Return to Bali (Ubud) ~ Island of the gods.

We’re back in Bali.  We’re back in Ubud.  In fact we are back in the very same, beautiful joglo (Balinese teak house) where we ended our stay in Ubud last year.

Bali has remained one of those places that make up, collectively, our home in Asia.  After 18 months of travel in  2013-2014, we declared several places our “home”.  These were Hoi An, Viet Nam; Luang Prabang, Laos; Pushkar, India; and Ubud, Bali.  And so it is with some trepidation and excitement that we return. Will Bali be as magical as it was the first time around?

We anchored our fond memories of Bali around the Balinese spiritual life and its aesthetic manifestations, such as the architecture, the daily offerings and the rich ceremonial life that one encounters every day; It was also about the amazing food we remember having in Ubud – a mecca of creative, healthy, delicious vegetarian food.  Add to this the multitude of yoga, massage and related activities, and we had a near perfect potential home base.  What took it over the top for us, was the Sacred Monkey Forest, as we are both passionate animal lovers.

So, it is time for us to revisit Ubud and to branch out to other parts of the beautiful island.  We haven’t decided how long we’ll stay or where exactly we’ll go.  We are reminded of Lao Tzu (Tao Philosopher)’s observation ““A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”  This sure fits our way of traveling.

The heat and tropical humidity are a surprise after the temperate climates we have just experienced in Myanmar and Thailand.  Still omnipresent in Ubud is the loud symphony of frogs and toads, crickets, and other nocturnal insects – Even louder than we remember.  We recall the smell of incense and sticky rice lingering in the air from the small offerings that are put out during the day.

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A little path weaves its way through the bright greens of the rice fields to the tiny wooden joglo (Javanese teak house).

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Our jewel-box of a mini-house.

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Ahh we are back! Chilling on the front porch of the little teak home with its faded painted wood and carvings.

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This is the view from the front door ~ Tropical lush green foliage all around the little house, rice fields are the front and back “gardens”.

The deep intensity of the greens, and the humidity are like a thick blanket which envelops us as we walk along the path to a nearby small restaurant we frequented last time.

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Start the day with an authentic Balinese breakfast…We are going for our first Nasi Campur, an Indonesian classic dish — brown rice, crispy tofu, egg, curried vegetables, chili sauce, cucumber and crunchy toppings.

Balinese Spiritual life ~ Frangipani flower offerings 

An anomaly in the archipelago of Indonesian Islands, Bali is the only island which is primarily Hindu Buddhist, while the rest of Indonesia is primarily Muslim. Balinese Hinduism is central and core to all activities and all daily life.

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Offerings are not limited to temples and statues of gods and goddesses.  In fact, they are ubiquitous.  The practicality of offerings translates to every day need for protection.  Witness our motorbike in the morning, which has been properly blessed for the day:

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In the morning, no matter where we stay, there is always a small canang sari, placed on the seat, to protect us and keep us safe.

These “Canang Sari” are small miniature baskets of woven palm leaves, filled with flowers and or flower petals, rice or other small treats, and accompanied by incense sticks. Everywhere in Bali, there is a combination of remnants, and of fresh offerings (“canang”) on the ground, on sculptures of the gods, inside shrines small and large.

The offerings are made daily at the market place and piled up high in their different shapes and configurations from square, circular and shaped like a flower.  The market sells brightly colored flowers, all intended as part of the offering basket.  Offering woven baskets are also made at the open air temples and in people’s homes.

It’s all about appeasing the spirits and keeping bad spirits at bay. Deities are omnipresent. Almost all homes have their own temples, small or large, they are the most important component to a dwelling. Many have two sculptures at the entrance, often quite scary looking, which are intended to scare off the bad spirits.

We never tire of watching and feeling the intensity of spirituality that is so very present and so much an integral part of life here.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” (Hippocrates)

Ubud has long been recognized as a center of health and medicine. Starting in the 8th Century, the town became important as a source of medicinal herbs and plants ~ “Ubad” in Balinese language means medicine, and thus the noun “Ubud”.

Peta is passionate about securing an organic, fresh (live) food source, wherever we are. This is not always easy, especially when you are traveling.  We always manage to find fruit and vegetables but nowhere in the world has achieved the level of culinary creativity for health-conscious eaters as Ubud.  There is a multitude of choices, commensurate with the thriving yogi community that congregates in Ubud.  It seems as though every restaurant has a full menu of juices, health drinks, organic teas and elixirs.  That’s just the beginning.  Want cappuccino? Would you like it with almond milk? cashew milk? or coconut milk?

 

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I could eat this almost every day. Fresh green organic salad, 2 slices of vegan crispy crust and toppings of nut “creams” and veggies. They call it a “vegan pizza”. I don’t care what it’s called, it tastes great!

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Vegan and raw creative cuisine. Steamed cabbage veggie roll ups with brown rice and spicy peanut dip, raw “ravioli” made from cashew cheese and daikon radish. Heavenly food.

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Its breakfast time ~ Live sprouted “oats” with cashew milk on the right and black rice pudding with cashew “cream” and bananas and crunchy topping on the left. Good post yoga breakfast.

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Acai breakfast bowl: Acai and dragon fruit smoothie base, topped with banana, shredded coconut, goji berry, cacao nibs and home made crunchy nut granola. DELICIOUS!

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Lest you think that Ben is eating only raw vegan food, think again.  Duck and suckling pig are specialties in Balinese gastronomy. There are many types of duck preparation (smoked being the most famed and taking the longest to prepare) and suckling pig is often incorporated into ceremonies and celebrations.

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“Betutu” ~ Fried duck, mixed rice, crunchy vegs, curry, condiments, crunchy toppings, chili sauce. Classic Balinese dish. Delicious!

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Curried fish ~ a delicate blend of flavors. Topped with crunchy beans and crunchy noodles. Oh yum!

The setting for many of Ubud’s restaurants are worth noting.  Some of our favorites have views of rice paddies, most are open air. There is floor seating on pillows in almost every restaurant, perfect for chilling when waiting for your “slow food”.

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Kampung restaurant. A hidden gem we found last time, a 20 minute motorbike ride outside of Ubud. The seating, the view, the food…..!

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Ridiculous view. Solid duck!

And then there’s the yoga and yogi culture that is at the core of Ubud.

Three yoga studios, the largest and most well known being “The Yoga Barn”. Classes are scheduled every hour of the day. It’s become more crowded and there is less a feeling of yoga community now and more one of a yoga factory. Still, it’s great to have the flexibility and selection of times and types of yoga. If you miss one, no worry, there is another one and another. We take full advantage of the classes as well as an evening of Tibetan gong meditation. We enjoy movie night  ~ lying on yoga mats in the open air huge studio watching Yangsi, a movie about the life of a young child, recognized by leading Tibetan monks as the reincarnation of a revered former master/monk, in Buthan.

Life is good in Ubud.  Stress free days where the only decisions are which yoga class to take, what healthy concoction to consume and what type of $15-20 massage to have.

 

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The main studio of the Yoga Barn. Yoga upstairs and downstairs. Juice bar, vegetarian cafe.

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Board at Yoga Barn with various offerings such as Sound Medicine.

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So many interesting options: This was our choice: Tibetan Bowl Meditation

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another magnetic pull for both of us in Ubud, as passionate animal lovers, is the Sacred Monkey Forest, which is right in the center of the town. (But that’s the next blog post).

So… how is Ubud faring the second time around? Still resonates. Still feels like a place we can spend extended time in.  No doubt we will be back.

 

16 thoughts on “Return to Bali (Ubud) ~ Island of the gods.

  1. Jacqueline Bell

    This is such a beautiful place. I love the picture of you Peta with the purple shawl in the field of purple flowers As for the food it looks divine . See you soon. I love you.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you JB. Ubud IS so gorgeous. I love it when my colors happen to match the landscape. ( it keeps happening.)
      The food IS divine! Love YOU! xoxo
      Big hugs!

  2. brook skillman

    Oh you have brought me back to one of the most peaceful places I have ever met. As I go through this blog I feel, I smell, I taste…Pure Bali.

    Love that you landed in the Joglo:) from last time because I know you were in love. I cannot tell you enough how good you two look in Asia. You just look right.

    On the way to the airport René made the taxi driver stop to get cuttings of the Frangipani, they are now growing here in PR. 🙂 Nasi Camphur…took a cooking class just for it! Trying to make it here but, well, it’s not Balinese…The rest of your food pics are killing me as I type. You two seriously know where to find the gems in Bali. Thank you for introducing me to many many good places!

    And the yoga, that is something else..I was dying to have a Tibetan Experience and I didn’t because I was alway “too late” or 20 minutes early. The one class I did take was incredible at Yoga Barn. The teachers are experts. Ubud is something else if you are a Yogin..:)

    Love to Both of You!
    Thank you for these blogs…
    Om Swastiastu

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Isn’t it amazing how the senses are so intensified in Bali? The sounds around, the smells are just so distinctive to the place.

      I have to say that we both love being back in SEAsia. It does feel very right for both of us. Yes!

      We only spent one night in the joglo, but went on to stay in a cute homestay in the center and then an ‘airB&B’ which was away from the center and in a super quiet location, with pool etc. it really was bliss. I could have easily stayed a month and focused on yoga, food, massage. Period.

      That is incredible that you now have frangipani growing in Puerto Rico. Rene is nothing short of brilliant for thinking of that. Oh that scent! And hey if it weren’t for you, we would unlikely have found ourselves in Sri Lanka!! So the feeling is mutual.

      The ever increasing popularity of Yoga Barn and therefore having to show up early, definitely took us by surprise. The Tibetan gong meditation was worth the extra planning and time, for sure.

      Yogi heaven…thanks for the fabulous feedback.

      Love love love xoxoxo

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      So glad it brought back such good memories for you both!
      And that we love it for the same reasons 🙂

  3. Charles

    Oh my! You did a wonderful job showing us the food of Bali. What a great place to relax and treat yourself. May the fun continue. We’ve got plans for Lisbon next week. Wow. Big hug, Charles

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Hi Charles, yes Ubud is the place for indulging, relaxing and enjoying, and oh yes we certainly did! You would love the quality and quantity of veg food.

      You are going to love Lisbon, it’s a terrific city! Enjoy and thanks for commenting.

      Big hugs,
      P

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Caroline, it really is one of the most aesthetically beautiful places especially when you also consider the aesthetics of the food! What a combo!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      It really is amazing! I can give you the contact info for this magical spot. The owners, now friends, are exceptionally gracious. And if you like healthy yummy food, there are masses of raw vegan restaurants everywhere. SO good!!
      P