An adventure in Ubud, Bali
Ubud has been a pleasant surprise. Everyone had raved about it so our expectations were pretty high and although it is nothing like the wide spacious streets and ever present rice paddy fields I had imagined, it’s topsy turvy, temple lined, crowded streets are quite enchanting and the rice paddies aren’t far away. For a day, week or month, there is plenty in Ubud to keep you interested.
Our first hotel, Ubud Dream was less than truthful in its booking.com description and after discovering that the large room was probably only considered large by very small mammals, the onsite pool was in fact a public one, a ten minute walk down and across the road, that their cleaning did not extend to removing the desiccated gecko carcass stuck at eye level on the window, and their onsite laundry facilities were halfway to the pool we decided to move to our next venue.
Putri Ayu on Jalan Bisma, were thankfully rather more honest and our room is large, bright, clean and airy with the pool actually on site and a lovely pool it is too. Jalan Bisma is a quiet narrow street, small hotels lining the way interspersed with rice paddy fields. Putri Ayu is almost at the end where it turns into a narrow track you can walk along to get to the Sacred Monkey forest, five minutes walk away. I would definitely stay here again, it’s close enough to everything, but far away enough too.
Our favourite restaurant is a tiny place 100m further down Jalan Bisma called Bata Bata. A tiny stairway leads to the little upstairs open sided dining area, rustic wooden tables and chairs and two acoustic guitars on stands, ready for any patron to play. It has really outstanding food, their Lo Mie and noodle soup have had us returning once a day at least and the three ducks that live on site have entertained us each visit, the view over fields to the Monkey Forest isn’t bad either.
Opposite our hotel is a trip advisor award winning spa Putri Ubud Spa 2 a tranquil and relaxing spa, spotlessly clean, which we’ve been delighted to have several outstanding treatments and our first hot stone massage at. We do love a massage and I’m delighted to have had pain free ones here.
We had the intention of doing rather more planning on Gili Meno than the wifi allowed so we’ve spent almost half of our time here booking up our next few months of travel. The rest of it has been spent getting massages, eating, exploring and doing a little shopping OH MY the shopping here is fabulous, especially after a month on an island with no shops. Sadly we have no room in our bags and no real need of anything so mostly it’s just been looking except for the gorgeous batik dress from Sol & Luna that found its way into my wardrobe.
We visited the Sacred Monkey Forest, pausing to read the extensive list of dos and don’ts before entering. Three troupes share the forest, occasional clashes occurring when they wander into each other’s territory. On the whole the monkeys are calm and unthreatening, they are well fed on corn and sweet potato, a diet that the tourists can supplement by buying bananas that the monkeys will accost you for. We bought two bunches, the first given out with the comfort of the seller handing me a banana at a time, which didn’t stop at least a few monkeys clambering over both of us, erm no thanks! The next we were foolish enough to follow the sellers instructions and walk away with and I soon felt completely intimidated by the big monkeys grabbing at us for them. They weren’t vicious, just determined. Bananas very quickly disposed of we wandered around through the magnificent trees and the sculptures, monkeys at every turn. Really it’s exceptionally beautiful, huge old trees soaring up towards the sky, a perfect retreat from the heat outside and if you don’t take any food in or buy any bananas the monkeys will leave you alone.
Before arriving I’d read about how much fun silver smithing classes were, Chez Monique, not a very Indonesian sounding name I admit, but Indonesian owned and run have by far the best reviews. We booked up to do a morning class, 450k for three hours and no more than ten grammes of silver (everywhere else we looked was marginally cheaper but for only five grammes) we arrived and wandered back from the street past a man sat cross legged and hand painting the most intricate fabric panel, past the house temple, women sitting weaving and then to the silver craft area. There were a few people already working away and Wayan broke off from them to welcome us warmly. We were given a number of books to look through for inspiration. I knew I wanted to make a ring to wear with my wedding rings that are getting looser the longer we travel and J wanted to make a replacement wedding ring having lost his in June. Designs were then roughly drawn to scale, fingers measured and silver cut. I pounded mine to create the uneven finish I wanted and after two false starts Wayan’s son tapped the symbols I wanted into mine before I sanded and buffed until the desired depth was achieved. Then with Wayan’s son I melted the silver balls that were positioned on the ring. Oxidising, scrubbing and polishing later I am in love with my new jewellery addition that fits perfectly with my existing rings and is tight enough to keep them from slipping off my finger. J’s is pretty spectacular, a raised skull he cut and filed atop a wide beaten silver band. I’m looking forward to going back again when we are next here, not only was it a lovely experience, we’ve quite stunning pieces of jewellery from it too.
We’re off to do dive the Liberty next followed by some diving in Lembongan, a challenging dive site where we hope to see Manta and if we are lucky Mola Mola, eek oh exciting and scary, just as it should be.
Even though we’re leaving Ubud I’m glad we’ve already made the plan to spend six weeks in Ubud next Spring, it’s a beautiful place and we’ve only seen a fraction of the shops, art galleries, museums and temples it has to offer Xx