Sunday, May 7, 2017

Travelogue: Taking on Ubud and Uluwatu

If you have been around on this blog for a reasonable amount of time, you would definitely know and understand my affinity towards Bali and the yearly bouts of affection that come in the form of trips. This time, however, I decided to get out of my haven and explore the much talked about (and photographed) Ubud and Uluwatu. A little introduction to the two for the uninitiated; Ubud is a few hours from Bali and about 35 kms from the Bali International Airport. It is surrounded by rice paddy fields on all sides and is about 250 mts above sea level. Or easier still, I am sure you recognise it from the popular book by Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat Pray Love' and the movie adaptation of the same. Liz met Felippe in the little town of Ubud when she turns to Indonesia for her eat, pray, love experience. Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem, you guys. Uluwatu is a tip on the south western peninsula of Bali, as I gather from the internet and is best known for its beautiful sights and sounds.
As I always do, let me share some of my travel gems from my little tete-a-tete with the beautiful towns of Ubud and Uluwatu. We took a day trip to Ubud and another to Uluwatu. I do, however, wish I had stayed longer in Ubud since the idea of a getaway to Ubud is staying in one of the home stays and having an authentic Ubud experience that is serene and fun in equal parts. Let's talk about some of the things that I did do in both the towns and you definitely should not miss:

  • Cliffs of Uluwatu: The winding steps leading up to the cliffs down which you see the beautiful Indian Ocean lashing against the cliffs from the peninsula, is totally worth the pain. Remember to cover yourself appropriately though, since situated atop the cliffs is the Uluwatu Temple and like all hindu temples, they maintain a strict dress code in so far as the visitors are concerned. Definitely one of the best sights I have ever laid my eyes on.

  • Padang Padang beach: If you have gone all the way, make sure you make that extra effort of clambering down a few hundred steps, all carved out from a rock entrance to the Padang Padang beach. Crystal blue waters here form one of the most popular surfing spots for tourists from all over the world. We decided to skip the surfing adrenaline and just bum around listening to some aboriginal Australian drumming (some fun tourists that were parked right next to us under a large rock) and pig out at the local Warungs and sip some beer. It's a relatively crowded beach but the touristy value is quite high. It helps that the final scene from Eat Pray Love was shot here.

  • El Kabron: I almost feel like I should be rewarded for disclosing the name of this absolute treasure trove of party + scenic experiences. Perched on the cliffs of Uluwatu (you have to drive up a spiralling road for quite a while with fields on the either side till you get to this club), El Kabron is a spanish club. With it's stark white decor and a sparkling blue Infinity Pool that overlooks the Indian ocean, El Kabron is really what holiday dreams are made of. Sip endless glasses of Moet and Chandon while swimming in the pool and wait for the most beautiful sunset of your life. The upbeat music and the options of these exotic looking sheeshas kind of made the experience more surreal. Warning: This place is kind of on the expensive side. Do it for the views and for that rich ass, bad ass life.

  • Rice Fields, Ubud: When you get to Ubud, your first priority (if you are not averse to a little trekking downhill) should be to visit the Tegallaland rice fields of Bali that are located in the centre of Ubud and are beautiful and lush green. You can climb downwards to the inner most point of the fields and the place is dotted with the cutest cafes with the most scenic views and also the most adorable photo ops. A lot of tourism companies (and probably hotels and Air B n Bs) offer a guided tour of the rice fields but we just did it all by ourselves.

  • Coffee plantations and Luwak coffee tasting: If you did not know, a cute little animal (much like a possum) found in Indonesia called a Luwak is responsible (ahem) for this distinctly tasteful coffee that is especially made in Ubud. The Luwak is fed the coffee beans which it umm..for the lack of a better word excretes and that, my friends is cleaned (thank god for that), treated and roasted to make one of the best coffees I've had (honestly!). They take you through the entire plantation with a detailed one-on-one tour with the planters and through all the steps of the coffee processing. You also have the option of tasting a whole diverse range of flavourful coffees the flavours of which are all grown on the plantation itself. Everything, ranging from vanilla to dark chocolate to ginger. 

  • Saraswati Temple, Ubud: One of the most beautiful temples and also one of the most sought after tourist attractions in Ubud is this beautiful temple of the goddess Saraswati and even though Indonesia is known for it's Hindu temples, this really is one of its kind. The beautiful inlay stone work at the entrance and the lotus ponds on the either side make the walk to the temple inside quite enchanting. The main temple requires a permit to enter and you also require  one for the Balinese dance performance that happens at night (warning: Appropriate dress code, again). 

  • Shopping and the Monkey Forest: When they say that the furniture and homeware shopping in Ubud is everything you can dream of, they are definitely not exaggerating. While I did not end up shopping at that street or anything at all in Ubud, I honestly had my eyes peeled out of the car the entire time we were on that stretch of road that led to the rice fields because everything you can imagine to make your house a better, more intimate space can be found right there. From mirrors to artisanal furniture to wicker accessories and everything wooden and handmade and even funky signage and art pieces for your home, everything can be found there. It is the stretch of the Tegallalang highway. The Monkey forest is a great experience too but it requires a great amount of resilience to walk around in the wilderness with monkeys covering every inch of the space around you and the comfort level to enjoy the experience of the interaction with the monkeys who come and perch on you at any given point of time. Not one of my favourite things but I understand why it holds such a high touristy value.
That's all for this one. Now excuse me while I go pack my bags again.

Keep your comments and questions coming in. I would be happy to answer.

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