Ubud, one of the top tourism towns, offers true Balinese culture. It’s streets lined with small quaint shops are never ending and are perfect to pass time in the late afternoon. The town is one of my favourites so far, on par with Hoi An (Vietnam), with its vast amount of trees and forage incorporated into the towns stone grey buildings and temples. Very fond of their traditional sculptures and their individual private places of offering found in front of each household makes Ubud a very traditional looking town.
There are places to stay for every budget and endless homestays. We found a lovely spacious room at a Raditia homestay with a terrace including breakfast for only 120,000 (£6).
Individual temples located at the entrance The view from our terrace
to a household or guesthouse.
Offerings made out of banana leaf, flowers and incense are placed outside households, restaurants, on temples and on the pavements by the road, followed by hand gestures whisking the smoke up into the air. I observed the ladies and children at our homestay making and weaving these offerings one morning and it looked very time consuming. It must be a belief not to remove previous offerings as fresh ones were placed next to the old ones and dried up offerings were found piled up outside the houses or roads.
Waitress placing her offerings
Arriving past 3pm we decided to walk around the town, looking through shops and having a late lunch at Biah Biah, a small cute cheap restaurant offering lovely Balinese food. Dishes around £1. For dinner we tried a restaurant called Mamma Mia serving really nice traditional Italian food. The town has plenty of restaurants to choose from, all looking rather busy.
The next morning we hired a scooter and drove to Talalalang to visit the green lush rice terraces. The road leading to Tegalalang was lined with shop after shop selling local handicrafts and impressive wood sculptures.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces:
These rice terraces, even though small compared to others, it was stunning and the view of the landscape from the top of the hill where the cafés were located was spectacular. Spending over an hour walking around we met a lovely local selling coconuts who spoke a bit of Spanish, a photo with him was a must.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary:
Later on in the day we visited Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, as the name suggests was inhabited by many grey-haired long-tailed Balinese macaques. Very greedy, they were entertaining to watch as they groomed each other, carried their young around and jumped on people’s backs in search for food. A few were lucky to encounter a pack of cigarettes which kept them entertained for a while.
The sanctuary housed three holy temples, my favourite being the Holy Spring Temple, found in the depth of the forest, sheltered by the coat of trees prohibiting sun light to pass through. This setting and a bridge next to an enormous tree with hanging vines gave it an Indiana Jones effect. A river ran past it where we walked along side it adjacent to a high rise wall covered in vines. The temple and sculptures were covered in green moss, making it look even more spectacular and ancient.
The Holy Spring Temple The Holy Spring Temple covered in a blanket of green moss
Just as we were leaving our homestay we bumped into a Cultural show and because it was within the same premises we did not have pay and I’m glad for that. It was such an odd show, men sat in rows on the stage in traditional wear singing whilst a man ran around at the front of the stage on a horse dummy walking and kicking on fire. We returned to Biah Biah for dinner that night for more authentic Indonesian cuisine.
The following morning we got picked up by the minivan heading to Kuta. Half way we changed minivans but it didn’t take more than two hours to reach the centre of Kuta despite the heavy traffic.