If you’ve ever had a little look at my Bucket List (if you haven’t you can click here to have a gander) you will see that doing yoga in Bali was up there. You will also notice it now has a lovely line through it. I’m a huge yoga fan and getting to do it somewhere as beautiful as Indonesia was truly something quite special. As the blog title indicates, this part of my journey got rather spiritual…and I absolutely loved it. I’m going to try and narrow down my favourite bits of Ubud in Bali for anyone planning a visit to the area.
Where to start? Well Ubud (situated about two hours drive north of Bali airport) was a breath of fresh air after Gili T. It was exactly what I had fantasized Bali would have been like when I was working my minimum wage hospitality job whilst saving for this trip. It was basically everything I could have wished for and more.
The Yoga Barn, Ubud
This place is just heaven on earth. Yoga, healthy (and delicious food) and a heck of a lot of positive vibes. To get to the Yoga barn itself (yep, it’s a genuine barn) you need to walk down through the reception, past the ‘Whispering Zone’, through The Garden Kafe and down some steps. They offer so many classes for all abilities, it’s truly open to everyone. I paid 130,000 for one class which is roughly what I’d pay at home so I was happy with that. I opted for a beginners class because even though I regularly attend at home I didn’t want to throw myself in at the deep end. And I can hand on heart say it was the best yoga class I have ever done. It probably had a lot to do with the beautiful surroundings but it was pretty special.
The food here was quite simply the best food I ate in all of my time in Indonesia. It was amazing to be able to have such a varied choice of gluten free, veggie or vegan food. It’s not just for the health nuts either though. My friend Tom said he had on of the best curries he’s ever had here (and coming from a meat eating, beer drinking Brit that’s quite the statement). Over my few days in Ubud I tried quite a bit of the menu, from GF banana pancakes to raw vegan pizza. I would go back to Bali just for this food. It was also very reasonably priced, I paid about £3-4 for a main meal and coffee.
Mount Batur Sunrise Hike
I think I must be slightly insane as this is the second time I’ve got up in the middle of the night to go hike up a volcano (first time in New Zealand). A 1.45am alarm was set and me and my friend along with a lovely group of Brits, Canadians, American and Spanish climbed up Mount Batur in the pitch black with a flash torch. We were led by two incredible Balinese men who do this every day and made it to the peak with about 5 minutes to spare before the sun started to make an appearance.
This climb can be pretty hit and miss. Sometimes the weather means you can climb all the way to the top and see absolutely nothing. This happened to a friend of mine the week before so I was a little worried. We got up there and it was looking dismal which was disappointing to say the least. By some miracle though the sun rose and the clouds parted. The views were breathtaking. Although it was quite hard work, about 8 miles in total, I’d recommend this to anyone; even little kids were doing it!
The way down was equally beautiful, you were able to see what you had climbed in the dark and the breathtaking surroundings. If you ask your guides nicely as well they’ll take you to see some wild monkeys en route back to your car. These monkeys had such a kind temperament and were adorable (a sharp comparison to another monkey experience I had in Ubud…but more on that later…).
I think it’s written in law somewhere that you can’t go to Bali and not see some rice fields (No? I made that up? Well it should be a law..). You can either rent scooters in Ubud (from any hostel or hotel) and make your own way out to the rice fields or there are loads of really cheap tours that take you out of the town to see lots of attractions. We opted for the latter because quite simply I think I would either hurt myself, someone else or get lost on a scooter.
We booked onto a bus trip for 150,000 each from a little stall on Monkey Forrest Road but there’s loads to choose from all over Ubud. This is where we encountered a slight problem. We waited outside our hostel (which was admittedly a little difficult to find) for around half an hour past the designated pick up time. We got in contact with man from the stall and he’d accidentally forgotten to put our names down for the trip. We assumed we’d just get our money back but this is where the Balinese hospitality really came into play. He sent us a personal driver who got us around all of the temples and rice fields. Going at our own speed was awesome, it really couldn’t have worked out any better.
The rice fields themselves are incredible and no pictures I’ve taken can do them justice. My only piece of advice would be to take some decent shoes so you can clamber around the fields (it gets a little muddy), my Birkenstocks really were not up to the job.
Sacred Monkey Forest
This was another must do whilst in Ubud. With an entrance fee of 45,000 we both thought that was very reasonable. This, however, is where my love affair with monkeys ended. Although the temples in Sacred Monkey Forrest are amazing the animals that inhabit the Forrest? Not so much. They’re so used to human contact now they’ve turned very cocky. Throughout the forest there are people there to help you and look after the monkeys but this really doesn’t stop them.
Admittedly when we first saw a monkey steal someone’s water bottle, open it and drink it like a human we thought it was pretty hilarious. You are warned that if you have food or drink on you they will jump up on you (as would be expected and is a lot of people’s aim…all about that monkey selfie, am I right?!). I however had a rather forward monkey jump on me and attempt to unzip my backpack. As all of my money and my passport was in there I freaked out a little and tried to bat the little guy off me. He responded by biting me and thank the lord he didn’t break the skin.
Safe to say I’m not going to be in a rush to return here but equally I’m glad I gave it a go.
Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave Temple)
This is where the archaeologist within me got very excited. Elephant Cave is a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 9th Century as a sanctuary. This is a site of both Hindu and Buddhist worship which gives a very special uniqueness. When entering any temples in Bali you have to wear a sarong which you’re loaned for free when you buy entrance to the temple (only 15,000). They’ll also put them on for you so don’t worry about getting it wrong. There’s different ways for males and females but they’ll keep you right so there’s no risk of you offending anyone! In stalls outside all the temples you’ll be offered to buy sarongs but it’s really not worth it unless you want to take one home as a memento in my opinion.
Titra Empul Tampak Siring (Holy Spring Water Temple)
This was by far my favourite temple I visited in Bali. It’s so different to all of the others. The volcanic activity under the holy water pools has made them sacred and even if you’re not religious you’ll be in awe of just how beautiful this place is. I got to see a ceremony whilst I was here which I can only describe as breathtaking and really quite moving.
If you want to bathe in the holy waters whilst you’re here you can! Unfortunately I hadn’t read up too much and didn’t have anything appropriate with me to enable me to do so. They provide special sarongs to let you go in the water (you need to stay covered) but taking swimming costumes with you as well is definitely a must. Even though I’m disappointed I didn’t get to do this this time round I will undoubtedly be back. I just hope I’m not that idiot posing in the water for my boyfriend to get the most Instagram worthy pic (yep, there was quite a few).
I’m planning a return trip to Bali whilst I’m living in New Zealand so if you have any recommendations give me a holla! I’m really interested in attending a yoga retreat at the Yoga Barn but I’m open to any other ideas.