I arrived in Ubud on 16 September at around midnight. When it comes to accomodation in Ubud, or anywhere in Bali for that matter, there were loads of options- from bungalows to cottages, villas, 3-to-5 star hotels. Accomodation wasn’t something I was going to skimp on because I hate bugs, and I’m on vacation, and I want to be comfortable dammit! I booked a hotel for the first leg of the trip; I have to say it was a risky choice but a good one, given it was relatively new and had very few reviews out there.
Whenever I arrive at a new place, I usually spend the first day walking around to get my bearings (read: getting lost because I can’t read a map and have no sense of direction). My venturing out on the streets of Ubud started at about 2pm the next day- after waking up for breakfast then going back to bed (the exhaustion of the previous day’s travels hadn’t worn off yet at that point)- with the main objective of finding The Yoga Barn, where I was planning to go for yoga classes during my stay. I read so much about it on trip advisor
that I had to go and check it out.
Starting off on the main street, Jl Raya Ubud, I started walking and then made a turn down a street, and then a turn into some other street (yea I had no idea where I was going) that I later found out was called Dewi Sita and has some really cool shops. I found a stand that has all sorts of tours you can do, and after chatting to a Mr. Kiki (really, that’s his name) I opted for the group ‘Kintamani/Volcano Tour’ for the next day (Sunday, 18 Sep); there are private tours where you get your own driver for the whole day and they explain everything to you, but where’s the fun in that if you’re a solo traveler? I figured with a group tour I’d meet other tourists and talk to them and stuff.
Anyways, I kept on walking, and looking at my map, and walking, and looking at my map again. The streets of Ubud are filled with motor bikes and small-sized cars and mini vans. There are no traffic lights, or lines indiciating a one-way or two-way street. There are pedestrian crossings, but they don’t count because motorists just ignore them. The pavements are uneven, so I really had to watch my step. There’s also offerings on every street corner, monument, pavement- everywhere. Balinese are really committed to their Hindu beliefs.
I made another turn somewhere and ended up on a street called Hanoman. After walking a little further, I spotted a shop called ‘Namaste’, which I read about in my travel guidebook. I decided I could use a little time out of the sun and check out this ‘little gem’, as the book put it. The couple who own it have been living in Bali for over 40 years- the man was American (but hardly lived there; his parents were travelers) and the woman was born in Bali. The shop sold stones, pendenants, wands, and other pretty things all made by the woman. She went on to explain how each stone has an energy and special meaning whilst my mind wondered off to the wands and the Harry Potter world (Stupefy!). The woman was unbelievably calm…I’ve never met someone so serene. After asking for directions to The Yoga Barn (‘it’s just down the street’), they told me about a the Kafe where ‘everyone hangs out’ that’s ‘just up the street’. So I figured I’d find the Yoga Barn first, then go to Kafe for some much needed rest.
After about another half an hour of walking, I still couldn’t find it! I made a turn onto another street and asked a shop owner where it was; she told me I’d passed it already (WHERE?!?!) and I had to go back. She also gave me a more detailed map of the area to help. Balinese are just the nicest people!
It turns out that The Yoga Barn is down a tiny alley before this thai-cuisine restaurant, Siam Sally; you’d think they would write that on the website or someone would mention it on Trip Advisor. I made my way down the alley and finally signed up for 5 yoga classes, at The Yoga Barn, starting Monday (19 Sep). Phew!
I still had some time before the hotel shuttle bus (silver mini-van, to be more accurate. All the hotels and tour guides had them! Suzuki and Toyota are doing very well here) arrived, so I walked back up Hanoman street to Kafe for a late lunch/early dinner and some reading. Then I walked all the way back to the main street to catch the Shuttle bus back to the hotel. By then it was 8pm, but it was really dark. The only lights on the street are from the shops that were open.
So that was day one in Ubud! In hindsight, I should’ve probably done the Kinamani tour later on…my legs were so sore…more on that in the next post!