Ubud is in central Bali, nestled amongst rice patties it the centre for yoga in Indonesia and I would say possibly SE Asia. The stores, cafés, and streets ooze with a zen like atmosphere.
We stayed at Dewi Sri Bungalows. What was once a beautiful, new resort has become beautiful because nature has crept in and taken over the garden, the pool and the back bungalows. We had two joined rooms with a balcony that overlooked a rice field which was filled with ducks in the early morning. It was quite idyllic and the back area would be the perfect place for an evening of ghost stories. It was sad because with a little love and marketing it could be a fantastic place again. It still had charm and was a quiet relaxed little corner of Ubud.
Yoga was of course first on the hit list. Over the three days I was in Ubud I tried two different yoga classes in two different studios. The Yoga Barn and Radiantly Alive Yoga. Yoga Barn is the studio known by most travellers coming to UBUD, it is a beautiful studio with a large garden, all organic cafe with raw desserts and a massive treehouse for a studio. Well, not really but it felt that way. The class was massive. Easily 60 people but the teacher and assistant handled it well. It was a Vinyasa Flow class, open level. A hot, sweaty and challenging class which definitely made me feel the better for it. Not to mention watching some of the Yogi’s go into advanced poses was impressive. The only thing, which perhaps would have been hard with a class that size is that if you wanted to or could go further into a pose which you didn’t know, they didn’t tell/show you how to do it. They solely mentioned that if one wanted to go further please to do so.
My second yoga class, Fly High Yoga, was like a trip to the circus. I was terrified, as dangling upside down sounded a bit like reliving my bungi jumping experience in South Africa. Our teacher, Jose Luis Jimenez, an Italian with a wicked sense of humour was perfect at taking your mind off things though and helping you to relax. Each pose is done on the floor and then replicated or attempted to replicate while hanging upside down. If you need to practice trusting yourself/instincts and letting go this is the class for you. I had a blast once I got the basics and it is a good chest opener. I didn’t feel as zen or mellow perhaps as my previous yoga class but a lot more energised and felt ready to take on the world.
My Ubud experience was also based around window shopping with the occasional purchase and food. I could have spent a lot of money on jewellery in Ubud. There is some stunning silver shops which focus around Buddhism themes and if you fancy it you can do silver jewellery making classes. Buying a sarong at the market was also an adventure as we wanted two of the same which are never sold at the same shop. At one point we had the whole bottom floor of the market looking for the matching sarong and waving us over. Eventually we did succeed and that about finished me for the day. Market adventures are a totally different type of shopping exhaustion.
I had some amazing local food while in Ubud, I think the farther East I went in Indonesia the food just got better and better or I got better at finding it and more adventurous. Probably the later. Vegan, vegetarian, raw foods, Indonesian, Balinese, Western – it has it all. My favourite cafe we frequented was Kafe. I went for a Mediterranean mezzé – freshly made babaganoush, hummus, tzatziki, and homemade feta filled my plate. My tastebuds were pleased and that was only the beginning. Green pancakes was next to try. Made with the pandan extract they are slightly spongy and stuffed with grated coconut and palm sugar. So yummy!
Our second night we were suggested to go to Warung Garasi. A tiny local restaurant off of Monkey Road. It’s menu is small but quantity doesn’t equate to greatness and dinner was truly great. I had a yellow chicken curry that warmed me to the bone and then between the four of us we split three different desserts. Deep fried banana with palm syrup, creeps filled with coconut and palm sugar and my personal favourite out of the three, black rice pudding which had a layer of warm coconut milk on top. Warm and soothing. Our last night in Ubud I shared Indonesian Tapas which I wish I could share their name with you but I don’t know where to begin.
I really felt comfortable in UBud, and although I wouldn’t call myself a Yogi, I loved the atmosphere and could imagine staying there for an indefinite amount of time, getting pulled into the local culture and living in Yoga Pants. There are definitely worse fates.