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After experiencing the more aggressive monkeys of Ulu-watu, I enjoyed the experience of walking around the quiet Sangeh Sacred Monkey Forest, just outside Ubud, and seeing the monkeys that call this small forest and its temples home. Mothers were holding babies close, feeding and grooming them, while juveniles ran around and large males watched from above. The guide, who meets you as you enter and takes you through the park, was very friendly to us and respectful toward the monkeys. Apparently, the monkeys have lived there for a long time, and the place and its monkeys are considered sacred (hence the temples). A great day is to combine going to the Bali Bird Park and Sangeh Monkey Forest. A driver can be hired to take you to both places if you are not staying close enough to bike there.
Flowers and offering to the Gods are everywhere in Ubud, Bali - a peaceful, beautiful and simply lovely place. In Bali you cannot help but make local friends in Bali. The Balinese are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.
One of the most important celebrations in Bali is Galungan. Beginning in or around late March, the festival symbolizes the victory of virtue (dharma) over evil (adharma). Hear the mysterious clangs of gamelan music; see women and girls in elaborate dress; and don’t miss the Barong Dance, in which young boys parade around as a dragonlike creature to fill the village with holiness. Photo by Mast Irham/EPA/Corbis. This appeared in the January/February 2013 issue.
Entering this temple, we had to put on a sarong for modesty. It was an amazing complex of temples, gardens, water gushing out of the walls where locals purify themselves. I love the intricate decorations on the temples, vibrant colors. The area of Ubud is such a magical place where you can hang out with the locals, go to temples, watch craftsmen create works of art and great private villas that are still affordable. I went to a cooking class to learn basic traditional recipes and I had the best Babi Guling (roast pig) in my life. It was served with spices and rice and that was enough to send me to food heaven. I spend days dreaming about going back to Bali someday, maybe I was a prince in another life!
A colorful Garuda statue stands guard in a traditional Balinese house-turned-art-gallery in Ubud. Garuda is a giant mythical bird and the national symbol of Indonesia.
Rejang dancers make haste to catch up with the procession going to Goa Gajah, the sacred Elephant Caves outside of Ubud, Bali. They will be one of the many ritual performances that celebrate the temple's odalan, or anniversary.
After weeks of exhilarating, yet exhausting travel through Indonesia, I recommend pampering yourself at the end of the journey at a place like Maya Ubud. The resort is set seamlessly among the lush jungles and rice terraced slopes of Bali, near the town of Ubud. Maya Ubud's tranquil grounds accompany the massages and poolside lounging perfectly, so all your aches and pains melt away. Although it is tough to pry away from the beautiful gardens and multiple infinity pools, Ubud offers many attractions just minutes away. Ubud is the scene of gorgeous hindu temples, Balinese dance performances, walks through the mind blowing rice terraces and dynamite cuisine. If that's not enough, the nearby rivers and volcano allow you to indulge in more intense activities, such as white water rafting and predawn treks to the volcanic summit.
Every morning, before the day has truly begun, Balinese women come to the market shrine in the center of Ubud, Bali. They light incense and leave their offerings, origami folded banana frawns bearing crackers and cookies and flower petals for the gods. By midmorning the offerings have accumulating into towering stacks of “Canang Sari." I love spending time in the Ubud central market, but because of tourism you have to get up with the sun to experience the market that the locals frequent. Get to the market as early as 5:30-6am, eat a breakfast of small pastries and spicy Babi Guling (roast pig). By 8:30 am the locals' market is already dispersed and the tourist market—filled with gilded sarongs and carved masks—has taken its place.
There is a growing organic and locavore movement in Bali. Sari Organik is 800 meters in from the Ubud main road. About 15 mins walk through padi fields (some of which are sadly being built on) and you find simple organic fare (not vegan or vegetarian as fish, chicken and dairy are served). The vegetables are from the small holding next door and the tranquil views out over the fields make this a place to linger at.
The Agung Rai Museum of Art is probably the most high-profile museum in Ubud. The buildings and grounds are huge and filled with traditional paintings, carvings, sculpture as well as art by modern Balinese and foreign artists who lived and worked on the island. The museum is also the venue for a number of art and cultural events and exhibitions. Dance classes for aspiring Balinese dancers are held every afternoon and gamelan (traditional Balinese music groups) practice on the grounds many times a week. It's basically the center for culture in Ubud and is not to be missed.
Clear Café may specialize in raw and vegan food, but you won’t find dream catchers or hemp tablecloths here. Instead, you’ll see marble-and-stone tabletops, driftwood sculptures, and a small courtyard pool. Notable menu items include black pepper tuna and raw zucchini linguine. Jalan Hanoman No. 8, Ubud, 62/(0) 36-1889-4437. Photo courtesy of Clear Cafe. This appeared in the January/February 2013 issue.
A stay in Ubud wouldn't be complete without dropping by Naughty Nuri's for a rack of ribs, smoking hot off the grill. Casual, open air dining with more pork than you can shake a rib at, burgers and steak as well. Nuri's is a "local's joint" often crowded with travelers from around the globe who enjoy succulent, finger-lickin' slabs of pork ribs, sauced to perfection, washed down with an icy martini or pitcher of cold Bin Tang beer. Easy on the wallet, Nuri's is a great spot to chat up a local Balinese artist, an ex-pat or three, or practice your Balinese under the attentive eye of Nuri and hubby Brian (the "naughty" in Nuri's...). Nothing fancy here. Tasty food, friendly folks and a lively atmosphere keep 'em coming back for more.
It is no secret that monkeys are all over Bali but there are few places quite like Monkey Forest. More than 600 monkeys, specifically crab-eating macaques, call this temple complex home. A designated nature reserve, Monkey Forest is open to the public after paying a small admittance fee. Having read about the monkeys being thieves and visitors being bitten, I was careful not to approach any of the monkeys. Other patrons to the forest seemed to care less allowing monkeys to crawl all over them. I, on the other hand, was in no mood to get bit nor did I want any of my belongings stolen. These little kleptos weren't about to pull one over me. I spent a good hour or so wandering through the forest and taking loads of pictures. One visit was enough for me and I can relive my experience via photos. I managed to escape the monkey forest unscathed and all belongings in possession.
The best babi guling (suckling pig) in Ubud can be found at the no frills, open air Ibu Oka, Jalan Sueta / Tegal Sari No 2. Sit on the floor in front of a low table (you may have to share) and rip into a plate of tender pork served with rice and a bit of crackling on the side. Rustic dining, 5 star meal.
Strap on a helmet, grab some friends and let the awesome guides at Banyan Tree Bike Tours show you a side of Bali you'd never see on your own. Take a ride through rice paddies, where the ducks do all the work (ok, not ALL the work, but they do serve as a natural pesticide and they do some "weeding" as they eat), authentic Balinese villages, and colorful fields of Patchouli flowers (and here I thought Patchouli came from hippies). All the while, you'll learn great facts about local culture from your guide and earn that roasted pig you can reward yourself with for dinner.
Outside of Ubud in the still-quiet country, the father of a friend wades through a sea of green, taking care of his family's ricefields. He is the last of his line to work in the sawah, or rice paddies. His son has graduated college and works on a cruiseship, and knows nothing of rice farming.
Where nasi campur is rice with small portions of a variety of dishes, nasi ayam is essentially rice with lots of chicken. This definitive version, with some hard-boiled egg, long bean and coconut, peanuts, and fiery red chili sambal, has made this restaurant in Kedewatan a thriving institution. And it's as good as it was 24 years ago when it was a tiny roadside warung.
On the jungly outskirts of Ubud, Uma combines contemporary design and simple living. The restaurant, candlelit at night, serves such dishes as chili crab and papaya salad. From $260. 62/(0) 36-197-2448. This appeared in the January/February 2013 issue.
If you are in Ubud have the opportunity to talk a medicinal or herbal walk through the fields don't miss it. There are an amazing variety of herbs growing along the paths.
What was supposed to be a solo trip turned into a serendipitous rendevous with one of my dear college friends and creative collaborators, who happened to be in the Philippines right as I was planning to tour Bali, and then Manila. He ended up joining me for an adventure in Bali. During the trip, we discovered this very affordable family-owned bed and breakfast in the heart of Ubud, where our room was open to and surrounded by nature (not for the squeamish jetsetter- I found a mouse on my towel one night, and bugs and howling cats were aplenty). Nevertheless, the place was a serene retreat. Our hosts made us feel at home, and the traditional decor was gorgeous, as you can see.
My favorite coffee was the Kopi Susu, simply put "milk coffee"!! Served in a glass cup, Kopi Susu is often accompanied by Dadar Gulung and water. Dadar is coconut pancake rolls and the combination is delicious! Try Kopi Luwak as well - expensive and made from poop. :)
Ubud is a beautiful city in the interior of Bali. We stopped one day for lunch at a restaurant called Casa Luna. The food was amazing, and very photogenic too. This dish was vegetarian, with tempe, sambal, pumpkin, rice, and beans. Full Account Here: http://aliscottwhatwegetupto.blogspot.ca/2012/07/ubud-day-1.html
One of our top highlights from our honeymoon in Ubud was taking a cooking class at Lobong Cooking School. For ~$40 USD per person, we were picked up at our hotel, taken to a local market outside of Ubud (no tourists there), learned about the variety of local ingredients, and then to the Lobong compound (where the family lives) to learn how to make 9 traditional Balinese dishes. Yum! The class size was small (maximum 12 people) and everyone spoke English well so we could get all our questions answered. This Asinan salad was both beautiful and delicious - I especially liked cooking with local fern tips. We not only learned how to make all these delicious dishes, but we learned about the Balinese culture, how the family compounds are built, the ritual offerings made daily, etc. - a great lesson in culture as well. Bon appetit!
On our first visit to Bali in 1988, our soon-to-be-fast-friends Azman and Caroline took us to the studio of mask-making genius Ida Bagus Anom [http://bit.ly/H8tOmN]. We were instantly enthralled by the expressiveness of the faces he carved and painted in both his traditional and his modern masks. These are the eyes of one of his singular "leaf " design masks. Today, Anom, 60 years old, still lives and works in the compound in Mas (outside of Ubud) where he learned the carving, dancing, and puppetry arts from his father, Ida Bagus Gelodog, and where his family has lived for more than 700 years.
The most fun I've had on a bike for ages! Coasting on a bike gently down the Bali hills, sun on my face, wind gently blowing my hair, through rice fields and small villages all the way to Bob's place for a mouth watering Balinese meal. From the time we met Sandi, I just got the feeling this is going to be a great day...read more
The ridge walk is an absolute must while you're in Ubud. Walking out of Ubud to the west you will see the Ibah hotel on your right as you go down the hill to the river in Campuhan. If you go into the driveway of the hotel there is a small sign that points you in the direction of the Campuhan ridge, a gorgeous walk through rice fields overlooking the Wos River. To Karsa Kafe, which is just about the top of the route and is a great place to rest and have a drink, is probably about a mile and a half but you can do it at a very leisurely pace. The walk back down is easy. Don't miss out on this beautiful walk!
Located at the end of the appropriately named Monkey Forest Road, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is a must-see when visiting Ubud, Bali. For a small entrance fee, you enter a world of monkeys. With no artificial enclosure to confine them, the monkeys roam wild and free. You may even see a few hanging out in the street as you enter. The most commonly found monkey there is the long-tailed macaque. You will see females with babies on their back, males marking their territories, and, if you're lucky, a monkey food fight, possibly with a human. Monkeys aren't the only reason for going to the forest. The forest itself and the temples it surrounds are sacred to the Balinese and essential to maintaining a spiritual connection between nature and the people. While visiting, you have access to the forest, temples, and statues that make the Monkey Forest sacred. Follow the stone staircase to the water's edge to explore the temples and statues there. Whatever your motivation, you'll certainly have a one-of-a-kind experience at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, Bali.
The word Amandari translates to “peaceful spirits” and the resort is located just outside of the town of Ubud which is Bali’s cultural capital. What makes this place so special is the resort is designed like a traditional Balinese village, with pebbled walkways linking thatched-roof villas that are mostly made of local teak and coconut wood. There are 30 free-standing suites that are like no place I’ve ever seen which is probably why the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine rated Amandari as the “Top Resort in Southeast Asia” in the publication’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards.
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