Exploring Ubud – The Cultural Heart of Bali Province in Indonesia

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Exploring Ubud – The Cultural Heart of Bali Province in Indonesia

Medieval buildings, laid back attitude and tasteful display of Indonesian culture define Ubud for me. A town in the Bali province, Ubud offers respite to a culture aficionado after visiting the Kuta or any other southern part of Bali province.

I had arrived in Ubud from Kuta today and instead of hopping on a bike taxi, decided to walk till my hostel. Traversing through the lanes of this quaint little town, straying away from the main road, I discovered a peaceful town. Ubud presented a deeper cultural perspective in the Indonesian way of life. The shopkeepers running tiny outlets by the road seemed more content and didn’t shout out of their window to woo customers. Hawkers had setup their stalls by the bylines and greeted foreigners with a smile. I had witnessed some thieves siphoning off wallets and valuables from the tourists in Seminyak. But, Ubud provided a unique sense of comfort.

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Exploring Ubud – The Cultural Heart of Bali Province in Indonesia
An interesting structure of a temple in Ubud
Exploring Ubud – The Cultural Heart of Bali Province in Indonesia
A statue outside a temple in Ubud

I had downloaded offline google maps and it gave me liberty to explore the lanes without having being afraid of getting lost. As I walked past street shops, I responded to some warm smiles and waved. It took me an hour to reach my hostel from the bus stop and I decided not to use public transport in Ubud. Instead, I would walk and if necessary, hitchhike. I had developed a desire to know the locals better here. Such were the positive vibes I got in Ubud.

As the sun rays started to fade, the street hawkers packed up and started to vacant the street sides. The evenings here were devoid of flashy lights and loud tourists. The travelers here rather rested in cafes, taking in the flavor of a calm evening.

I almost reached my hostel, In Da Lodge. After staying in Bali, I was not very excited about this hostel because of the private and closed culture at the Bali hostel. But, I was glad to be wrong!

To reach In Da Lodge hostel, I had to climb a bit of uphill stretch. When I entered the hostel main gate, I discovered a well carved path through a tiny patch of garden. There was a miniature bridge which paved road above a tiny stream. I noticed a neat lineup of hammocks on both sides of the path. There was a beautiful swimming pool to my left which looked stunning as it’s one side faced a vast farm. I walked towards the reception to notice a common area where folks were either updating their Instagram or watching a movie on laptop. The common area wasn’t as interactive as I had thought. However, I did see a group chatting about their travel plans. This hostel was at least better than the one in Bali.

Exploring Ubud – The Cultural Heart of Bali Province in Indonesia

A Hammock in the gardens at “In Da Lodge” hostel

Exploring Ubud – The Cultural Heart of Bali Province in Indonesia

The swimming pool facing farmland at “In Da Lodge” hostel

Exploring Ubud – The Cultural Heart of Bali Province in Indonesia
The common area at “In Da Lodge” hostel

My train of thoughts stopped when the receptionist called me out and handed over the key to me. I had booked a dorm bed which would fit 8 people. It was a mixed dorm and I was greeted by a British girl upon entering. I met the dorm cohabitants and quickly rushed to take a short dip in their pool. The last rays of sun were still creating colorful hues on the sky. As the pattern changed by every minute, I relaxed in the pool, staring at the faint stars. I grabbed a beer and sat by the pool, listening to some music.

Later, I joined some fellow hostel dwellers for dinner. I tried some soup and noodles while listening to their experiences in Indonesia till now. I picked up some tips and recommendations from them and explored the sleepy town for some time. Later, I went back to the hostel and slowly, I drifted to sleep with a novel resting on my chest.

The next day, I started out early to explore the attractions Ubud had to offer. I opened my Google maps and started walking towards Tegalalang Rice fields. After walking considerable distance, I realized the distance was not reducing. I had chosen the wrong path and was now in middle of nowhere! At this moment, I decided to try hitchhiking.

To read my detailed experience of hitchhiking in Ubud, read this blog : Hitchhiking in Indonesia – What I Learnt by taking Lifts from Strangers.

Exploring Ubud – The Cultural Heart of Bali Province in Indonesia
Hitchhiking in Ubud

Finally, I was able to reach Tegalalang Rice fields. The rice fields stretched till horizon and offered a lovely experience. Narrow paths through the rice fields helped me explore nook and corner of the rice fields. Tegalalang is the most popular attraction in Ubud. But, I noticed there was only one vendor selling coconut water at an affordable price. This is what I like about a destination like Ubud. Even the most popular destinations are not riddled by hawkers trying to make exorbitant profit by looting tourists.

To read my experience of visiting Tegalalang rice fields, read this blog: Tagelalang Rice Fields – Exploring the Stepped Landscapes

Exploring Ubud – The Cultural Heart of Bali Province in Indonesia

Talelagang rice fields in Ubud

Next, I visited the famous Monkey Forest Sanctuary. I’d give you no points for guessing what is this about. Yep, monkeys! There are hundreds of monkeys jumping from one tree branch to another. Some jumping around with a banana in hand while some performed acrobats with their little ones hanging by their belly. In India, we see monkeys all the time. But, here there were so many monkeys that even I felt overwhelmed. While the Americans & Europeans clicked their cameras rapidly, I was in and out in not more than 5 minutes. For me, Monkey forest sanctuary turned out to be a waste of time and money.

To cheer myself up, I had some evening snakes at a restaurant adjacent to the sanctuary. As the afternoon heat faded away and gave way to pleasant evening breeze, I savored some delectable “Nasi Goreng” which is essentially a rice based dish with eggs topped on sometimes. I enjoyed the meal with some delicious cold coffee.

Exploring Ubud – The Cultural Heart of Bali Province in Indonesia
Trying Nasi Goreng dish in Ubud

Finally, I headed back to my hostel to spend my last night in Ubud. Next morning, I would be en route Gili Islands. Before sleeping, I chatted with some travelers resting in the common area. I had to wake up early the next morning so, I retired to bed early. My tryst with Ubud had ended.

The next day when I woke up, I realized the ship had already sailed. I had overslept because of the exhaustive walking previous day. I cursed myself as I now had one day less to spend at Gili Islands. But, I get to stay one more day in Ubud. Having covered the major attraction points in Ubud, I opted for a relaxed brunch at one of the quaint restaurants down the road. I remembered I had met a Couchsurfer in Kuta who was basically from Ubud. I messaged him and in an hour or so, we were sipping coffee at an adjacent cafe.

Later, I went to his house and he hosted me for the night because I had already checked out of my hostel. We talked about the local business, economics, politics and what not! He also showed me a co working space where folks would work on their own projects or startups. In a way, due to the conducive environment of Ubud, the startup community here is booming.

On the next day, 3rd day after arriving in Ubud, I was finally able to board my bus to reach the shore to catch a boat to Gili Islands, to unfold an interesting chapter in my Solo Travel.


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Umang Trivedi
Last Updated : Jan 15,2021
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