Bali

Our new apartment in Ubud was a bit outdated but still good enough with a wonderful view over rice fields in the south of Ubud. We booked this Room for four nights.
Until now we where more in the north, in a more quiet neighborhood, but this apartment is closer to all of the action, touristic stuff and traffic Jams.
Ubud is beautiful, but In my personal opinion, its also overrun with all the tourists (even in rain season!) Especially in the city center. On every corner you can get mostly the same clothes, souvenirs, massages, tours and food. You need to know where to go, otherwise you will pay more than just the normal muppets fees for everything. If you just want to get some delicious, authentic, not overpriced food try one of the warungs a bit outside of the center or ask a local for recommendations. I love the local food. There are many vegetarian options, mostly centering around vegetables with delicious sauces and in various combinations. My favorite so far is Gado-Gado – steamed veggies with a thick layer of peanut sauce.

The first two days in the new place were not really smooth.
I was super annoyed by the slow/not working wifi in our room because I wanted to bring my first post live. The trick was, keep calm, sit back, relax with a fresh juice and be patient. And then go to a coffee shop with better wifi.

On the other day, we wanted to do a smaller hike in the north-west of Ubud in the wonderful Ayung river valley. It turned out to be another bad sign for the fast-growing touristic segment. This track was claimed in our slightly outdated Lonely Planet (2013 edition), as a more than wonderful walk along the river in rich, green valleys surrounded by rice fields.
We arrived in the starting area, in midday heat and immediately there was a guide who wanted to bring us through that nice valley for “just” 100.000 IDR. What the hell!? We just want to walk in the wonderful nature around Ubud – on our own! But it was not meant to be. We ignored the friendly guide and moved on without him. After 5 minutes (and still far away from the river), the way was blocked with a fence and a gate. The guide caught up with us and claimed this was his land. He would be happy to let us pass through his land – for a small fine of 100.000 IDR. No thanks… We were not in the mood for arguing and retreated. We tried a few other passages to the river but they were all either blocked off or “guarded by guides”.

So the result was, we skipped that walk, went to a nice looking cafe and kept calm, sat back, relaxed by a fresh juice and took a deep breath. Afterwards, we checked online and we found out, that it is no longer possible to do this walk, without paying ridiculous amounts of money to someone and/or constantly being harassed by so-called local guides – bummer.

But no reason to be upset. That’s sadly just normal for fast-growing tourism. Everyone wants a piece of the cake. But not everyone can provide nice value, so they become “creative”…

Anyways… Our world felt even nicer, after a very good and valuable foot massage.

Ubud, or better Bali, is also famous for traditional dancing. I’m really passionate about dancing and on my last time in Ubud I missed the performance, because of time pressure. But not on this trip! We were lucky enough to find a nice Kecak performance on the same evening in a small village next to Ubud. That was really awesome and impressive. About a hundred people were chanting, creating the musical carpet for the dance. On top of that, some beautiful dancers performed scenes from an ancient Hindu story around a big fire in the middle.

On the next day, we rented a scooter for two days to explore the surrounding area.
Our first stop was at the rice fields around Tegallalang in the north, but again: really beautiful but way too touristic. After an afternoon monsoon rain we decided to move on. It was our first time with a scooter and it felt like freedom. It was just awesome. I totally recommend this to you. We drove through marvelous landscapes and beautiful small villages. Just don’t drive too fast and you’ll be fine. If you ever feel lost, just honk. And always remember: Drive on the left!

On the next day, we recognized that we might have a small puncture. The rear tire was slowly losing air. This stressed us I bit. We still drove into the south to a nice but crowded waterfall. We stopped at every petrol station on the way to refill the air and after a while this was not a possibility anymore. We were not able to drive home. Fear, panic, and desperation were spreading for a short moment. Luckily a very helpful local helped us to find the next mechanic (100m down the road) and told us how much we should pay for a tire change. I walked the way and Mo drove slowly. We arrived at the local mechanic “store”. He skilfully changed the tube in a few minutes and we paid a bit more than the local told us (muppet fee?). But the price was still okay for us because it was super cheap and fast (50.000 IDR, about 3 EUR). We should have acted earlier, it was easier and cheaper than expected. After the proper repair, our scooter was way faster and more fun to drive as ever before.

The surroundings of Ubud are super beautiful. In every village you can find many different craft shops, with nice wood sculptures. Mo was very good in driving through all the traffic jams and it was a wonderful way to get more insights into the culture and living on Bali.
Unfortunately, we rented the scooter only for two days. So it was time to give it back (properly repaired and with much more fuel then we got it – German attitude?). When we returned the scooter, there was no one to talk to. Just a little sign on the outside of the shop, asking us to drop keys and helmet somewhere in the house adjacent to the shop. Different cultures…

On the same evening, we booked our transport to the Gili’s, for a good price (I’m super proud of our haggle skills). I’m surprised by the friendliness of the people and how easy it is to get from A to B, without booking everything weeks in advance. Just speak to someone and they will arrange everything for you. I have the feeling that words are counting a bit more here than in Germany, where most of the locals seem skeptical and confused by friendly people.

To sum it up. The second half of our stay in Ubud was nice but a bit strange. I love that place despite the tourism. It’s still a nice place to stay. But for us, it was time to move on to the Gilis and explore new paths.

For more pictures please click here or check out our Instagrams: Katja and Mo.

One thought on “Ubud and Surrounding, Bali

  1. He Katja, na da hast Du ja in den ersten Tagen schon fast alle ups and downs mitgenommen 🙂 Ich wünsche Euch eine tolle Zeit – es ist schön über Deine Berichte an meine Zeit auf Bali erinnert zu werden. Und ich bin neugierig was Euch in den nächsten 6 Monaten noch alles schönes und unverhofftes passiert. But for now – relax, stay calm, drink a lot of fresh juices and simply ENJOY!

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