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Bali, Indonesia, is known for its nightlife, shopping, beaches… but do you know of this tiny gem of a place which has none of this and is a haven of peace and greenery? Ubud.
It had been a particularly tiring journey. In fact, this particularly tiring journey was undertaken to escape a particularly stressful few months in Mumbai so, the journey merely ended up adding to our already tired souls.
A last minute decision to escape the stress of big city life had made us contemplate and book tickets to Bali, Indonesia. Alas, as last minute decisions stand, our connections including the layover at KualaLumpur, Malaysia; were not the greatest. So, we arrived at Bali, tired and in need of much rest.
The days that followed were anything but restful as Bali with its azure waters, bustling markets and vibrant night life bewitches you to participate.
A Balinese holiday is a whirlwind of activities whether it be frolicking in the cerulean waters of the ocean or taking in the many sights that the island has to offer. So, we too found ourselves doing all the recommended tourist things – water sports at Nusa Dua, Visits to Ulwatu & Tanah Lot Temples (and others too), dance performances by talented artists, seafood Jamborees at Jimbaran Bay, dancing the night away at Rock Bar and of course shopping for artifacts at the local galleries and studios tucked away into enchanting by-lanes. Needless to say, although immensely enjoyable our trip so far was anything but restful.
As we neared the final leg of our journey, we packed our bags and proceeded to Ubud for the final two days of our trip. As mentioned, it had been an unbelievably tiring few days and I gratefully collapsed into the cab and sank into a deep and restful slumber. My dreamless reverie was broken only as the cab halted amid the beautiful green clad mountains of Ubud.
As I opened my eyes, Ubud unleashed its assault on me. For everywhere that I could see, I saw a sea of green paddy fields.
The jade green terraced farms glistened under the bright sun, the crop standing tall and proud. From where I stood atop the pathway that descended into the valley, I could see miles and miles of green fertile fields virtually fighting for space with the tall coconut palms that dotted the landscape. The farms cocooned by dense forests and coffee plantations resonated with the chirping of tropical birds and the hoots and howls of monkeys that populated it.
The jagged pathways beckoned and as I walked down, I could feel a serenity permeate my very essence. I could feel a gentle, tranquil breeze caress me like a warm hug.
It was the month of May so yes, it was quite balmy but yet, peace beckoned! The hues of olive, chartreuse, emerald, teal, sage and chrome green in the vegetation awakened in me a new appreciation of nature that the city girl in me, did not know existed. I was utterly rapturous!
Located in the uplands of the island, Ubud is the artistic soul of Bali. As you travel among the terraced paddy fields, dotted ever so often with Hindu shrines, you are reminded of God’s bounty. You are reminded of the deep cultural roots that Bali shares with India; for in Bali you somehow find a deeper appreciation of your own culture.
So, if you plan a trip to Ubud and think of it as an extension to the hubbub that is Bali then have a care; for Ubud is a place where even Bali escapes from itself and surrenders to nature.
The main streets on the mountainous region of Ubud are packed with small curio shops selling a multitude of artifacts. For the connoisseurs of art there are wood & bone carvings which are displayed by the purveyors on bright crocheted blankets (also for sale). The artistry and indeed the prices are most commendable. If your soul speaks the language of art then you can literally wander for hours among these tiny shops and spend many a happy hour imbibing the beauty of the craftsmanship. Ubud most definitely is a place to soak in beauty and culture.
So, if you plan a trip to Bali and Ubud also features in your itinerary then do not go if you are going to Bali for the spectacular coastal landscapes or the night life; for Ubud is neither.
Do not go to Ubud if peace and tranquility are not the motivation for your holiday; for Ubud is a piece of forgotten paradise that with its verdant landscape is a photographer’s dream.
It is a place to enjoy a cup of coffee or a warm local meal in a tree top cabin, deep in the jungle or rising up over the paddy fields. It is a place to go and breathe in life itself. If you wish to escape from life, even if just for a few hours or days, then to Ubud you must travel in Bali. It is sure to cleanse your soul, just like it did mine.
A version of this was first published here.
Images source: Sonal Singh
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Sonal believes that life is a repertoire of anecdotes strung together in a colourful array,
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