The night I arrived in Ubud, a Japanese girl who had been sharing a taxi with me had made reservations in Yuliati House, a homestay just east of central Ubud. As it was so late (Bali is one hour ahead of Java too) I thought it would be good to see if they had space and maybe stay there for the night.
I stayed for a week.
It was a wonderful place, ran by a family who offer Balinese dancing and music classes. At all hours of the day the chimes of traditional Balinese instruments ring throughout the property, as well as the sound of running water from their pond and the river which the house lies beside.
I was moved to a larger room just by the river after my first night there for the same price (150,000 rupiah) and it was wonderful. The homestays in Ubud are set up like a network of little houses dotted around the property which is great for privacy and feeling like you have your own space. Outside the front of my room was a small patio which looked out to the river, trees and plants and was very peaceful and serene.
I decided to do some yoga classes while I was in Ubud, and I found a couple of different studios – Yoga Barn and Radiantly Alive. The latter won out in the end purely due to close proximity to my homestay and it was slightly cheaper too. I explored the town to get my bearings and ordered a delicious hot ginger and lemon tea in Kafe on Hanoman street, a recommendation from my friend who had been here recently and loved it. It was clear from walking around Ubud that there were a lot of tourists but at the same time there were also many locals and the two seemed to mix together in a very easy way – something that doesn’t happen that often. The architecture around the city is such that at every turn there’s another temple or intricately designed family home. Offerings of flowers and incense lie in front of all homes and businesses, scattered across the pavements and adorning Hindu statues everywhere.
Radiantly Alive have some great options for classes and it is really worth the money to buy a 7 day pass. Each class is 130,000 IDR for drop in, but if you buy an unlimited week pass it costs just 490,000 IDR. You can feasibly fit in up to four or five classes a day, although that would be incredibly full on! At most I did three classes a day and that was quite enough! The morning classes start at 7.30am and the last class is at about 6pm. All classes are about 1 and a half hours in duration and the teachers for the most part are all wonderful.
I tried many new types of yoga, as well as some classes I have experience with including: Hatha, Vinyasa, Core Yoga, Fly High Yoga, Arm Balances as well as restorative classes such as Yin and Roll & Release.
The coffee definitely deserves a mention – here in Bali it is fantastic! I definitely spent a lot of time drinking mainly Balinese coffee (served every day with breakfast) but also tried the delicious and world-renowned Luwak coffee. It’s pricey though at about 50,000 IDR for a cup which is pretty much what you would pay at home for a coffee.
Ubud is a real hub for yogis and health food fanatics. I have to say, I really enjoyed embracing that lifestyle while I was there and hope to carry on some good habits I picked up too! Myself and Marie spent the week together going to yoga classes and eating delicious healthy, organic food. We tried a number of different cafes and restaurants including:
Kafe: I ate the home made pumpkin soup here as well as the delicious Hot Ginger and Honey Tea and Iced berries tea. Lovely relaxed atmosphere on the main street. Jln Hanoman 44b, Ubud
Kue: This chilled out cafe is the perfect stop for some lunch and the baked goods downstairs looked AMAZING (unfortunately I didn’t try them out). I had a yummy falafel wrap and salad here, with iced berry tea. Jl Penestanan
Soma: We stopped at this veggie cafe and restaurant for dinner one evening and I enjoyed a healthy avocado, tomato and vegetable sandwich with yucan (?) – a substitute for bread made from a raw potato-like vegetable, it was definitely interesting! Jalan Dewi Sita
Bali Buda (restaurant and bakery): This popular bakery is situated in a couple of locations in Ubud and there was one conveniently beside my yoga studio! In the restaurant, I tried out the vegetarian nasi goreng followed by mint spirulina balls from the bakery – absolutely delicious! Nasi Goreng is a very typical Indonesian dish, (literally means ‘fried rice’ in Indonesian). It usually includes stir-fried rice in small amount of cooking oil, spiced with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), shallots, garlic, tamarind and chilli and other ingredients, such as egg or meat. Jl. Jembawan No. 1 (in front of the Post Office)
Warung Sopa: In this vegan/vegetarian spot, Marie tried out an assortment of salads and I opted for the mango/coconut/chocolate cake (kind of gelatinous/flan texture) as well as turmeric and honey tea which was so tasty! Another new tea to add to my ever-growing list of favourite hot drinks. Jalan Sugriwa 36
Mama’s Warung: Mama is a wonderfully warm Balinese lady and her restaurant, which was just down the road from my homestay, serves great local food at very reasonable prices. I tried the mixed satay here (mixture of pork/beef/chicken skewers), which is another staple of Indonesian cuisine, a dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meats usually served with peanut sauce. The mango juice here was fantastic too – party in your mouth stuff. Br. Tebesaysa, No 29
Atman: We ‘ate’ here twice…well actually we just got 2 scoops of ice cream from outside and sat down with it in the restaurant. The Bacio and Panna Cotta one night, followed by Pistachio and Mint sorbet the second time…nomonomonom. 35,000 IDR for 2 scoops, worth every penny. 38 JL Hanoman
During the week we took part in two day trips hiking and biking, and after this I felt in need of some foot-lovin’ so decided to get a pedicure. Messaluna salon was just down the street from my homestay (and beside Mama’s Warung), it is great value and I have never had such an in-depth pedicure in my life! She was working on my feet for over an hour and a half – no polish – individually preening, scrubbing, filing, and massaging every toenail, toe, the soles of my feet and my legs up to the knee. It was wonderful and for 55,000 IDR, great value (an extra 10,000 for polish is also a steal).
My week in Ubud was a wonderful mix of relaxation, reading – I actually finished ULYSSES! So proud of myself, it’s a novel I’ve wanted to read for a long time. I really loved it, albeit was incredibly confused by it on many an occasion. I especially loved Molly’s Soliquoy at the end. It will definitely be a book that I return to – lots of yoga, eating healthy food, visiting a Balinese healer, sunrise volcano hike, countryside cycling, good coffee and tasty herbal teas, pampering pedicures and catching up with my friend Marie. I didn’t want to leave!
But all good things must come to an end. I was sad to leave the family at Yuliati House too, they were so wonderful to me the entire time I was there, chatting every day in English and some of my pigeon Indonesian, helping me out with anything I needed as well as cooking delicious breakfasts. As I was leaving, Coman, one of the young guys who worked there, shouted out ‘Goodbye Miss Sarah, remember me!’. It almost brought a tear to my eye, it was so sweet. And of course, there is no doubt in mind that I will ever forget.