Zen Ubud

Ubud is so green. Saturated, vibrant, plush green.

Kara had gotten the advice to stay just outside of town, up in the rice paddies, and it was brilliant advice. Our homestay, Narwa Homestay, was a short walk from town that made a world of difference. It was quiet, removed, peaceful. Our first day I found a yoga studio, Ubud Yoga House, just a short walk away in the middle of the rice paddies; I went there the following day for 7:30 am morning yoga and it was a perfect setting. I went back that night at 6 for meditation. The place was peaceful and the view was perfect. The yoga and the meditation, however, were good, but nothing as earth shattering as I’d experienced in Vietnam. That’s unfair pressure though; I still enjoyed both.

The first day in Ubud we were so happy to be out of Kuta it was like a huge sigh of relief even just making it to the guesthouse. We went in to town for lunch at a recommended place, Kafe. It was awesome. A huge healthy menu with everything from salads to burritos and fresh juices, I had steamed vegetables with red rice and a fresh lime juice. I was so happy, I hadn’t had food like this since I left San Francisco. Kara even said that San Francisco needed a place like Kafe. We sat there for hours enjoying the vibe. We wandered through town, getting acquainted with where things were, before having a chill evening at our homestay.

For the most part. There was the incident with the spider. Now I’ve gotten pretty used to spiders in the wild; I see them in the jungle and don’t think twice anymore, just take some pictures and move on. I’ve even eaten them. But something about seeing a gigantic spider next to all my stuff in my bedroom brought back the fear. It took Kara and I an embarrassingly long time to coax out and kill the spider (Kara really, seriously my fear was back full force). Sorry nature.

The next day was exciting: I met up with Amanda and all her Haas friends! Somehow timing worked out perfectly to meet up with another friend from home, who happened to be traveling around this part of the world with her business school friends. So not only did I get to see Amanda, who I missed dearly, but I got to meet her new world of people who she’d met while I was gone. And of course, they’re fantastic. We hung out all day wandering through the rice paddies and gushing over the amazing healthy food and juices at Sari Organik. This restaurant is an Ubud institution and rightfully so. The setting is gorgeous and the food is delicious, we could have stayed there all day.

We all wandered back into town and through the market, going our separate ways before meeting up again at meditation and then to a traditional Balinese dance at the Ubud Palace. The costumes were colorful and the dancers’ eyes were captivating. Bernie was so into it he became our personal narrator, filling us in on the stories we were watching from the handout they provided. We had a late dinner sitting cross-legged at Jazz Cafe.

The next day was our last in Ubud. We got a slow start, which was more than okay with me. Kara and I had two things left we wanted to do. We started with lunch at Warung Ibu Oka, a delicious suckling pig that again came highly recommended and rightfully so; it was some of the best meat I’ve had on my whole trip, well-seasoned, lean, tender, yum. Then we rented a motorbike and went north. I started driving and learned that I don’t like driving with someone else on the bike through heavy traffic in the middle of a busy town. It was stop and go and I wasn’t good at either yet, stopping or going. Once we got out of town it was better. We made it up to Tegallalang and saw the terraced rice paddies, then to Tirta Empul, a sacred water temple complex in the middle of the forest. It was a pretty place and we were happy to have made it. Kara took over some of the driving and we wound back on more residential roads; it was a beautiful drive.

When we got back into town we took a few wrong turns and it got busy again so I got back in the driver seat and had to weave through Ubud to get us home. I ended up on what I swear is actually a one way road that motorbikes just ignore and was relieved I had gotten used to driving; this was a tight road with big cars coming at me. When we made it back we felt we’d earned our happy hour drink.

We met up with the Haas crew for 2 for 1 mojitos and caiparinhas; we ordered so many that they extended happy hour an hour for us. Dinner and more drinks with them before calling it a night. We were all going to Gili T together tomorrow.

Ubud is beautiful. It is peaceful and you can see why Eat Pray Love was partially written there, but also how that’s changed the town into a more touristy one. I definitely recommend Ubud for everyone’s visit to Bali. And if you do go and stay at Narwa Homestay, have the pancakes. They’re green! And sweet and delicious, especially with bananas.


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