In Kuala Lumpur, a Russian girl we met told us that she had moved to Bali because it was the most beautiful place she had ever seen. And that's about right.
Ubud was our first stop in Bali and it instantly felt like home. There's a great mix of traditional Balinese culture and the Western comforts you start to miss after a few months on the road. Although there are a lot of tourists and so much traffic, it somehow doesn't lose its laid back vibe. It's friendly, relaxed, has fantastic restaurants, beautiful countryside, lots of interesting events, a coworking space made of bamboo, great weather ... ok you get the idea, we loved it.
We stayed in a perfect little studio apartment just outside of central Ubud, and it was such a treat after months of hotels. We cooked in the small kitchen (mostly fried egg and cheese sandwiches, our daily breakfast), zoomed into town on our rented motorbike, swam in the pool, spent a couple of evenings watching TV and some days it was even cool enough for a proper cup of tea!
This was the view from our balcony, we never got bored of it.
Colin spent a few days working at the local coworking space, Hubud, a bamboo building full of expat and local entrepreneurs, where they also host talks and workshops. Plus the key lime pie in their Living Food Lab cafe is out of this world!
Ubud is one of Bali's main cultural centres. Despite all the tourists and Western restaurants, Balinese culture still has a strong presence in the town. There are temples and statues everywhere, ceremonies that stop the traffic for hours and little daily offerings at the entrance of every house and shop. I really liked that people would spend time each day creating these offerings, and they are all slightly different.
Ubud Market is one of the big landmarks in the town, but from 6 to 8 am, before the tourists wake up, it's a local food and flower market. Then it all gets swept away and the souvenirs and clothes are put out for the rest of the day.
You don't have to go far out of Ubud to be in beautiful countryside, a lot of the restaurants even have rice paddy views. There are plenty of walks and cycle rides you can do through the villages.
We mostly explored on motorbike (our new favourite!), and we also did the Campuhan Ridge walk, a very easy and fun walk to Kursi Cafe.
After just two weeks, it feels like we've been here forever and we're already plotting our return.
Read about more Bali adventures in my Amed post.