Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A day in Ubud

One of the most interesting destinations in Bali is a place called Ubud. It was a small village in the mountains some eighty years ago, but now is counts around 80,000 people and nobody knows where it starts and when it finishes. In the 1920s it became a destination for Western artists and it continues to attract a lot of them. It was hard for me to imagine how we'd have any fun in a place so removed from the beach, but I loved it, it was great. We got here twice, spent more than a week altogether, and we did have a good time. It is a major touristic destination, some would argue that it lacks authenticity, but on the other hand, it is good to see some tourists every now and then.

If you only have a day, here is a suggestion for filling it up. Don't rent a bike, unless
you want to spend the rest of the day looking for it:

Most hotels have breakfast included, with several choices. Definitely go for the Balinese pancakes, they make them green. If you have your own kitchen, make some yourself:

Then, go out to the market. In the morning there are only a few sellers of artifacts, it is a good time to look at the produce and maybe taste one or two of the rice desserts (Balinese usually have that in late morning):

Then walk down the road to the Blanco museum.

A Spanish painter born in Philippines stopped here in the 50s, married a Balinese dancer and stayed for the rest of his life. The museum is constantly ranked as one of the best in Indonesia, and reportedly has more than 300 of his paintings. Even if he was compared with Dali, I don't think he comes close, but it is a beautiful setting, an interesting palace and there is a beautiful garden with some amazing birds (I challenge you to stop after taking the first hundred pictures).

The entrance, with the biggest signature in the world.

Pictures not allowed inside.

The artist's workshop, maintained by the family after his death in 1998

Panoramic view of the porch, much more homey than the house itself

The Bali Starling, critically endangered, is kept here, legally, in a cage. Your only chance to see it.
Only 24 birds were believed to exist in the wild in 2005

As you return to the center of Ubud, stop by the Museum Puri Lukisan.
In four separate buildings there is a lot of Balinese art displayed with good English explanations. It is nice, quiet and beautiful.

A few steps further, enter the lotus garden for a quick picture.

Then, at the main crossroad, there is some temple or royal palace, without any explanation. Take a look:

Oposite, there is one busy restaurant. The reason to stop here around lunch time is to try the famous suckling pig (guling celeng) - babi guling, the full dish includes a couple of slices of tender flesh and the crispy roasted skin, a couple of slices of spicy sausage, lawar, a spicy mixture of pounded meat, a touch of pig blood and vegetables, plus steamed rice and a couple of spicy vegetable mixes called nangka. I took home five casseroles, they put the spicy sauce in small bags and we only had half of one portion for the five of us. It is criminal.

Rest after lunch in the pool of your hotel

and around 4-5 pm take a trip to the monkey forest. The hundreds of macaques around would steal the show and distract you from paying much attention to the temples. But they cannot be visited anyhow, you can only get a glimpse of their exterior walls. The trees in the forest are fantastic.

Unofficial temple guardian

Official temple guardian

Waiting for dinner, just walk along the Monkey Forest road, visiting one or two of the art galleries or shops. There are many things of beauty on display, even though it is all for tourists. We enjoyed the Infinity Gallery by Stephen Max Reinhold. The link comes now with a Google warning for malware, but that might be just Google. The exhibition is fantastic.

Screenshot of the website, I sent them a message about the Google warning
Alternative to the main street big time shopping

Dinner must be with roasted duck (bebek betutu). You have to order it the night before because it is marinated with fragrant herbs, spices and steamed for about eight hours in banana leafs. Once the duck is tender it would be cooked over charcoal for a bit. The Balinese usually have this over the festivals, it is a special meal, but the restaurants in Ubud would prepare it as a special feast for tourists. They give you the full duck, not like in Beijing, but we agreed that the roasted duck on cabbage made by our mothers in Romania is still the best.

Less then $20, but 5 times more expensive than an expensive dinner.

Don't linger too much, because by 8 or 9 pm you have to get to your show. There are many options available any day of the week, we certainly enjoyed ours.

If you have any more energy left, you can go to bed now.

Countryside, Ubud, Bali. Nice subject to dream about.

1 comment:

  1. ha I liked the ending, what are most of the building made of?


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