Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bali: Paradise at the End of the World - Part 1

At the end of August, I was fortunate to take a life long dream trip to Bali, leaving only a day after my wedding on the East Coast. Although Bali is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world, it is also its unique culture, food and spirituality that draws people from all over the world and all walks of life. After the widely successful film Eat Pray Love, Bali has gained even more international attention for those looking for adventure and beauty. 

After a long flight to Indonesia, with a stop over in Hong Kong we finally arrived to paradise. Our first stop was the small fishing village of Jimbaran, not too far from the International airport. 
We stayed at the luxurious Ayana Resort and Spa Bali, a stunning hotel with wonderful dining, various infinity pools and a private beach. The service was impeccable and we had a perfect time relaxing and enjoying the spa and famous Rock Bar, hidden in the cliffs with views of the ocean perfect for sunsets.


We also made a small excursion to the local fish market, rising early to watch the fisherman on colorful wooden boats bring in their morning catch to sell it at the market.

Our next stop, just an 1 1/2" drive from Jimbaran, was the central city of Ubud. This is a must see for anyone traveling to Bali - it is the cultural hub with many local markets, vibrant city life, temples and museums. You can take cooking classes, walk through many art galleries and boutiques, tour the rice paddies or enjoy dancing performances. There are so many things to do and see, you can easily spend a week in Ubud alone.

We stayed at the beautiful Kupu Kupa Barong Villas and Tree Spa by L'OCCTIANE, a serene tree top hotel with private villas near the city center. We had a wonderful 3 floor tree house villa with a private plunge pool overlooking the jungle below. The staff was incredibly accommodating and friendly and the hotel includes breakfast, free yoga classes, afternoon tea and shuttles to the center of Ubud.

Ubud is a wonderfully rich city to explore. Local food markets are filled with vibrant colors and new exotic foods. Offerings to the Gods are made several times in Bali culture, which are filled with flowers, food and other gifts. These offerings line the streets and are placed in front of homes, stores and restaurants. 

One great experience is a class with Lobong Cooking Class, where you are taken through a village market and then prepare a 8 course Indonesian meal in a family's home. You are introduced to new and fresh ingredients and cooking techniques while making new friends and enjoying the meal together at the end of the class. We also took a class in downtown Ubud making a Tumeric tonic as well as scrub, body oil and face mask.

Ubud is also known for its famous rice terraces, both beautiful and vibrant. Rice paddies are commonly farmed in Bali as many other South East Asian countries but are easily accessible and walkable from central Ubud. They are a wonderful thing to see and experience. We also had a fun time checking out a Monkey forest, walkable from downtown Ubud. There are many temples and ancient bathing fountains in this park all habitated by monkeys that are friendly enough and use to tourists.

Shopping is a excellent part of the Ubud adventure, whether you want Batik tapestries or sarongs, wood carvings, mother of pearl kitchenware or exquisite traditional jewelry, there is something for everyone in Ubud. Haggling with local vendors is expected, so its a great way to get a bargain.

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