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Discovering Ubud

Posted by francois on April 1, 2016
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If you visit Bali, you will almost always visit Ubud, which is quite a bit of a tourist trap. The streets are pretty narrow, and congested with scooters that dont seem to follow any rules of the road at all, as well as droves of tourists on the pavements going in and out of all the sidewalk shops.

The streets are lined with loads of temples, curio and souvenir shops, massage parlors, and there are tons of local and western restaurants which are usually full of tourists. If you are trying to save money, the local warungs were much better value for money than western restaurants, just DO NOT order western food, at a local restaurant.

The problem with the warungs is that the local chefs and staff most of the time have zero idea of what western food should look or taste like. So do yourself a favour if you are at a local restaurant, and eat local food, its pretty good, and really cheap!

Ubud has quite a few great restaurants serving Western dishes that we found excellent, one of our favourites was Bali budah, which had a great selection of vegetarian food, smoothies and juices.

Another one we were blown away by was Kismet, which was an excellent experience from start to finish, the decor and service was top notch, and the food was reall really good! The cherry on the top was that they also accepted bitcoin for payment!

Nightlife in Ubud is quite lively, and there are plenty of shisha lounges, bars, and night clubs that go on until all hours of the morning. We  unfortunately found most cocktails to be expensive, and taste disgusting! The only thing that seemed reasonably priced and tasty was the Bintang beer, which was excellent!

On one of the days we met friends and went on a hike through the jungle to get to a lovely river and waterfall. The walk took most of the day, and we almost got lost as the waterfall is not on any tourist map.

Looking for more exciting things to do in ubud besides eating and shopping, we decided to take a full day tour with BaliHaiBike, which was amazing!

They collected us in the morning and took us to Tegallalang rice terraces, followed by a tour of a coffee plantation where we sampled a variety of coffee and teas, and I tried the coffee luwak (civet pooh coffee). Next we went breakfast at a restaurant overlooking Mount Batur, and active volcano, and Batur lake. After we had eaten, we were given our bikes and cycled down the mountain through the traditional villages, rice fields, and jungle.

We made stops in a traditional village, at Kehen temple, Kintamani temple and the water temple, before ending at the BaliHai restaurant for dinner. After our dinner we were returned to our accommodation at around 6pm.

Our first accommodation in Ubud was Kabera bungalow, which we chose because it was great value for money, and came highly recommended on Booking.com. The accommodation was in the perfect location for us because it was positioned down an alley off the top of Monkey forest road, so within walking distance to plenty of great restaurants as well as some attractions.

Kabera was actually the cheapest accommodation we could find that had private bathroom, and the bonus was that it included breakfast every day. The breakfast every morning was awesome, a flask of hot water with tea and coffee making supplies, a delicious fruit salad, and toast with fried eggs. Just what you need to get the day started 🙂

We decided to take a walk along Campuhan Ridge, which is a free and easy nature trek not far from the center of Ubud. We walked the route and then had a drink at the restaurant on the other side, before making our way back along the same route. This walk is highly recommended if you are a nature lover and would like to see some of the surrounding countryside and interesting insects along the route.

Although we found Ubud to be a bit cooler than Sanur, it is still really hot and humid most of the time, and there are sometimes thunder storms, which we found to be amazing! The thunder and lightning was so loud and really fun to experience, and the rain drops were so fat and heavy that we were drenched in about a minute of being caught in the rain on the way back from Campuhan Ridge.

We went to visit Kajeng street, also known as ‘signature street’, we found loads of hand imprints, quotes, signatures, pictures and messages that have been written into the concrete on the ground. The story goes that if you make a donation you are able to create your message and leave your mark in the street. Some of the messages were pretty old, going back many years.

We decided to take a break from the busy Ubud center, and stay 2 nights in the rice fields just outside of Ubud in a ‘Bamboo Birds Nest’.

The ‘nest’ is a two story bamboo house resembling a birds nest, that you access by climbing up the bamboo ladder. There is no door, just a double bed with bedding, mosquito net, and light with power point at the top. At the bottom of the nest was the bathroom which was really basic, a ‘squatty potty’ toilet, and the shower was a barrel of water with a coconut ladle scoop! We really felt like we were one with nature 🙂

The accommodation was pretty quiet and isolated, the main house had an open plan kitchen and bar that served meals, and a decent WiFi connection for communication. The main house also had a great view of the rice fields, and had an awesome swing hanging from two palm trees, allowing you to swing over the rice fields.

Being right in the middle of a rice field, which were filled with loads of dragon flies by day, and come alive at night with lots of bright green fireflies, and combined with the sounds of nature, amazing sunrises and sunsets, it was amazing.  After a couple of days we went back to Ubud, so that we could continue exploring the area.

The Monkey Forest is one of the main tourist attractions in Ubud. It is a really beautiful monkey sanctuary. The only problem with the Monkey forest is that they encourage the feeding of the monkeys by selling food to tourists to give to the monkeys. This has the caused the monkeys to become rather aggressive and they regularly attack visitors, or steal their belongings.

We knew how aggressive they were beforehand, so were prepared, but it was fun to watch other tourists being robbed.

The forest itself is cool and shaded, and really beautiful with lots of awesomely weird statues everywhere.

Dengue fever in Ubud

A day or so after arriving back in Ubud, I started feeling ill, and as someone who generally does not ever get sick, or even need to see a doctor, I knew something was not quite right. It was bad enough that I started to look up symptoms online and decided that I might need to take a blood test for dengue fever.

Having no idea where to go, I again turned to the internet and found http://www.ubudcare.com/

Ubud Care tested my blood and confirmed that I did indeed have Dengue Fever and needed to stay in bed and drink lots of water. I went for daily blood tests and chekups at the clinic until I was well. They were kind enough to collect me every day in their ambulance 🙂

Bed ridden for 9 days, changed accommodation to Alamanda accommodation, which had a mosquito net, and a rooftop swimming pool for cooling off in the heat.

Alamanda accommodation was another budget accommodation that included a good breakfast to start the day. The home-stay was nice and shaded with lots of plants and trees, so was cool during the day.