After spending over a week on the Gili Islands, we made a two night stop in the much adored Balinese town of Ubud. On first impressions Ubud failed to impress, but we were very open to changing our minds. It might have had a lot to do with the fact we couldn’t explore too far from the main tourist strip, so great was our current and regular need for the toilet. The infamous Bali belly had greeted us with his full hearty handshake.
We had planned on exploring the surrounding countryside, with some lengthy hikes through the terraced rice fields and smaller villages, but we decided to stick close to ‘home’ and see a few of the art galleries and the main temple in the Monkey Forest instead. A place where there is an abundance of monkey families willing to relieve you of any stray food you are careless enough to have bought in your back pack. We sat and watched the animal antics for a while, enjoying the relative quiet of the dense green space. Tourists sprinkling food on their heads for the monkeys to crawl over them becomes slightly more entertaining!
We wandered around the Museum of FIne Arts and the Agung Rai Art Gallery, trying to relate to some of the modern Indonesian art, relishing the traditional styles and appreciating the beautiful gardens and entranceways of the local Balinese houses. The architecture being the impressive part for me – the way the doorways are adorned with religious guardians and decorated with shrine-like respect.
We lashed out and spent $3o AUSD a night on a beautiful room in a traditional homestay – a place that felt like a sanctuary away from the busy main street, hagglers and market. With local masseurs ready to rub you for a mere $5 an hour, we started to see how spending a week or so at a yoga retreat could be a decadent way to spend a little time; and with all the luxury accommodation on offer, Ubud seems more like the kind of place to visit when you’re feeling indulgent and/or in the mood to shop.
We definitely made the most of our brief stop in Ubud, enjoying the cruisy night vibe and endless food options – it just isn’t a place that we would rush back to, mainly because it felt too touristy after the chilled simplicity of the Gili Islands. It’s still a beautiful place that deserves the time to discover all of the out of the way spots and we’ll never say never when it comes to heading back there!
I just wanted to share the stand out things from our stay, the beautiful gardens, a little of the art and the architecture that remains uniquely Balinese: