Asia Destinations Indonesia travel guide

Beyond Eat, Pray, Love: Exploring Ubud

garden during the summer in bali 2014

When Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Eat, Pray, Love” came about, women around the world were ecstatic. And when they rendered a movie starring Julia Roberts for the same name, the world was left in awe. It talked about self-discovery and more importantly, solo travel.

Plus, the movie also came as a gateway to entering Bali as it features the last but most important part of the journey: Love. Thus, people not only visit Bali for the beach but also to have their own little journey with Gilbert’s life in mind.

Which brings us to going to Ubud, a mountainous province at the end of the island. Here you’ll find temples, massages, and tons of places to eat. When I arrived there, I was shocked at how a number of foreigners really took Eat, Pray, Love’s story to heart and initially assumed Ubud was all about meditation.

I mean, sure, it’s going to be there….But you can feel a God’s presence all over Bali anyway. Or at least that’s how my mom described the strange feeling.

prayer reef in Ubud can be seen on top of a pillar or at the entrance of houses

What is there is to do in Ubud, exactly?

As my mother and I were planning our trip to Indonesia, she strictly wanted to stay put in one place. That meant not going to Kuta or Seminyak.

Well, Ubud is about a 2 hour drive from Kuta and instead of being surrounded by the beach, you’re surrounded by a wide garden with lots of monkeys. There tends to more shops in Ubud for items with cheaper prices. You can buy paintings here and the occasionally trinket.

There are also a lot of coffee shops around this area. Oh, and you’ll maybe even find really nice clothes to buy. I still wear this polo I bought here a few years ago with chicks wearing rollerblades.

Everything you find in Ubud is definitely hand-painted too.

two playful baby elephants in indonesia

Although, there are also tons of places to go beyond Ubud

Our hostel has a car service you can take that will tour you around Ubud’s surrounding areas. Because within the centre itself, you only have the monkey forest. If you go beyond that, you’ll have the local ‘zoo’, the Palace and many other temples.

You’ll be able to go to the Sayan Terrace, its surrounding temples, and find unique hand-carved trinkets made of elephant husk or teeth.

hot chocolate and different types of civet coffee contained in jars

Obviously, my favourite comes in the form of coffee. And well, Civet coffee is known worldwide as one of the best. It’s from a Civet’s…um, poop.

Although if you do end up going to one of its farms in Ubud, you’ll later find out that they intentionally feed the cat special meals. It helps with their digestion and poops out beans instead. The growers also ensure that everything’s as hygienic as possible since there are tons of tourists who only drink this coffee when in Ubud.

We went to Kopi Luwak Coffee Farm, and they were kind enough to show us the entire process with free taste samples. You’ll have the option to choose from Civet coffee, hot chocolate, and chocolate coffee!

woman's hand with green vegetables painting in ubud bali

And what exactly will you be eating while in Ubud?

Pretty much the same with all of Bali, Ubud has a lot of healthy restaurants to try. In one whole street, you’ll be able to have a taste of different vegetarian meals, and tons of fruit to keep you company.

However, probably the most surprising thing about Ubud is how their famous dish isn’t actually made of vegetables. Yep.

In fact, the best dish you’ll have is made of either chicken or pork!

Bebek and Ayam Betutu

This is a whole stuffed chicken or duck with traditional Balinese spices, wrapped in banana leaves. Then when it’s being cooked, it will be wrapped inside a banana tree trunk and buried in coal for 6-7 hours. Woah.

Bebek and Ayam Betutu is actually the ‘non-pork’ option when you want to try Balinese food.

babi guling wrapped in banana skin served in bali

Babi Guling

Babi Guling, however, is the pork option in this little dance. The meal consists of spit-roast pig stuffed with traditional spices wrapped in vegetable leaves, and rolled over in a coal fire.

There are tons of restaurants in Ubud that serve these. You’ll just have to take your pick.

Aside from the famous choices, Ubud is also home to many European expats who have made it their mission to provide Western food choices for you while in the area.

Anyhow, what do you think of Ubud so far?


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