We spent five days in Ubud eating, praying and loving, aka wandering around among the independent women in their mid-thirties wearing flowing clothes and not needing a man to complete them. From what I had read and heard from others, I pictured Ubud as a place I would fit in, and when we left Kuta I even suggested to Sam that we cancel our few days in Uluwatu and stay in Ubud a full week if we liked it as much as I was envisioning. I have enjoyed our time here (despite the efforts of a few pesky university related emails) but we have not cancelled our plans or decided to move here and are looking forward to a few more days at the beach before we return home.
Eating, Praying, and Being a Tad Skeptical
I had resolved to immerse myself in the yoga-organic-food-free-spirit scene of Ubud and I don’t think I have really done this. I don’t know whether this is a function of being caught on a bad day, or feeling like I didn’t ‘fit’ here in the Elizabeth Gilbert fashion, or whether the observation is genuine in itself, but the only way I can describe the yoga shops and organic cafes, is that they all seen a bit false. This is probably the case in many towns and cities propped up by tourism, but as much as I wanted to buy in and get myself some swirly clothes and smack a serene smile on my face as I drank organic tea and shivasana-ed my way to enlightenment, all I could see was an illusion created to make white people feel superior. I’m sure this is not completely the case, as I know some people come here with the genuine intention of improving their yoga practice with some of the best teachers in the world. But the shop front version designed for people like me, the passers-through, left much to be desired.
Having said that, once we owned our place in Ubud as just another couple of tourists, we found plenty to keep us busy. The shopping here is marvelous. Amongst the plethora of tack that surrounds us everywhere in Bali, I have found a few miniature boutiques that have evoked an immediate desire to hand over all my money. My suitcase is now filled with carved wooden homewares and soaps and creams and preserves and tea and all manner of lovely things. Everything seems to have a bit of a Japanese vibe which I love. Poor old Sam has spent many an hour traipsing up and down the Monkey Forest Road listening to me yap on about homemade jams (from Kou, this amazing store I highly recommend!) and carrying my purchases. Which is no mean feat given the state of the footpaths here.
Although this certainty isn’t unique to Ubud, I had the tickly pleasure of trying out a fish spa a few days ago! The premise of this is that you stick your feet in an aquarium full of tiny sucker fish and they ‘exfoliate’ and ‘rejuvenate’ your skin by getting rid of all the dead cells. As I feel this picture adequately communicates, it’s pretty tickly when you first put your feet in. I was skeptical about the whole thing but it seemed to work. Sam stuck his hand in for a bit and then went swimming, and once his fingers were all wrinkly you could see where they had sucked all the skin off. Too much detail? Maybs.
We also went to see a traditional dance one evening at Cafe Lotus. I couldn’t take any pictures because it was too far away, but even without the dancers there was a lovely view. We also had lunch there on our first day in Ubud and took refuge from a massive thunderstorm.
Yesterday, we got some obligatory culture and went on a drive to see some of the places around Ubud. We visited some rice fields, a few temples and a village, and had a casual lunch beside a volcano. These were no maharajah’s palace, but the drive was nice and it was interesting to get a sense of the area.
So that was Ubud in a nutshell! We really did have a nice time. Our last few days in Bali will be in Uluwatu. We’re hoping to spend some more time at the beach before returning to real life.