Ubud, bali, is famed for its lush green rainforests, traditional crafts and Balinese dance. I’m sure you’ve seen countless instagram pictures of beautiful people admiring paddy fields, swimming in waterfalls and making friends with the local monkeys.
For this reason, I assumed I was about to enter a green retreat away from it all but in Bali there is no escaping traffic, hustle and bustle. City and jungle, people and nature fuse as one. One moment you can be on a busy street lined with restaurants, the next you’re surrounded by paddy fields and palm trees.
My family and I flew London > Dubai > Denpasar, that’s 17 bum numbing cramped hours. The holiday didn’t get off to the best start due to delays at London Heathrow which meant a mad dash for our connecting flight at Dubai. Then we had to queue for hours at Denpasar airport for passport control; 2 staff, 1000’s of passengers, single file…you do the math.
Tired and dehydrated we went to meet our driver. A task made near impossible due to a swarm of awaiting drivers all frantically waving boards and shouting names. Eventually we found our man, who was lovely (as were all Balinese people), and were on our way.
Where We Stayed
We never stay in hotels because we like to do our thing and have cooking facilities but since we only had 48 (well 38ish after delays) hours, a hotel was the best option. And what an amazing hotel it was. The facilities, the staff and the food were all wonderful.
From the entrance The Plataran looked like an open air bar but once we walked through the bar and out the back, we were immersed in beautiful green surroundings: palm trees, paddy fields and moreover, 2 pools. I repeat not one but 2 POOLS! Plus, there was a gym which happened to be right opposite my room.
The hotel offered so many services/classes, some complimentary, some not but sadly as we only had a day and bit we didn’t get to do them. I was desperate to try sunrise yoga, Balinese cooking, massage therapy and afternoon tea in the paddy fields, but I guess it wasn’t to be. Although, I did get a complimentary mini massage whilst eating breakfast.
I loved getting up early whilst everyone else slept, heading to the empty gym, working up a sweat and then heading for breakfast and coffee.
When we went out for dinner all my body craved was something healing and nourishing because travel always messes up my digestion. Ubud did not disappoint. Jamu is an Indonesian health drink made from turmeric and ginger, basically the perfect concoction for gut health. We then all ordered detox juices in various colours.
In terms of food, I was sadly not travelling with a health conscious bunch so smoothie bowls, rainbow salads and vegan treats were sadly off the menu. I walked past these places and longed to venture in: House of Chakras Cafe, Habitat Cafe and Watercress.
However, I can’t really complain because for £12 all 4 of us had dinner at a traditional Balinese cafe. Most of the items contained dairy/gluten so to be safe I had a coconut and shredded chicken salad. Though tasty, it was tiny.
Ubud offers so many incredible places to take yoga, including the world famous Yoga Barn. I really wish we had an extra day in Ubud because it was such a shame to travel all the way to Bali, be 5 minutes from some of the most inspiring yoga teachers in the world and not have the time to take a class.
My morning HIIT sessions in the gym had to do.
And lots of swimming too, obviously.
There are also many great walks, weather you wish to roam through paddy fields, venture into the jungle to discover waterfalls or site see and admire Hindu temples.
One thing we all wanted to visit was the Sacred Monkey Forest, especially as my sister is a serious animal lover. The forest is a nature reserve and Hindu temple complex, home to around 600 Balinese long tailed monkeys.
The little fellows are highly inquisitive and master thieves who will pretend to be all cute then nick your hat and wallet.
The adult males can be a little aggressive as my dad found out when he refused to allow the furry thief to run off with his wallet and room key.
The forest only takes an hour or so to walk round but the site is beautifully green and there are opportunities for visitors to feed bananas to the monkeys or hold them (although generally they just leap on you unannounced). Once you’ve finished looking around there are loads of cafes nearby to grab a drink or tuck into some lunch.
We then went to see Ubud Palace but it was under construction so most of it was roped off or covered in sheets/dust and workman. But we could still admire the architecture; the intricate stone work, gold edging and warrior statues.
Thousands of temples and statues are dotted throughout Bali. Even roundabouts are an opportunity to create a work of art and celebrate Hinduism. The UK needs to up its roundabout game.
Sadly that was all we had time for as early in the morning we were off to catch a fast boat to Bali’s neighbouring island, Lombok.
Call me Eleanora the Explorer as the adventure continues….
P.s i’d love to hear about your travel adventures.