After spending three nights in Kuta, I was ready to leave the craziness behind and head to Ubud. From all the hype that I had heard from others about Ubud, I was really excited to spend some time there. Afterall, Eat, Pray, Love had portrayed this area as a haven for soul-searchers and those wanting to escape their big-city routine life. Though I found Ubud to be much more enjoyable than Kuta, there were a few things that surprised me. And not in the jumping up and down sorta way.
Getting to Ubud from Kuta was very easy; there are tonnes of little shops offering shuttle services for about $8 CDN. After a relatively painless journey to Ubud, I was relieved to see Balinese architecture and unique shops surrounding me – quite a different feel from the overly commercialized Kuta that I had just experienced. Unfortunately, (brace yourself, here comes my cynicism) the two things that did follow me from Kuta to Ubud were the traffic and the up-heaved “sidewalks”, making it next to impossible to walk down the streets and enjoy the scenery without falling flat on your face.
Moving past the copious amounts of motorbikes overriding the pedestrian-filled streets and the unfinished sidewalks, Ubud has a distinct sense of beauty. Off the main road, you can stroll by (just remember to watch your step) one-of-a-kind shops and cozy cafes. I really enjoyed exploring the streets of Ubud, as there was always something new to see with each street you went down and each wrong turn you made.
The streets here definitely have a laid-back, hippie-esque feel to them. You can easily find small restaurants with comfy seating – think bean bag chairs from childhood and having to take your shoes off before you enter. There were also lots of quaint little shops selling everything from souvenirs to locally made clothing and jewelry.
The Ubud Markets were like any other market you would go to in South East Asia; tonnes of little shops crammed together selling souvenirs and other items you don’t really need. In comparison to other markets, it was much smaller in size. I always enjoy walking around markets and seeing what local goods you can purchase. Though I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get used to the incessant pestering of the sales ladies. Regardless, I left a happy shopper with my traditional shot glass souvenir in hand.
My favourite part: a lovely smelling garbage pit at one end of the market, beside a small hill leading down to a few other shops. Do not venture down there unless you want your nose hair to burn off. You’ve been warned.
I was really looking forward to seeing the rice fields in Ubud, so we went on a hike to find some. We walked down Jl. Raya Ubud (the main road), underneath the tunnel, and then took the third right after Jl. Kajeng to where the trail started. There were some great views along the way, however, it was much longer than we had expected and started to pour 20 minutes in (thankfully I brought my umbrella).
After what felt like forever, we made it through the forest path and onto a road with scattered houses branching off from it. A little ways down we finally came upon the “rice fields”. Initially, I didn’t even think that those were the actual rice fields because they were small and all on the same level (I was expected massive tiered fields). Despite my obvious disappointment, I still found the rice fields interesting – it’s quite incredible that these seemingly ordinary looking paddy fields produce millions of grains of rice.
I was sure that I would be leaving Ubud without having seen a “real” rice field (or at least my idea of a real rice field), but as luck would have it we ended up driving by a beautiful rice field on our way home from climbing up the active volcano Mt. Batur to see the sunrise – note the lack of quality photos as we had not slept a wink the night before, having been picked up at 1:30 am to start our trek. I had a mild freak-out as we drove past and the driver graciously stopped so we could get out and take some photographs before heading back.
Now that I had seen my version of a “proper” rice field, I could leave Ubud satisfied.