I got off the shuttle bus in Ubud and decided to walk the 35 minutes to my hostel. The town is lovely but reminds me of the Hamptons (in a tropical setting) and not Asia. The narrow street Hanonan (one of the main streets) has hippie chic clothing and jewelry stores, spas, vegetarian restaurants and coffee shops, wooden decor and jewelry shops, and yoga and tourist shops. The street was full of white Westerners and the only locals work at the shops, or harass tourists on the street about taxi’s and hotels.
I turned the corner onto Jl. Raya Ubud, the Main Street in Ubud, and was shocked to see a Dairy Queen, Starbucks, Polo Store, etc, intertwined into the locals stores. Ubud is very much a western paradise and not Asian at all. Nevertheless it is nice and has incredible food, and yoga places/ spas galore.
I stayed at In Da Lodge hostel which is just off the main road at the far end. The hostel is also hippie chic with brick walls, gray shutters and copper metal accents. There’s a bar/restaurant lounge area and a pool area with bean bag chairs to lounge. I stayed there with my two New Zealand friends that I met in Gili.
After checking in I headed back to town to Dewa Warung, a local restaurant written about in Lonely Planet but was also recommended to me. The local restaurant has sturdy long wooden communal tables and looks much nicer than local places I am used to. Everything in Ubud is nicer for westerners. I had my first watermelon juice in a long time, along with tofu in tomato sauce.
On my way back I stopped for a wax and a foot massage. The woman opened a tall foil sheet next to one of the beds to curtain me from the street window. She then heated the wax on the stove and applied the wax with a spatula. As for the massage I slept through the whole thing.
We went to go to the famous Kecak Ramayana and Fire Dance show that night. The performance is 100+ men choir singing without instrumental accompaniment. There’s a story line about a monkey army going into battle, and someone dies, but even with the scene description we had no idea what was going on. The choir chanted the same tone over and over and then there were the actors- a few men monkeys and a few traditionally dressed girls. At the end of the play there was the fire scene- a man/horse kicked around lite embers for a good ten minutes while the men chanted. The horse has something to do with trance.
The next morning the NZ girls and I went to Dewa for lunch, then walked through the market to shop. I had wanted to buy a sarong but they were all cheap feeling and had print on only one side. I ended up being one thin cover-up dress but nothing else. All the merchants were incredible aggressive and grabby- I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Then we went to Monkey Forest, a sanctuary in the town. The forest is pretty small but pretty. There are loose monkeys everywhere. We saw a mom and dad money sleeping holding their child. We also saw a newborn which had patchy hair.
Walking home along Monkey forest street we stopped at L.O.L. for happy hour, 2 for 1 mojitos. I tried the watermelon and the mango and both were delicious. For dinner we went to Rouge Sushi which was not what I expect from a sushi restaurant. The interior looked like a club lounge, then there was a live jazz band, and they serve Japanese food but no saki. But the sushi was quality and the music was good. I had a super deluxe sashimi.
After we went to CP Lounge. We did a rainbow shot round, played pool and smoked chocolate shisha.
In the morning I hired a motorbike to take me to some temples. After negotiating with three drivers I finally got one for a decent price- more than I wanted to pay but not outrageous. The driver had a million excuses for needing more money: he gets tired driving, it’s so far, he gets hot, etc. I replied that if he gets tired driving three hours then he shouldn’t be a taxi driver.
First we drove almost two hours north to Pura Besakih, the mother temple. It’s considered the number one temple in Bali. The temple is about 600m up hill from the parking lot. I was harassed at the bottom to get a guide,which I refused (I already bought an entrance ticket.) On my walk up a local stopped and offered me and ride saying he was on his way up. At the top he said he would be my guide and when I told him no he started yelling at me to give him money for the ride. I lost my temper and yelled back. I always forget that locals in tourist areas are never being genuinely nice, they always want money.
The temple is on the side of Mount Agung and has a nice view of the surrounding mountains. The temples are wooden and stone and the roofs have multiple tiers. I was told that without a guide I wouldn’t be able to enter the temple; however, I could see inside from the outside so it was not a problem.
The next temple we went to was Tirta Empul, the Holy Water Temple. I ended up never paying for a ticket because I couldn’t find the booth. The temple was a lot smaller than I expected. The main attraction is the Holy Spring, which is holy water and used for purification. Locals bathe in the pool, as do some tourists. I wish I knew about the bathing before as I would have worn a bathing suit, or brought a change of clothes.
After that temple we drove back to Ubud through the Ubud Rice Terraces. I did a very late lunch at Warung Biah Biah. I got traditional Indonesian small plates- one coconut chicken and one water spinach. Both were cold and not that great. The restaurant was crowded though so it surprised me that the food was bad. After I stopped into Tukies Coconut Cafe for a fresh coconut.
Later I went to Borneo 8 for dinner with some new people from my hostel. I had sautéed water spinach with broccoli. The portions were small and the shrimp was almost non-existent, and it wasn’t cheap compared to the other local place I’ve found and loved. Then later we went back to CP Lounge.
The next day I went back to Dewa for a third time for lunch. I had a nice chat with the couple sitting at my table, a young Argentina guy and his husband from New Zealand. After lunch I had the worst massage of my life. The lady obviously had no training and just rubbed different parts of my body for two minutes at a time. After the dreadful expletive I walked around for a few hours.
I had been planning to gift shop when I set out for the day; however, the real stores are expensive and not unique, and the market is a nightmare. I ended up just buying the hand carved buffalo skull I had wanted for myself, which I’m having shipped home.
The next day was one of the NZ girls bday’s. We started the day buy having a local lunch at Ayu Warung where I had the tofu curry. We then went to Lily Spa for massages. I had a Balinese massage and shared a bungalow with a male Canadian friend of ours. They definitely thought we were a couple. After the massage I had a Balinese coffee shot at Atman Cafe. I was served a small plate with a shot of coffee, a glass of ice, a shot of simple syrup that tasted like dulce, and a teaspoon with a bit of sea salt. I mixed all the ingredients in the cup and finished by drinking the dulce straight. It was delicious.
At 9pm a group of us went to dinner at Taco Casa, a Mexican restaurant everyone raves about. I had the shrimp fajitas and a carafe of sangria. The food was by no means authentic but fresh and delicious, although the shrimps weren’t jumbo and they were overcooked. After dinner we all headed to CP lounge for a night of stage dancing. It was my third time there and the first night it was packed.
The next morning we checked out. I went for a last lunch at Dewa and got the avocado salad and my tofu dish for the last time. I then went to pay for my carved horse skull (my decor treat for myself) and had it shipped home. We spent the rest of the early afternoon by the pool before taking a taxi to Seminyak.