Thursday, November 20, 2014

If you're looking to Eat, Love and Pray; Ubud is the place

I had been looking forward to Ubud, though I did not know much about it, I knew this is the area of Bali that Elizabeth Gilbert spent much of her time while in Bali.  Elizabeth Gilbert is the Author of the New York Times Best Seller book ~ Eat, Pray, Love where she recounts her journey through the 3 I's - Italy, India and Indonesia, seeking peace, balance and healing in her life.

I read the book during one of my first solo international trips to Europe.  I absolutely loved her writing, her adventure and her honesty.  She helped me learn to 'let it go'.

Ubud is a bustling city, with a LOT happening.  I mean a LOT!  Popular for writers and Yogis alike, the city center is healthily crowded with temples & tourists, markets, boutiques, artists, handcrafted jewelry and clothing, cafes and more shops.  It's amazing!  On the outskirts of the city center are hundreds and hundreds of shops creating all of the amazing pieces you see in Asian import shops, Pier One, World Market and others.  The BEAUTIFUL hand crafts furniture and mirrors, headboard, lamps, coffee tables, tapestries, dining sets, decor, colorful trinkets and on and on and on.  It's mind boggling, and quite impressive!!!  On the outskirts of town is where you'll find the farmlands, full of mainly rice fields.  Such a tremendously beautiful site they are.  So perfect, still and so lush.

Bird cage anyone?

Market fare

Hillside Rice Fields

Kool shades

Goofing around in the market

After a fair bit of island hopping, I was ready to stay put for more than a few nights and call Ubud my home for the week.  Scooter rentals were $5 a day, and I was finally ready to master this driving-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road business!

My days were filled with slow rising mornings, coffee & breakfast by the pool while catching up on work and emails.  The rest of the days I spent wandering the markets bargaining with the vendors, taking photos and people watching.  I enjoyed the artist studios and handmade jewelry, clothing, shoes and leather works.  Temples upon temples and awe-inspiring,  picturesque rice fields for days.  In the afternoon I'd find myself in or near the pool with a cold beer and a good book. 

A beautiful temple, right beside Starbucks!

Market trinkets

Snakeskin fruit.  It was odd, but delicious!

Hotel pool

The scooter adventures were amazing.  Each day I grew a bit braver than the last, and ventured farther and farther away from the center of Ubud.  I eventually made it all the way up a mountain, which grew quite cold very rapidly!  The rice fields had me in awe, amazing that for so much work growing, tending and harvesting; that rice is still so cheap.  Think about that...

When you gotta pray, you gotta pray

Proof that helmets are sexy!

My new friend Sheree.  She chased me down on my scooter, hopped on the back, and took me on a tour of her father's rice field.  Then she invited me to her house to teach me traditional Balinese dance and have dinner with her family.

My cute lil scoot scoot

Rice fields

One afternoon I spent my day at the home of a local silversmith named Wayan.  He owns Chez Monique Jewelry.

He holds classes in his home where you have the opportunity to design and create your own jewelry.  I LOVE jewelry, so this was a no brainer for me.  I just had no idea what I wanted to make, and as usual, a very indecisive mind.  It took my a long time before I decided on a necklace pendant in the shape of an anchor, with a twist.  I drew the bottom of the anchor to look like ocean waves, which inadvertently turned out to be a heart as well.  It took 3 or 4 hours to design and implement the piece.  It was worth every minute though, I am so in love with my special piece of hand made art!

Cutting out my design

The finished product
Another day I embarked upon an amazing day of river tubing.  The scenery was magnificent, I could have stayed on that river for days.  Each person had their own river tube or a board that resembled something much like a boogie board, with handles.  The boogie boarders were required to gear up in MUCH more protective gear than the tubers.  I had the opportunity to try the board, and I completely understand why!  It's just you against the rapids.  I was perfectly content in my double walled hearty tube, complete with plenty of handles as well.    At one point, we sailed through an Indonesian family bathing in the river, all of them stark ass naked, right there in the middle of the tour.  They were just as surprised as we were!!!  The guides were amazing and knew every rock, boulder and current in the river, so they were prepared for everything and took very good care of us!  Afterward, the part they didn't mention, was getting back to the car...  about 500 steps uphill later... we arrived.  Lunch was waiting for us, as were the pictures the photographer snapped on the river's edge.

River Rafting!

 Ubud was certainly another lifelong memory in the making.  The beauty is insurmountable from top to bottom and all around you.  I can't wait to go back someday and explore some more!

Sculpture in the City Center

A shrine to leave offerings and prayer

Local boys spending time at the beach, on a special religious holiday

The breathtaking black sand coastline

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