A few days in Amed is enough for most people, the sleepy northern coast offers little more than relaxation and for us the time had come to start doing things again. Our next destination was Bali’s spiritual home, the city of Ubud. After our disjointed journey from the airport to Amed we decided to play it simpler and just pay someone to drive us the whole way there. There isn’t much in the way of dedicated travel agents in Amed but a quick ask around and someone will know someone else happy to take on the job. We got an air conditioned ride in a nice car for £20 / $30, and the driver said we could stop off at the water palace on the way. I hadn’t even heard of this place but it was well worth the stop. Not a palace as such but a spiritual, statue-filled garden with flowers, ponds and stepping stones; it was very peaceful and a great example of the Balinese Hindu style.
It didn’t take too long to get to Ubud – maybe 2 hours max – and on the way we saw some more incredible countryside and traditional Balinese life. Once we arrived the first striking thing was the heat inland compared to the coast. We were arriving right at the hottest time of day and boy was it apparent! We booked to stay at the ‘Suarsena Bungalow 2’ on booking.com for $12 / £8 per night in a twin room (inc. breakfast) – it was in a great location. Just a few minutes from the centre of town but down a quiet street so you couldn’t hear the traffic noise. The rooms were maybe a little shabby, but if it worries you I will redirect your attention to the price!
Once we got settled in our room we went for some lunch. Ever since I read about it I had been dying to try the Balinese dish ‘babi guling’ – a lunch dish of roast suckling pig and all the Balinese trimmings – and luckily there was a place in Ubud renowned for it called ‘Warung Babi Guling Bu Oka 3‘. It was certainly worth the wait! For the bargain price of £3.50 we got a hefty lunch with freshly carved suckling pig, a couple of different kinds of sausage, some crispy skin, steamed veg, rice & gravy – excellent! Next up was to sort out some entertainment for the evening.
Ubud is famous for the nightly shows available around town which display various aspects of Balinese arts. The prices are pretty cheap at £3-5 per ticket and the choice is quite staggering. For the first night we decided to see the Ramayana Ballet (yep, that old chestnut again). The show took place at one of the larger temples and was very impressive: a full gamelan orchestra playing along to the dancers who acted out the show in Balinese dance. I wouldn’t say it resembled Western ballet at all, but that didn’t matter, I’d still highly recommend it!
The show wasn’t too long – just over an hour – so afterwards we had a walk around the town a bit and stopped off for some food at a mexican style restaurant called Cafe Havana. Not what you would expect to find in Ubud but it was excellent for food and cocktails!