People say if you stay more than a week in Ubud, be careful because you may never leave!
We have been in Indonesia for a month and we really appreciate the climate, people and sweet life in the country. Specially around the places we went to such as Lombok, the Gili islands and Bali. There is something special in Indonesia that doesn’t make you leave. We took our time to appreciate every aspect of the country, from diving to sightseeing and relaxing on the beach.
Ubud is definitively a city that we truly love. It may sound redundant but it is not surprising that Elizabeth Gilbert, author from Eat, Pray, and Love felt completely in love with this cute little city in the heart of Bali. We went two times there. One time, the two of us and another with our friend Ana.
Ubud means healing in Balinese. Tons of yoga centers, yoga retreats and therapists have settled down there. As we practice yoga too, for us it was a great place to discover some more new practices as well as new teachers.
We did a lot in and around Ubud discovering what it has to offered. We could definitively define our stay in Ubud in 3 words, Eat, Pray and Visit 🙂
Ubud is our “coup de cœur” for its countless and diversified restaurants and cafes. It had many little streets where we found some warungs – meaning “restaurant” in balinese. Very cheap and good, we would eat a Gado-Gado, Nasi Goren or a Soto Ayam. So try them absolutely if you come to Bali! We could also find delicious vegetarian restaurants by the rice fields that gives a special and romantic atmosphere.
We found a Cuban bar on a street that has different bars with live bands. In the Havana bar we could drink good mojitos and dance salsa. We went back later on with Ana and we had the most fun there. The Balinese live band played Cuban music amazingly well. They also played our favorite song we have with Ana which is “La vida es un carnival” ! 🙂 We talked for a little while to members of the band and they told us they learnt all the songs on their own on YouTube ! What ?! Unbelievable. They must have a great talent to learn latin songs so well in a such small Island, thousand of miles away from Cuba.
Another good place we went to eat was a restaurant owned by a French guy which offers french and local dishes. The restaurant is called “Rendezvous doux”. We went there to talk to him in french and to know more about the local life and what is going on in Ubud. He told us that the life here is sweet once the business is up and going. It is, of course, not easy to arrive and settle as a foreigner. It can be in Ubud, Berlin or Marakesh, foreigner stays a foreigner and to have faithful clients and a good reputation takes time. He is in the Lonely Planet and Le guide du Routard, so he cannot complain, the business is good. He likes Ubud and came here after he lost everything (job and wife) back home.
..To move to Ubud is maybe the best therapy to heal the soul.
Ubud has indeed a special energy to heal. It is why so many therapists come to set up their business here.
In addition to this, Balinese people pray a lot and give gifts to God and Goddess constantly throughout the day.
They have special ceremonies during the year like we do such as Easter, Christmas, etc. However, their Indonesian culture have much more important celebrations that give a rhythm of one ceremony a week to more, depending on the season. When it comes to attending ceremonies, Balinese people stop their occupation and go to the temple. This is the priority number 1.
We were here for a very important ceremony called Galungan which marks when the ancestral spirits visit their homes. People take tremendous amount of time to decorate the city and to prepare the offerings. Women would dressed up nicely with see-through shirts and a sarong. The men would wear their small cap and white shirt as well as a sarong. They go all together to the temple, pray and follow a certain procedure with the priest. It is simply beautiful to see. It somehow reconnects us to ourselves and family. It is maybe why people are honest and lovely here. It is maybe why nobody steals, nobody lies. It must definitely impact the energy of the city.
Ubud is found to be the Mecca of yoga, yoga retreats and well-being consultations. We took a class of Iyengar yoga with Olop Arpipi. He is from India and is an excellent teacher. He explained us very well the energy in the pose and which muscles were active and the intention to put in each move, fantastic ! We also went to a chanting bowl meditation in Yoga Barn. It was an interesting experience as it lasted 1h30 and felt like 45mns. The Tibetan bowls are good to readjust the energy and release tensions. We loved it.
We could take other classes but we didn’t have the time. Yoga barn is one of the most important yoga centers of Ubud offering yoga sessions from 7am to 9pm. It is a big center and we felt it became slightly too commercial. However, everybody had different taste but we personally like smaller studios. We went to Radiantly Alive which was more expensive but good. Ubud also has lots of healers that work with the energy, physical and spiritual body. They gave us medicinal plants at time. There are many in and around Ubud but it is not easy to know where to find them as foreigners. The best is the “bouche à oreille”.
Also, with Ana we could not miss the palm reader Ketut Liyar from the book Eat, pray, and love. I went to see him during my first visit in Bali. I think he was good in the past but should probably retire now. I didn’t see him this time but Ana took a palm reading session with him. He kept talking about his age and that she should get married soon, but not with him as he is too old.. Well lots of bla bla bla for not much information at the end. Sacré Ketut ! It was anyway great to meet him for real 🙂
During our stay in Ubud, we spent time visiting the city but also the surrounding area which is stunning. We rented a bicycle and went off for the day visiting the rice-fields and nearby villages.
Around Ubud we could see rice-fields but also a lot of art craft shops. We went to buy some bracelets and souvenirs and we could observe that those shops were more re-sellers than real shops like in the city center. We could see everything from big Buddhas statues, to paintings, wooden materials, etc, etc. People from around the world come here to buy material at very competitive prices. It was interesting to understand the market and see all the arts and galleries shows happening there.
We went to visit also to the Ubud Palace and the Monkey Forest that are in the city center. It was full of tourist but still nice to see specially the naughty monkeys !
The main roads are the Monkey Forest Road and the Raya Ubud road. On those streets we found a lot of shops with nice clothes or materials for yoga. Slowly famous brands are coming but the government said no to Mac Donald and Burger King! Uff, what a great decision.
We will for sure go back to Ubud when we can. It is known to be one of the most beautiful cities in Asia. We are sure it is true!
Where to have a drink: Cafe Havana bar or the Shisha bar near football field with live bands
Where to stay: Kuaya home stay. Lovely family and great room for 230’000 IDR with breakfast. In Ubud city center.
In case of need of a haircut, definitely go to Edward’s and ask for Anjie.