Since gaining recent popularity from the book Eat, Prey, Love, Chelsea and I were worried Ubud had lost the “hidden gem” appeal we had heard so much about along the backpacker’s trail.  Even though Elizabeth Gilbert’s story brought Ubud to the mainstream, it still lives up to its reputation.  Artsy, inviting, with vibrant green jungle trees housing monkeys swinging from their hanging vines.  The people are charming and accommodating to outsiders yet have maintained their long held traditions and culture.  It was a place that very quickly felt like home and needless to say we were all elated to take it in.  

Very pretty!

We arrived in Bali at night, but my lovely family had arranged for their favorite driver, Raceng, to pick us up and take us all the way to Ubud (Thank you Rick and Karen!!) It was WAY further than I thought and probably would have cost us a fortune, so it was much appreciated! We arrived at our CouchSurfers place and had NO idea where to go. Turns out he wasn’t home anyway, and raced home from the bar to meet us. His name was Jakob, and he was from Vermont, but working very casually in Bali…along with tons of other young Americans living the life. His place was gorgeous! Spacious downstairs with an amazing couch (our bed!), a lovely outdoor area to eat, and his bedroom was the whole upstairs, which overlooked a luscious rice paddy field!

Rice fields at Jakobs!

The next morning, we couldn’t wait to explore beautiful Ubud, and took off along the backstreets where Jakob lived. The first thing we saw were 3 older ladies hiking these steep stairs with big baskets full of dirt balancing on their heads! WoaH….impressive!


As we wandered along the cracked and narrow path, we noticed the abundance of statues covered in moss of the different Hindi gods. I LOVED it! It was so perfect for Bali. Then we came upon a little breakfast spot Jakob recommended that served all organic and local food. All the furniture was made locally and again…so Bali and so perfect! It was our new favorite hangout…they had WiFi too!  So far…we loved Ubud!!

Love this place!

After taking care of some Visa issues for Brad in Denpasar, and checking out a temple or 2 along the way, we made our way back to Ubud, and were advised to rent bicycles to get around, which we were all happy to do….luckily Ashley loves exercise too! We walked to town to find them, after stopping at quite a few boutique shops along the way! Then it was off to Monkey Forest.

Do we look nervous? Monkeys everywhere!!

Although it was beautiful, we were all terrified of the overly-aggressive monkeys. We avoided buying bananas at the entrance as we watched other tourists get pummeled by monkeys the second they were bought. They temples were really nice, and of course all the greenery surrounding us was nice. The monkeys ARE fun to watch…we were treated to a show of curiosity as a monkey banged the life out of some batteries it found…the typical hygiene picking through each others fur, and of course we were lucky enough to see a few humping monkeys!

Monkey Forest!

When we witnessed a lady get BIT by a monkey, we were outta there…happy to avoid the wrath of rabies! We hopped back on our bikes and rode up the massive hill to check out some of the shops. Brad took off to give Ash and I some girl time, full of shopping and topped off with ice cream! On our way home, we found the markets and both managed to barter for colorful Ganesh tapestries!

More temples!

Later that night, Jakob took us to a super local spot way in the backstreets for dinner. It was AWESOME! Really crowded…shared tables…amazing food, and cheap! AND he introduced us to some strong Balinese rice wine. Now with a happy and full belly, we all rode our bikes down the road to a traditional Kecak Fire and Dance show. While we were chaining up our bicycles, my calf was pressed up against a newly hot motorcycle exhaust, and 5 seconds later I felt a sharp burn…jumped off and saw a big red mark on my leg! Jakob told me I just received the infamous “Bali Kiss”….it didn’t look so bad…YET

Kecak Dance

The show was decent! It was cool to see the chanting, but we were not fully aware of what was going on. At the end, this one guy was throwing around fire and stamping it out…his feet were completely black! The sensation of fire was flaring up my newly burnt leg…it may have been all in my head, but it was painful. I continued to ignore it and enjoy the show! Ashley and I had our eyes on this hilarious fat dancer who looked like he was having the time of his life! :) He LOVED it! We managed to find him for a picture afterwards too! The show is definitely worth seeing…it’s a great bit of culture to experience…especially in Ubud!

Happy Fat Man!

We topped off the night with a visit to the local watering hole where I think we were the only white people in the joint! It was cool to go, especially since Jakob likes it…and we didn’t feel so awkward. He made us drink some arak (typical balinese drink)  that was super strong and somewhat gross. We played cards for a bit before making the massive ride back home…and up hill!

Boozing with Jakob!

Our last day with Jakob was spent at a pool party that his friends were having. Before leaving, I went to Brad and Ashley with a concern for my newly disgustingly MASSIVE blister. They were disgusted haha and Jakob suggested we popped it! I almost made Ashley do it since she’s the nurse lol, but Brad volunteered, eww I couldn’t even look. Ash bandaged me up though, and we were ready for the pool party!

Bali kiss~

It was all American ex-pats that worked lite and played hard! Their houses were so cute, situated right next to some rice patties, and with a beautiful infinity pool in their back yard. Everyone was super friendly and the beers were flowing. It was tempting to adopt their lifestyle, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a change. Good money. Good life.

Pool Party :)

Our time with our American couchsurfer in Bali was very cool. We were able to really see different parts of Ubud that the typical tourist doesn’t see! Hopefully we’ll cross paths again in Vermont or somewhere in the world! The next part of our trip was sure to be different, as not only were we headed for the crazy party district of Kuta, but we would be staying in a fabulous resort AND spending the next week with my parents and grandparents! I’m sure Ash was happy for a proper bed and air-con though J Goodbye Ubud…we loved you!

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