If I had to define Bali in just one word I would choose welcoming. This beautiful island in Indonesia has a unique and strong personality and its inhabitants are always smiling. They are nice, quiet and happy.
For this trip Thomas and I decided to make two stops: one stay in Ubud and another in Nusa Lembongan, an island 30 km from Bali and reachable by boat.
Ubud has been Bali’s preeminent centre for fine arts, dance and yoga for more than a century. The area is almost 300 metres above sea level and surrounded by rice fields and volcanic hills, which makes it noticeably beautiful.
While in Ubud we wandered around the streets, enjoyed the market, bought a few ceramics and wooden spoons for my props collection, made a cooking workshop in a local farm and we also had the opportunity to see a traditional Balinese dance in the Ubud Palace. Who follow me on Instagram have already seen some of the videos on Stories.
One day we went on an excursion outskirts of Ubud to visit two temples, a coffee plantation and one of the volcanoes called Batur. The most typical way to move around the island is to hire a driver and agree the tour with him. I wouldn’t recommend hiring a car as GPS does not work most of the times and there are very few signals in the road.
Besides, having a private driver just for you is super convenient and really cheap (we payed 40€ for the whole day!). He was also a guide as he explained to us a lot about the Balinese traditions and gave explanations during the visit to the temples.
What you cannot miss if you stay in Ubud
1.Campuhan Ridge Walk: Escape from the bustle & hustle in Ubud and make this nice walk surrounded by rice fields. I suggest going in the early morning as you’ll find fewer people and fewer mosquitos too! Stop to drink some coconut water in one of the small stands along the walk.
2.Visit the Tegalalang rice fields. Preferably in the early morning to avoid the crowds and take a nice picture from the top. You can admire beautiful scenes of the rice paddies involving the Subak, a traditional cooperative irrigation system in Bali. According to history these were passed down by a revered holy man named Rsi Markandeya in the 8th century. Others which are worth a visit: Jatiluwih, Jambul, Sideman and Rendang.
3.Visit the Tirta Empul Temple. If you are not a big fan of temples or you are staying a few days in the area then choose this one. It’s impressive to see the space where they go to purificate. First a small pray, then they drink some water and finally, they wet their heads. You will not be disappointed to see this ritual in person.
4.Buy tickets to see a Balinese dance in the Ubud palace. There are more places to see the dance but the fact this is held in a palace makes it even more special. The show lasts for one hour and it costs 100k rupias (about 6€).
5. Go to the Monkey Sacred Forest. You could see monkeys living in freedom in more than 12 hectares of forest. But please do not harass them as after all we are the ones visiting their area. They do not like us looking directly into the eyes and if you want to take pictures do it with discretion.
I take the opportunity now that I am writing this to let you know there are no elephants sanctuaries in Bali. Although some local companies say so, it’s not true. Many people are unaware of the suffering these animals have gone through. You can read more information about this here.
6.Go for a massage! In Bali you are going to see so many bars and restaurants as massage centers (they call them spas though). Most of the massages we had cost us 6€ for an hour but one day we even had one for 2.5€!
7.Eat in an organic restaurant. One of the things I loved about Ubud is that they have many organic and vegetarian restaurants. I was told to go to Sari Organik and it was one of the best meals I had during our trip. You have a long but nice walk from the centre to arrive here but the rice field views and the food are worth it!
8.Do some yoga. Or go to a meditation class. Bali is famous also for these two disciplines and appeal to people worldwide interested in yoga or meditation course.
9.Visit a nearby island. Skip Kuta, too crowded and full of crazy and drank tourists, and head to Sanur to take a boat to a neighbour island. You can choose between Nusa Lembongan, Gili Islands or Lombok. We chose the group of Nusa islands as we were told these were the less crowded and still really beautiful. We were not disappointed and I will talk about Lembongan in a future post.
10.Enjoy a rijstaffel. This Indonesian rice table consists in many side dishes served in small portions of meat, chicken and vegetables, some spicy others not, and accompanied by different types of rice. Its origins were Dutch colonial and you will find this in many restaurants along The Netherlands too.
We had it in Bridges Bali and we loved it, but you need to book it in advance and it’s only served for lunch. There is a vegetarian version too.
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