super friendly. The hostel was really helpful in arranging transport, we were able to rent motorbikes at the hostel, and the Indonesian food they served was awesome. It was also a great place to hang out and drink Bintang by the pool every night when nightlife wasn’t really a thing.
Ubud Art Market
Note “Chicago Bul” with one “l.”
For our first full day in Ubud(we arrived late at night), we rented motorbikes from our hostel and set out to see the art market and a few temples. The market was pretty standard as far as markets go. They had your usual mix of elephant pants, spices, jewelry with the Hindu Hand of Fatima, and pottery. I bought curry powder and a “Namaste” symbol necklace, 15,000 Rupiah for the spice and 40,000 Rupiah for the necklace.
What’s more Bali than a waterfall in the jungle? After shopping, we headed off to rocky Tegenungan Waterfall to cool off.
We loved the marketing on this sign, “good toilet.”
Temple hopping at Pura Ulun Danu Bratan and Pura Tirta Empul, check out my upcoming post for details!
Intuitive Flow Yoga
Of course, being in Ubud, we had to do yoga. I periodically get into yoga when I’m home in the states, particularly hot yoga, so I was pretty pumped about this. Although like I said before, food poisoning was starting to creep into my trip at this point, so getting through a 1 hour class was a struggle.
We researched ahead of time and signed up for a flow yoga class at Intuitive Flow Yoga. It was a small class, which is always nice, our instructor was super nice, and the view from the practice room was breathtaking. Located on the side of a hill, it gave a great view of lush green Ubud and some of the pretty surrounding Hindu-influenced buildings.
Ubud Monkey Forest
This one I sat out of, because I was slightly dying at this point. Not to sound like I’m above it, but monkeys are one of those things that are only cool the first, second, and MAYBE the third time you see them. After that they’re kind of irritating, and actually pretty vicious. This is especially true in touristy areas, where they have no qualms about running up to you and stealing things right out of your hand. They also bite, and if you get bit it’s recommended that you do rabies shots. So as I was feeling under the weather, I sat this one out, saved 40,000 rupiah, and still someone managed to get harassed by the beasts while I was minding my own business outside of the forest. One even decided to hang out on my head for a few minutes, until an Indonesian guy took it off for me, as I was concerned about getting peed on.
OMW 2 steal ur gurl
Tegaling Rice Terraces
The rice terraces were also absolutely breathtaking. We saw them at the end of a long day, so we didn’t hike down into them, but it was really cool to be able to see people working the rice terraces, and we went around sunset so it was really pretty. Although it was very touristy; tons of souvenir shops and restaurants surrounded the entrances to the otherwise tranquil terraces.
“Kopi” means “coffee” in Balinese; Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world, coming from the poop of a Luwak cat. Yes, I paid to drink jungle cat shit. Luwaks eat cherries that have the beans in them, poop them out, and then some poor Indonesian person gets paid to pick through their poop and find them. It’s supposed to make the coffee have a better taste, whether this is true or not I don’t know, although it was VERY good coffee. A cup of Luwak coffee that would cost around $30 in NYC cost 50,000 rupiah (less than $4), and came with a tasting of different teas/coffees that were from Indonesia. One of my favorite things about Indonesia by far was the readily available coffee and tea, especially coming from Thailand where they put Carnation in every beverage and consider powdered espresso to be coffee.
If you plan on sampling Kopi Luwak when visiting Bali, make sure you research the place you’re visiting first. A lot of them treat the Luwak cats unethically, and force them to eat and poop at an alarming speed. We chose to visit Bali Pulina, which ethically treats their cats and had a really nice view of rice terraces.
Confession: I didn’t actually make it to the Mt. Batur hike. By this point in the trip my food poisoning was in full swing, and I could barely get out of bed, much less for a 1:30AM hike.
The point of hiking Mt. Batur so early is that it’s supposed to offer a really pretty sunrise over a neighboring volcano. While I didn’t go myself, my friend went and took pictures on my phone so I would have them. There’s a lot of discussion online about whether or not you need to book a tour group and a guide to do this hike, and you 110% do not. The mountain is super close to central Ubud, it was only about a 20-30 minute ride from our hostel. You can arrange your own private transport ahead of time, and it’s so packed with tourists that it’s impossible to lose sight of the trail. It’s more of a rocky climb than an uphill climb, unlike my hike at Kawa Ijen. Of couse, this is all second hand information from my friends, as I was too busy dying in bed to attend. They said it was gorgeous though, definitely worth waking up so early.
After everyone returned from the hike, we all scarfed down Nasi Goreng and Gado Gado(Indonesian food that will be explained further in a later post), and hopped in our hired cars to drive 5 hours up to the ferry port to Java, for our next adventure at Kawa Ijen.
So there you have it. 4 nights and 5 days in Ubud. We originally didn’t plan on spending so much time there, but we loved Ubud so much that we had to extend our time. Even with 5 days, we were constantly busy, running from temple to temple. I easily could’ve spent a few more days relaxing in Ubud, exploring the downtown area, doing yoga, and trying out the different trendy health food places. It’ll just have to wait until I eventually go back.