A few weeks prior to our Bali trip had us filled with anxiety and apprehension. This was triggered after we heard and learned of a Filipino blogger’s traumatic experience with the immigration officers in Ngurah Rai International Airport. Being accused of a drug trafficker is no joke, and we don’t want that to happen to us. We tried to look calm and cool despite feeling slightly nervous while queuing up at the immigration. There was a sigh of relief after each of us went pass the immigration officer with no further questions or whatsoever.
Our contracted driver named Wayan fetched us at the airport. He will be our driver and tour guide for the whole trip. It was a sleepy ride to Ubud, a laid-back town in Bali that exudes culture and creativity. Balinese architecture was evident in Ubud’s roads, houses, shops and pretty much every structure in the area. It was no surprise our guest house, Ubud Teba House, resembled Balinese art and architecture as well. Each room has a facade designed with carvings and features a veranda. A Balinese shrine sitting at the center of Teba Guest House welcomed all guests.
Going slow seems to be the norm among the locals. There was no sign of rush nor hustle. The locals weren’t even pushy in offering tours to travelers unlike in other Southeast Asian countries. It’s hard not to love the artful, creative and serene vibe flowing in this part of Bali.
An Afternoon with the Sacred Monkeys Ubud prides of attractions that define its culture and tradition - the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary included. We biked our way to this cool and dense jungle which serves as a home to hundreds of grey-haired and long-tailed Balinese macaques of different sizes. These primates often interact with visitors with hopes of getting something in return. Whether you like these creatures or not, it’s best not to feed the monkeys and leave them be. There are several stories of monkey attacks, bites, robberies and harassments inside the sanctuary over the internet so it’s best to come prepared physically and mentally before going to this place.
We’re not really fond of monkeys. Having read of those stories made us anxious on visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest. Though you don’t get to see a jungle filled with monkeys of all sizes every day, thus we gave it a try. We were feeling uneasy and cautious at first, careful not to make eye contact with these clever primates. As we went deeper into the forest, we learned to appreciate and understand their wild side as part of their personality.
We chanced upon this inviting cafe a few minutes away from the monkey forest. Kopi Bali House offers coffee and other drinks perfect for whatever mood you’re in. They also have a good selection of local and Western meals, as well as cakes and pastries. It was a pleasant lunch late in the afternoon.
Slow and Steady Afternoon
Biking around Ubud is a fun and environment-friendly way to explore the town. There are several shops that offer bike rental so finding one isn’t really a problem. The road condition varies as some parts are hilly while others are straight; some roads are narrow and some can get crowded with tourists. Biking along uncrowded streets is possible though you have to veer away from the main tourist areas.
What we love the most about this artsy and cultural town is the serenity that envelops the whole place. Yes, Ubud is home to good cafes, restaurants and shops; it even serves as a temporary home to some expats who’ve been there since god-knows-when. Amid all the tourists, commercial establishments and activities, the atmosphere remains calm and relaxed - the kind that would make you just want to go slow, read a book, sip a cup of good coffee or enjoy some ice cream. And so we did.