Ubud is a hippie haven in a bit of an existential crisis. Now that the hype around “the book” and “the movie” has died down, Ubud – like a large proportion of its tourists – is self-consciously trying to regain balance. However despite all the ohming and incense, it just worked for me. I’d definitely go back for another visit. Fair’s fair – the Californian White Person With Dreadlocks Expat Yoga set and the Middle-Aged All-Inclusive Eat Pray Love Experience crowd are a little tedious, but they make for a chilled atmosphere and attract some serious cafes, some serious shopping opportunities, and some serious merchandising of that decaying beauty the town is loved for.
Mum and Gi skipped visiting the monkey forest, but I thought the view/temple/forest were well worth the $2 entry fee and, since I didn’t bring food, the monkeys left me alone. They can be aggressive though – I had one pounce on my shopping bag in the main street – so do keep an eye on them.
My best picks?
Check out the Neka Art Museum – I liked it so much I went twice – then head across the road to Naughty Nuri’s, where the philosophy is “Eat, Pay, Leave,” and both the food and atmosphere live up to the hype.
For those kindred spirits who believe that the key to wellbeing is through movement, not meditation, try an ecstatic dance class at the Yoga Barn. Bounding around in complete freedom and madness in the dark with a bunch of strangers is not for everyone, but it is definitely for Little L. Think ‘no lights, no lycra’ – Ubud style. This one seemed to be popular with all kinds of people – from the old man in khaki shorts and a polo swaying awkwardly in the corner, to a tattooed zouk couple and everything in between. The DJ is absolutely brilliant and he occasionally dances into the middle of the floor, playing his own drums along with the mix. The best part though, is the venue. Rather than a sweaty mirrored studio, the ecstatic dance class happens in a gigantic, polished wood, open-walled, jungle-surrounded, motherfucking treehouse.
Wear as little as possible (a sports bra is essential though, ladies) and leave ten minutes early to skip the ohm-tastic part at the end.