Ubud, Bali, Indonesia City Guide


Wayan's Organic Coconut Juice Bar | Restaurant | Jalan Penestanan

Room 4 | Wu Tang Clan themed desserts from an elBulli chef | ROOM4DESSERT.ASIA
Portobello | Clothing Shop & Gallery | Jalan Monkey Forest Road 
Cahaya Mutiara | Foundation supporting Ubud's disabled community with organic and permaculture gardens | CAHAYAMUTIARAUBUD.WEEBLY.COM
Bali Ecostay | Permaculture gardens and Balinese hospitality | BALIECOSTAY.COM
Sarinbuana Eco Lodge | Vegan restaurant and gorgeous bungalows | BALIECOLODGE.COM
Kou Cuisine | Jam & Salt Shop | Jalan Dewisita No. 01
Arak Coffee | Coffee & Clothing Shop | FACEBOOK.COM/ARAKCOFFEEORGANIC 
Chok Chok | Local Chocolate | CHOKCHOKCHOCOLATE.COM 
Mount Batur Sunrise Volcano Trek | Pineh Bali | PINEHBALITOURS.COM 
Banyan Tree Bike Tours | Adventure | BANYANTREEBIKETOURS.COM
Green Village | Bamboo Community | GREENVILLAGEBALI.COM
Good Earth | Permaculture farm | GOODEARTHFARMBALI.COM
Royal Pita Maha | Riverside Hotel ROYALPITAMAHA-BALI.COM 
Hotel Tjampuhan | King's Hotel | TJAMPUHAN-BALI.COM 
Cinta Grill | Burgers & Local Food | CINTAGRILL.COM 
Ayung Organic | Riverside Restaurant | Desa Kedewatan
Sari Organik | Rice Paddy Restaurant | JL Raya Tjampuhan
Utama Spice | Health & Beauty | UTAMASPICEBALI.COM
Ahimsa Women's Clothing | AHIMSAUBUD.COM
Seeds / Galactic ButterflySecondhand Clothing Jalan Raya Tjampuhan
Tegenungan Waterfall | Petanu River | Tegenungan Village

We're not poverty tourists. We didn't visit Bali to "connect with nature," wear harem pants, or drown our sorrows in $7 glasses of "wellness juice." Living in Paris is stressful and we wanted to shop, eat, relax, all the things people normally do on vacation. Ubud hit that particular sweet spot of Asianness and Instagramability we strive for when choosing destinations. Pre-marriage, pre-social networks, all vacations were informed either by Carmen Sandiego or the Mary Kate and Ashley canon.

Continuing my tradition of unwittingly stumbling onto every Lonely Planet-recommended shop in Ubud and thinking it was my own discovery, we visited Kou, famous for small batch milk caramel jam and Kusamba sea salt. I liked the ladies working there and asked to take pictures of their cute uniforms. They acknowledged my Korean heritage by flashing peace signs. In Paris, a guy once got in my face screaming, "Ching chong, ching ching ching chong," so I appreciated the recognition.

Almost everyday, we went to Wayan's, a zero-waste juice bar serving fresh drinks with glass straws, and Arak Coffee, a locals-only shop for smoothies and Balinese coffee across from the famous Tjampuhan Hotel. Wayan's carries delicious unpackaged chocolates by Chok Chok, a small family business using organic local ingredients. The tiny, three-ingredient chocolate squares are so rich and filling (but not really sweet), they could replace a meal (that didn't stop me from eating seven). My thoughtful husband bought me a handmade linen dress ($18) from Portobello, stitched by skilled local craftsmen paid a fair wage. Portobello specializes in locally harvested natural dyes and fibers- perfectly packable, wrinkles fall out of the silky fabric.

After reading about the Kintamani mafia, I didn't want to climb Mount Batur at 2 in the morning. It ended up being one of the best, albeit sweatiest, experiences of the trip, and I'm glad we met our guide, Kadek- quiet but well-spoken, he's a hard-working, clever guy. At the top, we watched the sunrise over Lake Batur and lava fields. There were cute wild dogs roving around and monkeys stealing water bottles, which they cracked open and chugged. One girl tried taking a selfie with a baby monkey, and he almost ripped her face off.

I've never seen Eat, Pray, Love, so believe me when I say we went biking through rice paddies (and mountain paths, and forest trails, and river banks) because we wanted to, not because Julia Roberts did. We tried arak off a palm tree, ate Singapore berries straight from the branch, and walked barefoot in muddy bergamot fields with Bagi and Madi from Banyan Tree Bike Tours. November is rainy season in Bali, and one night, the streets started flooding. We took shelter at Cinta Grill and ordered the best burgers and guacamole I've ever tasted, accompanied by fresh organic vegetables from a local farm and two scoops of Gaya Gelato. Much to my delight and the chagrin of my husband, everyone spoke Indonesian to me.

I didn't think I would like Bali as much as I did. We settled into island life quickly, and the pretentious, self-actualizing brand of travelers Ubud attracts- the kind that collect Bikram-induced passport stamps like Pokémon and hurl competing "white backpacker strives for authenticity" stories at each other- were anthropologically fascinating. In the words of an American girl we heard dumping her English squire, "You had some sort of relationship with my best friend, and I would never do anything to jeopardize that. If there's one thing I learned at my yoga retreat in Chiang Mai, it's that I can't put that kind of bad energy out there."

Paris to Go

1 comment:

  1. sense the arrogance in the writer's piece of writing, even on the first line of this article. No need to make a statement.