Category Archives: Ubud

Ubud, Bali

We initially were only going to spend one full day in Ubud, but ended up staying 2 full days – I’m glad we did. This city is still touristy (it seems the entire island of Bali is touristy), but a much calmer kind of touristy than Kuta Beach. I also came down with a cold, so it was a nice place to just relax for a bit. This is the type of city that you’d find back home – there are nice boutiques, great restaurants and everything is for the most part, pretty well manicured. I think it’s the kind of place my parents would like to visit. That being said, I really like it here. It’s fun to peruse the art shops – I got all inspired and ready to buy art, but then ended up empty-handed. Shipping stuff home is costly and I’m already at the peak of my baggage weight limit for my Air Asia flights. The first day we did a walk that went on a ridge between two rivers. It is stunningly beautiful – bright green terraced rice fields rising up to meet a sea of palm trees. We meandered through villages, stopped in at a sports bar that promised Bali’s best pizza. The menu had one type of pizza – Chicago style pizza and when I asked the bartender how thick it was, she said it was thin. As I was scoffing about how that wasn’t Chicago-style pizza, the owner came up to me (from Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago) and tried telling me there were many different styles of Chicago pizza and what made it Chicago-style was the ingredients (sausage, pepperoni, onion and green pepper), not the thickness. I dunno.

Anyway, we weren’t in the mood for pizza, but were lured into a barbeque restaurant as the smells of barbeque ribs filled our nostrils as we were passing by. We sat at a large table with three Indonesians and they ended up ordering some food for us and then paying for our entire meal. It was really, really sweet. It’s moments like that that make you realize just how many good people there are in the world and moments like that that make me really grateful for the generosity of others. Later that night, we met two other American girls who are traveling alone as well, so the four of us had a nice evening together. One of them also went to boarding school near where I did, so we bonded over that.

The next day, I went white water rafting. Niki stayed behind as she has rafted before in Zimbabwe and nothing can compare to that experience for her. The river was Class 4 and 5 rapids, which was pretty underwhelming. That might be because the fattest man I’ve seen since I left America was in my raft and we got stuck on every single rock. He was, for the record, American. Ask me sometime about my favorite travel game: “Spot the American.” But I’m glad that I tried rafting! I would do it again. I think tubing down the river in Bukit Lwang was honestly more fun though.

After a really good and cheap dinner with a large ever-changing group of people, Niki and I said our good-byes to Ubud and headed on the slow ferry to Lombok, the island to the east of Bali.

I need to upload some pictures from my camera – I’ve got a lot on my camera, but have been lazy/busy. I promise some pictures next time I update my blog!

Bali, baby!

So, after a couple of weeks in Sumatra, Niki and I parted ways with Rick and Monique and headed to Bali together. We enjoyed our day at the KL airport – I know it sounds silly, but after awhile of being looked at like a celebrity while out and about and using filthy toilets and staying in beds that sometimes smell like the BO of an old Indian man, it’s so nice to walk into a bathroom (in the airport) and see seat sanitizer, toilet paper [gasp!], and soap at the sink. We reveled in our day, each spending copious amounts of time on the internet, browsing the duty free shop and gorging on western food (a tunafish sandwich!!). I guess our gorging on western comforts was a little unnecessary, as Bali is entirely different from Sumatra.

In Sumatra, people would come up to us, push their child towards us, in hopes that we would acknowledge them and say hello. When we passed a car on the road, or children in town, they’d point to their friends, or parents and get all excited that they saw a foreigner. Once, we were in a “taxi” and our driver kept honking to everyone saying that he had 4 foreigners – he had to show this off to everyone he knew. Compare that to Bali, where our plane was full of foreigners, mostly white 20-somethings heading for some fun in the sun in Bali. Upon arriving in Bali, the locals were absolutely shell-shocked at the Indonesia that we can now speak. Bear in mind my conversational ability is limited to “Nama saya Erin. Saya dari America. Apa kapar?” (My name is Erin. I’m from America. How are you?).

The other big shock was driving along the road to get to Kuta Beach, where all the backpackers and surfers frequent. It felt like everything I didn’t like about Cancun – western restaurants and shops. There was a Chi-Chi’s for crying out loud! I mean, why would anyone go to that restaurant in the states, let alone Bali? Well, we finally made it to the backpacker alleys where our “trusty” Lonely Planet promised us $4 rooms. As you can imagine, we were shocked to find out that after over 30 minutes of walking and numerous full places, that we had to pay $12. It’s ridiculously expensive, especially compared to what we were paying. The next day, we got up and found a place for $7.50 per night. At least our new place is just a stone’s throw from the beach, although our bathroom leaves much to be desired. It’s still expensive, but it is Bali.

We’ve been taking it easy while in Bali. Niki had an insect bite (we think) that got infected, so she’s had to endure going to the doctor everyday and having him squeeze pus out of it – basically it’s really painful, but she can’t go in the water. It’s ok, b/c it’s really easy here to lose track of time and have a lazy start to the day and then the next thing you know, its dinner time. Yesterday, we did rent motorbikes and went to Uluwatu, a beach south of here where the waves are just enormous! It was really fun watching the surfers catch great waves and do barrel rolls (see, I’m learning the lingo!). We incidentally had a proper introduction to the Bali nightlife, by staying out ‘til 7am on our first real night out.

Bali has been a welcomed, if more expensive, change of pace from Sumatra (which I absolutely loved). We did, however, eat one of the best meals of my trip in Bali the other night – for $4, we had mahi mahi with a creamy pesto sauce, sautéed pumpkin, pasta and a mixed drink. Such a great deal and honestly, such a great dinner.

After a few days in Kuta Beach, we decided to head for the hills (literally) and are now in Ubud. Ubud is the epicenter of Balinese culture and art. If you’ve read the book “Eat, Pray, Love” it’s where the author ends up staying here permanently, I do believe. I’ll update more in a bit.