Bali, Food, Travel

Ubud – guide to Bali’s cultural heart

Ubud is one of my all time favorite places, full of culture, nature and a lot of yummy vegetarian/vegan options, yay!

The Balinese people are very religious, they have altars in every corner and daily offerings to Gods in baskets. The basket is usually filled with rice and flowers. These are small offering baskets are called canang sari and Balinese people offer them to their Gods three times a day. We had the honor to attend a session of preparing a sacred Balinese offering and it is harder than it looks but it was wonderful to be part of it and to better understand the ceremony.

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In the center of Ubud there are several temples to visit and a lot of shops to but some local souvenirs and restaurants to eat.

Here is a list of places you should visit and things to do in Ubud,

1) Puri Saren Royal Palace

The Royal Palace and it’s temple are located on the main Jalan Raya Ubud road and intersection. You can wander around most of the large compound and explore the many traditional buildings and the magnificent banyan tree.

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2) Ubud Art Market

Is located opposite the Puri Saren Royal Palace and it opens daily. Here you can find clothes, scarfs, bags, hats and a lot of hand-crafted goods. One of the things that I’ve found most intriguing were the several male genital objects, from key-chains, to incense burners, and even bottle openers, definitely an odd souvenir you can bring to your friends. I’ll be honest, I haven’t purchased any but I did took a few photos. In Bali, the representations of the male genital are actually symbols for good luck!

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3) Ubud Water Palace – Puri Saraswati Temple

Surrounded by beautiful lotus flowers is the Saraswati Temple, the Goddess of knowledge, literature and art. You can visit the temple and be amazed by all the craving details, grab a drink at the local Starbucks (inside the temple’s walls) and also watch Kecak dance in Ubud (this is one of the places that has this show).

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4) Watch a Kecak dance show

This type of show is a form of Balinese dance and music drama that was developed in the 1930s in Bali, Indonesia. Since its creation, it has been performed primarily by men, based on the famous epic Hindu story of the Ramayana.

5) Visit the Sacred Monkey Forest

I was told that the Sacred Monkey Forest is just 1 km away from the center, it seemed to be much further away than that, but if you’re a nature and animal lover like I am, the walk there is more than worth it. You’ll find an ecological reserve that strives to maintain the viability of the Balinese long-tailed macaque and those cuties roam freely in the reserve and interact with the visitors. Most people buy some bananas in order to successfully attract this furry babies, but they do come to you even if you don’t have anything to offer, which was my case. The reserve is gorgeous with a lot to see other than the lovey macaques, definitely a place to visit!

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6) Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Prepared to be amazed with the rice fields. Put on some comfy shoes because you’ll have to walk quite a while if you want to visit them. You will discover the beautiful green rice terrace on the cliff bank and understand how does the local farmer work on it to make rice.

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7) Check out Pura Tirta Empul and the purification rituals

This Hindu Balinese water temple is located near the town of Tampaksiring and is famous for its holy spring water, where Balinese Hindus go to for ritual purification. Legend has it that the sacred spring was created by the god Indra. His forces had been poisoned by Mayadanawa, so he pierced the earth to create a fountain of immortality to revive them. If you want to be part of the purification ritual, you will be charged for it.

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8) Eat healthy and delicious food

Being a vegetarian, turning vegan, Bali is a great place to experience some vegetarian/vegan food. Every single thing I’ve tasted was delicious and if the eyes could eat… every dish is a work of art. For me personally, some dishes were a bit spicy, I not used to eat spicy food you see… so at the middle of a meal I would, sometimes, feel like a spitting fire dragon, eheh. I definitely need to get used to spicy food.

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For more photos check out my instagram account.

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