Ubud Exploration

We woke up in paradise. There is no other way to describe it. 

We look out of bed thru the mozi nets into the villa at the huge vaulted ceiling and exposed thatch and wood beams. There is some white chiffon netting over the windows around 3 sides leading out to the leafy garden. Over the stone garden wall topped with a lichen coated chubby monkey, is the lush green valley dropping off steeply. 

Breakfast is held up in the entrance pavilion. I love that all the stairs have statues of intricately carved stone and the bannisters and columns are all really thick wood giving a very substantial feel. It’s been here long enough that nature is engulfing the hotel with vines and plants growing up around it. We find our way thru the different terrace levels to the breakfast tables and enjoy some fresh fruit, juice, coffee and tea with a view.

Today we didn’t have anything planned, we just set off from the hotel and headed out towards Ubud. It’s only a 20 min walk and on the way we found an old suspension bridge. It was all covered in vines and little plants, with mossy timber decking. The metal members are so rusty you can see thru them in enough places. No one uses it anymore. Its been replaced with a boring concrete bridge that’s not worth photographing.

We made a loop around the main parts of Ubud seeing what was there. I’ll save you wondering. Traffic is what’s there. It was relentless and stinky 2 stroke and diesel traffic all crawling along at 3mph for the sheer number of vehicles. It was mostly quicker walking. But there are only single carriage way roads here with temples on both sides so there really isn’t anything that can be done to improve the situation.

We picked a bar on the 1st floor above some shops and has ourselves lunch watching the traffic. It was excellent food. Im going to remember how good my sandwich was so I can recreate it at home. Sourdough crusty bread with lettuce, tomato, avocado, mozzarella, a fried egg and green pesto. It was incredible tasting. I just hope we don’t get “Bali-belly”.

As we walked around we were surprised to see some well known Western brands with very well developed shops. Shops like Billabong, Roxy, Quicksilver, Havana and even Polo Ralph Lauren. But most were normal tourist tat shops with wood carvings, tshirts and floaty dresses and other rubbish. They all sold much the same stuff. The same sort of stuff we saw in Thailand but with Bali written on it. These shops lined the streets and then occasionally a highly decorated brick and concrete compound would emerge with a fancy gate and lots of flowers and colours adorning it. These are Hindu temples dedicated to various gods of the faith.

Very highly decorated, the temples nearly all have a perimeter wall thats highly decorated in stone and concrete carvings. The entrance to the compound is usually symmetrically in the centre flanked with a large Cabdi Bentar. These are incredibly highly decorated structures symbolising a mountain, as all mountains are sacred. The pathway splits the 2 sides of the gateway in half with sheer, undecorated sides. This symbolises the threshold between the human world and the divine, powerful enough to split the mountain. The reason they are so intricately decorated with scary faces and monsters is to prevent demons getting to the divine, within. Usually there is not actually a “gate” between the two halves, it’s metaphorical.

On the steps of the Candi Bentar are daily offerings called Canang Sari. These are small palm leaf baskets made by the Balinese women or bought every morning and given to the gods in a ritual of gratitude. They contain many different things like rice for the harvest, tobacco, money, herbs and spices, and flowers of various significance. Prayers and incense are used in a small ceremony each morning to send the intention of the offering to the gods. 86% of the population of Bali are practising Hindu so these offerings are everywhere. It was easy to recognise them as some sort of religiously significant element, but I didn’t realise it was daily. 

Feeling hot and sweaty, we head over to the museum, from where the hotel supplies a free shuttle service. This was appreciated as it was a walk uphill on the way back. Thinking I’d cool off in the pool, I was correct. It was cold, not just cool. Aimi was having none of it and just watched me from the brim of her cocktail on the side.