How to Survive Ubud, Bali | What You Need to Know

December 11, 2018

After a long time battle of 'going-not-going' to Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, I finally made it a few weeks ago. It's been years I've been wanting to go so badly, but due to work and such, I couldn't leave work, so there you go... you can guess all that jazz.

However, after all of my friends have been going back-and-forth, whether it's for UWRF or working/travel in Ubud, I still only had a small picture in my head about the place and everything. Well, I didn't ask many questions, that's why. Besides, it had always been business trips for me before I finally made this call.

For short, I can tell you that Ubud is like ... Montmartre in Paris, if you have ever been there. It's a bit of hike to get there, and there are lots of stairs and sometimes, it's just slide (so prepare to wear comfortable and non-slippery shoes), but only Ubud is its own town with its natural charm.

(Will put keypoints in highlight)

First of all, how to get to Ubud.
I heard there's a shuttle mini bus called 'Kura-kura' and it's located somewhere in Ngurah Rai airport at certain schedules. However, I read about it on its website and I just didn't want to risk it. But if you want to try, the good news is it's really cheap.

As for me, I chose to ask my Ubud host to provide me a pickup from the airport. It's a long drive from the airport to Ubud by the way. It would take around 1,5 - 2 hours.

But you can try a trick, which is to get a hotel which provides airport pickup, it can cost you certain amount of money (mostly around 200.000 - 350.000 IDR) and that's the same cost I got from my Ubud hosts. Or the free option is staying at hotels who provide shuttle station at the airport. That is which, of course, will make you wait a little while as it's a shuttle (and moreover, it's free). Well, it's like when they say, magic always has a price.


Something about those 'hidden gem' places to stay in Ubud
Let me share my story: I stayed in two places. The first one was the one with bathtub in the balcony... with a view of...

paddyfields!

But I'm telling you, this kind of view comes with a price as well. Oh yes, anything magical comes with awesome price. To get through this, I need to step on a high steep path. It is located in higher level, and it takes 5-minute walk of this....

Long walk... this is in the morning

And then this is how it looks at 6PM. 
This path has no lights along the way. So from those two pics, you can imagine how it would look after 6.30PM. Once I came back at late around 6.45PM and it was all dark! I even asked my driver to walk me home. How embarrassing!

It's spooky for me, too!

It's all paddyfields and if you don't see clearly, you might get lost a little (to my stay, there's a soap house in the middle of the way and it's empty!), or fall down to the right side as it's lower land if you don't step right, quite steep down there and there was also rivers!

However, when I was walking back with my driver, another guest from the same villa just left to explore the city, without putting lights (like I did with my smartphone torch). My driver even joked me, "well, she's okay with this, and you're not?"

The nicest things about this 5-min walk to the middle of the paddyfields where my villa is located is that you can hear the sounds of water from the small river along the way. It's just relaxing, walking out every morning like that. With birds, chirping.

... even though, dragonflies and bees are also there. Meh!

Beware of mosquitos, too! Prepare some anti-mosquito lotion or electric mosquito repellent. Make it complete with tiger balm (I'm just too Chinese, I know) just in case if you've got bitten already, you know what to do.

Anyway, just have some Med-Kit with you, in the middle of nowhere and limited options of transportation, the only supermarket nearby is Bintang in Sanggingan, Coco in Pengosekan and some other in Raya Andong---which are in a bit crowded area. There are convenient stores nearby, yet, when it comes to emergency and you have to walk 5 mins out and in? Let alone, when it's dark. Thank you, next!

So there, during my stay here, I avoided coming home late. 6PM is the latest, before it's dark. I have balcony where I did yoga, breakfast, and dry my towel every morning... and it will be also dark there. No lights. So no chill time in the balcony with the sounds of crickets. No!

In this part of Ubud, you have to prepare for this kind of things. Dark, and no lights. If you're annoyed with this kind of situation like I am, you need to check on this. Some part of Ubud aren't like this, still feels like cities with cars passing by and city lights along the way.

Plus, there's another surprise... which is lizards, small and big ones. If you're okay with this, that's cool. But if you're a kind of freaking out to these kinds of visits, always make sure you stay in a place with closed windows and doors. Never leave the door and windows open too long. I know you'd be intrigued to do that once you see the beauty there, but remember, you're in the middle of paddyfields, which means all lizards and other unwelcomed insects are there.

The next morning after the driver walked me back, he picked me up. He texted me that he had arrived and warned me.

"Careful while walking the path, miss. There might be snakes, too!"

"What? Really?"

"Maybe, hehe."

Ubud house styles have more peeking windows and all. Make sure you check the housing style, too. Too much, I know. If you might find those things disturbing, it'd better if you check. Those lizards can always sneak to your room.

And also, you have to make sure where exactly your place is gonna be. Whether you would need to walk long by foot or not, whether a car can pass. Why?

Most people in Ubud would love to travel by motorbike, or bike (the least). This kind of things would not be a problem for them. But, I have a condition where I cannot get on motorbike or bike (let alone to drive it, I can't), so I have to walk to enter paddyfield area in the middle of nowhere with only a long small path.

The problem is that I bring one heavy luggage, one sling bag, and another one handbag with laptop and yoga mat together inside it. Imagine bringing them all together with hiking a steep up and 5-min walk?

Travel around
Like what I have mentioned that Ubud people love to travel by motorbike, so that's how most visitors are likely to be suggested. It's quite easy to get motorbike taxi or to rent one.

If you travel with families or in group, rent a car would be great option. However, not many places in Ubud have lots of spots for parking. Get ready with that. Travel with driver would be better, so you can always drop off and let the local driver figures it out. Sounds selfish, but they know better where to park. *grin*

The benefit traveling with local driver is that they can always suggest you new places, stories about the cities and all, what's recommended, etc.

As for me, as I can't ride a bike or motorbike, or even just to hop on... it's a quite a struggle. I usually depend on GoCar in Jakarta, or GrabCar or Uber even when I was in in Europe or anywhere else. In Ubud, there's nothing like that. You have to go with a private taxi, which is a rental car that you could hail for one single trip. 

I found a nice driver on the streets. Lucky me! Turns out my journalist instinct is still there when it comes to a tricky situation. I was talking to security officers of UWRF about getting taxis and all as I was in panic and confused, then I searched around and I found one of them came up looking for one and brought me a guy that introduced himself as a part-time driver there. We exchanged phone numbers so I could order his taxi service via Whatsapp, which is nice and convenient. The rest of the story is that he took me everywhere when I was in Ubud and paid him for multiple single trips which cost much less than pay for a daily rent charge if you don't hop to many places in a day.

He didn't talk much but he was certainly helpful on information and even suggested me cool ice-cream place in Seminyak. (When I moved to Seminyak from Ubud---I told him beforehand that I had that idea---the night before, he texted me and asked whether I would need someone to drive me to Seminyak.)

The thing about Seminyak, there are still grabcars available. They can take you from Seminyak to Canggu, yet, once you're in Canggu, you cannot hail another Grabcar to go back to Seminyak or anywhere else. No online cabs would pick you up in Canggu, they see it too risky.

Grabcars and gojeks are not allowed in Bali, generally. But some are sneaky and lucky. Some sneaky, but unlucky.

However, Canggu and Seminyak are considered cities, unlike Ubud. Ubud is a village, different story. So you can find a public taxi in Canggu or Seminyak, like the one in purple cars or blue ones.

So there you go.


Food!
As you're in the middle of nowhere in Ubud, unlike Jakarta---where you can always search Go-Food or anywhere else with UberEats---we're back at the 90s, where you can only order directly from the restaurant.

My first food after one hour landed to my awesome stay was Bali Buda. They got vegan cakes, too (if it's what takes you to Ubud).

My first food in Ubud: Soto Ayam with Rice by Bali Buda Delivery + Soy Milk

And surprisingly, coz Ubud or Bali is small, the courier boy just arrived at your place fast. I even worried when I made the call, whether he knew the place. But there he was.. arriving on my balcony, right before I jumped to my outdoor bathtub.

Restaurants are there in crowded area, as in Raya Sanggingan, Monkey Forest, Raya Ubud, etc.

Awesome Indian Food in Raya Sanggingan from Mumbai Station

My second place to stay was around Monkey Forest area---the one that has lights along the way to the house. It's not so crowded, but many people pass by, so you're not gonna be alone even in the evening. So yeah, while staying here, I could hangout at night. Yeay!

 

I tried Bali's new sweetheart, Milk & Madu. It's also quite famous already in Canggu, and they just opened a new one in Ubud.

 

It was a bit hot but rain in Ubud when I was there. You can go to Gootama road where you could find Tukies Coconut Shop, it's also the place where I found Virgin Coconut Oil to make Coconut Oil Coffee (or Bulletproof Coffee). It's also walking distance to Kou Cuisine (homemade jam jars shop) in Monkey Forest.

Da-yummm!


NOTE FROM A NEWBIE SINGLE TRAVELER
1. I'm a proud cashless society member, but well... uh-puhlease, get some cash in hands while travelling. Trust me, it helps. Coz I only found one ATM in Raya Sanggingan, which is inside Bintang supermarket area. I didn't get the chance to spot anywhere else.

2. It's quite hot. It's Bali as we know it. I never remember to put on some sunblock cream and all, but guys, if you are also a kind of person like I am, please do this note. You won't regret it. I got sunburnt, not because of the beach, but when I was in Canggu, having brunch outdoors!

3.  If you forgot to bring any or already got sunburnt, find anything aloe vera gel (from Banana Boat, maybe) or real aloe vera. I was in the airport when I freaked out, so I went to Guardian while waiting for boarding call.

4. Hmm.. some places are a bit exhibitionist for me. Hahaha... not in the weird sense. But I went to spa place in Monkey Forest, where I cleaned up in a bathtub for relaxing and the window is soooo open and there's a cafe in the back, those visitors can actually see you naked from afar.

My bathtub spa window.. they can peek me!

Not all spa places are like this one, I think, for sure.

However, my outdoor bathtub... I could see some farmers doing their work in the afternoon while I'm wearing my bikini and spent time with my books. No worries, they don't care. Neither should you. Just relax and enjoy. (But to be honest, as I am a private person, I freaked out a little and still shocked to the fact how I could pass those moments).

And yes, Ubud has given me something. I had enough me time... and will definitely come back.

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