I had a good feeling about Ubud, before I even set foot into it.
I’m not one of those travelers who insists on traveling only to ‘off the beaten track’ locations, haughtily turning my nose up an anything that’s ‘just so done,‘ and sprinting in the opposite direction of places that would be deemed touristy. So, despite the Elizabeth Gilbert Eat/Pray/Love cloud that hung over the place, I bargained with my sister to spend at least a couple of nights in the interior of Bali, instead of focusing solely on the beaches.
And in so doing, I found one of my favorite places in the world.
Ubud is definitely firmly planted on the tourist track in Bali, much to the lament of many people who ‘came here before it was cool.’ The village center is a bustling line of shops and restaurants that cater to the tourists that pass through. The prices are definitely not Asia prices. And it’s a wonderful place.
After a couple of months of crashing on couches and in low-cost hostels, my sister and I decided to splash out a bit and booked ourselves into a room at the Greenfield Hotel. We absolutely loved the grounds, the room, and the staff. And the price wasn’t necessarily a budget-buster, even if it wasn’t what would qualify as ‘budget.’ And rather than try to push the agenda as ‘travelers’ instead of ‘tourists,’ we threw ourselves into being tourists with gusto.
We feasted like queens, trying out delicious local food at Cafe Wayan, dined in a rice paddy at 3 Monkeys, and participated in the most wonderful cooking class through Paon Cooking. Our teacher “Auntie Puspa” was a riot, cracking jokes and vogue-ing for photos like Cindy Crawford.
We shopped at the stalls and stores in town, picking up batik fabrics, Bali pants and trinkets for our future niece.
We explored the natural side of Ubud, marveling at the Tagallalang Rice Terraces, fighting over the contents of our purses with the monkeys of the Monkey Forest (not always winning the battle), and cycling through the small villages the dot the rice fields outside of the town, waving hello to the children that shouted as we passed.
We treated ourselves to a spa day, getting massages, body scrubs and skin treatments right next to a river in a beautiful hotel.
And everywhere we went, we were greeted with hospitality and a generosity of spirit that is unique to the Balinese. By the end of our four days in town, I was already scheming ways to come back more permanently. Sometimes, being a tourist isn’t as overrated as travelers make it out to be.