Ubud is smaller, more quiet lined with trees and greens, small shops, and quaint cafes. No high rise buildings, no loud music, no big shopping malls. If you are looking to party here, you’ve come to the wrong place. Better go to Kuta or Seminyak instead.
Getting around is fairly easy as most people choose to walk or ride a motorbike. Streets are narrow and I can’t remember seeing a taxi here unlike in Seminyak where Blue Bird taxis are just about everywhere. But I guess there are mini buses to take you to other neighborhoods.
We only had one day to explore this side of Bali and we started quite late. I wanted to be back in Seminyak to catch the sunset at the Potato Head Beach Club before dinner so we roughly had about 6 hours. Although technically , we can have the van for 10 hours.
If you find yourself with one day or even an afternoon of with nothing to do, here are some suggestions on what to do, see, and eat in Ubud:
A palm reading session with Ketut Liyer. I wasn’t planning to have an Eat Pray Love moment here although I was half expecting and wishing to see Javier Bardem around Ubud. Just kidding. I really wanted to meet Ketut Liyer, the medicine man. Plus I was also curious about what the future holds for me and I had some questions waiting to be answered. But I guess it wasn’t in my future to meet the man. Ketut Liyer is now very old and is suffering from dementia. He now spends his days with his wife, children and grandchildren. His son Nayoman took over and now entertains guests looking for spiritual guidance and palm reading. Nayoman is good but not as charming as his old man.
Let’s not get into the details of our session. But I’ll tell you one thing. I left the place with renewed optimism and hope for the future.
Go for a stroll at the Sacred Monkey Forest. This is the part where my daughter MG enjoyed the most. Just kidding, she hates monkeys. But when in Ubud, one must visit this forest and socialize with the monkeys. Although we did nothing of that sort as as I was afraid of the monkeys too. Not really afraid, more like monkeys smell and I didn’t want to get a sniff of them. So we just made a quick tour, took pictures and avoided the monkeys. But some tourists really go out of their way to connect with the animals. They’d give bananas, go near and pet them, and really have the monkeys on their shoulders and all over them. Not us.
Have a Dirty Duck lunch at Bebek Bengil. Bebek Bengil is Indonesian for dirty duck. Specialty is, of course, the duck which is deep-fried until skin is golden brown and crispy. The restaurant also serves ducks cooked various ways (satay and smoked) but we ordered the original. MG enjoyed this so much but I didn’t. I was just curious. I’m not really fond of duck dishes. I find duck’s meat tough and chewy. I should have ordered the chicken which our driver ordered and looked more appetizing. No feathers! But this place came highly recommended and a must when in Ubud so I suggest you still give it a try. Plus I loved the side dishes and sauces that came with our order of Bebek Bengil.
Tenggalagang Rice Terraces. You cannot, just cannot, avoid the greenery in Ubud. Everywhere you look there is some tree or some patch of green that would catch your eye. It was already drizzling when we got here. I wanted to go down to the rice terraces but it was slippery and we had the wrong footwear. I was even wearing a pair of white Toms. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a picture of me near or beside one terrace? One terrace is twice my height (I’m 5’2). But there will always be a next time. Another reason to come back to Bali, right?
Visit a Temple and get to wear a customary sarong and sash around your waist. And that we did. Did you know that you are not permitted to enter any temple when you have your period? But how would they know that? It’s not like one look at you and they know right away. I guess honesty and respect for one’s traditions and culture would play a part here.
Coffee o’clock at Seniman Coffee. If you’ve found a coffee shop that you like, never let it go. Linger and stay awhile and visit everyday. We did neither of those things but we love this cafe so much for its laid back vibe, the generous owner who I still owe a little over a dollar because I had big bills with me and no loose change but it was ok with him, and my Flat White and the round sweet stuff called bliss balls that came with your order of coffee. Can’t wait to go back here and stay for a bit.
Dinner at Babi Guling Ibu Oka. Or in our case, a take-out. It was already 4pm when we got here. Although we wanted to have a proper meal, I also wanted to go back to Seminyak and catch the sunset at the beach.
Babi Guling Ibu Oka is Balinese roast suckling pig similar to our Lechon. Nothing special about the meat. In fact, I found it bland and kind of chewy. The skin was not crispy perhaps we got the leftovers from lunch. What made the pig a bit delicious were the spicy vegetables and Ibu Oka’s secret sauce. But without the sauce and all, Cebu Lechon tastes better.
If we had more time, we would definitely include the following:
- Drinks at Naughty Nuri’s and sample Anthony Bourdain’s favorite dirty martini.
- Check out Ubud Art and Flea markets.
- Do a yoga session at the Yoga Barn.
- Feast on healthy eats such as detox smoothies and juices, vegan dishes and chocolates. I know my body would thank me for it.
- And perhaps, stay a night or two in a traditional Balinese Villa.
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