Even though the island is only 90 miles across, a journey half that can still take four hours because of the windy roads, pedestrians, monkeys in the street and fully loaded mopeds. We saw one piled with a family of five, groceries and a couple chickens on the back!
We stopped at a Luwak coffee plantation on the way, the famous Balinese coffee where an animal resembling a cat eats choice coffee beans and poops them out. This laborious process of drying the poo, excavating the beans and grinding them makes for one expensive cup of coffee. I think we may have been taken for a ride on this one but it was interesting!
Next we stopped at a traditional Balinese dance performance/play in five acts about good and evil spirits with monkeys and tigers and wild boars. Shepard was terrified but Pippa and I watched til the end.
Last stop before reaching Ubud was the butterfly garden which was super cool. I had no idea butterflies could get so big!
Finally we arrive in the cultural heart of Bali – Ubud. I was struck by how authentically spiritual the Balinese people seemed to be. They lay offerings of flowers and food at the feet of the statues of their Gods and at the many temples multiple times a day. It seems exhausting how much they worship and pray and lay offerings. It never stops! But every person I came into contact with seemed to do so with a pure and grateful heart.
I couldn’t believe how freaking crowded the streets were! We found it was due to the Obamas being in town! Unfortunately we never ran into them.
Also, for better or for worse, Eat, Pray, Love still brings tourists by the busload on quests to find themselves. Ubud has a lot to offer in the way of yoga studios for days, restaurants, art galleries, temples and lots and lots of monkeys!
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary was so cool but be prepared for monkeys to come right up to you and jump on your shoulders and head. When we entered I didn’t see that Pippa was holding an Elsa Pez dispenser in her hand. Within the first few steps into the forest a gang of monkeys approached. One boldly grabbed the plastic toy out of her hand and clambered up a high tree so fast we didn’t know what hit us.
Pippa yelled “Hey, gimme that back!” and a nearby guard who saw the whole thing came over with a sling shot. He expertly aimed and shot the Pez dispenser right out of the monkey’s hands to the ground where Pippa ran to pick it back up.
To say the least, Shepard did not enjoy the monkey forest. He stayed in the stroller with his eyes closed to shut out the horror. I’d never been to a place where monkeys could roam free and are so not scared of humans. I loved it.
There are endless options for food, yoga, spa services and shopping in Ubud but one restaurant that stood out was called Mother. Tucked away off the main tourist path, the ambiance was modern and romantic and the food was to die for – so different from anything we’d had in Bali so far.
And no visit to Ubud is complete without visiting, Biasa, the beautiful shop full of unique, hand woven treasures all made in Bali. I flattened my credit card a bit more with this dress.
After four days in Ubud we were off to our next stop – way up north to Pemuteran- for the wedding we traveled all this way for!
* I’m selling these beautiful sarongs from Bali and donating ALL of the money to two great charities. Take a look here!