On first impression you may think the artistic and cultural capital of Bali is small. You could easily be mistaken into believing the town consists of just a few intersecting streets full of shops and restaurants. While there is some truth in this, Ubud has grown over the years as it keeps pace with its international reputation.
Culture, tradition, art, music, and dance have all remained in tact . Ubud is a town of royalty and even its dialect is a version of Balinese that commands respect in the highest order.
Being captivated by all the activity that is the towns center is part of the experience. You could spend days wandering the streets and lanes of Monkey Forest, Hanoman, Raya, and Bisma.
To do so you would certainly be kept busy, well fed, and entertained.
By setting horizons a little further out what you will find is a quieter, more stunning, more impressive Ubud. The kind of Bali we all imagine before setting out from familiar shores. Continue reading Trekking and Eating in Ubud
In the early part of last century when your ship caught sight of land, you knew at that very moment you had arrived at your destination; setting foot on land was now simply a formality. The lengthy voyage, for some a month or more, now seemed a small price to pay.
Even though that experience is vastly different from the way we arrive today it does have one fundamental similarity…anticipation. Anticipation is what we create in our mind to heighten expectations and make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
Arriving in the tropics, brings about a flurry of activity. For your part you want to get off the plane, NOW.
You want to stretch out and let the warmth of your new locale encase you and above all, you want to relax. Maybe dive into the ocean, swim in the pool, have a cocktail canopied by a tiny umbrella, get pampered by a capable masseuse, and soak up your good fortune; all pleasurable anticipations.
All the tropics want to do is help you along in those endeavors.
The warmth you have so looked forward to and imagined is going to be right there, slapping you up and down and wrapping you up in the equivalent of a wool blanket on a hot summer day. Continue reading A Tropical Embrace
Dance is a major part of the cultural attraction of Ubud. The most famous are the Barong, Kecak, Fire, and Legong. Performances for each of them are held regularly throughout Ubud and no visit would be complete without an introduction to stories behind these traditional dances.
The Barong dance is a reenactment of good versus evil and depending on where it is performed the degree of violence is adjusted. Basically it is the story of Rangda, the mother of the King of Bali in the tenth century. She was condemned by her husband because of her practice of black magic.
She longed for her son and went about summoning all the evil spirits to bring him to her.
Barong is required to protect the son and so begins the battle of good versus evil.
Rangda casts a spell that makes Barong’s soldiers want to kill themselves by pointing their poisoned keris (knives) into their own stomachs and chests. Barong, in turn, casts a spell that makes their bodies resistant to the dagger.
The battle rages on in perpetuity however the dance ends with good restoring balance; this, as we all know, is temporary. Continue reading Ubud’s Story of Dance
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 Continue reading Treated Like Royalty in Ubud