In our minds Ubud was going to be all about relaxing. The “cooler temps,” rain, and yogi vibe would be a welcomed environment after touristy Legian. While Ubud was incredible it was NOTHING like we expected. The temperatures were just as high without the relief of the ocean breeze. The rainy season is experiencing quite the dry spell and there’s still just as many stressed out tourists. There are so many things to do in and around this area and that ended up being a double edged sword for us. At the beach, the beach itself was our entertainment. In Ubud, there were so many things one could do that we felt everyday needed to be packed full of activities in order to truly experience the place. While we saw countless things, there are three that stand out: Sacred Monkey Forest, Tegalalang Rice Terraces/Bali Pulina, and our sunrise trek of Mt. Batur. (Check out our Mt. Batur trek here.)
Upon entering the Sacred Monkey Forest we were immediately asked if we wanted to buy bananas. We didn’t even have to think about this purchase and within seconds monkeys were crawling all over us. Honestly, it was a bit alarming at first. There was no explanation of what’s about to happen so when a monkey jumps on you for the first time in your life, it can be a bit scary. Chase kept saying, “Act natural!” But I wasn’t sure how to ‘act natural’ when a wild animal was crawling on me. Thankfully, I got much better as the day progressed. Chase was calm the entire time; eerily calm actually. I couldn’t understand how playing with monkeys seemed so normal for him. Folks visit this forest for the monkeys, obviously, but we also enjoyed the scenery and the shade of the enormous trees. We spent all morning exploring the paths and taking flicks of every monkey we saw.
Images of rice terraces are what both of us were picturing when we though of Ubud. Unfortunately, the Tegalalang Rice Terraces weren’t nearly as serene as we were imagining due to all of the people but still beautiful, nonetheless. We meandered around the terraces, constantly be asked if we wanted to buy postcards from the local school children. They led me around the area making sure to point out where to step and help me get from terrace to terrace. The interactions were fun and playful and enabled me to feel like a kid again, jumping over mud puddles and laughing away the day.
After leaving the terraces we literally stumbled upon Bali Pulina coffee plantation. As soon as we arrived a tour of the plantation began. I gave Chase a glance saying, “Do you have any idea what is happening?” He returned my glance with, “Do you know how this costs?” We both shrugged and continued onward. After a brief informative tour we offered samples of tea, coffee, and some sweet potato chips. After confirming that it was in fact free, Chase was game. We even splurged on cookies and one cup of the famous Luwak Coffee. We’re learning that sometimes you have to be willing to spend a bit of money to extend and heighten the experience. (For those of you who have heard tales from our road trip across the U.S. you will know how big of a deal this was for Chase!). After finishing our snack and taking way too many pictures, we took a walk around the plantation grounds. Our stroll afforded us inspiring views and even a little pool built into the cliff side. While taking in this stunning sight we found ourselves constantly saying, “I can’t believe where we are.” I have a feeling this will be a phrase used on most days while on this journey.
While Ubud was different than expected, it still provided us with incredible experiences. Both of us are trying to take each day as it comes and to embrace the change and the struggles that may accompany it. We are learning that around the next turn, there may just be one heck of a view.