You may have seen the sweet Montage Monday photo about being rejuvenated in Ubud. Or, you may have read my chaotic transit story to get to Bali. All I know is that we needed some rejuvenation, and Ubud was the place to go! We got to Ubud during a writers’ conference, so it was quite busy. We lucked out and got a room at Wena Homestay. The couple who owned the place were really friendly, it had free wifi, the grounds were beautiful, and unbeknownst to us initially, it came with complimentary breakfast- banana pancakes. We felt right at home :)
Our goal in Ubud was to relax. As our first taste of Bali, we saw the cultural difference almost immediately. Although Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, Bali is mostly Hindu. Throughout our time in Bali, we were quite surprised to see how well preserved the Balinese culture is. We strolled the streets, wandering in and out of local shops, eating at a non-profit restaurant that provides therapy for disabled children, sitting in the gardens at our homestay, and watching the women make offerings several times a day. It was pure joy. (In fact, I’m inclined to sing this song I learned in Vacation Bible School when I was like five, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart…” Okay, really I’ll stop.)
But it was relaxing. The people were lovely, and we really felt at ease in Ubud. It became obvious why people come here to escape, to heal broken hearts, to find inspiration, to write, or to paint. We didn’t feel rushed to catch touristy activities, and we did quite a bit of reading. When our relaxation teetered on the edge of laziness, we went on a walk to the rice fields. We walked up Jalan Kajeng, a street full of concrete squares with handwritten messages. We took our time to read many of them and then found ourselves in the middle of the rice fields. And wow. Very few people were on the path. It reminded me of days when I would go exploring on a 200 acre farm where I used to ride as a child. Sure, this path was well worn and we weren’t seeing a place that no one had ever seen, but it was about discovering it for the first time ourselves. It was about seeing laborers in the fields, passing a friendly man selling coconut milk and offering up advice on where to go. It was about a woman collecting wood for cooking while another woman bathed naked in the irrigation canal. It was just so rich with authenticity and a feeling that we had escaped from the chaotic state we were in just days earlier.
Many travelers I talk to never see themselves returning to a previous destination because there are too many other places to explore. I always say, ‘Oh I’ll definitely go back’ when the reality is that I’m not sure where I will or will not end up returning. But for Ubud, it’s at the top of my list for places I would love to revisit. It’s one of those places that you could go solo for inspiration, with friends for a yoga and spa retreat, or with a significant other to unplug and reconnect.
After a few nights in Ubud, we needed to move on (that’s not to say that we didn’t do it kicking and screaming though). At just $9.50/day, we rented a little jeep and took off on a wild adventure around the island. And of course, since I can’t drive a stick shift, Lauren was in charge. And what better way to try to drive a stick shift on the left side of the road for the first time while shifting left-handed, than throwing ourselves into the busy Denpasar traffic. Oh a joy ride is about to unfold!
To see more photos from Ubud, click here.