A Month in Ubud
Good-bye Melbourne, Hello Ubud!
After a bittersweet departure from the city we called home for the last seven months, we arrived in Indonesia a little nostalgic about the amazing friends and experiences we had in Melbourne, but oh so excited to take on our next adventure – 25 days in Bali!
Settling in at Gangga House, Ubud
When we started planning our month in Indonesia, we decided that having a home base of sorts would be important for us, and after a little research, the inland, yogi and expat haven of Ubud, Bali stood out as the perfect spot for us.
Needless to say, we definitely made the right choice. We checked into Gangga House, the guest house that we would be calling home for the next several weeks, and we couldn’t have received a warmer greeting from the owners. Our room was comfortable and homey, and we also had a little open aired living room where we were lucky enough to enjoy our breakfast of coffee, fresh fruit, and banana pancakes each day of our stay.
We Love the Yoga Barn
Another bonus of our cute, budget-friendly guesthouse was that it was located only a five minute walk away from the little slice of yogi heaven known as the Yoga Barn. Complete with a full daily schedule of a variety of yoga classes, a delicious vegetarian cafe, and gorgeous jungle surroundings, this was Desta’s dream place. We made the short walk over to the Yoga Barn nearly every day of our stay in Ubud. It was such a fixture of light and energy for us during our time here, we can’t say enough good things about it! We feel so lucky to have had the chance to practice yoga together every day in such a gorgeous and inspiring setting!
Mount Batur Sunrise Hike and Batur Natural Hot Springs
We also met some great new friends at the Yoga Barn who were looking to explore the beautiful island of Bali too. After one extended lunch at the Yoga Barn’s Garden Cafe, we realized that climbing Mount Batur, a volcano about two hours outside of Ubud was on all of our to-do lists. Two days later, and after a 2:30 am wake up call, we were all in a minivan excited for our sunrise climb of Mount Batur. The walk was steep, but manageable, and before we knew it, we had reached the summit in time to witness the gorgeous Bali sunrise.
After sunrise, our awesome guide took us around the edge of the volcano’s rim. He even showed us how you can cook an egg using the steam from one of the volcano’s crevasses. So cool! The walk down the volcano was surprisingly more challenging than the walk up, but we all made it down in one piece, and were ready for a little rest and relaxation. Off to the Hot Springs we went!
The Hot Springs were located only a short drive from Mount Batur, and upon arriving, we were all in awe of how stunning the grounds and surroundings were. We ended up spending several hours here, just wading in the pools and soaking up the sun… literally. Desta returned home with a happy heart, and a terrible sunburn that kept her hiding from the Bali sun the whole next day.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
While Desta was in recovery mode, sun-safe Dermot and our new friend Adam went rice paddy sightseeing to the Tegalalang Rice Terraces and kombucha tasting around Ubud. Later in the day, a slightly recovered Desta managed to cover her sunburnt body well enough to make the trip into town for a pedicure and she even joined the boys for a glass of kombucha too!
More Awesome Things to Do in Ubud
Our days in Ubud were filled with so many other fun adventures that it would be too hard to give a daily play-by-play. So instead, we gathered a list of some of our favourite things we did during our time living here.
The Monkey Forest
Just a fifteen minute walk from our guesthouse, and located at the bottom of Monkey Forest Road in Ubud, one of the main shopping streets in town, is the Monkey Forest. Monkey Forest really lives up to its name – literally a beautiful jungle forest filled with temples, unique stone carvings, and so many monkeys! They are everywhere, and if you have something they want (food, water bottle, sun glasses, etc…) they are definitely not afraid to take it! After paying our minor $3 admittance fee, we spent the rest of the afternoon watching the monkeys play with one another and the tourists. The babies were definitely our favourite though, but we made sure to give the mamas some space while they carried around their sweethearts between different parts of the forest.
Jungle Fish Pool and Campuhan Ridge Walk
For anyone who has travelled south east Asia, you know that it is hot and humid all of the time. A typical day for us included sweating while eating breakfast at the beginning of the day, and sweating while walking the streets back home from our late dinners at 9:30 at night. Although the heat and humidity is a non-negotiable if you want to visit Ubud (or Bali in general), there are some pretty sweet pools in the Ubud area that offer a nice little break from the daily Bali sweat fest. Jungle Fish is an infinity pool set in the jungle just north of Ubud. We spent a whole afternoon here taking dips in the pool, reading, and taking sporadic naps in our poolside cabana. So relaxing and perfect!
Our trip to Jungle Fish was such a refreshing treat, that we decided instead of taking a taxi back to Ubud, we would walk over to the top of the Campuhan Ridge and take a scenic sunset hike back into town. We barely noticed the sweat again as we strolled along the gorgeous Campuhan ridge which divides two valleys and makes for jaw droppingly beautiful, lush green views for days.
The culture of Bali is so incredibly beautiful to witness. In Bali, religion is ingrained in every facet of daily life. There are countless temples throughout Bali (many people even have their own temples in their family compounds) and wandering the streets you will encounter prayer offerings lining the sidewalks, window sills and all shops and restaurants.
Tirta Empul is a Balinese Hindu temple located about an hour’s drive north of Ubud. Located on the site of a holy water source, Tirta Empul (literally meaning “Holy Spring” in Balinese) was established in 962 AD and has become a site where Balinese Hindus go for ritual purification. The owner of our guest house was kind enough to drive us here and take us through the ritual purification process. Beginning with a prayer offering at the outside of the temple, and a few more inside the temple grounds, you then proceed into the holy water pool, stepping under each fountain head from left to right, sending a prayer to the Hindu gods.
Places to Eat
The food in Ubud is incredible. So many options – all healthy, fresh, and so reasonably priced! Deciding on what restaurant to visit for lunches and dinners quickly became one of our favourite daily hobbies. We had to include a few of our favourites in this blog post!
Probably our most frequently visited restaurant in Ubud. We couldn’t get enough of this place. Super laid back atmosphere, amazing food and smoothies, and bright comfy lounging areas perfect for a little afternoon reading.
Garden Kafe (at the Yoga Barn)
Garden Kafe is owned by the same people as Kafe and has a very similar menu – which was great for us! Garden Kafe was the perfect place to go after a challenging yoga class. Many coconuts were enjoyed here, and we met some great new friends here too!
Melting Wok Warung
Tiny little upstairs restaurant owned by the sweetest lady. The menu has a few items on it which rotate, which is awesome for repeat visitors like us! Amazing desserts too!
Pomegranate Cafe (Amazing Rice Terrace Views!)
Only in Ubud can going somewhere to eat become an awesome, half-day sightseeing adventure too. Some of Ubud’s most atmospheric restaurants are located a bit out of town amidst the rice paddy fields, and the only way you can get to some is via foot or scooter. Our walk to the Pomegranate Cafe, a tented restaurant in the rice fields of Ubud, opened our eyes to the rural beauty that lays just outside of the busy scooter filled streets of Ubud, and the food was pretty good too!
Balinese Cooking Class
We loved the food in Bali so much, that we just had to learn how to make it for ourselves. On one of our final days in Ubud, Dermot being the romantic gentleman that he is surprised Desta with a date to a Balinese cooking class. Our sweet and funny host, Puspa carefully guided us through all the steps of making a true Balinese feast. We prepared several popular Balinese dishes including clear mushroom and vegetable soup, mince chicken grilled on bamboo sticks, gado gado (vegetables in peanut sauce), steamed fish in banana leaves, tempe kering (deep fried tempe in sweet soy sauce) and boiled banana in palm sugar syrup for desert. We even took a turn on what Puspa referred to as the “Bali Blender” to complete the yellow sauce (an ingredient in most of the dishes).… and after all the prep and cooking was complete, we reaped the benefits of our hard work and feasted! This was one of our favourite nights – we had so much fun and the food was so delicious!