5 days in the cultural centre of Bali
Our second stop on our Bali tour took us to the cultural epicentre of Ubud. Our hotel, The Ubud Wana Resort, was on a quiet road just south of Monkey Forest. The main town could be accessed by a cut-through which traced the east boundary of the forest. Unfortunately as this was the only way to get around the forest other than a 2 mile detour it was popular with scooters. Very popular! However this was not the only hazard. The monkeys had worked out that carrier bags equal goodies. We discovered this the first time we tried to get something from the supermarket in town back to our hotel!
The monkeys don’t appear to stray far from the forest, but they can be found in and around businesses on the immediate outskirts, so keep your wits about you.
We were in a bar one night when no sooner had the locals had set out the offerings, and finished blessing them when a group of monkeys arrived and tore them to pieces. Anyway, enough about monkeys, there’s so much more to Ubud.
We followed a little hand written sign, set amongst the shops and restaurants in the main town, which read “Rice Fields”. We were a little sceptical at first, suspecting we had been duped by the cunning of some local entrepreneur as we followed a makeshift trail that flanked what looked like store buildings. However the trail eventually did open up into the promised rice fields and we spent the rest of the day being repeatedly awestruck by the endless beauty of Bali.
The town itself was almost as easy on the eye. Stonemasonry, floristry and carpentry are clearly flourishing trades here. Blossoming trees and flowers fight for space between temples and private properties boasting resplendent shrines and stonework.
It’s not difficult to see why Ubud is so popular with people trying to find themselves. Despite my almost debilitating British reserve I must admit that on our final night, as we sat in the Bali Bohemia on open-mic night, surrounded by dreadlocks and elephant pants, listening to traditional flute music interspersed with Mongolian throat singing, I felt something.
Fortunately before I had a “moment” the next act got up to do some spoken word poetry, and the cynicism returned like a cherished friend. Phew that was close!
Ubud is awesome. The rice fields are breathtakingly beautiful, and the streets are abundant with ornate stonework, and flowers. It’s an absolute festival for the eyes. It also has a really nice vibe. Kind of a resort feel, but very laid back. There are some great places to eat and some really cool bars. Sure Ubud has more than it’s fair share of “Eat, pray, love” wannabes, but don’t let that deter you. Cliché spotting only adds to the fun. And did I mention the monkeys?
Have you been to Ubud? We’d love to hear about your experience. Ask us a question, or leave a comment below.
And if you want to hear more about our adventures in Bali, check out part 1 – Seminyak and the west coast.