Ubud is the heart of Bali. Always a center of culture and art, with a strong spiritual focus—every second or third entrance on some streets is a temple, and where there are only homes, each home has its own temple. “New-age” Westerners flocked here a decade or two ago, and it made an appearance in the best-selling Eat, Pray, Love.
I first visited Ubud in 2013, and liked it so well that I made it my home for a time. Eventually, as we all know, I decided that Thailand was a better fit for me.
Coming back after nearly 9 years, I am as delighted as ever by the sights and culture. Here’s a sample of the photos I took walking around town with Esso:
Our hotel is the Bali Bohemia, located on a quiet back street right on the edge of the Sacred Monkey Forest (although, oddly, you can’t get there from here.) It has much of the expected Balinese charm: Ganesh statue greeting us at the entrance; custom stonework, from the decorative fountain to the humble toilet stall; and bamboo bed frame which creaks when you move.
(The frog is stone, but the turtle is real!)
–and a fantastic little restaurant, with a delicious Middle-Eastern-style menu.
I said, right next to the Monkey Forest. To get to the main part of town, you have to walk on a little path alongside the fence of the sanctuary. Here we are…
Walking up the street, there are three kinds of things to see: entrances to temples (unlike Thailand, public entry is not allowed at most of them), shops catering to tourists (cafes and souvenir shops), and shops catering to spiritually-minded visitors. When we stop at a cafe, right in the middle of town, the view out the back wall is a rice paddy.
There’s some kind of festival being celebrated today. Apparently each neighborhood has a boys’ club that parades through the street with a dancing barong, the island’s guardian spirit. We saw one of these parades just as it was turning off the main street, and I said, oh, too bad we can’t get to the front of the line to get a good view. Half an hour later, my wish was granted–but I had to pay the barong for the privilege!