Welcome To The Jungle
Ok…so it may not exactly be a jungle, but as I sit here reflecting on our 5 days in Ubud from in my air-conditioned condo in Chicago almost a month later, the giant bug bites and rashes covering my feet and legs long gone, I really feel like “jungle” is the best way for me to describe our first 5 days in Bali.
We spent a total of 10 days in Bali on the last leg of our wedding/honeymoon extravaganza; 5 days in Ubud at the Komaneka at Tanggayuda and 5 days in Jimbaran at the Ayana Resort. Ubud and our resort in Jimbaran were so completely different it’s hard to believe they are on the same tiny island. Ubud is the major art and cultural center of Bali and has become increasingly popular for tourists in recent years, especially with the help of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book turned movie Eat, Pray, Love. As popular as it is, we only met 4 other Americans during our entire stay in Bali, with the large majority of other tourists being Australian, Japanese, or Chinese…Bali is basically their Caribbean. There is so much to see and do in Ubud itself and from Ubud you can easily get to anywhere else on the island so it really makes for a great starting point. I was completely overwhelmed by all the great food, great shopping (think jewelry, painting, sculptures, wood carving, statues, and more), beautiful temples and statues (Bali is known as the land of 1,000 temples), beautiful scenery, and the beautiful, happy, gracious Balinese people. And so begins my Bali blog series….
When we got off the plane in Denpasar, 2 flights and 15 long hours away from Paris, it was a bit of a shock to the senses. The heat hit us as soon as we walked off the plane. We followed the herd and made our way to the line where you pay for your visas and then waited in another line to actually get our visas. We found our luggage, found our ride, and once we made our way through the crowd outside and tipped the random men who grabbed our bags from us we were Ubud bound!
Driving in Bali is totally insane and I would never try to do it myself. Not only are the roads super narrow and they drive on the left side of the road, but there are scooters/motorbikes everywhere! They ride with multiple scooters per lane, weaving in and out of traffic on either side of cars and many times I saw 4 bodies squeezed on to a single scooter…1 or 2 of those bodies often being small children and even infants being held by others on the scooter. So crazy, I have no idea how they do it!
After about an hour’s drive from the airport we reached our hotel, the Komaneka at Tanggayuda. We were greeted by the happy, ever-smiling staff with cold towels and the first of many glasses of fresh squeezed fruit juice.
We stayed in a pool villa that overlooked the valley and it really was a view we never got used to.
The main pool wasn’t too shabby either…
The inside of our beautiful villa was ready and waiting for us when we arrived, complete with flower petals everywhere. There were bugs but only a few actually made their way into our villa…thank goodness. As we were unpacking when we first arrived I seriously thought there was some kind of “sounds of the wild” audio playing until I made the comment out loud and Mike informed me that no, those are the actual birds outside. I guess I was still stuck on the “sounds of Paris”! The animal noises got even louder when the sun went down…bugs and frogs and god knows what else in those trees made quite the interesting soundtrack to fall asleep to.
On our first night we enjoyed some traditional Balinese cuisine at our hotel but after that we stuck with only breakfast at the hotel and ventured out for lunch and dinner. My go-to breakfast in Bali was fresh fruit and Nasi Goreng, which is fried rice that usually has chicken or shrimp mixed in and a fried egg on top. I definitely miss my Nasi Goreng! We also drank of fair share of Bali Hai and Bintang on this trip…the sun is hot and the beer is cold, what can I say?!
Overall we really enjoyed the Komaneka at Tanggayuda. The staff was amazing, the grounds and rooms were clean and beautiful, and we had a great massage at their spa. However, it was about 15 minutes from Ubud Center and for us that was a bit of a bummer. They offered a shuttle into town every hour which was great, but it was still a bit of a pain to have to worry about shuttle schedules. One of the reasons I picked the hotel was because it was a bit out of the way, but once we were there we definitely wished our access to all of the action was easier, especially because there was just so much to see and do. If I was planning the trip all over I would definitely pick a hotel in or very close to Ubud Center, there are some very nice ones that offer seclusion but also that great location.
More on Ubud food and shopping to come….