Ubud is widely known as the cultural centre of Bali, and so we felt we couldn’t holiday in Bali and not visit there. Our resort was about 20 minutes outside of Ubud, in an area filled with rice fields. After driving through the centre of Ubud I was actually glad we were staying a little way away from it because it was so busy and crowded. Our resort on the other hand was one of the most fancy, beautiful and peaceful places I have ever stayed. It overlooks a valley filled with trees and a river, and is just so green. We stayed in a villa again, and it was even more stylishly decorated than the last one.
The first thing I did was start researching Ubud, and I made a list on my phone of all the places we had to go, the things we had to see and where we had to eat. When I read the overwhelming list to my mom and Norman, they both laughed because they knew it would never be possible. It turns out that they were right because we never got to do even half of that list, but we sure tried our best.
On our first day we got familiar with Ubud centre, walking around, window shopping and taking in the vibe. We went to the famed Ubud Market, which is really just a double story building crammed with vendors and shops. You could find everything there, probably even a kidney! My bargaining skills came in handy when we did some shopping and we walked away with some expensive spices (saffron, vanilla pods), fabrics and clothing.
We visited Ubud Palace, and were fortunate enough to see the royal wedding taking place inside the gates. It was quite an ordeal, with the groom being carried on a chair and everyone shuffling about trying to get into their positions for the procession. We felt lucky to have witnessed this little authentic piece of Balinese culture, but in all honesty they have celebrations and ceremonies so often that if you visit Bali, you are bound to encounter a few.
After that we went to the Water Temple, which is just next to the Starbucks about 100m down from the palace. The lotus flowers there were lovely, it was the first time I had seen them so up close. Norman and I posed in front of the temple while my mom took some blurry photographs of us.
Something that took up a big portion of our day was a visit to the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA). We wondered through the buildings, taking in all the history portrayed by the paintings. There were few tourists there, so it was how an art museum should be – quiet, intellectual and thought provoking. A soft spoken man in traditional dress spoke to us a few times, and it was only after reading an information pamphlet that we realised he could very well have been Mr Agung Rai himself! We kicked ourselves for not realising earlier and seizing the moment, and we went to look for him again, but he was elusive and had disappeared like an enigma. We took a walk through the nearby rice paddies, had a drink and then left, with some special memories and photographs.
It was soon dark and our day had somehow come to an abrupt end. We went back to the resort rather exhausted, but excited for the following days. That was when it became very apparent that we weren’t going to be able to do everything we had originally planned on, and that we had to pick our top few things to do.