Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali, is a magical place. While there are plenty of visitors on an Eat-Pray-Love-find-myself-mission, the town’s charm is still intact (and I’m sure it helped that we were not visiting in high season). This tiny town is chocked full of activities — there are rice fields to traverse, temples to visit, traditional dance to relish, art galleries to explore and not to mention classes on just about everything — from yoga and cooking to glass blowing and weaving. Three days is certainly not enough to do everything, and in this chilled out town, it’s easy to just lay low and escape the world.
Since I was arriving in Ubud from Tulamben, I decided to make a couple stops along the way — I visited some rice terraces, which made for a perfect morning, followed by the Tirtagangga Water Palace and then a coffee plantation.
Once in town, I met up with Adriana and we spent the next few days enjoying all that Ubud has to offer. A lot of our visit was about enjoying the culinary scene this little town boasts – you’d be amazed at how many michelin-star-worthy restaurants are around. As we were enjoying the eclectic fusion of flavours, we started to wonder what true Indonesian food really was. So we decided to take a cooking class at Pemulan Balinese Farm Cooking School. A very cool experience — we started our morning with a local visit to the market to learn about the local produce, and then went to the farm to pick some of our greens, before learning how to make a number of traditional dishes — we cooked a mixed vegetable, sweet & sour tempe, pork satay, chicken curry and tuna with sambal.
Besides eating, we took in a few sites — we saw Ubud Palace and the Saraswati Temple. We also spent one morning making our way along the Campuhan Ridge Walk, which is a nice morning stroll ending with a view of the rice fields from Karsa Kafe. And of course, we made a visit to the Sacred Monkey forest. This sanctuary in the middle of Ubud is home to 850 cheeky little monkeys all vying for food. There are six different tribes, so as you walk around, you see everything from playing, mating to fighting. It’s a fun experience to walk around and watch the monkeys.
No visit to Ubud is complete with a visit to the spa. It’s so cheap and the spas are beautiful so it is the perfect way to end any day.
We were also fortunate to be in Ubud for the Balinese Kuningan festival. The Balinese are very spiritual people who honour their gods with daily rituals and offerings. During Kuningan, which occurs every 210 days, the Balinese believe their ancestors return to Earth, so they go to the temple to make an offering before 12 and go later to pick up the remaining parts of the offering. The streets were filled with locals dressed up in traditional clothing and there was also a parade later int the day.