When we arrived in Ubud we both realised it was way way busier, noisier and more commercialised than we had expected. However, we had some dinner at mama’s warung and made a plan to go walking up into the hills the next day.
We set off the next morning for a walk to the villages above Ubud, and even 20 minutes in to the walk the noise and frenetic atmosphere had disappeared. We were surrounded by greenery and only a handful of people wandering by – bliss. This was the Ubud I had imagined after watching Eat Pray Love!
After a much longer walk than we anticipated, we headed to one of the many local spa’s for a Balinese massage, which was equally relaxing and painful in parts! We went for some nasi goreng, some drinks at a couple of the bars (in which I learned to remember that the alcohol measures are a lot stronger abroad!), and made plans to hire a scooter the next day.
After planning a rough route on the map back at the hotel, we hired a scooter (£2.50/day) and after a 10 second lesson we set off onto the crazy Ubud roads. After some initial trepidation, it quickly became a highlight of the trip, especially when the traffic thinned out and we were driving through the rice paddies.
We visited two ancient temple sites – Goa Gajah and Gunung Kawi which were both amazing. They featured cliff face stone carvings dating back to the 11th Century, alongside numerous temples. At both temples Dan was given a sarong to wear around his waist, and as I was wearing long trousers I was given a red sash to wear around my waist instead.
We then drove back to Ubud through scenic Tegallalang and had a drink with an amazing view of the rice paddies below. After we set off on the scooter again, the afternoon monsoon made its appearance and we had to stop and take cover until we could drive again.
One thing we really noticed in Ubud was how artistic and creative everyone was – everyone was either a painter, wood carver, furniture joiner etc. And their wares were always displayed at the front of their shop house where you could see them carving or painting more inside.
We bought some of the local red wine and made plans at the hotel to set off for Munduk the next day.