Indonesia: Ubud Art & Culture

For our second and final day in Ubud we decided to have a walk out in the countryside. I had read of a short looping walk you could do which took you back into town past the Museum of Indonesian Art, which we wanted to see. The walk quickly got us out of the hustle and bustle of the town and on a path winding alongside a green valley.

Ubud Country Walk

Buildings became fewer and further between as we made our way North and the scenery was beautiful and peaceful. It was very hot however! Anyone going out walking in Bali be sure to bring a good supply of water along with you. As we reached our sweatiness limit we came across a small bar restaurant with lovely outdoor covered seating ‘pods’ which was a welcome relief from the heat! A cool glass of local lemonade looking out over the rice paddies was exactly what we needed.

Ubud Walk Cafe

Bali Ubud Scenery

We continued on through small villages and farms and eventually looped back towards town.

Ubud Neka Art Museum

The loop back into town took us right past the Neka Art Museum – one of the top art museums in all of Indonesia – where we dutifully stopped in for a look around. Entry was a bargain at £2.50 / $4 / 50,000rp and a trip could easily eat up a full morning/afternoon. There were exquisite collections from all sections of Balinese and wider-Indonesian culture, ranging from ancient artwork to impressionism, and coming all the way up to present-day modern art. It was handily arranged by age and style over several buildings across beautifully maintained grounds. Although not air-conditioned the buildings were virtually open-air and therefore pleasantly cool, especially after a mini-hike in the midday heat!

Ubud Neka Museum Art

Although there wasn’t much photography, there was an interesting exhibit about the first photographer to come to Bali and capture the local culture on camera for the first time.

Ubud Neka Museum Exhibition

With the museum done we retreated back into town for some lunch and an escape from the sun. We ate at Nomad restaurant on Jalan Raya Ubud and it was pretty excellent – I’d highly recommend the burger (as usual!) On our way back to our room for a nap we picked up some tickets for another show that evening – the Kecak Monkey dance!

Ubud Kecak Monkey Dance

Once we had chilled out for a while it was cool enough to venture out again. The Kecak show (£3.75 / $5) was in the courtyard of a nearby temple. Following the strict temple rules we had experienced elsewhere throughout Asia, we were pleasantly surprised to find the Balinese entrepreneurs selling beer there. We settled down in the plastic chairs for the show. It began with a large group of men coming down, chanting in the rhythm which gives the dance its name. It was strangely hypnotic and energetic at the same time. After a while the main characters of the dance appeared and played out scenes from the Ramayana (yep, again). However despite this being our umpteenth time seeing it, this was done in such a different way that it wasn’t at all boring. Especially good was the monkey-god Hanuman, who was bouncing through the audience, sneaking up on people and making them jump!

Ubud Kecak Fire Walking

The show climaxed with the group kicking the flaming centrepiece around the floor and dancing on it until it was extinguished – god knows how they do that but it must require some serious devotion!

Ubud Ibu Rai Restaurant

Following the show we went for a final meal in Ubud at Ibu Rai on Jalan Monkey Forest. We had spotted it the previous night and it looked amazing. Thankfully the food and the prices did not disappoint either and we had a great meal for £15 / $22.50.

Ubud Ibu Rai Food

Once we got back from dinner we had to pack up for an early trip to our final Bali destination – the southern sprawl of Kuta, Legian & Seminyak.


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