My original plan for Ubud was to jam-pack it with as many activities as humanly possible. Gotta get that whole cultural experience right? Everything from the herbal walk tours, to the bike tours, to countryside hike tour. I pretty much thought it was all set in stone with a little less than an hour between morning and evening activities. I also had only planned 3 nights there.
Well, the moment you set foot in the city, you realize that if Portland and Machu Picchu had a child, they would name it Ubud. And no truer words have ever been spoken, my friend. Thanks to all of the Eat, Pray, Love junkies (I myself being one of them), it has morphed into a pristinely maintained ancient city with locals hand-weaving their textiles, but remains filled to the brim with yogis with messy buns tied to the tops of their head and the occasional “I’m going to try to pull off that I actually live here” hipster that slips out his Macbook at the Starbucks in the center of town. Yes, its touristy. ESPECIALLY in July. Yes, there are people in their Bintang Beer tanks who haven’t showered in a solid week belligerently meandering around. No, the locals are not going to adorn you with attention for being the first white person they’ve ever seen. But there is something about this place that makes you want to change your jam-packed schedule, to one where the only thing you have arranged to do is total R&R.
My first impression of the city was awe regarding the fact at how absolutely EVERYTHING is carved, sculpted, and decorated. I find that a lot of the beauty in Bali is due to the fact that every building, whether it be the little shop with a little man selling his paintings, the $18 hotel room you booked, or the glamorous restaurant seated right in front of the palace, has every square inch ornately decorated. Every column is adorned with some intriguing carving, every entryway is accompanied by ominous statues. Balians have been paying attention to minute detail for centuries, and it shows.
I think the majority of people know that Indonesia is mostly a Muslim country. In fact, it is the country with the greatest concentration of Muslims. However, Bali is an exception. Nearly the entire population is Hindu. It is impossible not to notice, as their culture is heavily intertwined with it. Ganesha is the elephant Hindu god that often greets you at people’s doorways, as he is the protector god. You can also find the little offerings pictured below laying around everywhere–just Balians way of thanking the gods for their day.
I’m a museum junkie. Always have been, always will be. Whether you are or not, the grounds are still beautiful and it is easy to drop in and out. I will warn you that the price is twice as high as listed in the LP–I am assuming because of high season in July. It seems that most tourist attractions were like that **grumble, grumble** You did get a free drink with the purchase of your museum ticket though..so that’s always a good thing.
Another thing adding to Ubud’s charm is all of the mysterious, yet inviting passageways and alleys. The place is begging you to explore.
The cafes and restaurants are divine. At least the settings. Each one seems to be trying to outdo the next. If your wondering about Balian food, its pretty good…Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian all still have it beat as far as Asian food goes…but its spicy and unique, both pluses. In Ubud, expect to pay American prices. But the atmosphere….man, you can’t beat it.
Every post needs a good story…so allow me to share with you my Javanese massage experience. As soon as you walk outside your hotel, you are instantly bombarded with girls yelping “Spa? Spa? Mass-aaa? Mass–aaa?” It is almost impossible to not give in after a while. I settled for nur Salon. “Settled” is certainly not the right word, as it was absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous inside. The package included an hour long Javanese massage and then a 30 minute scrub and flower petal bath soak. Sounds heavenly. I am led into this small open-aired room with a bed and a bathtub. The walls went up to my nose. Peeping Tom’s would have a heyday. The little old Balinese lady tells me to undress. Doesn’t bother to leave. Typical Asian–everybody is family, right? I get down to the typical when she says I need to take off everything. Sooo as I remove every last bit of clothing, I find myself chillin’ buck naked with a little old Balinese lady and am directed to lie down on table while she massaged my body. And when I say she massaged my body, I’m talking about my WHOLE body. She didn’t miss one square inch. Real up close and personal. Me being the immature American desperately tried not to burst out into hysteric laughter throughout the entire thing. The massage was followed by a “scrub” where the lady literally bathed me. The last 15 minutes were spent chillin in the bath tub filled with hot water and flower petals. It was quite the experience. I mean, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy every minute of it, I was just a bit…surprised.
Yes, yes I know. Ubud is the culture hub of Bali. Therefore to get the whole cultural experience you have to give in to seeing a traditional Balinese dance. There are about a million to choose from every night. I just went for the cheapest, and boy was I entertained. It was quite the show.
Watch my short video 🙂
Despite all of the the magic that Ubud surrounds you with and all of the distractions the city provides, the people don’t let you forget you are still in SE Asia.