As I mentioned before, I didn’t do a lot of “touristy” things in Bali–I spent more days relaxing and enjoying the laidback pace of Ubud than filling my days with sightseeing. I didn’t go to the Monkey Forest, I didn’t go to the Gilis, I didn’t even get a Balinese massage. So what did I do exactly for 15 days? Here’s a rundown.
Throughout the first four months of my trip, I knew I wanted to do yoga in Bali. I’m definitely not the most experienced yogi, or even the most committed, but I do love taking my once weekly classes and I’m still on the email list for my studio in Berkeley just because I miss the instructors there so much. I am really inflexible and have very small, tight hips, so wearing a 30 pound backpack around 24/7 was not doing the best things to my body: I should have been practicing yoga the whole six months. But I tried to make up for lost time in Bali and went to yoga almost every day I was there, primarily at the Yoga Barn in Ubud. The studio is beautiful: the main room is upstairs and outside, and the downstairs room has a spectacular view of a rice paddy (the entire front facing wall is a window). It didn’t hurt that they offer so many classes per day and have amazing instructors. Yoga was undoubtedly one of my highlights of Bali.
2. Coffee shops
The other highlight? The coffee. While I’m not the biggest coffee drinker in the world (or the snobbiest), I soon found out first hand why everyone raves about Balinese kopi, or coffee. I made it my afternoon ritual (after morning yoga) to try out a new coffee shop. I’d bring my laptop and blog while drinking local Indonesian roasts and eating way too many scones or cookies (rendering my morning workout meaningless). Stay tuned for a roundup of my favorite coffee shops in Ubud: I only wish I could be at one of them now!
Ubud is also famous for its thriving art scene, and while I didn’t go to as many museums as I did in Paris, I did appreciate its myriad forms throughout my 2 weeks there. I really enjoyed visiting the Antonio Blanco museum: the funky building it’s housed in is just as cool as the actual art. I also loved seeing all of the art shops littered throughout Ubud; while I didn’t buy anything I certainly enjoyed looking. My other cultural activity was seeing a traditional Balinese dance show. While not something I would usually make an effort to see, I did appreciate the beautiful costumes and unique style of dancing.
4. Ate amazing food
As Bali is a world class tourist destination (and a little more Westernized, than say, Laos), the amount of amazing restaurants there is staggering. I realized how much my day centered around food until I wrote a guide for a few friends embarking on their own Southeast Asia journeys when I couldn’t stop writing down restaurants in Bali to try. I loved all the Balinese food I ate, from the upscale restaurant in Ubud to the beach shack mie goreng I had with a Bintang watching the huge waves roll in in Seminyak. But, to be honest (and I’m sure this is going to kill all my travel blogger street cred), I also loved the abundance of good Western food. While you can find edible pizza on the beach islands of Thailand, you won’t be finding delicious tacos or fancy sandwiches. After four months of traveling around Southeast Asia, I couldn’t help but treat myself to a few lunches at Taco Casa Bali and a cheese plate or two at Kebun Bistro. I also got really excited about the availability of wine: though Two Islands isn’t anything to write home about, it still made me a happy girl.
5. Wandered and window shopped
I liked to spend at least an hour each day walking the streets, not just as exercise but also because I enjoyed seeing the endless window displays. Ubud (and all of Bali) is truly a shopper’s paradise and you can find anything you need or want in Bali. I won’t lie: I did succumb to the shopper’s siren call and purchase a few souvenirs for myself and family members. Like I mentioned yesterday, my favorite was probably the beautiful handmade Balinese lace, but I also picked up two adorable baby outfits for my nephew and niece. If only my backpack was big enough for more! (Although probably better for my wallet that it isn’t.)
6. Beach bummed
Is a trip to Bali really a trip to Bali if you didn’t spend some time lounging in the sand? Although I only spent 4 days in Seminyak, Bali’s trendy beach town, I did make sure to devote one full day to the serious art of suntanning. Since my $10/night hostel was located right next to the $200/night W Hotel, I used my sneaky skills of blending in to hang out by their pool and beach. On my last day in Seminyak, I found a spot to rent a beach chair, and enjoyed the cheap seafood lunch and Bintangs to celebrate my final day of “vacation within a vacation.”
7. Took a cooking class and bike tour
I did do a few touristy things while I was in Bali: I took a cooking class and went on a bike riding tour. Although I’ll write longer posts on each of them, I wanted to mention them here as well. It’s hard to say which one I enjoyed more: although the cooking class had a delicious end result, I did love getting out of Ubud’s main tourist center and seeing some of the smaller surrounding villages on the bike tour. The bike ride ended with lunch at the guide’s family home, with his sisters-in-laws cooking lunch for everyone. I have fond memories of both, and I can’t wait to use some of my Balinese recipes here at home.