After Canggu, Ubud was the next stop on our four-part journey around Bali and Lombok. Of all the places on our itinerary, Ubud was perhaps the one I was looking forward to the most as I knew quite a few friends who had visited the year prior and had images in my head of a peaceful, lush green, forest-like town – the kind of place where everyone walks around barefoot or cycles to yoga class, mat on their back and green smoothie in hand. The reality was a little different though…
Ubud was in fact a bustling city, complete with smog from the surprising amount of traffic and plenty of shops and restaurants that you would of course expect from a big city. But, although it didn’t quite live up to expectations, I was determined to make the most of it and so we spent our first evening seeking somewhere to escape the bustle for my 31st birthday the next day.
The next morning, I woke to a party popper exploding over my princess-net covered bed and the birthday celebrations began. Firstly, we headed up to The Yoga Barn, an Ubud institution and a must-attend for any yogi visiting Bali. We opted for a vinyasa flow class in the huge, airy room with huge windows looking out over the tranquil green scenery. Post-class, we grabbed a healthy smoothie and hopped on the back of a couple of scooters to be whisked away from the city on a thrilling ride to our chosen destination for the day, Jungle Fish.
Not a bad birthday spot! ;-)P
We relaxed by the pool, reading our books and sipping on cocktails, enjoying the relaxing vibe despite the slightly overcast weather that could have threatened to put a dampener on the day. As the sun began to descend behind the hotel, we packed our bags and headed back to our lovely boutique hotel, the Budhi Ayu Villas, located in the South of Ubud, but not before stopping to take in the breath-taking views of the pink-hued sky against the rice fields.
More cocktails followed that evening, with some tapas-style Asian dishes at Kassava Resto & Bar, somewhere that was to become our favourite pitstop (if only for their delicious Cosmopolitans). The nightlife was a bit lacking in Ubud so the party was a tame one and we were soon wandering back to our villa for a relatively early night ahead of what would undoubtedly be our best day in Ubud.
A Saturday well spent
Before heading to Bali, Sophie and I were keen for a spot of pampering and when we read about Bali Botanica Day Spa in a blog post, we knew that a simple massage just wasn’t going to cut it when the option for a full day of pampering was also on the menu. We were collected early from our villa and taken straight to the beautiful spa in the north of Ubud, not far from where we’d spent the day prior at Jungle Fish. We swapped our flipflops for spa slippers and a robe as we were welcomed to the spa with a selection of delicious-smelling lotions and scrubs to choose from for our personalised treatments. We were led to our treatment room where for the next hour or so we sunk into a state of utter relaxation as every inch of our achy bodies were kneaded into dreamy submission. Post massage, a gentle green tea scrub was applied and left to soak before it was time for the highlight of the package, a rose petal bath overlooking the beautiful gardens below.
I could have soaked there all day but we still had our facial and hair crème bath to look forward to before it was time to step back out into the real world feeling utterly revitalised; skin and hair glowing. That evening we were in for another treat as a friend had recommended dinner and a traditional dance performance at The Lotus Pad. We’d been clever enough to book a couple of days in advance and so secured a prime position on the outdoor terrace overlooking the lotus pond where the performance would take place. Dinner was served just as the first string of music began and it was so mouth-wateringly good that it was difficult not to give the food the attention it truly deserved. Afterwards we wandered around looking for a glimpse of nightlife but with little to tempt us, we decided to head back to Budhi Ayu which was fortunate as the next day we would certainly be needing some energy.
Climb that goddamn mountain!
Sunday was our final day in Ubud so we opted to spend our time leisurely wandering around the markets, haggling over the wicker bags that are the latest trend back in London. It turned out to be a more stressful experience than we anticipated though, especially in the oppressive humid heat and so the afternoon was spent getting back into a more tranquil vibe as we meandered along the Campuhan Ridge (which was much more reminiscent of the Bali I’d had in mind before we set off on our travels).
Post-walk, a quick pizza pitstop was called for before it was time to head home for a very early night indeed as we anticipated our 2am wakeup call, ready to take us to the base of Mount Batur where we’d begin our climb in the dark, scaling the mountainside in our weary state, before reaching the peak just in time to witness the sun rising behind the clouds. As someone who considers themselves fairly fit, it was a reasonably difficult climb but the views and the sense of achievement at the top were certainly worth it (as was the hilarious journey back down which featured Sophie and me falling several times as the crumbly rock gave way under our feet every few hundred yards or so).
Mountain conquered, we were whisked quickly back to our Ubud home to pack our bags, re-fuel and then head off for our next adventure…the party island, Gili Trawangan.