When it comes to Bali, like a first love, it crept into my life, and made its presence felt as I gradually fell head over heels for the place. In the first part of this travel series with When In City, I talked about our first forays into adventure and discovering Seminyak. This part focuses on the second half of our trip, that we spent in Ubud.
About 30km from Seminyak is a beautiful place called Ubud. It looks like it came right out of a picture postcard, with its green terraced rice fields, and stunning sunsets. It’s known as a cultural hub with its yoga retreats, focus on vegetarianism and veganism, and its art, and you might know it from the movie Eat, Pray, Love.
Day 4: We set out from Seminyak in the mini bus with our driver Dewa, as we played games, played music on the speakers, dozed a little, and talked a lot on the journey! The first glimpse of Ubud was the beautiful paddy fields we passed by after which we saw the Art Market – heaven if you love collecting dreamcatchers, paintings and objets d’art.
We checked into Evitel, a neat little hotel right in the heart of Ubud. Its location was just perfect – there were so many pretty little cafes nearby, and places like the Monkey Forest to explore close by. Our room had an amazing view of the rice fields from the window and was neat and well-kept.
Our first stop was the Tegalalang Rice Terraces. Lush green terraced green fields in such an idyllic setting with coconut palms and blue skies for miles around. We decided to climb up the terraces for a beautiful view. We met many locals selling small handicrafts and art, and found an adorable puppy that belonged to one of the shopkeepers.
It was a fun climb to the top of the terraced fields from where it was all a beautiful green as far as the eye could see. We found a quaint little swing made of wood at the top, and took lots of pictures.
The rest of the evening was spent taking a walk around Ubud and popping into all the lovely cafes to see where we’d like to have dinner. We then headed to the pool back at Evitel for a night of fun conversations over drinks.
Day 5: Around 1:30 am, we woke up and got ready for the night trek to Mt. Batur, an active volcano. We were all super excited and Dewa took us to the base point. Tip: Carry a light jacket since temperatures tend to be on the lower side here as you go up. But in case you don’t you can rent a jacket for about Rp 30,000 at one of the shops below.
Rated as an easy to medium level trek, it still wasn’t that easy considering I’ve not been to the gym in a while now! But the walk was lots of fun with all of us together.
As the climb got steeper, I looked up above and the sight took my breath away. Stars. Thousands of stars studded the velvety black night sky, a sight our eyes rarely get to see back home in our crowded cities. The air was calm and still with a slight chill, and it just felt magical.
On the way to the top I had a slight accident – I tripped while climbing rocks and hurt my leg badly, but our guides who came with us rushed with a first aid kit and helped me bandage the wound. Unfortunately I couldn’t walk properly and so they tried to get me onto a bike for the rest of the way but I burnt my other leg on the silencer. Aaargh, yes. Oh well, sometimes shit happens! Luckily everyone was very supportive, especially our guides who helped me till the top.
As we reached the top, dawn broke and the first rays of the sun were just coming through. The sight from the top of Mt Batur was mesmerizing – we could see the surrounding mountains covered by a layer of swirling clouds and mist, and the sky turning shades of gold and orange.
Flasks of hot chocolate, tea and coffee were waiting for us at the top along with sandwiches. I had a mug of piping hot chocolate while looking out at the incredible view in front of us.
The volcano crater was huge, and the sight of steam rising from it was awe-inspiring to behold. There were fissures in the rocks and in the ground too, from which we could see steam coming out. I managed to capture this beautiful sight – the sun rays, the steam and the silhouette of the tree.
One of the most fun things we did at the top of Mount Batur was to film our very own Mannequin Challenge! Check out the video below.
We were all pretty tired by the end of it, so after trekking back down the mountain, we headed back to Evitel for some much-needed rest. For lunch we came upon this awesome Mexican restaurant called Taco Casa where we all had a hearty meal. You guys should definitely check them out for their shakes and their tacos and burritos – all made with fresh ingredients.
After a bit of shopping, we went to Spa Bali for a traditional Balinese massage. It was complete bliss after that trek to indulge in some pampering! Spa Bali offers massages, manicures and pedicures using OPI products, hot stone massages, makeup and hair services. My massage therapist, Santy, was gentle and skilled with her hands, and it was so relaxing to just let go of every thought, sit back and experience the service.
We took some time to explore the streets of Ubud later, looking for a place for dinner. There’s something very magical about the streets of Ubud – there’s music everywhere you go, dim lights, and sometimes people who burst into spontaneous song on the streets with their guitars. Every corner is rife with possibilities, and even the shops sell such interesting things. We finished dinner early to prepare for our next exciting adventure – river rafting!
Day 6: We headed towards the Ayung River for our river rafting experience. Be sure to wear a swimsuit and a coverup because rafting is tons of fun with a lot of water splashing on you! All of us were given proper lifejackets and other gear, and we set out in small groups of 4-5 each. Our rafting instructor was a strapping young guy called Bhima, and his name truly fit him! He had massive tattoos on his biceps and looked strong enough to take on anything.
The Ayung River doesn’t have a lot of rapids though, so it was mostly plain terrain on which we rafted. The most fun we had was using our oars to splash water at passing rafters, and then stopping next to a mini waterfall as it rained down on us!
This was again my first ever rafting experience and I had a total blast. Highly recommended, but I suggest you also try it in Rishikesh, closer home – I’ve heard the rapids are crazy there.
In the afternoon I did some major beauty and fashion shopping – will be sharing the haul with you in a post very soon. The evening was devoted to our out of this world Yin Yoga experience at The Yoga Barn. A quiet, serene yoga centre with lots of plants and wooden architecture with an organic cafe where we tried some shakes and cold coffee before our session. Yin Yoga is a more slow-paced form of yoga where you hold poses for 3-5 minutes at a time. It was super relaxing and even though it was just for an hour it felt like much longer!
This night ended up being one of the most EPIC nights we had in Bali. After dinner at an organic restaurant, we headed out to party at XL Shisha Lounge. What followed was a night none of us would ever forget. The place had a very chill vibe with lots of tourists from different corners of the world, but the music – well, we decided to turn it up! Our tour organizer got out a laptop and created a playlist that was FULL of dance songs from back home, from Munni to Ishq Tera Tadpave and everything in between! We were dancing like there was no tomorrow with these girls from Belgium, celebrated one of their birthdays by singing Bar Bar Din Ye Aaye and turnt the place right up! There aren’t too many pics from that night, mostly blurry but it was a complete blast.
Day 7: Our last adventure was snorkeling in the incredibly blue sea. We went in a snorkeling boat, and the waters were really, really choppy – if you get seasick easily it might be a little tough for you. The sea was a lovely shade of blue and the view from the waters was beautiful. Snorkeling is different from scuba diving – here you wear flippers on your feet, and gear that covers your nose and a mouth piece that lets you breathe underwater. This was a little difficult for me – the sea honestly is a little scary for me because of not knowing how to swim. We had on life jackets, but it’s just a fear that takes time to get over. I did get over it though after I relaxed a little, and our instructor Vivi was very patient, helping me all through. I held onto a life belt and floated below the surface. I was wonderstruck by how fascinating sea life is. We saw hundreds of different kinds of corals, so many colourful fish including the clownfish and we spotted a baby shark too! It was hands down my favourite part of the trip.
We got back to shore feeling totally refreshed and excited at everything we saw, and had lunch at the snorkeling centre itself, after which we headed back to Seminyak. None of us felt like leaving the fantastic place that Ubud is, but then we had to go. We checked back into Harris Seminyak and spent the afternoon packing up and reminiscing about the days gone past.
The evening was devoted to checking out the nightlife in Seminyak. We went to the Potato Head Beach Club – a huge club with a gigantic pool literally on the beach overlooking the sea. Definitely visit this place and another one that we didn’t get to go to called La Favela. The menu featured some truly interesting cocktails and snacks that would set you back by a couple of hundred thousand Rupiah each.
We then explored a lot of places nearby before we ended up at Sea Vu Play – one because of the fun name and two, the whole vibe of the place was very chill and the nautical theme was pretty cool. The food had a lot of variety for non veggies and not a lot for vegetarians but the pizzas were quite good. Cocktails included the Lychee Margarita served with fresh lychees and the classic margarita. From dancing on tables to raising our glasses to our Bali trip, this was another night we loved.
Day 8: I’d planned to stay an extra day so this was my second last day in Bali. We hung out by the pool one last time, took lots of pictures and I said goodbye to everyone, after we all exchanged contacts. I spent the day checking out the shopping in Seminyak. For someone who loves fashion, there are a lot of independent boutiques near Seminyak Square to explore. Will talk about my favourite shopping spots in another post. I loved exploring the place on my own, stumbling across different places along the way. The evening was just beautiful because I went to Seminyak Beach to catch the sunset one last time. It was like coming full circle because that’s where our trip began! The best part was when I reached the beach, only to see a wedding taking place! A gorgeous bride and her groom were exchanging vows at sunset on the beach. It was one of the most lovely sights I’d seen during my trip. I also met these adorable dogs and played with them for a while before I met an American couple and had a great conversation with them.
The Last Day: On my last day in Bali, I had a delicious breakfast at a cafe called Wild1 – well done eggs with juice. Just wonderful. They’re super polite and have lovely interiors.
Well, what can I say – I just didn’t feel like leaving Bali at all. Give me the chance and I honestly don’t mind moving there. This tiny island captivated my heart in many ways. I had a great time with When In City, and if you’re looking for a quick getaway too, they have a trip coming up on July 8 and many more! Check out their Facebook and Instagram page here.
Watch this space for more on Bali, travel, lifestyle and more! Follow us on Instagram for a peek into what we’re up to on a daily basis and if you have any questions, comments or anything at all, comment below or email me at contact[at]sartorialsecrets[dot]com.