Ahhh Ubud, you little treasure. Ubud is up there on the list of special places, you could say that its more of a feeling than a place. But it is a place. Its definitely a place...
I felt so at home here and very happy. In Ubud it is perfectly acceptable for you to do yoga everyday (sometimes twice a day), have multiple massages and eat out for fresh amazing food for less than it cost in the supermarket. Palm reading, tarot, tantra or neo tantra ; ), spiritual healing, reiki, acupuncture, have a water blessing, ecstatic dance, the list goes on. What I'm trying to say is... Ubud looks after you, it nurtures your soul. Which is probably why it attracts hoards of western spiritual seekers, yogis, digital nomads and ex-pats.
With places like Hubud offering digital nomads a place to co-work and meet other DNs, more and more people are flocking to Ubud to enjoy life from a laptop. I must say it does sound appealing! The cost for a day pass is US$20 or monthly memberships range from US$60 - $275.
I can highly recommend Sayong House (translates to Foggy House) for budget accommodation in Ubud, mine was the pink room 💕. I think it was about IDR 150,000 per night (US$12/AUD$15). Its very central but sits a little way back from the main road so its super quiet. The staff are lovely, they bring breakfast to your room or you are welcome to take it at the pool. It was so nice here we decided to stay an extra night.
HOT TIP: Don't get a taxi from the airport, get your hotel to arrange a driver for you. It is much safer and you won't be ripped off.
Hmmm yoga in Ubud. Where to start?
Lets start with the best, Intuitive Flow was my favourite yoga studio in Ubud. If you want to get away from all the 'nonsense' that western yogis can inflict and practise REAL yoga then here it is and the studio has amazing views over the lush green that is Ubud. Only thing is it is a little out of the centre of town in Penestanan, past the Blanco Museum and you have to walk up a pretty steep cobbled hill for what felt like a while. I was knackered when I got to the top! When I left I found a taxi dude on a scooter and he drove me where I needed to be for like IDR2,000 (About AUD$2.00). I would absolutely LOVE to do teacher training here but its so pricey @ US$4500!!
Foolishly when I arrived in town I went to Radiantly Alive as it was the closest yoga studio and bought a weekly pass, in an attempt to save my pennies. Then I found Intuitive Flow, which I liked better, I don't think I used the last class. It didn't do it for me, it felt more like a session at the gym. I wanted to feel like I was in Bali and I wanted to connect with myself. I think the opening line was 'Why do you practise yoga?? Think about it and now turn to the person on your right and tell them your answer'. Errr how about no? Luckily my pal next to me was also not there to socialise and ignored the instruction. Grrr.
I didn't make it to Yoga Barn although everyone had pretty good things to say about it, but I was kind of feeling like it might be more of the same, although I was curious to try. It is a massive place, with a huge timetable offering every kind of yoga available. I also failed to attend one of the ecstatic dance sessions that take place there. I'm told its like a big rave just without the booze and drugs. Apparently all the locals are going every week. There is a Friday eve class and a Sunday morning class! I don't think I was ready for this amount of embarrassment and I've heard the smell takes a bit of getting used to. I guess the booze and fags usually masks out the BO, but I think scents are also banned. Ahem, Maybe next time!
There is also a lot of shopping to be had in town. In the market, you will need to get your haggle on. I had one woman actually grab me in an attempt to get me to buy a sarong. Everything is cheap and it's nice to help out but keep your wits about you and be careful you're not getting ripped off. My favourite shopping was on Jl.Hanoman and along Jl.Dewisita, you won't find your usual touristy tat here, there are a lot of hand crafted treasures around... I could of spent a fortune, if I wasn't being frugal. I did buy a couple of nice small things and Christmas presents.
Notable places to eat + drink in Ubud:
Restaurant Locavore - Upmarket ethical No1 restaurant in Ubud.
Warung Biah Biah - Favourite Balinese fare, cheap and delicious.
Soma Cafe - Healthy Healthy, organic vegans.
Seeds of Life - Healthy raw food, tea, smoothie bowls, etc
Bali Buda Cafe - Healthy and amazing food store.
Juno's - Best for breakfast + brunch. Sunday open mic night.
Night Rooster Bar - Owned by Locavore. Amazing cocktails.
Ibu Oka Warung - Best place for famous pork belly.
Cafe Lotus - Balinese food, Ubud institution.
Laromana - Tapas bar + late night boozer.
CP Lounge - Late night boozer, nicknamed Creepy's by the ex-pats.
We fell a little bit in love with our driver, Wayan. I mean just look at that face. Wouldn't you? He was amazing and for IDR500,000 (US$40/AUD$50) he is all yours for the day. Sounds sordid? You have a dirty mind, he just took us on a day trip around northern Bali.
We wanted to see a healer, or have a some kind of blessing while we were in Bali, but we didn't want to be spat on with chewed herbs or poked at with sticks. Which is what some Balinese healers do! So Wayan took us out of town to see a high priestess for a water blessing.
Expect to get wet! There were several other groups of people there waiting to be blessed, mostly westerners but there was also a Balinese family. The idea being to let go of any past emotional pain or trauma whilst the HP chants and throws holy water on you. Wayan told us we are supposed to bring it all up as we are with the priestess but I was a little shy with everyone watching! We meditated before and I had a little cry and brought some past issues to the surface that I wanted to let go of.
One of the western couples who went before us put on a spectacular show, screaming and crying and carrying on. It was quite entertaining, where as the Balinese family were pretty quiet and got on with it. I'm not sure if it worked but it was definitely an invigorating experience and I got something out of it for sure. More than just a nice shower ; )
We also chased some waterfalls at Tegenungan Waterfall, which was fun to try to pronounce as well as being very beautiful. Grab yourself a Bintang when you get to the bottom.
Then on to a coffee plantation where we tried loads of different coffee, tea and tobacco. The coffee is called Kopi Luwak, essentially it means the coffee cherry has been eaten, digested and crapped out by a mongoose. When it comes out the other end all that remains is the coffee bean, ready to be roasted. Apparently this is all totally legit and the coffee actually tastes better because of the process.I think during digestion there is a fermentation that happens which reduces the bitterness of the coffee bean creating a better tasting experience for the consumer. Hoorah!
And a visit to the holy water temple Tirta Empul in our sexy sarongs (not meant to be sexy, but hello).
My only worry with Ubud is that us westerners are taking over. The Balinese don't seem to mind too much as tourism is their main source of income but it would be so sad to see Ubud lose its charm.
Don't change Ubud, you're amazing.