I am one third of my way through my Balinese vacation and it really is heavenly!
I was wide eyed and exhausted after over 24 hours of travel from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Bali. My driver played chicken with the traffic which consists mainly Balinese and Expats on motorbikes. They weave in and out of cars sometimes wearing helmets or simply holding one, sometimes piled on with multiple people including babies, sometimes riding side saddle because they can’t straddle the seat wearing their fitted sarong.
Every town we drove through specializes in some form of trade. The streets of Batubulan is lined with silver and gold jewelry shops. Celuk streets are packed with stone carving shops. Mas is lined with wood furniture shops. Finally the art galleries and rice field, let me know that we have arrived in Ubud. I am staying at Villa Sarna which is nestled in the forest surrounded by rice fields in Ubud. My private villa is such a welcome sight after being on airplanes and cars for a full day. After a shower, dinner and checking in I passed out to the sound of crickets, frogs and the occasional howling dog.
Ubud is bustling with tourist from all over the world to see the temples, but the first thing I wanted to do was get a massage and take a yoga class, so I headed to The Yoga Barn. I had a 90 miinute KUSH Balancing Ayuryoga Massage which cost me only $25 (the best massage I have ever had) followed by an hour long Yin Yoga.
Feeling relaxed I wandered up Monkey Forest Road until I found myself at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. This is not like the zoo where mesh fences separate you from the animals. These monkeys are wandering around hoping you will offer them a banana. I watched one monkey steal a diaper out of a stroller hoping it was a new kind of treat. As I looked up at a huge banyan tree a little money climbed up the side of my body until he perched himself on my shoulder. I am not sure if it was us admiring the monkeys or the monkey admiring the tourists!
After wandering an hour through the store and temple lined streets – maneuvering my way through tourists, men asking if you want “transport” and Balinese women balancing huge baskets on their heads – of Ubud I was thirsty and hungry.
At Cafe Lotus I stuffed myself with crab and shrimp spring rolls, chicken curry and a warm chocolate and strawberry tartlet while overlooking the lotus ponds of the Ubud Water Palace. Following my meal I watched a Ramayana Ballet. The costumes were incredible, the dancers were beautiful, and the music was enchanting. It was a perfect and incredible start to this vacation.
My second day started with a Vinyasa Flow class at The Yoga Barn. I love this place! The studio is set up high with open walls and a thatched roof allowing the island breeze blows through the studio. Today’s practice started with the instructor playing a ukulele while chanting. Midway through the flowI partnered with a girl from New Zealand, who has been living in Indonesia for the past 6 months taking a break from her rigorous gymnastics training, to practice handstands. I will miss this place!
I followed my practice with a couple of decadent treatments at the Zen Bali Spa. For $15 I got a massage followed by a body scrub with tumeric, sandalwood and rice powder. Then my skin was covered in yoghurt to eliminate toxins. After I enjoyed fruit and tea while relaxing in a blossom and oiled filled bath. For another $6 I had my hair wash with a wonderful hibiscus shampoo and a scalp and next massage.
I enjoyed a late lunch at a small restaurant in an alleyway called Devilious then shopped for malas and batiks. I took pictures of temples, offerings, people … everything and anything that caught my eye.
Ubud has been everything I hoped it would be and I am sad to leave it. Tomorrow I am meeting up with my dear friend Rockstar Mom LV in Jimbaran Bay for the weekend.
Stay tuned for more about my Bali trip …