Hey There! Hope everyone is having a great day/week! For this post I wanted to share with all of you my trip and experience while exploring around Ubud located in the central area of Bali. First things first!
Let’s just be clear that there is NO WAY to get acclimated to the weather in Bali. I love humidity and enjoy the humidity in Florida and Japan (except in July), etc., but the humidity in Bali was on a whole other level. The country is located about 8 degrees south of the equator so things were pretty consistent there to say the least. The sun rises and sets everyday at 6:16 AM and 6:16 PM and the weather is hot, very humid, and consistently 80-90 degrees. This is the reason why almost every hotel in Bali has a plunge pool (3-foot pool), because multiple times a day you WILL have to go for a swim to bring your body core down.
The first hotel we stayed at in Ubud was Furama Xclusive Estates and Spa located in the jungles of Ubud and along the rice paddies. The view around our hotel with the naturistic feel everyday was breathtaking and refreshing. We stayed in a one-bedroom lagoon villa, which is very well named because of the beautiful lagoon villa that you can walk out to from your room (pictured below).
This is the view of the lagoon pool at Furama Xclusive which is accessible from your room directly onto the wooden platforms if you rent out one of the lagoon villas on-site
***Please note, when they describe it as a ‘lagoon pool’ it’s not actually like a natural lagoon with various forms of life floating and crawling. It is a legit clean and treated pool with all of the perks of a typical luxury pool except the water is so warm!
We were welcomed by freshly squeezed mango/orange juice which is very refreshing after traveling for God knows how many hours.
We stayed in Ubud for 5 days, but 2 of those days were spent in a tree house- totally exciting (will indulge further in later post). Our day to day in Ubud consisted of waking up everyday to a beautiful sunrise and 75-ish degree weather. The best thing about being on vacation is sleeping which I took complete advantage of. Most of the hotels in Bali have complimentary free breakfast and they can either bring it to you at your villa or you can enjoy it at the restaurant on-site (we usually had breakfast in our villa and dinner at the restaurant).
This was a traditional “Western Style” breakfast in bali with bacon, eggs, potatoes, fruits, toast, and fresh squeezed juice. No worries, I ordered “Indonesian Style” too later in the trip 😉
Everyday we would wake up about 10 minutes before our scheduled breakfast and overlooked the scenery and listened to the sounds of nature in the morning as they brought the breakfast to our villa. Following breakfast, we would lay out in our deck and go tanning while we digested our breakfast, and went for a nice swim (more like floating) to cool down before setting out for the day.
The view around our hotel. Furama Xclusive is surrounded by the jungles in Ubud as well as rice paddies. The view from the restaurant on-site of the hotel where you get complimentary breakfast everyday as well as order room service, lunch, and/or dinner until 11 pm.
I was really excited to try Balinese food because of all the articles I read beforehand about that being a MUST. Most of the restaurants had nearly identical menus with the most common items being Beef Rendang, Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Mie Goreng (chow-mein), Satay, Ox Tail Soup, and a few other items. I was slightly disappointed in the menu choices because majority of the menu was usually catered to western tastes such as pizzas, pastas, burgers, and Chinese food. Personally, I’m a big dessert lover myself and looked forward to trying their best sweets! Like many countries in Asia, crepes were a pretty big thing there and I found several crepe shops especially in the shopping districts. Below is a photo of what traditional Balinese crepe looks like. And yes, it was as delicious as it looks.
The inside is filled with coconut shavings that have been soaked in a sweet syrup and garnished with fresh fruits. Must try if ever in Bali.
If you are looking to get some R & R while you’re in the Ubud area for a decent nightly price ($125-$150) then I would recommend Furama Xclusive Estates and Spa in Ubud. The hotel is very clean and the staff were top notch customer service. I have included some photos of our one-bedroom lagoon villa above and link below to hotel website (http://www.furamaxclusive.com/ubud/)
Adventures in Ubud
Bali is the King or Queen (not sure if the Balinese refer to their island as masculine or feminine) of R&R. There are definitely plenty of activities and “things to do” in Bali but it is also very easy to get into major relaxation mode especially because so many of the hotels are as gorgeously stunning as the one we stayed at. The island is also pretty small so you can take day trips to the other parts of the island, if you want to stay in one hotel/area for your entire vacation (not recommended). Ubud is located near central part of the island and is more mountainous and jungle-like than other areas such as Kuta, Nusa Dua, South of Bali (all discussed in future posts- keep an eye out!).
The Balinese people are constantly making offerings to their Gods and also ornately decorate their stores and restaurants. The photo above was the staircase entrance to one of the restaurants we ate at in downtown Ubud.
Ubud is known as the “cultural” hub of Bali with art, music, shopping, Balinese food/cooking, etc. This is also why it can be easy to get side-tracked and stay at your hotel and hang out by the lagoon pool while reading a book and enjoying some Mie Goreng (Indonesian style Chow Mein). While in Ubud we checked out the downtown shopping district which is several blocks in length and lined with a variety of stores and restaurants. There were commercial stores as well as booth type stores. However, if you want to or looking for a bargain than I would suggest going to the booth type stores where the prices are a lot more negotiable- usually up to 50%.
There is a beautiful temple in the center of downtown Ubud (pictured above) and many surrounding restaurants or snack stops to sit and enjoy the view (plus you WILL need a break from walking in the heat). Balinese Temples have strict rules on dress and conduct, so be cautious of signs and listen to workers to make sure you are always being respectful.
***Note- Be very careful while walking around anywhere in Bali, the traffic laws there are a little more loose than the U.S. and/or some Western nations, so it can be scary crossing the street given all of the cars and scooters that you have to share the road with. Photo below of a street in Ubud.
When I’m on vacation I always like to buy authentic clothes as well as mini decorations for different parts of my house so I always have story/memory after each trip. What’re your favorite things to buy while on vacation?
During one of our other days in Ubud, we decided we wanted to check out the legendary Monkey Forest. Now just a heads up, when they say Monkey Forest, yes they really do mean a forest with monkeys and they are the sacred beings there, not us (humans). Just like my little friend pictured above is sitting, they’re tens of dozens of monkeys lounging around as well as climbing trees and people. So just be mindful if you are uncomfortable or easily frightened of animals coming near or touching you, because it will happen and if you harm them it will be your fault, not the monkeys. For the most part they are really friendly and nice and will touch you if you put your arm out (similar to below) , but make sure to read all of the signs and listen to the workers because monkeys are unpredictable.
WARNING: if you have a banana multiple monkeys will approach you. I want to reiterate that they are very sweet and friendly and I didn’t see or hear of any monkey horrors while I was there, but read signs and listen to employees who are there to protect you and the monkeys.
Admission to the monkey forest is like $3 a person (score!) but they get you on bananas which cost about $4 a batch and can go pretty fast depending how good you are from keeping them out of the monkey’s reach. My fiance purchased a batch of bananas and put them down for literally one second to put his wallet away and before he could open his bag, the bananas were already gone! So then, I now have to buy more bananas because I am determined to take a ‘touristy’ photo with a damn monkey along with the rest of the tourists around me. Let’s flash forward about 30 minutes and $20 later, I am able to capture the below photo.
It was definitely an experience of a lifetime for me to go through that experience with the monkeys. I’ve definitely been caught doing those tourist stops where you hold the sloth or baby tiger- all of which I know now are tourist scams that actually hurt and endanger the animals more and have vowed to never support them again. The monkeys in Bali are regarded with a high level of respect because in Balinese legend monkeys were once known to possess magical powers and worked alongside humans to fight common enemies in Balinese folklore. I really did admire that about the Balinese people and their culture. They are very religious and have fascinating legends and stories about the birth and origins of their culture. I will discuss some shows I went to in a later post, but I would recommend checking out any and as many cultural shows/performances as possible. Remember that Indonesia is considered one country but each island is very independently unique and different.
There is a river that cuts through the Monkey Forest and offers an easy hike and picturesque views of the entire area. I love how old concrete structures look and there was a lot of that in Bali.
Other activities you can check out while in Ubud include visiting some of the active volcanoes as well as the waterfalls that are located throughout the northern portion of the island. We did not rent a car, and I would not recommend it for anyone. If you are brave then maybe renting a scooter can be an option, however, most of the streets have only one lane in each direction so it can be very tight especially during traffic and/or commute hours. Tips: Check out and read a lot of travel blogs before going to Bali. Once you are there, the last thing you want to do is waste your time thinking “what should we do today”?!?!