Ubud, Bali is one of the places I have heard about a lot in the last few years. With most travellers, and backpackers especially it seems to be right up there with Hoi An, Vietnam in terms of beauty and enchanting appeal.
Having now experienced it myself, I can definitely understand the hype. Like our short sojourn in Singapore, the calm serenity of Bali was a nice shift from the wildness of Vietnam.
Upon arrival in the Denpasar airport, we were picked up by our homestay's driver service. Though I did look into buses and taxis, paying to get picked up by our homestay seemed to be the most reliable option overall.
If you're heading to Bali I would definitely recommend looking into Jati Homestay. No I'm not being paid to say this - I was just more than satisfied with our experience and feel confident recommending it to others.
On our first day in Ubud, we pretty much did nothing... Which was amazing! We slept until one, ate a lot of great food, and went to a much needed yoga class. Originally we had planned to do a sunrise hike on Mt. Babur, but honestly by the time we made it to Bali we were exhausted from various food related maladies from Vietnam, and all of early morning flights (4 in ten days!). If you're looking for a great place to soak in some serenity and just relax, Ubud is the perfect place.
Of course, after the movie 'Eat, Pray, Love' came out many other people got the same idea. Though the area is relatively touristy, it has still managed to hold on to it's local charm - unlike the many places in Thailand or even Kuta (our next destination in Bali). There were no Western shopping outlets, obnoxious bars, or pushy vendors. Like I said, Ubud is the perfect scene for serious relaxation.
On our second day in we decided to do some exploration of the islands many sites and temples. Again, we hired the driving service out of our homestay and spent a few hours meandering around. One of my absolute favourite parts about Bali is the cultural focus on art - especially stonework and sculpting. The entire island is dotted with truly amazing sculptures and the intricate stonework in the many temples was really unbelievable. It blows my mind that people are actually able to pull such beauty from an artistic medium that is, in my mind, so harsh an un-pliable. I'm a pastels and paints girl myself :)
As with many places I've visited in South East Asia, I always have a moment of pause as I move around the temples and various sites. It's such an amazing gift to be able to witness another culture customs in action, but a part of me always wonders if it's crossing some kind of line. Snapping pictures and casually chatting with friends while wandering a holy site... sometimes it just seems disrespectful.
In most of Asia it in uncouth for women to have their chests and shoulder bared in public, a norm am now quite used to living in South Korea. However, in many temples it is also required for everyone to have their legs covered as well - so short shorts or skirts is definitely a no go. Though I do my best to follow those guidelines and be as respectful as possible, the still the niggle of doubt remains.
After visiting the temples we took a detour to see one of the many Balinese coffee plantations. I wasn't sure about this when our guide suggested it, but it actually turned out to be one my favourite stops of the trip. Once at the planation we went on a short guided tour of the plantation. Our guide paused every so often to point out various spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, and cloves, and then told us about how Luwak Coffee is made.
Though I had heard about weasel coffee in Vietnam, Luwak coffee was a novelty to me. Though the process might seem kind of off-putting at first, the coffee it produces is actually quite delicious. In short, the Luwak - a small nocturnal, weasel-like animal - eats un-ripened coffee beans, which don't digest all that well, so when they are pooped out - they come out whole. These beans are then collected, cleaned, roasted, and then ground. I know... it sounds a bit strange, but what digestion does occur significantly changes the color and flavour of the beans, creating a final coffee product that is quite delicious and unique.
Over all, Ubud was one of the highlights of my Vietnam, Singapore, Bali trip. I actually really wish we had had a few more days there to take in some more relaxation - three days just wasn't enough! After leaving Ubud, we headed towards Kuta , which is a far cry from the peace and beauty of Ubud. Though I did get some great beach shots in Kuta, the tourism industry has had a very negative affect on the area and if you are planning a trip to Bali I would suggest spending your time elsewhere. Stick to Ubud, or stray a little further off the beaten path. Bali is a stunning and peaceful country, so wherever you head, you're sure to a beautiful experience.
Have you ever been to Ubud, Bali? What did you think? If you have any suggestions for future travellers, please leave a comment below. And remember, sharing is caring and any 'like,' tweet, or share helps me out a ton :) Thanks for reading!
Enjoy the beautiful view!