I wish I had a quarter for every time someone I met along my travels asked me if I have read the best selling “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I haven’t. But it seemed like I could not escape her shadow, especially in Ubud which was a sleepy, artsy hideaway in the hills until the book and subsequent movie came out in 2009. That changed everything. The movie, featuring Julia Roberts as Gilbert, was shot in and around Ubud and suddenly the world – at least the world of thirty-something single women trying to find themselves – beat a path to Ubud.
An impromptu local market in an alley off the main street. When you see an alley – take it.
There are only a couple of main streets in Ubud and both are a great stroll past colourful cafe’s, artisan shops with fabulous creations in Balinese silver and gems, and the ever-present massage salons.
A local enjoying the parade past his mother’s shop (taken with permission). These sidewalks throughout Bali are interesting. They are built over the storm sewer system and the heavy red concrete tiles are laid loosely in the gray concrete frame. The can make for treacherous walking where they don’t sit flush but more importantly, to locals at least, they can be shoved aside to access the water underneath for doing your laundry or even taking a bath. I’m pretty sure it’s just run off water. Pretty sure.
I loved seeing traditional Indonesian dress quite evident in Ubud and I like the contrast in these photos. I’ve been globetrotting for decades and often bemoan the fact that the world is starting to look more and more like the same place, hence my enthusiastic support for UNESCO sites, of which Ubud is one.
That wonderful habit that I quickly acquired in Australia – the Four O’Clock – persists and this is the colourful spot I chose to sip my Bintang and watch life on the main street of Ubud.
Every day that I was in Ubud the clouds would pile up against the mountains and by five o’clock would burst into thundering downpours. I made a point of being back in my bungalow by then but the daily soakings turned this soccer pitch, marginal at the best of times from the look of it, into a muddy mess. But that didn’t stop this group of kids from getting up their daily game of footy. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them in their favourite player jersey’s. A kid and a ball. The Beautiful Game.
Now, if you’re thinking of a career in law enforcement this might be the place for you. None of those intimidating epauleted uniforms, heavy weapon-laden belts or we-mean-business boots. It’s all about comfort here. I wondered, though how these fellows might make out in a foot chase.
I completely enjoyed chatting with these women crafting their beadwork outside a community hall. I could have stayed all day but I am sadly leaving Bali to head for Thailand. Note to self: Do NOT leave Asia without returning to Ubud and the Alam Induh. There is so much more to see and do here including a trek through the gorgeous, terraced rice paddies for which the area is known.