One Wonderful Day in Ubud, Bali
I spent one day in Bali, and I fell head over heels in love…
“Do you believe in love at first sight? Or shall I walk by again?” (I saw this joke in a book in my favourite coffee shop, so unfortunately cannot claim credit for it…)
Well, stepping foot on Bali was certainly love at first sight! This small Indonesian island was the final stop on the epic Best of Indonesia expedition cruise with Zegrahm Expeditions ( there will be a full-length photo diary coming very soon!).
Since Bali is a Hindu Island – Indonesia is actually the largest Muslim country in the world!- it felt like a completely separate country to all the other Indonesian islands we had already visited (Sulawesi, Komodo and Selayar islands amongst many other tiny ones!). There was ubiquitous serenity in the air, a proliferation of beautiful ancient Hindu monuments, whiffs of aromatic incense around every corner, people with seemingly innate tranquil aura surrounding them…
Since I only had one day before catching the overnight flight to Japan, I focused on exploring Ubud, Bali’s cultural heart, and its environs. This small, bustling town is located in the middle of Bali amongst beautiful lush-green rice fields, and is preeminent centre for fine arts, dance and music.
My favourite part of the day was stumbling across dozens women preparing offerings to be used during the Melasti ceremony in anticipation of Nyepi festival on the 21st of March. Nyepi is a “Day of Silence” and is a prominent Hindu celebration. This day of silence, fasting and meditation is observed for twenty-four hours from 6am until the next morning. Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection – isn’t that simply a marvellous idea and something all of us should do at least once in our life?! – and consequently, anything that might interfere with such a purpose is restricted, which means there is no work, no entertainment, no travel, no lighting fires; and for some, not even talking nor eating.
The rest of the day consisted of exploring some of the best attractions Ubud has to offer – I truly enjoyed every single minute of the day!
Our first stop that misty, rainy morning was the famous Elephant Cave, a significant Hindu sight built all the way back in the 11th century. Unfortunately, I did not find any actual elephants here…Regardless, the complex was magnificent, surrounded by monumental archaic rock carvings. The main attraction here seemed to be a large cave which you enter through a carved gaping mouth – what a grand entrance! Inside we found the three famous statues wrapped in red, yellow and black cloths (in the image below), where once upon a time meditating monks sat.
Our second stop was Tegalang Rice Terrace, Bali’s most beautiful rice fields a short drive from Ubud and a UNESCO Heritage Sight. The narrow valley is lined with many steep terraces as they step down towards the Sepat River – if seen from above it is a spectacular view offering many wonderful photo opportunities. It was so tempting to walk through the rice terraces, especially since I am always so energetic… unfortunately time was limited, but certainly an excuse to make my way back to Bali!
Whilst strolling through this leafy monkey sanctuary, also a nature a reserve and a complex of Hindu temples, I was surrounded by dozens of cute, mischievous macaque monkeys (apparently there are over 600 monkeys in total here!) – what a lovely experience up close to wild life! These monkeys just seem to love to wind tourists up – in the best cheeky-monkey way! Before we headed in, we were reminded to hide all our valuables, since these little creatures would run off with our sunglasses or anything else they can get their hands off. I was a little scared at times, especially when one grabbed my skirt and simply would not let go… but fun nevertheless. There are also plentiful carved stone statues along the way offering, as always in Bali, great photo opportunities!
After lunch we headed to Bali’s foremost museum, and home to the finest ancient and modern Balinese art. To top off all the wonderful Balinese art I clapped my eyes on, the garden within the museum compound is delightful and a quiet oasis right in the middle of Ubud.
Whilst wondering the centre of Ubud, I turned off one of the busy main roads and came across – rather unexpectedly – a tranquil temple fronted by a gorgeous pond filled with hundreds of lotus flowers and flanked by intricate stone carvings. As with many of Bali’s ancient monuments, this temple was extremely photogenic. And what a lovely finish to the day…
And a few other random shots I took throughout my day…