Travel - Ubud, Bali

November 18, 2014

After our time in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, we couldn't wait to get to Bali. Before booking the trip, we were looking into a range of South-East Asian beach resorts that were easily accessible from either city. We considered Langkawi or the Thai islands but in the end Bali seemed to have the best weather at that time of year {September} and had an amazing choice of resorts. I was clear to travel agents that I wanted to stay well away from Bali's notorious party towns and they suggested a few nights in Ubud, the spiritual home of Bali located amongst the rice paddies {and setting for Eat, Pray Love}. We had three nights here, at the Uma by Como Hotel followed by four nights in a spa hotel by the beach. I started writing this post and quickly realised I have far too much to share about both places so I'll start with Ubud today and follow with the second part on Thursday.


We arrived in the evening after flying from Kuala Lumpur to a relaxing haven with a distinct traditional Indonesian style blended with modern boutique luxuries. Ubud has some amazing hotels to choose from and it was hard to choose one. In the end we went for Uma by Como after researching on Mr and Mrs Smith, my favourite source of boutique hotels, and we were not disappointed.                                                                                                                                                    It was walking distance to the town centre whilst being secluded and near the rice terraces. I'd heard lots of good things about Como Shambhala's range of luxurious hotels and their spas and it certainly lived up to their reputation. 


Our room, a garden terrace type, had a fish pond separating the bedroom from the open air bathroom, white plantation shutters and a heavenly four poster bed. 



We had dinner in the hotel restaurant on the first night to avoid rushing into the town, we were tired and wanted to acclimatise before exploring properly in the morning.



Breakfast was delicious every morning with fresh fruit, juices and a bread basket bought out before you chose a main. I quickly fell in love with the coconut pancakes. Most of the menu was tailored towards spa guests with healthy diets in mind. It was served overlooking a huge pond filled with koi. We watched a sweet lady make her daily offerings to the Hindu Gods in mini temples within the hotel grounds. 



After breakfast we couldn't wait to head out and explore Ubud properly. It was a twenty minute walk to the centre of town, with interesting temples, art galleries and bridges en route but you could also get a free shuttle. We mostly walked and couldn't believe how amazing Ubud is. Everything is spiritual and involves offerings or elaborate temples at the side of the roads to worship the Hindu gods. 





I was in awe just wandering around the town, not that interested in the range of shops, just loving discovering lotus ponds and the traditional Balinese culture. 


I quickly became obsessed with lotus flowers, they almost don't look real when you see them up close and lined the way to a traditional temple still in use today. We had to cover up when we looked inside.



Frangipani trees lined the roads and the flowers were collected up before dawn to make that day's offerings. It's such a lovely daily ritual don't you think?



I had read up on travel websites and blogs about Ubud before we arrived and quickly discovered that Sari Organik was a place not to miss for lunch, dinner or even just a drink. From the centre of Ubud you follow the signs and pathways through rice paddy terraces, past little huts until you get to the cafe. The food was amazing, so healthy and delicious. It was so relaxed, you sit overlooking the fields watching the occasional cow or farmer wandering past. Definitely something out of Eat, Pray, Love. We actually watched that film one night in the hotel. 





Sari Organik can get really busy so try and arrive just before the peak rush and grab a table with a view.




We loved Ubud but it was quite a busy town with mopeds and motorbikes everywhere and all the restaurants seemed to be heaving at night. We loved Sari Organik so much for lunch on our first day that we returned in the evening for healthy pizzas before walking back into Ubud for gelato. A lot of the shops and restaurants are quite high end and upmarket, it's become quite a middle class spiritual place to visit with a lot of writers and artists coming to stay for a few months at a time. Rent, especially since Eat Pray Love, is very expensive and as such it's become a hip place to be. I loved it though and all the restaurants were done really nicely, as well as some traditional Balinese they definitely cater for the Australians and as such some of it has quite a boutique, Australian feel if that makes sense. Boutique is the perfect word for Ubud actually. 


Our hotel offered daily rice paddy walks too which we did one morning, learning more about the local culture and farming methods. 


We had a chill out day in the middle of our stay in Ubud, having a couples massage in the famous spa.


And spending the rest of the day by the pool. The first couple of days were fairly rainy which is quite typical for being in Ubud set in the hills. So we made the most of the sunshine when it came out for the rest of our stay. 



The pool area was gorgeous and definitely very Mr and Mrs Smith worthy with the plush white loungers and trendy bar in the thatched pavilion. 






On our last morning we decided to have one last walk around the town and go down some of the roads we hadn't seen previously. I remember it was so boiling hot that day and we were melting walking around but we got to see some more Balinese culture. There guys were sitting at the side of a street in front of a temple weaving with grass. The people and their spirituality really made Ubud special.



This dragon face was one of many getting ready for a mass cremation ceremony that happens in Ubud a couple of times a year. It's a huge spectacular ceremony that lasts for days and crucial in the Hindu faith for releasing the spirits that go on to the afterlife. Visitors are encouraged to watch and participate in the celebrations, it's more of a party than a mourning. We left before it began but I'm not sure how I'd feel about witnessing it. 


On our walk we suddently found ourselves next to Monkey Temple, one of Ubud's biggest tourist attractions with hundreds of monkeys living in a temple. I'd specifically tried to stay away from even just walking past it after reading lots of warnings on tripadvisor. The monkeys are not shy and will jump all over you, stealing your sunglasses, cameras, any food and even water bottles. They can bite and scratch leaving some visitors with a trip to the hospital and expensive calls to their travel insurance companies. The monkeys are outside the entrance and in the road. They are funny to watch and some are carrying little babies but I quickly walked past and observed from a safe distance not wanting to encounter one close up! We walked back to the centre of Ubud along Monkey Temple Road, stopping in a few shops and looking at the different cafes and restaurants. 


Hot and ready for a big jump into the pool to cool down, we spent the rest of the day lounging around and ordered a yummy lunch by the pool.



Then it was time to leave magical Ubud and head to the Tembok Spa Village for complete relaxation on Bali's north coast. Part Two coming up on Thursday.

I can't recommend a visit to Ubud or Uma by Como highly enough. 

R <3 xx 

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5 comments

  1. Ah Bali is on our shortlist of places to go for our honeymoon. We're struggling to find nice, exciting places to go where the weather is good at that time of year (September) so I read this with interest!

    It looks beautiful and ticks a lot of our boxes (culture, local food, not too isolated from local identity yet luxurious). I can't wait to read your post next week too.

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    1. I think Bali would be a great choice for September then, the other option is The Maldives but that really is isolated from a local identity although super luxurious. Or you could combine two places? So many gorgeous places in the world to choose from but Bali is definitely popular with honeymooners. Good luck xx

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  2. We booked our honeymoon to Bali just last weekend and have a couple of nights in Unud so your post is very well timed thank you! Your photos look great and certainly make me very excited to visit.

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    1. Ah perfect glad this post is of interest to you, you'll have a great time! xx

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  3. It’s good to be here and read some interesting posts , I got very useful information over here thanks for sharing it .
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