I’ve been to Bali 3 times in the past 2 decades. Twice for work and once tagging along an incentive trip of an ex. Each time was spent on a beach resort, Nusa Dua to be exact. My first and only time in Ubud prior to this trip was in 1991. A day trip only. Almost 2 decades later, here I am experiencing Ubud like it was my first time.
Ubud is Bali’s cultural enclave, where one can find artists’ studios & galleries, rice fields, ornate temples and ancient historical sites. While it once was an oasis for backpackers, artists and bohos, Ubud is now a popular destination for literati, glitterati, art collectors and connoisseurs. Elegant 5 star hotels and sprawling mansions now stand in the outskirts of Ubud.
So without further hoo-ha, here’s a list of places that deserves a thumbs up (according to me)!
The Crispy Duck of Bebeck Bengil:
Lines were long even at 1pm. Obviously a popular eating joint for both locals and tourists alike. Service was slow and quite inefficient. But the (long) wait was worth it. The duck was very tasty. Crispy yet juicy – fried to perfection, if you ask me. It didn’t look very appetizing but it definitely had me at first bite.
Dinner at Lamak Restaurant and Bar:
Hands down the best meal of our entire stay. Located along Monkey Forest Road, they serve excellent fusion dishes like Tea Infused Duck Broth with dumpling and Sesame crusted Scallop w/ Kung Pao Sauce. And desserts like Orange & Ginger Bruleé, Chocolate Soufflé and Chili ice cream. Nuff said! My dad actually wanted to return for lunch or dinner the next day. 😀
Pura Puseh Temple, Batuan Village:
Considered to be one of the finest and oldest temples in Bali. The temple dates back to the 11th century and has many fine carvings. This Balinese village of Batuan possesses one of the richest cultural legacies on the island. Renowned for some of the finest music, dances and sculptures in all of Bali, it has performances twice a month of the Gambuh, a rare ancient dance drama. Regular performances are held on the 1st and 15th of every month. Nope, we didn’t catch it; it was the wrong time of the month.
Ubud Palace / Puri Saren Agung
Set in the center of Ubud, across the Ubud Central Market. This is the palace of the Royal family that ruled from the late 1800’s until World War II and is essentially the father of other Ubud Palaces or Puri, as the locals call it.
When we arrived, a portion of the palace was closed (for unknown reasons) but the little that I saw of the grounds impressed me. The garden was beautifully kept, the old stone gates and the statue guards in that familiar checkered cloth skirts were main points of interest. Definitely worth a revisit.
The front courtyard is open to the public during the day and a traditional dance performance, the Legong Dance is held here every night. Interesting to note, some of the pavilions have been turned into hotel rooms for those who want a glimpse of the Royal life.
Along Monkey Forest Road and Jalan Raya. Fantastic and extremely varied. You can find all kinds from ancient antiques to whimsical trinkets. Shops upon shops filled with sarongs, woodcarvings, paintings, souvenirs, jewelries, incense potteries… It’s a shopping haven even if I had to put my rusty bargaining powers to use. For many, bargaining is an art and is what makes shopping fun… not for me as patience is not my virtue. Wahaha! 😛
Maya Ubud – A Haven of Tranquility
Our home for 4 days. Let’s just say I can afford it because I wasn’t paying for it. If you like the finer things in life and prefer traveling luxuriously as my family does, Maya Ubud is for you.
Reviews says that it is a cut above the rest and rightly so. Located high between 2 river valleys, set in sprawling lawns and gardens, Maya Ubud is indeed a haven of tranquility. All villas face the river, and the sound of the river brings such serenity.
I adore my villa and the daybed outside my room. I spent a lot of time reading on that comfy daybed. It is pure bliss to be able to just relax and read my book. The greatest indulgence however was a relaxing bathing experience in the privacy of my bathroom. For US$15, I had a personal assistant prepare my bath. When I arrived from dinner, there it was, all ready for me. I just had to slide in and enjoy my book some more before I slumbered off. Now that’s what I call capping the day. And the best part is that they provided an extra set with their compliments and for 2 straight nights I bathe in tranquility. Such is life! 😉
One thing I didn’t get to do was try the award winning spa. It was kinda duh of me but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay for something that I can get in Manila for a quarter of the price. Could anything be that worth it? Regretfully, I’ll never know! 😦