Bali Diary, Part 7: Exploring Ubud

Ubud, Bali via
My last day in Bali started early and was easily a favorite. After breakfast at the Viceroy, we drove to the Tegalalang Rice Terraces. We knew we were going for a trek through the paddies, but since we’d arrived at our hotel via flat roads with equally flat rice paddies on either side, I figured our “trek” would be a leisurely stroll along similar terrain. I was so wrong! Tegalalang Rice Terraces are deep, steep, and slippery. As you can see, they’re also stunning, and worth the trek to the top.
Ubud, Bali via
A few shops and cafes line the road at the top of the terraces. They don’t look like much from the front, but the views from the back are spectacular. IMG_5546 IMG_5547 IMG_5548
This was my first glimpse of the terraces, from a patio between two of the cafes. It was like peering down onto a movie set. P1010048
The greenest greens. P1010049
And so lush.
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We got a preview of what we were about to face as we descended the first set of steep stairs down into the terraces. All thoughts I’d had of a leisurely stroll were dust. P1010054 P1010059 P1010060
Very young rice had been planted a few weeks before our visit. As our guide pointed out, it’s a nice time to see the paddies, as the water in the rice beds means lots of reflective views of the green grass and blue sky. He was so right. P1010062 P1010064 P1010065 P1010066 P1010067 P1010068 P1010069 P1010070 P1010071 P1010072 P1010073 P1010075 P1010081
Who do I give my application to?P1010089 P1010091 P1010092
I spotted this little temple on the back side of the terraces and loved how solitary it looked at the edge of the plateau, a peaceful spot to pray, think, ponder, or simply appreciate the breathtaking surroundings.P1010101 P1010102
Back at the bottom, we spotted some pretty little waterfalls…P1010107
…craned our necks to the tops of giant palm trees…P1010109 P1010110 P1010111
…and happened on to two sweet little kittens wrestling and tumbling around, not paying us much attention.P1010116
Then it was back up the other side…P1010120 P1010121
…where we crossed paths with this farmer. He trailed behind us slowly. I’m not sure if he was annoyed by us and wanted to make sure we were on our way out, or if we were just in his way and he was politely and slowly making his way around the terrace as we passed through.P1010122 P1010127 P1010128
A view of the terraces we had just summited, sometimes crossing wobbly, narrow wooden boards and slipping and sliding up and down dirt pathways. Not long after I snapped this, we saw another tourist take a full-body spill into one of the rice beds. P1010129 P1010130
We arrived at the rear of the cafes that line the street atop the terraces. P1010131 P1010132 P1010136
See what I mean about those views?P1010137 P1010139
From the terraces, it was on to central Ubud for a walk through its enchanting Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (which, if you’re a fan of The Bachelor, you saw on Prince Farming’s season a few weeks ago).
Ubud, Bali via
For as many tourists as there are wandering around their sanctuary and sticking cameras in their faces, these critters are pretty patient…
…to a certain extent. After about 10 tries to get a clear shot of this guy, he let me know he’d had enough.P1010154
For the most part, they sit or wander around, grooming or waiting for someone to pull a banana from their bag. P1010157 P1010159
Eventually, their patience pays off. Score!
This little one thought he’d take a turn with my camera.P1010168
Vendors at the entrance of the forest sell small bananas, and the monkeys can practically sense when you’re about to pull one out of your bag. I thought I was up for some monkey contact, but when one squirmed up my arm and panted hot monkey breath in my ear, I lost my cool—and my banana.P1010170
At least he was kind enough to stifle his laughter…P1010174
“Who’ll be our next vict—er, visitor?”
With the Monkey Forest out of our system, we headed up Monkey Forest Road for a few hours spent shopping for sarongs, batik textiles, straw bags, and coffee.
Ubud, Bali via
This car. So in love.
This shop was somewhat hidden, but it was easy to see it was something special. P1010187
Its tiny hostess was eager to pose. P1010188
Its shelves were stocked with table runners, blankets, scarves, wall hangings, rugs, and so much more, all with intricate patterns and rich hues, mostly in shades of blue.P1010190 P1010191 P1010192 P1010198
There’s a lot of beautiful, brightly colored art in Ubud. Sadly, too big to carry on.
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For every boutique, there was a cute café to match, many of them with breezy terraces that would make for fantastic people watching.
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Apparently, this one was proud to have never hosted a certain A-list American playboy/actor… P1010205
…and serves its food and drink with a bit of biting humor.P1010206 P1010208 P1010209
It’s easy to see why some people come to Bali to outfit their homes…
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This t-shirt pretty much says it all. P1010214 P1010215
The carved wood decorative pieces and furniture in Bali are so special. If not for this shop being closed, I probably would have brought home one of those benches. P1010216
This little shop dog is deceptively cute. He snarled and growled as he followed me to the front of his store but eventually let me peruse in peace.
Then it was back to the hotel to shower, pack up, and head to the airport for the 34-hour journey home. Among all my travels —to Africa, South America, Europe, the Caribbean, and beyond—Bali, a tiny island filled with immense beauty, will forever occupy a special place in my heart.
Ubud, Bali via

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