Ubud is full of artistic culture and creativity, but its also surrounded by some beautiful scenery. Lonely Planet provides some wonderful walking tours around the town and we decided to embark on a couple of them on different days.
On our first full day in Ubud, we followed the “Monkey Forest & Penestanan Walking Tour” through the rice terraces behind Ubud. The tour began with a walk through the monkey forest, which is infested with conniving and mischievous monkeys ready to pounce at your first wrong move. They seemed to be interested in cameras, although I was successful in keeping mine hidden somehow, and I saw countless people with monkeys clinging to their shorts or trying to climb on their backs (I was extremely lucky to not have had to experience this, although one made a lunge for Matt’s shorts , which he skillfully eluded). The Monkey Forest was peaceful, green and I could barely see the sky it was so lush.
After thoroughly exploring the forest, we exited the opposite side and made our way through the small towns of Ubud suburbia, finally making it to the rice terraces. The Lonely Planet guided us through the rice terraces where we were supposed to exit on to the main road. Well after some wandering around in the mud and the muck of the rice paddies, we finally heard the road, but weren’t exactly sure how to get there. I made a comment how I bet we’ll end up in someone’s backyard (because we practically were already in one walking through the rice fields) and sure enough, a few minutes later, we happened across an extremely surprised lady doing housework. She kindly led us through her yard and pointed us to the street, which led us back to the main town.
Later that night, we attended a Traditional Balinese dance at the Ubud Palace. It was absolutely incredible and completely different than anything else. The way their fingers and hands gracefully twitched to the music and the way their eyes moved side to side with the beat made it one of the most unique dances I have ever seen. The costumes were gorgeous and I never wanted it to end! I’m hoping that they have something like this in the Los Angeles area so that I can go again when I get home!
Our next adventure was what Lonely Planet liked to call the Penestanan & Sayan Walking Tour. It was quoted to take about six hours so we definitely had to mentally prepare for this one. We found ourselves wandering around a small town looking for the “small road” that would bring us to the rice terraces and then on to the jungle/river. We walked around aimlessly for a short while when a cute old man approached us stating he knew the way (it reminded me a little bit of Jafar when he dressed up as an old man and told Aladdin about the Cave of Wonders, yeah I’m a dork, I know). As soon as he led us down the path, he was talking about the compensation he was going to receive for this valiant task. I went from saying this was a cute little old man to what the heck jerk! We found our way past the rice terraces and to the river, after once again receiving help from a tip-wanting “friendly” Indonesian.
We trudged along the beautiful banks of the river watching river rafters brave the rapids and scaling rocks and foliage. At the end of the trail, we found ourselves faced with a gate blocking the path. There were drops on either side of this gate and all the rope and chicken wire made it clear that the resident was through with travelers meandering through his yard. Yet, there was no way we were going to turn around and walk all the way back (it had taken us a good hour and half at least to get to this point). I figured out how to open the gate and we sneaked on through, gladly not running into the fellow and a little nervous that he was going to pull out a shotgun of some sort. About forty minutes and an incredibly exorbitant amount of stairs later, we made it back to the street and after a delicious lunch, we stumbled back into Ubud.
The next day we hired a car to take us up to the rice terraces of Jatileuwih. They have been nominated for UNESCO status and there’s a very good reason for that. I have never seen more green in my life. My eyes were on complete green overload. I’m used to beautiful beaches and forests, but I’ve never seen anything like this: Rows and rows of rice terraces with a backdrop of a volcano-like mountain surrounded by blue sky and fluffy clouds. We took a good two hours or so to make our way through the terraces successfully reaching the bottom and witnessing phenomenal views. Although my feet were completely under water at times making me slip all over the place, it was one of the best and most unique hikes I’ve ever done. Our driver also followed us on our trek and explained the rice growing process to us, which we had been wondering about ever since we saw our first rice terrace in Ubud. It was an amazing day and definitely worth the two hour drive north.
Ubud was absolutely unbelievable. I know I could have spent weeks there just exploring all the shops and art galleries! What a perfect place for me!