It’s all Eat Pray Love up in Ubud. I joke. But since the book/film became quite so popular it’s impossible to write a post without throwing in a cliché joke somewhere along the line.
And it’s kind of right – although I didn’t meet the love of my life. And I didn’t do a whole lot of praying (or even yoga which was the main reason I went). But I did do a lot of eating. So at least I got one part right.
Ubud is fantastic. Even more so the second time round. It’s not as quaint and peaceful as described, but it is stunning, and if you’re willing to walk just five minutes away from the main roads you will find that perfect Balinese holiday you’ve gone there looking for.
I spent 6 days in Ubud – partially to save some money, partially just to chill out and enjoy the world. The Gillis weren’t in my budget so the choice to spend time in either Ubud or Kuta was never a choice at all.
Ubud is a tourist trap. The market is buzzing with women haggling upwards for the best possible price. Taxi drivers line the street hassling you as you go by, never seeming to move from their one spot all day. There are chain stores and fake designer handbags everywhere. Typical bali.
But underneath it all is something else – there is a charm about ubud that I fell in love with the first time, but became a part of when I returned.
See this time I did what I always do when I spend more than a couple of days in a place: I set up a routine. For 6 nights, Ubud was my home. I collected my bananas from the woman with the art shop down the road every morning. I wandered the market, spending dollars on jewellery that was unnecessary yet unavoidable. I explored rice paddies in the afternoons, watched monkeys play in the trees. I smiled with Balinese women as they worked their day away, balancing loads upon their heads while covered head to toe in 30 degree heat. I got lost. I relaxed. I was simply, happy.
My home? The Happy Mango Tree Hostel. Even the name makes it perfect. The bamboo bunks felt like they may collapse any moment, the “free-wifi” worked intermittently, the toilets broke every other day. But that view from the sink where you brushed your teeth, next to a pond with fish swimming away, watching a scarecrow blow in the breeze over a local family rice field …breathtaking.
|My Teeth-Brushing View|
Just a minute’s walk up the road was a family run travel agent, a man who’s name we never quite heard right, but who remembered me from day one – he shouted ‘hello Hollie’ every time I walked past, smiling and waving. And his day trip was really one of the best days of my travels so far.
He took us all over the island, from the Elephant Cave Temple to the Kopek Coffee plantation, and up to the Mount Bromo viewpoint, all the while putting up with five 20-somethings rambling about everything from politics to love to sex (That ones aimed at you Princess (Daniel)).
|Elephant Cave Temple|
|Balinese Biker Group|
One thing I will say, and I think I will say it each time I leave: I will be back. Soon. If I am lucky enough to make Australia my home, then Ubud will be a regular retreat for me. Except maybe next time I’ll do some of that Yoga I promised myself…or perhaps find that love…either way, it doesn’t matter. I'm going to eat everything in sight.