This is the last post on Bali. I promise. At this point you’ve probably had the wonders of Bali driven down every orifice. So this one is going to be pretty basic. Everything Ubud. The one place we slept that we loved, the ten things we ate that blew our mind, the road we re-loved and the one walk we did which I wish we could do e’er weekend.
We knew we were meant to be flashpackers when we were 24 and the New York Times had recommended the Alam Indah family of hotels. At the time we had blown all of our money on this trip to Bali, but we knew we had to stay here. It helped that Alam Indah’s rooms can be as low as $45 per night during the low season (including breakfast and taxes). We fell in love with Balinese hospitality and the rich (yet not kitschy) local design of the hotel immediately. So we knew we had to stay with them again for lucky number eight.
And this time we could splurge (and not feel the pain of it) for a standing bungalow in the middle of a rice field at the Alam Jiwa. Balinese hospitality also means that you can order breakfast the night before and they’ll serve it on your veranda. All of the rooms, no matter what price, have their own little private terrace space.
This time we went for the Jatayu, a massive single room kampong (featuring the most comfortable king sized bed) with an outdoor, rice field-facing bathroom, and the most luxurious private little veranda. We didn’t necessarily feel like leaving.
The entire property, which is structured like a Balinese household compound, is stunning. Each residence behind a wall and a gentle little path through lily pads and rice fields. It’s actually mind blowing. You really don’t need to leave. Also pool, and complimentary afternoon tea? You really really don’t need to leave.
When we travel, we eat everything. From the pig on the side of the road, to reservation attempts at the Michelin stars, or the new culinary upstart in town. And that’s exactly what we did again on this trip. We had really great new little discoveries (like the nasi pecel above), and obligatory pitstops (the babi guling below).
Then my partner surprised me with something kind of epic and mind blowing.
Will Goldfarb worked the desserts at El Bulli. Drop Mic. That’s all you need to know right? Here are some other bits: he moved to Bali, he trains chefs there, and he opened a restaurant (in an abandoned night club) that is serving locally inspired sweets (and some savouries) and still dabbling in molecular gastronomy and the most delicious cocktails mastered by a barely legal Balinese bartender whose family makes all the local fruit-derived syrups and bitters. He’s also the nicest guy, and his roster of very cool chefs are the best conversationists. They will even be aware of the nuances of Cambodian food. You should absolutely order the 9 course dessert tasting menu. Share with two other work out buddies also visiting Bali, break the diet and have a sugar high.
Pick a road that leads from Ubud’s city center to Gunung Batur and drive your custom café race (read: scooter you rented from your hotel) up through the rice terraces, through holy bathing sites, and all the temples. That’s all you need to do to get a sense of Bali. And if you have time, keep driving north, or west. Not enough people see this part of Bali. Tourists mostly stick around the island’s south east bend of beaches, yoga and parties. But there is so much more in between roads and down a dirt path. And if you’re feeling intrepid, wake up at 3am and climb the dead volcano at the end of the road.
The very last thing we did was a bucket list item for me. The moment I saw this path through a gorgeous rice field, I just had to. The Campuhan Rice Ridge is eight kilometers of some of the coolest hikes you can do in the region. On both sides of you are rice terraces, gorgeous traditional Balinese homes sitting on hills and a bunch of romantically placed palm trees. Here are perfect instructions on how to get there. Bring mosquito repellant and a good pair of shoes. My flip flops didn’t exactly leave much to be desired.
All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. We are not responsible if you can’t get a room in Ubud because it’s high season and you put off booking everything.