Bali Bible: Ubud
Posted on August 15th, 2017
Ubud is a special place. The well-trodden trails of Bali tempt tourists with their sandy coastlines and clear blue seas, but Ubud is unique. There’s no beach and little sunbathing on offer, in fact both times I’ve been caught in torrential downpours. Yet Ubud is enchanting and mysterious, attracting both chic frequent flyers and backpackers alike.
I first visited Ubud back in 2015 for a yoga retreat but returning to Bali I knew I wanted to go back. Stones had been left unturned and I had more of Ubud’s magic to explore.
Pic by Bed and Breakfast EU
Accommodation totally depends if you’re looking for luxury or are on a budget. At 23 and still very much a student the purpose of my trip was travelling rather than holiday per say. As such the room in my eyes was literally a place to sleep and store my belongings, it needed to feel safe and clean but I didn’t need a great deal more than that.
If you’re in the same boat I highly recommend Goutama homestay. At 250,000 Balinese rupee per night, or £15.00, it’s spotless and ideally located on Jl Goutama. This was my favourite street in Ubud and home to some of the best restaurants and cafes.
Goutama is on booking.com but you’ll get the best deal if you just turn up. It’s a risky game but if you get it right it’s a good way to save some dollar. We also opted out of breakfast as there’s so much good food in Ubud we wanted the freedom to try different places which also brought the price down a bit.
Things to do
Yoga at The Yoga Barn
Ubud has become a Mecca for yogis. It both attracts and trains up some of the best teachers around the world and The Yoga Barn offers the most enchanting setting from which to practice. The tree house esque studios are humbling and peaceful. A class here is a must for experts and newbies alike.
Visit the rice paddies
We rented motorbikes and helmets of course to visit some of the sites around Ubud. I am a terrible driver, but I LOVE being on a motorbike. The wind in my face makes me feel alive and free, and chugging along at your own pace is totally ok. We rented our bikes from Goutama but it should be pretty easy to find them around Ubud if you get stuck.
Our first destination was the rice paddies, about a 20 minutes bike outside of Ubud. The paddies were breath-taking, dramatic ledges of luscious green grass creating a horizontal ripple through the landscape. Definitely worth a visit. You can book full trekking or guided tours for this but my advice is to save the $$ and just to explore on your own.
Wash in the Tampaksiring Holy Water
Also on our biking agenda was The Tampaksiring Holy Water. Here we took part in a local Hindu tradition of bathing in the holy water, believed to clean bad or evil spirits, purify the body and soul and facilitate prosperity. You can also visit Tirta Empul Temple, a temple dedicated to spiritual cleansing and used in various Hindu religious ceremonies.
Climb Mount Batur
This was probably my favourite thing we did in Ubud and one of my highlights of the whole trip. Not for the faint hearted, get up time is 2am but it’s worth it. From Ubud we drove for about an hour to a coffee plantation near the base of Mt Batur. The drive was terrifying because of thick fog which meant almost zero visibility. At the coffee plantation we had a quick breakfast consisting of a pancake with banana and chocolate sauce – it was delicious and much needed for the trek ahead.
Soon after we began our ascent. The whole climb was incredible. It’s pitch black and all you have is a torch to see the ground directly in front of you feet. Glancing up you can make out the faint torch light of hundreds of people up ahead, yet you also feel on your own.
The climb is pretty steep in places but generally manageable. Each group of 3-6 has a guide and you can take breaks as little of often as you need. It’s definitely a plus climbing in the dark because you have no idea of how far there is to go or how huge the entire mountain is, I was quite shocked on the way down.
At the top we were totally above the clouds. It was breath taking watching the sunrise transforming the landscape from a grey hue to bright blues and greens. The whole place totally came alive bathed in sunlight to a soundscape of chirping birds. After many an instagram photo we perched with our breakfast of boiled eggs, banana, toast and hot tea taking it all in. It was amazing.
Eating and Drinking
Ubud is a health food junkies paradise. The streets are lined with endless quirky cafes and restaurants serving up raw vegan superfoodie bliss for a fraction of the price at London’s equivalents.
Thanks to The Art of Lost for capturing this so much better than me.
Seeds of Life definitely has the hippie vibe. Recline on comfy cushions whilst browsing the menu, it can take a while to choose. The food is almost too pretty to eat, it’s artwork and the flavour and textures a perfectly balanced harmony. I recommend a SOL jar for breakfast, the daily special for lunch or dinner and to make room for dessert at all costs. Don’t flick past the Taoist tea tonics either. There’s a huge selection of herbal tea blends carefully crafted for a specific purpose including shield for a higher feminine expression, cellular energy and optimal organ functioning. We went back daily for the perfect post dinner tea and spirulina and mint chocolate truffle ritual.
Thanks Love Bali for the pic. Shitake pate is on the right!
Also on Jl Goutama Soma is a larger café built around a secret garden complete with mounts of coconuts and lost vines which meander around the place. Order the shitake patties, Ubud’s answer to comfort food. Raw vegan sweet treats are also not to be missed. Pure heaven.
Captured by Hungry Hong Kong
If you tire of Ubud’s raw vegan offerings be sure to check out Watercress. It has a huge focus on sustainability using only organic, local and seasonal ingredients. I had Indonesia’s classic Nasi Goreng, a stir-fried rice topped with an egg and skewers of chicken, divine.
There’s two Kafes in Ubud, one attached to the yoga barn and one in town. Both serve up some of the towns best food. My favourite is the raw chocolate spirulina and mint cheesecake perfect with a steaming Ayurvedic tea and good book on a rainy day.
Beaut shot by I like it raw
Clear captures Ubud’s jungle fever with it’s bewitching entrance and calming ambiance. One of my favourite atmospheres for dinner, we sat on the floor next to a stream totally mesmerised by our surroundings. Clear caters for all kinds of diets and preferences serving up traditional and alternative versions of everything from milkshakes to pancakes and wraps. Be sure to order a Jamu, the Indonesian turmeric and tamarind tonic. It’s the best Jamu I’ve ever tasted.
Probably Ubud’s most talked about raw vegan café. My favourite is the salad and breakfast bar where you can customise your own concoction of superfoodie joy. Debating dessert? The Banoffee pie is also spectacular.
I was drawn into Atman Kafe because of the huge kegs of homebrewed kombucha sitting in the windows. I’m so glad the Scoby’s called me in because down in the bottom of the cafe had the most glorious view of the rice paddys and the perfect quiet spot for a post Mt Batur climb feast. I had a fresh wheatgrass shot, booch of course and scrambled tempeh on red rice toast with a giant side of garlicky sauteed spinach. The whole thing was total perfection.
Holistic healing, spirituality and wellness are a big part of Ubud’s identity. When it comes to health I’m in favour of evidence based hard core scientific research. However, during my time in Ubud I just wanted to get a flavour of different treatments for fun rather that miraculous results. I few I tried included…
I saw a leaflet for salt therapy at Seeds of Life and was intrigued. Salt or Halotherapy can be used for respiratory conditions and improving overall general wellbeing. It works using a halogenerator (all very technical sounding) to simulate a natural salt cave. During the treatment I sat in my undies under a blanket whilst breath in super fine particles of salt in hope of cleansing my lungs of pollution and bacteria.
In truth, the main reason I wanted to try salt therapy was because of my hayfever and eczema both of which salt therapy can be highly effective in treating. Sadly my eczema did return, however I took an enormous amount away from the therapy. Breathing in the fine particles of salt required me to sit alone in a room for 45 minutes without any distractions. I was forced to connect with my breath and tune into the coming and going of thoughts.
I can’t say for sure if this works but I did enjoy it so if you’re interested no harm in trying. I had my therapy at Better Breathing Bali.
A Far-infared sauna is a type of sauna in which heat is generated from Far-infared rays. These rays supposedly penetrate deeply into the skin dissolving toxins and vitalizing cell metabolism.
Some of the apparent health benefits include:
- Improving the immune system
- Eliminating toxins
- Offering pain relied
- Increasing blood flow
- Relieving muscle spasms
- Decreasing joint stiffness
I decided to try this sauna at The Yoga Barn and totally loved it. The sauna was pretty tiny and I was in there for exactly 30 minutes. At first I didn’t think it was that hot, but by the end I was totally dripping. Who knows if I managed to eliminate a whole load of toxins but I did feel really energised and uplifted afterwards. Worth a try if it’s something you’re interested in.
Shot by Yoga Nomads
The Yoga Barn has a dedicated team of holistic healing therapists all specialising in different areas. If you’re interested in trying out some of these therapies, be sure to book in advance. There were a couple I really wanted to try but the therapists were all fully booked.
Types of holistic healing included:
- Biodynamic CranioSacral Therapy
- Vedic Astrology
- Comprehensive Natal Chart Reading
- Shiatsu Anma Therapy
- Swedish Kata Massage
- Pranic Healing, Crystal Healing
- Chakra Balancing
- Deeksha Blessings
- Quantum Touch
- Traditional Indian Sound Healing
- Psychic Surgery
- Spiritual Counselling
- Naturopathy and Nutritional counselling
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Colon hydrotherapy
- Astrology Readings *
- Relationship Compatibility
- Tarot Card Readings
*An astrology reading with Levi Banner came highly recommended by a friend.
Pic by The Bali Bible
Time spent relaxing and unwinding in Ubud is essential. Anything from a half an hour foot massage to the full monty flower petal bath is all part of the experience. If you’re looking for luxury all the resorts have incredible spas but if you’re in the town and looking for something a little more affordable then I would recommend Kush Spa which is part of The Yoga Barn and Taksu Spa. Both are enchanting jungle settings from which to get your treatment and have professional and well qualified staff.