Imagine being in a place where you can count the different hues of green and thats the most important thing in your life, all this while sipping some exquisite coffee… It was Bali for New Years. Does it bring images of crowds and partying? Well an intimate getaway is also possible in the middle of madness, and that’s what we managed. We chose Ubud, and I will tell you why it was the best decision we made.
Ubud is a tropical paradise and nestled in abundant green because of the rain forests and the rice fields. The eyes easily adjust to lush green, and say thank you because on every odd day I only treat them to concrete, smog and some days we see clear blue skies. I am sharing my favorite things to do in Ubud, Bali.
I was struck by the familiarity between Bali and India. There is a temple at every corner, and the locals are constantly offering incense as well as a prasad like offering to the gods. A familiar Ganesha, Arjuna, Rama and Hanuman greet you every few steps. It is odd that while it reminded me a lot of South India it had a unique flavor of it’s own.
The Rice Fields
We chose to stay at Alila Ubud that has the rice fields on one side and the rain forests on the other. The property is pretty much bang in the middle of them both and since we had a really really short visit, staying in the middle of it gave us a great experience. Actually in Ubud you are never far from one.
Driving through Ubud gave me a sense of deja vu, if you have driven between cities in Tamil Nadu you will be familiar with Rice fields that exist as far as the eye can see. Driving village to village evoked the same vibe.
Nung Nung Waterfall
The most popular waterfall in Bali is Tegenungan Waterfall, we however went to the Nung Nung falls. We had gone to Ulun Danu Bretan temple and these falls are a scenic 40 min drive. Several hair pin bends and tropical highways take you to the Nung Nung Falls. The charming part is the compete lack of crowd and when you reach the falls you understand why.
To reach Nung Nung falls you have to climb down close to 500 steps. It is a steep climb down and up. But if you like less crowds and are feeling fit then I would recommend this for sure. Our guide insisted that we go to these falls, he very innocently said that you have to go “up and down” and I did not think much of it. No HIIT session or WOD can prepare you for this. However I would not change a thing.
Bali temples have a very distinct structure, the entrance is ornate and like Indian temples they seem to have their own version of the gopuram. We saw rows of temples when we were being driven to our destination and we were told that most of them were family temples, which meant that they were for the family only. Temples open to the public were different.
We went to the Ulun Danu Bretan temple, because of it’s beautiful location. Located on the Bretan lake, the Shiva Parvati temple is a tourist attraction and it’s it is easy to understand why. But if tourist hubs are not your scene then it is Unlikely, that it can hold your attention for long.
Music and Dance
Music and Dance is an integral part of celebration. Balinese Dance is a sheer delight to watch. Again the concepts are very similar to Indian dance concepts that borrow from mythology or nature, and since we share the Ramayana and Mahabharata some of the sequences are completely mythological in nature.
So I went to Bali, I saw a Luwak too, but I could not bring myself to try the Luwak coffee. However two coffee places that I strongly recommend are Anomaly Coffee and Seniman coffee. The coffee was par excellence, and I was dying to go back for seconds. Unfortunately we did not have time to go back, but the perfect coffee taste is still etched in my taste buds. It was strong, full and felt absolutely smooth on the palate.
Indulging in local fare, every opportunity will leave you happy and content. While you will find the odd Nasi Goreng in a few menus in the city, you are unlikely to find too much Indonesian fare. We ate several versions of the Nasi. My personal favorite was the Nasi Bakar, which was cooked rice, spices and veggies rolled into a banana leaf and grilled. It is best to get your fill when you are in Ubud, because once you are back you will only have memories of great local fare.
Soya and soya constructs are integral parts of their diets and make for tasty fare. Some of the restaurants where we had memorable meals were Bali Buda, The Plantation restaurant in Alila Ubud, Copper and Watercress.
My personal favorite was also the Jamu, a local concoction of turmeric, ginger and other flavorings. I had this at every chance available.
Ubud is a place that is ideal for a calm getaway. Slow paced, easy and great food. We got around most of the town with a cab, and walking. You need to carry rupaiah with you, most places do not accept International currencies. I am told this is not the right place to use your card, so it is best to carry cash. You find a lot of exchange counters offering decent prices.
What would you add to this list?