We took a minibus from Kuta to Ubud and arrived quite late. We checked into a place that had been recommended to me by several people, Happy Mango, but we found it to have little of the atmosphere and friendliness that I’d been promised, so the following day we moved across the village to Sania’s House which had an exquisite pool and beautiful intricate Balinese architecture. We loved it here.
For our first day, we headed out to the famous ‘Monkey Forest Temple’. It was pretty busy here, with lots of people taking photos. We managed to find some quiet spots, but I had seen these macaques everywhere in Asia so far, so found the buildings, temples and Balinese sculptures far more interesting.
We completed our tour of Ubud with a walk through the town and down out to the main town temple and rice paddies. Ubud was beautiful, but it was certainly commercial, full of tourists, group tours, especially Japanese (who all seemed to want photos of me), backpackers and holiday-makers. There were adverts and people handing out flyers for ‘traditional fire dancing’ and other commercial money-making shows. We found some of it a little fake and a bit intense.
Our second day, we decided to try and escape the crowds of central Ubud and hired a moped to drive out to Gunung Kawi. It was far less busy and much more relaxed and the drive through the villages outside of Ubud truly was beautiful and much more natural and quiet. The rice fields were lush and green, full of rice and often terraced. We drove along the backroads as much as possible, trying to catch a glimpse of what Bali was actually like beyond the tourism. We headed out to Gua Gajang from here, then back to Ubud via Celuk.
The rice fields North of Ubud showed us the beauty of Bali, but really, I wasn’t sold on Ubud. I found it far too commercial with some of the culture feeling forced because of the tourism. So we planned to travel to Munduk instead, apparently quieter and in the middle of the rice-growing region… Unfortunately, we missed our bus in the morning! So we opted for a bus to Padang Bai instead.