My first stop in Bali was the centrally located town of Ubud, a.k.a. the place Elizabeth Gilbert went during her four month soul-searching mission to Indonesia. But even before that, Ubud was known as the artsy cultural center of the island.
The driver from the One World yoga retreat center (where I was to spend the next 5 days) picked me up at the airport and an hour later, after winding through some harrowing traffic, lots of temples and statues and more motorbikes than I could count, we drove into the secluded, monastery-like gates of Kumara Sakti. (But more about that in the next post!)
Ubud is snuggled cozily between acres and acres of terraced rice fields, so almost all the accommodations on the town’s edge have gorgeous views overlooking the endless, almost fluorescent green paddies. Inside the town are colorful streets, art galleries, clothing shops and cute cafes.
One colorful Ubud street
Though I’m not into shopping at all, Bali somehow found the one tiny consumerist cell inside of me and exposed it to the sublime joy of bargaining for stuff I don’t need. I bought something like 5 dresses during my three weeks there. FIVE DRESSES! I normally wouldn’t do that in a whole year. (I know, I know. I still have clothes from 8th grade. Sue me.)
Ubud Must See
- Monkey Forest – For a good laugh, check out the sacred forest on the edge of the city. It’s filled with maniacal monkeys who might just steal your food and your bags. Be alert and hopefully you’ll watch that happen to other people, not you!
- Ubud Market – This is where my Bali shopping binge began. I bargained a dress from $12 down to $4… how could I not buy it? My friends bought lots of goodies, too, like crafty boxes and homemade soaps to take home as souvenirs.
- Puri Saren Agung – Up until the 40s, Puri Saren Agung served as the royal palace and supposedly some royals still live there today. Located just across from the Ubud market, entry to the palace is free and it’s a great place to catch traditional dance performances.
Up next… What Goes On At A Yoga Retreat?