Ubud, Bali - culture, chaos and beauty!
Oh my, what a place. Last year we did a retreat in Ubud but didn’t have enough time to explore the town and the surrounding areas. I am so glad for this trip we gave ourselves enough time to really explore and get a sense of this amazing little place.
However, let’s get real for a second, Bali is stunning and incredible but all we ever see is the beautiful resorts, the stunning views and scenery (like the advertising for the Rio Olympics, oh did that go down a treat with the locals), which it does have, but we don’t see the real side of Bali showcased.
Ubud is very much like this, it is such a cultured and stunning place and it has incredible sights around it, but the real side of the town isn’t shown in most pictures. The broken tiled sidewalks, the rubbish EVERYWHERE in the town and the chaos and noise of a crowded and bustling little town.
Despite all of this, the locals love their town and they are the most loving people we have come across, you also come across amazing little gems as you walk throughout the chaotic little town.
So, onto the beautiful stuff....
Our resort, The Umari was amazing. Simple and quiet and the people are so welcoming and lovely. It’s a small resort on one of the main roads, you wouldn’t even know it existed. You walk up a tiny little path and walk into an oasis that is green, serene and peaceful. For only $50NZD a night, including a small breakfast and pool you can’t go wrong. It’s less than 1km walk into the centre of Ubud, which was the perfect distance for us to get moving every day and not rely on taxis or a scooter to get around. Four days of averaging 15km of walking definitely gave us our workout!
We planned a bit more adventure and sight-seeing in Ubud to really explore and experience the culture. Oh, and the food – Yum (separate Bali eats blog to come). Last time we missed out on rice paddie exploring and the opportunity to head out into the country side, so we made it a priority to spend time doing it this trip. We also wanted to make yoga a daily regular at The Yoga Barn, which didn’t disappoint! (photos on my Insti too)
Campuhan Ridge Walk
The Campuhan is a beautiful little walk about four kms out and back and is easily walkable from the centre of the town (about 1.5kms away). It’s not an overly strenuous walk, but my word, it is haaaaard when it’s 9am and it already feels like 50 degrees outside!!
Be prepared with (natural) sunscreen and take plenty of water. We would also recommend getting super touristy giant hats to shield your pretty face, your little ears and the back of the neck that so many of us tend to forget about.
GREEN GREEN GREEN is all you see for miles. Walking along the ridge is so peaceful and calming that you forget that you’re a few short kms away from the beeping and chaos of little Ubud. Kyle got some awesome shots of the walk and with mad skills made a cool video (learning that seems too hard to me).
I’ve seen shots of people heading out on the walk before sunrise which I would also recommend if you’re super pumped by that kind of view :)
E-Bike Tour of Ubud & Rice Paddies
While looking through Tripadvisor to see what we should do, we came across a bicycle tour of Ubud on e-bikes (100% recommend through the back streets). The tour is about four hours, includes pick up and drop off and a small lunch to finish off.
They take you through unseen small villages of Ubud and you get to bike through rice paddies!!!! What a bloody dream! There was a slight breeze which creates the most beautiful sound as it wisps through the crop and you’re surrounded by endless views of greenery.
You see all the farm owners keeping watch of pesky birds trying to eat the rice and you witness the women of the village working together to harvest the rice (manually!!! Apparently best to do this when angry so you can hit the rice crops harder haha).
Rice farming in Bali is getting smaller as the younger generation don’t want to become farmers and take over from their parents. The Balinese also don’t export as much rice overseas, so rice farming is now mostly done to feed each village and they work together to plant, grow and harvest the rice. It is also done mostly by retired Balinese who do it as a way to keep active and social when they have stopped working.
The next stop is the temple which is right next to a high school. It’s always amazing to stop by temples here and learn about the religion and tradition they hold so dearly. A lot of Hindu belief resonates with us, so we love hearing them talk about it.
Every 210 days in Balinese culture they celebrate a new year, so you actually get two to three birthdays a year! How cool! On your Balinese birthday however, you don’t get cake or presents, you head to the temple and give your gratitude to the gods (just as wonderful). Ajuse, our guide is 22 and he’s also 44 (apparently the women hate it because they get older a lot quicker). The sad part about visiting this temple was how much rubbish surrounded it :(, but it was still a beautiful place (even when gigantic ants are crawling and biting you!)
You continue biking through the villages, through rice paddies and head to the midway stop at the UNESCO world heritage rice paddie terraces.
What a sight to see. The photos don’t do it justice, it’s a must see in real life! You can also do small tours that take you down into the site and walk around between each of the fields.
The final stop on our way back to get lunch is the Kopi Luwak coffee factory. Have you heard of Kopi Luwak before?? It’s coffee beans that are swallowed by Lemurs (Luwaks) and then pooped out (hehehe).
Once the poop is dried, the poop is broken open to get out the coffee bean (the lemurs don’t chew them, only swallow), the bean is then left to dry again, then roasted and then either kept as beans or ground down. This is ALL done manually!! Which is why Luwak coffee is so expensive. It tastes fantastic (even though it’s been pooped out). We would highly recommend giving it a try. The little lemurs are totally adorable too! These are just the ones they have on site; the rest are in the wild where the workers go searching for poops! Hehe.
We have fallen even more in love with Ubud this time around and we will definitely be back! If you’ve never been to Ubud before, put this on your list! The people, the culture and the hustle and bustle is worth getting to know and embracing!
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- TashTastic -