I decided yesterday that today was going to be a day where I put work and stress (OK you can chuckle if you want) to one side and take part in some of the non-cultural aspects that make the town of Ubud famous.
It’s difficult being here and not getting caught up in the spirituality of Ubud. Despite the fact that “Eat, Pray, Love” can be watched, read, or toured doesn’t dilute the fact that Ubud is the cultural, spiritual, and artistic center of Bali. It is also the seat of the royal family and as such, Ubud seems to exude a certain sophisticated charisma not found elsewhere.
If you can imagine a jungle setting (coconut trees, banana trees, orchids, lilies etc) and then place a river through it…not an Amazonian river but more of a wide meandering creek.
Then add some thatched roofed huts, stone walkways with bright white shells embedded in the shapes of flowers and fish, birds chirping, koi splashing, natural peace and quiet, and then a thunderstorm with raindrops as big as grapes. You now have the perfect setting for a day at the spa with massage, some royal treatment, and complete relaxation.
You may think I’m over-selling it but believe me it’s all true. I have photos!
The Ubud Sari has been around since 1996 and is one of the original Balinese Health Resorts in Ubud. It sits at the end of a very famous road called Jalan Kajeng. The road is famous because back in the 70’s when Bali was being discovered by the backpacking set, an artist by the name of Hans Snell set up shop here.
He opened a gallery and set about becoming one of a few artists of his era to follow in the footsteps of Gauguin; replacing Tahiti for Bali. The road now is home to thousands of names, fingerprints, philosophies, and quotes, all embedded in concrete blocks that pave the way to a day of healthy indulgence. These fingerprints etc date back to the 70’s when the first block was laid; they belong to travelers who have passed through long before me.
The Ubud Sari is not a large place but it does offer a couple of villas for those who want a longer pampering, relaxing, and “resetting” program. For me, two to three hours seemed like that should do the trick.
Then I would have enough time to go get a hair cut.
First up was the steam shower!! It’s 90 degrees outside, muggy (as it just rained grapes!) and it’s not unreasonable to think that getting into an even hotter environment might not bring about a more relaxed self.
I did what was required though and am now of the belief that having my last bit of energy sapped from my wilting body broke me into a submissive state whereby all that would follow could be more readily enjoyed.
Now it was off to the massage room. This is a small three walled bungalow with the exposed side facing the river and the jungle. For the next hour I am massaged to within an inch of nirvana.
If you want it strong, just ask, a bit softer, grunt a little louder.
Next up was the Mandi Lular. This is a scrubbing mixture that is scraped or massaged, depending on your tolerance, across your flesh resulting in a rebirth of skin that quite possibly got damaged while spending too much time eating fish on the beach (in the sun) in Padang Bai. All of that is removed and you’re left feeling young again.
Giddy on youth and zen I am now escorted into a flower petal bath and left to soak in the warm water for twenty minutes with a cup of ginger tea at my side. The view is once again the river and my companions vary from geckos to frogs to whatever else decides to stop on in and check out the latest intruder to their domain.
Once done and the $25 (yep, $25) is all used up, or at least you think it is; think again.
Now it’s time for the sauna room, then the steam room, and then the cold water Jacuzzi with deceptively warm spray jets. A plunge underneath and instantly everything that has happened to over the prior two-hour period sets, like a jello mold in the fridge.
You are now fully transformed.
Everything in your world is at peace, life is good, the trees are greener, the air fresher, and if I could have seen the sky I have no doubt that it would have been bluer. The kind of blue that mesmerizes and makes you realize just how wonderful life is.
Every trip to Ubud should include one of these days. I was so content I forgot to get a haircut.
For a related story about tiny masseuses click here
For photos of Indonesia click here.