Ubud, Bali by Felicity Kennedy
Arriving safely in Denpasar airport, and welcomed at the airport by a hotel representative with a fresh frangipani lei is a good start. This welcoming aspect of the Balinese culture was an occurring theme throughout our stay in Bali.
It is all true, the Balinese people are kind, gentle, patient; they appear happy and willing to assist in any way to make the tourist comfortable. This is a refreshing change from the somewhat "so what" attitude that sometimes a traveller can receive from other countries.
My husband and I wanted to have a few quiet days in Bali, with the sole purpose of switching off from all the woes of the current social climate that is surrounding us -- the continuing collapsing economy, political unrest in the Middle East, cold snaps in northern hemisphere and a heatwave from where we came from, Western Australia.
When planning our trip to Bali, we made the choice to stay in Ubud. As is now the custom of just about all travellers, we consulted the net. Despite finding a myriad of accommodation for sale, after hours of surfing the net it all started to look the same!!
Thankfully, we found that the independent site, trip advisor, to be of great help. A site where anyone can post comments about the accommodation that they stayed at, we found that this site provided us with a very helpful and unbiased overview of what was out there. Be reminded that it is impossible to please everybody, and that there are always complaints about seemingly innocuous things.
We stayed at a resort that housed 45 private villas, each with a pool. The villa had a breathtaking view across a river and straight into a jungle. This view into the dense green jungle, gave us hours of pleasure, looking into its depths, trying desperately to spot monkeys and any other "jungle book" inspired animals.
No monkeys or any other exotic animals were seen, but surprisingly, we saw quite a few squirrels ... who would have thought, squirrels in the jungle?? We also spotted some magnificent butterflies, frogs, very large snails, small lizards, pale coloured caterpillars and some beautiful birds of which I cannot name.
A walk into the village of Ubud is really a delightful wander. One is constantly reminded of the devoutness of the Balinese people, as dotted along the streets and outside every place of sale are small offerings to the gods.
There are many ceremonies held in the Temples, and to see the locals gather in their traditional dress, men in sarongs and traditional head gear, the woman in very elegant lace tops and sarongs, is a very humbling sight in contrast to our comparatively boring western clothes.
Ubud, despite the reputation of now being a commercial centre, still has retained a marvellous village atmosphere of calmness and artistic quality. All its shops sell the craftsmanship of the surrounding area, silver jewelry, paintings, sculptures, furniture, batik fabric, and many other treasures to discover.
Indonesian food is fabulous as well. There are many, many restaurants to choose from in Ubud. Again, consult the net or a local for choice as there are numerous to choose from, depending on any budget. We dined at typical Balinese restaurants through to a very high end French Asian fusion restaurant. There is a cuisine for everyone.
For me, the overriding attraction of staying in Ubud is the beauty of the landscape, and the peace and quiet that surrounds the hills. There are always the sounds of running water with rivers, waterfalls, streams and rice filled channels which is incredibly soothing. There is an air of comfort and tranquility
Looking back in history, Ubud was originally a well known village where Balinese went to consult local medicine men and buy medicinal herbs and plants. You could say Ubud was the very first in the firmly entrenched health spa business.
I wondered if this lingering sensation of well being had permeated the very air that we breathed in Ubud. But whatever it was, we flew home from our trip thoroughly invigorated and totally refreshed.