The most useful piece of advice I can give anyone traveling to Ubud is to take ear plugs. Being at one with nature is somewhat inconvenient at times, especially when trying to sleep. It’s not just the sounds from the wildlife though, depending on where you stay accommodation is quite close together in amongst streets where locals live and where there are restaurants or bars. Therefore you can often hear family life, children crying, dogs barking and the music playing in the bars which goes on until the early hours.
However, the noise aside Ubud is a very enchanting place. This was my third visit and again I am slightly mesmerised by what I’ve seen. Every trip is different to the last and each time I find new hidden little gems. I can see why this place captures your heart.
For the first three days I stayed on Bisma street, which I had never discovered previously and so glad that I have now. I had a basic room at Rico Amerta,http://www.ricoamerta.com surrounded by beautiful views of the rice fields. It was at the lower end of Bisma st which you can take a short cut through to Monkey forest st/road. Two minutes walk was a fantastic spa called Puri spa, a Balinese 80 minute massage cost 100,000 rp (roughly £5). You were given a glass of water, cold towel and a foot bath on arrival. After massage you could shower and use all the products, then you were given ginger tea and biscuits. Needless to say I went there on each of the three days. Bisma st does seem to have quite an array of spas so lots of choice. There are also some nice looking eateries but I only managed to try cafe des artistes http://www.cafedesartistesbali.com which had a great menu selection, more on the pricer side of the rupiah but packed with customers and really attentive staff.
As I tend to do most of my exploring on foot, my first afternoon I took a left out of Bisma st onto Jalan Raya Ubud and ended up at the old Dutch bridge crossing the Campuhan river, which has a nice view spot. I then proceeded on up hill where I saw a sign for a cafe called Alchemy which a friend had recommended, so I thought I would try and find it. After a walk up some daunting steps, through little pathways, some forest, across a small river and into some rice fields, then out onto a road I found it.
Alchemy, screamed healthiness. Completely organic and vegan cafe which had a great salad bar which you could design your own. Healthy juice bar, plus lots of other organic sweet and savoury delights. I opted for the freshly squeezed apple and lime juice and a Greek salad with almond feta. It was very tasty and the salad bowl was huge. The clientele were those in yoga pants and then those like me (all 2 of us). Great place when you want to eat something other than rice or noodles and you left feeling like you just had a massive spoonful of goodness. http://alchemybali.com
During my stay I visited a few of the typical tourist places such as the monkey forest, Blanco Renaissance museum, Puri Lukisan museum which I won’t go into detail about as so much info online but all definitely worth a visit.
A few places I would recommend:
Nacivet photography gallery http://www.nacivet.com some stunning black and white shots.
Kismet – for coffee and downstairs a funky boutique selling clothes and jewellery (can’t find a website).
Laughing Buddha http://laughingbuddhabali.com live music, tasty selection of Spanish and Asian tapas and really yummy lychee and lemongrass martini.
Three Monkeys http://threemonkeyscafebali.com/ubud/ visited here twice now. Delicious ginger prawn salad and chicken and avocado salad. This seems to be a pretty popular place, nice chilled atmosphere.
Xl Shisha lounge http://www.xlshishalounge.com across football field from monkey forest st. Great band playing called Bali Bull. Apparently live music played every night, had a good vibe and loved the Moroccan style decor.
After my three nights in Ubud I then went on to stay at a wellbeing resort in the jungle just outside Ubud in Tegallalang called Bagus Jati
http://www.bagusjati.com. Set in the jungle, tranquil and beautiful surroundings. No detail has been forgotten in the landscaping of this place, there was flora and fauna in abundance. A place you can actually see the stars shine bright, hear the birds singing loudly, along with other various sounds coming from the jungle. I had a four night “new start” package which was focused on healthy eating, relaxation with options to do yoga, mediation and four spa treatments included. No Bintang!!!
This was quite an indulgent thing for me to do but something I had always fancied trying and Bali seemed the perfect place to indulge. After taking in how beautiful the setting was, I was taken to my room which was up on a hill looking out to the jungle. The room was rather luxurious, the bathroom itself was bigger than my apartment I had in Seminyak and I felt like I should probably be on my honeymoon as it was that kind of place. Still the only romantic encounter I had was a mosquito biting my boob.
As most of my friends and previous work colleagues know, I am not a morning person and the thought of getting up for Yoga at 7am remained a thought and I never made it on any of the days. However I did have a private session one afternoon with a nice Balinese man called Nyoman. I’m quite skeptical about the whole yoga thing and I admire people that do it and love it, just not convinced it’s for me. Firstly I don’t look good in yoga pants and secondly I find it really hard to concentrate. We did Ashtanga yoga for an hour and a half. When we were doing the warm down I found this particularly amusing. Nyoman told me to lie on my back then he covered me in a blanket. He then proceeded to take on the voice of The Count from sesame street and talked about releasing the energy from various parts of my body including my “sexual place” and “becoming at one with the universe”. At this point I lost it and was biting my lip hard so I wouldn’t laugh out loud as really didn’t want to offend the guy. Needless to say, I don’t think yoga is my thing.
Included in my package was a cooking class. I so miss having a large kitchen of my own and all the necessary utensils to create culinary wonders. Still I have gotten used to the one gas ring style of cooking I do here now. The class was really enjoyable, I was taken around the grounds to pick some of the vegetables and herbs I would be using in the dishes and then went on to make a starter, main and dessert. Dishes included a Balinese green salad with garlic dressing, vegetable and tofu coconut curry and a banana and coconut crepe. All vegetarian, deliciously tasty dishes that I can’t wait to try and replicate again.
One morning I did a three hour trek through the jungle, which was quite an eye opener. I must have sounded like an excited child when I spotted bananas and mangoes growing in there natural environment. I also saw vanilla pods, coffee plants, avocados, wild raspberries, cloves and chillies amongst many other things. Buddha my guide pointed out plants from the ground you could pick and eat, those you should avoid and those that were good if you were sick. Therefore I now feel pretty confident I can give Bear Grylls a run for his money on how to survive in the jungle. Although I don’t recommend wearing shorts or trekking sandels when exploring as I was covered in scrapes and bites by the end of it.
The spa was something else, the ladies working there were lovely, the treatments fantastic. My particular favourite was a Balinese massage followed by a clove, ginger, brown rice and coconut milk scrub which I was then wrapped in banana leaves and left to heat up for 15 minutes. My skin afterwards felt like silk.
All the food that was included in the package was delicious and healthy, a mix of vegetarian, soups, chicken and seafood. The breakfasts were great with various options of fruit, eggs, fresh juices. I think I had consumed more ginger though in the four days there than I have in my entire life. It seemed to sneak into everything, fruit cleansers, ginger tea, iced tea, salads, seafood with ginger. Still I’m sure it did me some good.
I probably spent a whole months budget staying at this place but can honestly say I felt awesome when I left and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had and would highly recommend. The only thing that I can fault it for is constantly playing Celine Deon in the restaurant each evening, my heart will go on and on and on and on and on……
On my way back to Ubud I wanted to do a slight detour and stop at one of the Elephant Safari parks http://www.elephantsafariparklodge.com. I had heard really good things and although I’m still unsure how I feel about elephants being kept in Safari parks for tourists to snap away at all day and sit on them for treks through the jungle, I wanted to see them for myself. At 700,000 rp entrance fee with elephant ride (£30) someone was making a great deal of money from this set up. The story goes that 18 elephants were rescued from Sumatra and bought to this park away from danger. In fairness I don’t know the full story and I’m going on what people have told me but I’m sure if you googled it something would come up. The elephants appeared to be healthy, as for happy how would you know?! Seeing those with a chain around one ankle was quite upsetting but I was assured by the staff that they were comfortable and they had to be there for the safety of the people. Obviously as they are wild animals after all and you can’t predict what a 4 tonnes bull would do if free to roam the grounds on its own accord. All that said they truly are gorgeous creatures, feeding the baby elephant who was 18 months was really lovely and the real highlight of the visit for me.
Love, love, love Ubud and can’t wait to go back again as still so much to see and do.