When I got in contact with Meliana via Couchsurfing she already told me that her place doesn’t have a real address. Which I thought is a bit weird… especially when you have to trust everybody on Couchsurfing that they and their places really exist… but when I got there I understood why: it is in a typical Balinese neighborhood and there are no streets, just small lanes to walk on or to go by motorcycle. We met in front of a nearby café and went through all the small lanes in the dark in the light of her flashlight to get to her house. After the first turns I already couldn’t remember how to get out of there. ^^ Meliana told me we should walk making a lot of noise so that possible snakes around us rather go away instead of attacking us. Since then I always walk very noisy in the nature. ^^
I entered her house in Ubud and for me as a Couchsurfer it felt like a palace! So beautiful and big and nice! Her husband was on holiday in Spain at that time so Meliana had this whole big house to her own. I got my own big palace room with a beautiful double bed and so much space! Just perfect! I felt like in heaven at her home! I can’t thank her enough that I could stay with her! I was supposed to stay just for two nights and ended up staying with her for four nights. Meliana is such a great person full of great stories about her life and travels. I enjoyed a lot spending time with her.
In Ubud no other way of transportation is allowed than your own car/motorcycle or local taxis. The local taxi community in Bali has now the concurrence of Grab, Uber and GoJeck which are Apps who transport you for fixed prices and usually pretty cheap. Local taxis can’t compete with those big companies from other countries. So, there are some campaigns against the app-based companies. For that reason, within Ubud you won’t be able to get an Uber or Grab. In case you have enough money and want to help those locals just hop on a local taxi or otherwise rent yourself a nice scooter! ☺
For one day, I participated in a rafting tour including pick-up and drop-off from Ubud Center. As I didn’t stay in the city center I still had to drive there by scooter about 7 min. Therefore, Meliana was so kind to get a scooter for a reasonable price of 50.000 IDR per day (about 3,50€). In the morning, she gave me a quick introduction in how to drive a scooter and off I went for my very first single drive on a scooter! I was not too good in it (especially in the curves) but thank God, the traffic is alright in Ubud. It is actually a lot of fun but I has happy that I already got used to riding on the left-hand side during the last 10 days and could concentrate more on improving my scooter skills. ^^
On the way to the rafting, I Wayan Sunarta was my driver. It means he is the first born in the family. Actually, in the villages the kids have all the same name: First (Wayan), Second (Kadek, Made), Third (Nyoman, Komang), Fourth (Ketut) and if there would be another child they start with “First again” (Wayan Balik). ^^ I Wayan told me why he put on the brakes so hard when he saw a cat on the street: “If you hit a cat with your car, then you have to stop, pick it up and have a ceremony at the temple. You have to pay for everything. It brings bad luck to you. In Bali, we believe that cats have a soul and you have to care about them and pray for them.”
On our way, we also stopped at a Lua Coffee Shop where they explained me a lot about coffee making from the beginning to the end. I got a coffee tasting with a stunning view from the terrace over the coffee plantation. I would not buy the Lua Coffee though as I think it is against the animal’s rights that they are kept in cages and have to eat every day just coffee beans…for what reason? In order for humans to drink coffee from coffee beans out of their poo…that sounds ridiculous to me!
I did the rafting tour at Telaga Waja River which is apparently more fun and adventurous than the river near Ubud. I booked the tour at a tour office in Seminyak for 300.000 IDR (about 21,50 €) with Kadek from Bali Ricky Tour. The price includes pick up and drop off from Denpasar/ Seminyak/ Kuta or Ubud, 18 km rafting for about 3 hours, free tasting at a great coffee place and food and a shower afterwards. A very convenient price! For many years, it was a dream of mine to do rafting and it was so much fun! I was in a group with three other German people from Cologne. Two of them are doing an internship studying business management in Bali and one is visiting their friends. All together we shared some crazy stories and had a lot of laughter nearly falling out of the boat, hitting every big rock, splashing other rafting passengers or sliding down a waterfall. I highly recommend doing a rafting tour at least once in your life!
After the rafting tour, Meliana took me with her to a run of Bali Hash House Harriers. It was my first time that I have heard about that “Drinking Club with a running problem” as they call themselves. They have trails for a short distance of about 6 – 8 km and the long ones are 10 – 12 km. In Ubud you can participate three times a week: Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The trails are always different, in a distance of 20 – 60 min by motorcycle around Ubud. The team marks the trail with white paper and my trail went through rice fields, down a rice terrace, up a rice terrace, through a river!!!, over bamboo bridges, through narrow lanes and neighborhoods of Bali. Those areas and people I never would have seen in my life without Bali Hash House Harriers! I met local Balinese children and had fun! ☺
I even saw some very rare Bali Black pigs. At the end of the run I was soaked in sweat with a big smile on my face! It is typical to get free beer afterwards and I got very lucky as there was free food (Gado-Gado) as well. Sooo tasty! As it was my first time participating, I also got a baptism – with beer of course! ^^ The Hash House Harrier Clubs are all over the world and I will try to participate in more runs travelling the world as it is a great opportunity to get to know fun people and the area you stay in as well!
Meliana is a photographer and writer for magazines about Bali’s restaurants. Therefore, she knows basically every single restaurant in Ubud which was just to my advantage! I got to know so much tasty food! Here is a selection of the food places I have visited in Ubud:
- Café Vespa, Jl. Penestanan; perfect start into the day with a yummy breakfast you can order here!
- Monsieur Spoon Ubud, Jl. Hanoman; a delicious French place to eat great breakfast before heading out to explore the city.
Ice cream stores:
- Warung Pulau Kelapa, Jl. Raya Sanggingan – local self-made ice cream with the traditional Durian ice cream (from the stinky Durian fruit! Not my favorite but I made the effort at least to try it though! ^^)
- Gelato Secrets, com diferentes lojas em Ubud – sorvete caseiro com muitos sabores de toda Indonesia, muito gostosos!
- Naughty Nuri’s Warung, Jl. Raya Sanggingan – here I ate the best ribs in my whole life so far with the great company and laughter of Meliana and some of her friends
- Warung Boga Sari, Jl. Raya Ubud No.23; beautiful restaurant in the middle of Ubud with a lot of flair and great food. We ate delicious duck and fish! I can recommend everything! 😀 Don’t worry, they will bring you your food even though they are not the fastest. ^^
- Sari Organik, Jl. Subak Sok Wayah, Tjampuhan; delicious for lunch, dinner or just in between in the middle of the rice fields
- Room4Dessert, Jalan Sanggingan, Ubud; As this place already is called you obviously need to leave some room for your dessert when heading towards that great bar! Usually they offer live music as well which you can enjoy with an exotic cocktail in your hand! Get here and get the night started!
- CP Lounge, Jalan Wenara Wana No. 15, Ubud; great cocktails with a relaxing flair and nice music (depends on what day and time you are going, they also have live music!). Here I got my first cocktail on my trip – an Orange Daiquiri. Very tasty! 😀
If you are travelling on a budget and you can’t go out to restaurants every day, the perfect way to get local food is the local food market!!! Also, if you are not on a budget, it is a must to go there! Very recommendable!!! Meliana and I got up very early in order to get to the market in Ubud on time which opens from 5-7:30 am and sells all kind of fresh food. At around 8 am it transforms into a tourist market…Go there before 7 am and enjoy the different aromas in the air, the sounds of chicken/ people talking and bargaining and the colors of all the different food. You should buy as much as you can eat. You can also get fresh vegetables and fruits for the rest of the week!
I saw a big truck full of chicken which gives the food more reality. Especially when you live in a city and just go shopping in a supermarket, it is easy to lose that connection where the food is coming from. I read a quote on Facebook the other day saying “Dear hunters, please stop hunting animals. That is very cruel! You can simply buy your meat in the supermarket and no animals need to die for it!” No comment…
One of the best hiking trips around Ubud is probably hiking up Mt. Batur for sunrise! It is a great adventure which starts at 2 am in the morning when you get picked-up by your trekking company which takes you in a van to the starting point at Mt. Batur. Even though you are on a budget, you HAVE to go with a guide as they do have a “mountain mafia” in Bali and nobody can go trekking on his/her own to get up the mountain for sunset. They always check at the entrance in which group you are in. They kind of “claim” the mountain and want to get the money. First, I thought that wouldn’t be true but then Meliana told me here story: Once she tried to climb up Mt. Batur with some friends without paying for a tour guide and they nearly got beaten up by some kind of “security”. So, you should book a guided tour in advance. It is also safer for you and for what you get, not very expensive (of course you have to bargain!). I paid 225,000 IDR (about 16 €) for pick-up and drop-off from and back to Ubud, breakfast, a flashlight and the guided trekking tour up to Mt. Batur with the loop around the rim. You will be up on the mountain to see the sunrise, so be prepared for hiking in the dark, cold windy weather at the peak and a good workout up the mountain! You should not go if you are not in a good physical shape. What you should bring: extra water, hiking boots (a girl in flip-flops, of course, didn’t make it up to the peak…^^) and warm clothes which you can take off as it gets warmer once the sun is shining. Up on the peak you can enjoy a perfect view over Bali, the surrounding water, as well as the surrounding islands Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Lombok.
Just spectacular! You also will have the opportunity to visit some hot blow-outs where hot air from the volcano comes out. Your local tour guide will tell you that they boiled the eggs near those holes but it isn’t true… ^^
I had the great pleasure of experiencing my very first hot stone massage at Meliana’s favorite Salon Jaens Spa Ubud, Jalan Raya Pengosekan Ubud. When you enter this place you already feel more relaxed with the music, the included tea and fruits and the aromas in the air. You first get a foot massage where you also can choose the smell of your massage oil. You can choose the length of your massage as well. I got a massage for 1,5 hours and payed 325,000 IDR (about 23 €), scrubbing and relaxing my back and legs after hiking Mt. Batur was just amazing! 😀 If you want to get a massage at Jaens Spa Ubud, you have to book in advance as they are usually fully booked! Here you can get in contact with them: http://www.jaensspaubud.com/ , +62 361 971312.
While visiting Ubud the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tegalalang Rice Terraces is a must. It is impressive and beautiful at the same time! You should know that you don’t have to pay anything to see it. Some people try to make you pay while you stop, also already with your car but if you say that you just want to go through, you don’t need to pay. It is a public road and also a public heritage site! Just if you want to walk on a special path you need to pay entrance but in order to take beautiful pictures of the terraces you don’t have to do that.
I highly recommend to go trekking Campuhan Ridge to “Karsa Kafe” for about 2km. Starting at Gunung Lebah temple you follow a beautiful path above the jungle with great views during sunset. During that walk I met the German Walther and his wife. He is 86 years old and visiting Bali for the first time. They told me that they are travelling through Bali for three weeks and enjoy their experiences a lot! It shows that you are never too old to go travelling!
From Ubud, I booked my trip to Nusa Lembongan and further on to Lombok including pick-up from Ubud to the harbor in Sanur. I went with the boat company Scoot Fast Cruise and booked it at Perama Tour office, Jl. Raya Pengosekan Ubud No.63 X, Ubud. A very friendly office which offers all kind of transportation. I would recommend to book all the boat trips at once as you usually get it cheaper than booking them extra every time.
Whenever you can go to Ubud, do it and take your time there! I would love to go back and have more time to see everything and relax!
Have a relaxed Christmas time! I wish you all a pleasant holiday!
Your travel girl,