It has long been an idea of ours, or even a dream to go to Ubud and soak up the culture, majesty and beauty of the place…so that’s exactly what we did! With our friends Dom and Amy still in tow it was time to lead ourselves and them through inner Bali to the land of ‘self enlightenment’ or something as long those lines….
Again, on a bit of a tight schedule as we wanted to stay with Dom and Amy for the duration of their holiday we had 3 days to explore and discover everything Ubud had to offer. This involves planning. Lots of planning, otherwise you will end up not seeing anything and being bewildered by how much there is to do and see. Unfortunately, this time it meant we had to miss some things off the list but below is what we managed to fit in!
First things first we needed to find accommodation, which is some mean feat when you arrive in Ubud. There is an abundance of home stays, hotels and bungalows which can be quite overwhelming if you have no idea where you are or what your looking for (like us). We decided the best thing for it was to walk up Jalan Hanoman (where Dom and Amy had been dropped off) and see what we found. We hit the jackpot after about 3 different negotiations when we walked into the beautiful Warini Bungalows (Review to follow). Accommodation found, we converged at a nearby cafe to make a plan for the rest of the day. With Monkey Forest nearby we couldn’t resist starting with the obvious Ubud attraction and having a chase around with the monkeys. On the aptly named Monkey Forest Road (not hard to find as its one of the main streets) we found our way to the entrance and paid the rather pricey entrance of 40k. (Tip; walk to the exit and it looked as though you could simply walk in without paying as there are no guards or huts!).
It was busy in there and we aren’t just talking about the abundance of monkeys…. There are literally hundreds of people throwing bananas around and screaming when a monkey gets angry that they wont feed it. A pretty strange environment to be honest and feels more like a Jurassic Park style cage than it does a wild forest with natural inhabitants. Still, its something that everyone has to do when you visit Ubud (if you like monkeys that is) and if you manage to find a spot where there aren’t tourists trying to catch or feed a monkey it can actually be quite a serene setting. Be careful though, these monkeys are wise…anything hanging out of your torso or bag will be snapped up very quickly whether it be food or a GoPro and you’ll often see crazed people running around trying to get their belongings back….hard to tell who the monkeys are sometimes!
The ‘ordeal’ ticked off and all of us suitably stressed out it was time to relax, sit back with a Bintang and experience the famous Ubud cafe scene.
We couldn’t possibly recommend one to you here as there are so many doing exactly the same thing throughout the main streets of Ubud. All (mostly) with chilled, bohemian style wooden interiors, soft seating and chilled tunes. Look around wherever you are and see a haze travellers, expats and locals sipping on a juice and soaking up the atmosphere! You can lose yourself for an afternoon or a whole day doing this, so just wander around and sit down in somewhere you like! Awesome…
Our ancient guide book we picked up told us of a great Warung at the eastern end of Jalan Raya Ubud, so we thought if it was still there maybe it was still a must visit. It didn’t disappoint so we thought we would write a separate recommendation to tell you all about it. Check it out in reviews soon!
The next morning was set aside for an epic adventure of the cycling variety. It turned out to be epic indeed but our legs certainly didn’t thank us for that after *cough* 2 months of no exercise. We hired bikes from a stall on the street for 25k a piece for the day and we set off on our route from Jalan Hanoman to Tegalalang rice fields. We had put the route in the map and happy with the 11k on a bike we all agreed,…easy! Lets get this straight, its definitely not a ‘hard’ cycle ride but the steady incline all the way with gears that dont really work makes it a rather long and sweaty affair! Take water. Don’t do it in the middle of the day. Make sure your gears work. Try and enjoy the surrounding scenery. And…once you arrive its so worth the ride you will forget all about your aching behind and be lost in greenery undulating before you.
Feeling sorry for themselves the girls decided that the only thing to get them over the ‘treacherous’ bike ride would be to go and get a hour and a half full body massage and the boys a Bintang and some sport.
It just so happened (by no coincidence at all) that the same day was the State of Origin rugby union match so the boys headed to what they were told by some Aussies was the best sports bar in town; The Melting Pot.
Being in Ubud for even two days you will find yourself getting lost in its spiritual culture and calm surroundings. So feeling as though we should mirror this and really release those inner chis we thought what better way to start a day than with an hour and a half session of Yoga. We chose the Radiantly Alive studio (unashamedly because the class was at 10am and not the eye watering 7am) and of course joined up for the beginners class all being complete novices but eager to learn.
Our Indonesian instructor Adi, however, strolled in nonchalantly and immediately we could tell that this wasn’t going to be for the faint hearted. Our hamstrings and backs screaming at us after one too many downward dogs and a burning body later we had endured a fantastic class. Looking out over the rice paddies, we were gently taken through all of the beginner poses and even a short routine we could try ourselves. After some closing meditation where you would be the odd one out if you didn’t fall asleep we left felling well…quite radiant and surprisingly alive!
It was well worth the 100k for the session and even left us thinking we were yoga pro’s ready to take on the hardest class. That was until the next day when our bodies realised what we had done and we thought maybe some more practice was in order…yogi’s in the making…watch this space!
Here we will let the pictures do most of the talking….
Jungle fish costs 100k per person for entry and this includes a towel and a sun-lounger (if available). Yes, its expensive for a budget backpacker but its also well worth it for an afternoon of indulgence and pure relaxation in an amazing infinity pool and jungle setting.
We planned this day of relaxation in advance, however, should we ever do it again we would flip it around and do Jungle Fish in the morning. There is only one reason for this and that’s sun-worshipping. The sun shines on the pool all morning and early afternoon until about 4pm when it goes behind the building/trees. Still amazing, but not as hot for those who you who, like us, love the sunshine! The taxi there should cost about 80k, which we thought was pricey so if you have a moped definitely use it! Otherwise do as we did and walk back (you can even walk there too if your feeling particularly active!). It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to walk back into central Ubud and we happened to stumble onto the end of the Campuhan Ridgeway walk too, so we killed two excellent birds with one stone and were very happy with ourselves!
Tegenungan waterfall is very touristic and busy with tour busses but great all at the same time. Its 10k entry per person and that allows you to walk down the side of the cliff (steep but all proper stairs) to the waterfall itself. We got there at about 11am and it was already jam packed with people taking all sorts of pictures and jumping in the pool at the base of the waterfall.
Not too many people however were actually venturing under the water’fall’ itself so when we did it felt like we were the only ones there! If you take your GoPro under however be sure to hold it tight as its a powerful thing and could easily take you by surprise…but that’s obvious, right?
Climb up the mud slope to the second tier and see the majesty of the water crashing down over the rocks before going even further up right to the top where you can witness the start of the powerful flow. Great pics to be had all round and we stayed for at least a couple of hours basking in the sun and splashing around in the water!
It takes about 20 minutes to scooter or 45 minutes on a bicycle so choose your vice and enjoy a morning daring yourself to put your head under the torrent of water!
There was only one thing to do on our last afternoon in Ubud before shooting off to the Gili’s and that was to look around the abundance of beautiful Balinese temples on your doorstep. All are free to get into so plan a route and jump on your scooter. The water temple is a great scene at night with the lotus flowers floating across the water (there’s also a good restaurant looking over the water), as well as the still inhabited Ubud Palace.
For now, Ubud was done with but we will definitely back to explore everything we didn’t get a chance to see this time around!
Until next time Ubud!
C & J