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This town was our first real stop in Indonesia if we don’t count the one night after our arrival in Bali’s capital Denpasar. Ubud attracted our attention for it is a famous centre of balinese culture, artisan handicrafts and offers great variety of wellness options (including yoga, detox, colonic treatments and, of course, traditional balinese massages). Think about the advertisement that you can stumble upon in a travel magazine with a tourist in a yoga posture surrounded by rice fields and temples (planning a huge arty souvenir shopping after this session). That’s Ubud. Although pretty much everything you see in Ubud is built and designed for tourists, we found the place still quite authentic and relaxing.

We booked our accommodation in advance, but unless you go in high season, this is not necessary. We were delighted to find out that even the budget accommodation options in Bali could look like a small paradise – artful, creative and serene (as Lonely Planet describes them).

Our place – Gusti Kaler – was a beautifully decorated garden with a temple inside and the walls in traditional balinese style. A few individual houses can sleep 2 people or a whole family. The place had a lovely interior and the breakfast was a treat too. The lady of the house helped us with all arrangements including renting a motorbike, which seemed to be the best transportation option for the city as well as surrounding sights.

DSC_0064On the first day here we met with Zuzka, Lucia’s ex-colleague, and her boyfriend Lukas. As always, we are very excited to meet friends from back home (be it Prague, Slovakia, Holland or Bahrain). We had a lovely dinner in one of many Ubud’s decent restaurants and made plans to join them for a motorbike trip on the following day.

DSC_0067Our first stop was Goa Gajah – Elephant cave – a cave carved in a rock surrounded by bathing pools. From here we rode our bikes for 30 minutes to one of Bali’s oldest and largest ancient monuments – Gunung Kawi. It is an impressive complex of shrines, temples, streams and fountains in a valley accessible by steep stairs. We got convinced to take a short walk through the rice paddies to see a small waterfall; unless you need to see everything, this is a waste of time. On the way back up we stopped for a coconut. The way the man pealed it all the way down to its flesh we have never seen before.

From here we decided to aim north and see how far we can get. We got pretty far. Through a potholed road and fruit farms we ended up at the rim of one of Bali’s volcanos overviewing it’s crater lake Batur. The view was pretty cool and it went well with our lunch.DSC_0103

DSC_0117On the way back, just before reaching Ubud, Lukas took an unexpected turn from the main road, perhaps intrigued by the crowd gathering. It turned out to be a small cock fighting arena and the fights were just about to start. As the only foreigners we were approached by one of the cock-coaches. Lucia, as a prospective gambler, agreed to bet 50.000 IDR on his cock (ehm… rooster). Before a fight can start, there must be balance between bets on both sides and so it gives everyone a great opportunity to shout at each other and wave hands signalling all kinds of things. The roosters are equipped with a blade tied up to one of their feet. With the right kick the winner can cut his opponent’s throat in one move. The cruelty of the game, however, lies in situations when cocks only poke each other and after a certain time no one gets killed. That is the time when both fighters get closed up (for a limited period of time) in a small basket where there is no way out. To our surprise our game finished with a draw, both cocks survived without any major wounds and we got our 50.000 back. That is a good win-win situation!

On the next day we got up early to avoid the midday heat when taking the 8.5 km Campuan Ridge walk. We planned to be back in Ubud by lunchtime. We found our way easily and soon we were in the middle of rice fields with wonderful views of the volcanoes. The path passes green valleys, fields, some art shops and local villages. Walking for around 3 hours still heading out of Ubud we realised we must have got lost. We decided to continue until the next turn that will cross the valley. Another hour passed and we finally reached a bigger village where we could have a snack and stop a car to take us back to Ubud.

After a quick shower we rushed to another great balinese experience. We were meeting Zuzka and Lukas for lunch in Ibu Oka, one of the restaurants that serves traditional Babi Guling – a roasted pork specialty. If you go, note that there are 3 Ibu Oka restaurants in Ubud (numbered), which we realised only after opening the menu. That was when we knew why our friends are late. A kind waiter suggested to call the other restaurants and had the Czech couple sent over to us. The food was not bad, but the most interesting part about the lunch was a visit to the kitchen where we could see the pigs being done on wooden fire.

In the afternoon, Mark stayed at the guesthouse and Lucia got some time to fully enjoy the arty side of Ubud. She signed up for a silver making class at Chez Monique. It was exciting to see all the equipment, get a chance to cut, weld and polish. She made a ring and after it was done she returned back to the guesthouse wishing she could stay for at least a week.

Our last great experience in Ubud was the traditional balinese Kecak dance show. The dance shows scenes from a hindu love story, but the most interesting protagonists of the performance are the 30 something men sitting around in circles creating the music with rhythmic sounds swaying their bodies in unison. The show is topped up by a man on a wooden horse who with his bare feet kicks and stomps on burning dried coconut shells creating firework of sparks.

There are a few things we haven’t got a chance to do and definitely we recommend doing while in Ubud: take a cooking class, visit the Ubud palace, go for a cycling tour, go for a yoga session and try detox treatments. Next time!

See all the best pics from Ubud here.

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Toto mesto bolo nasou prvou skutocnou zastavkou v Indonezii, ak nepocitame prvu noc po prilete stravenu v hlavnom meste Bali, Denpasare. Ubud nas lakal najma preto, ze je hlavnym strediskom balinezskej kultury, umeleleckych vyrobkov a ponuka tiez velky vyber wellness moznosti (vratane jogy, detoxu, ocistnych klistyrovych procedur a, samozrejme, tradicne masaze). Predstavte si reklamu, ktoru ste niekedy videli v cestovatelskom casopise, na ktorej uprostred ryzovych poli a medzi hinduistickymi chramami sedi turistka v joginskom posede (planujuc nejaky suvenirovy shopping hned po tom). To je Ubud. I ked takmer vsetko v Ubude je postavene pre turizmus, nam sa zdalo toto mesto celkom autenticke a ako stvorene na dovolenkovy relax.

Ubytovanie sme si zarezervovali dopredu, ale ak sem nejdete v super hlavnej sezone, rezervacia nie je nutna. Nas nesmierne potesilo, ze aj ubytovanie pre nizsie rozpocty vyzera na Bali ako kusok raja – vkusne, kreativne a pokojne (tak ako opisuje Lonely Planet). Nas guesthouse – Gusti Kaler – je vlastne pekna zahrada s vlastnym chramom uprostred a murmi v tradicnom balinezskom style. Niekolko separatnych domcekov vnutri ubytuje dvoch alebo aj celu rodiny. Interier domov je tiez velmi prijemny a vkusne zariadeny a na ranajkach sme si kazde rano pochutnali. Pani domu nam pomohla zariadit rozne veci vratane pozicania motorky, ktoru doporucujeme ako najvhodnejsi dopravny prostriedok po meste a do okolia.

V prvy den sme sa stretli so Zuzkou, Luciinou byvalou kolegynou, a jej priatelom Lukasom. Vzdy sme velmi radi, ked sa mozeme stretnut s kamaratmi z domu (ci uz to je Praha, Slovensko, Holandsko ci Bahrain). Dali sme si veceru v jednej z mnohych slusnych restauracii v Ubude a naplanovali si spolocny moto-vylet na druhy den.

Prvou zastavkou bola Goa Gajah – Slonia jaskyna – jaskyna vytesana v skale, pri ktorej sa nachadzaju nadrze s vodou. Odtialto, 30 minut na motorke, sme sa isli pozriet na jedno z najstarsich a najvacsich historickych miest na Bali – Gunung Kawi. V tomto velkolepom komplexe najdete chramy, svatyne, pramene a fontany, ku ktorym sa dostanete dole po strmych schodoch. Domaci nas presvedcili na kratku prechadzku pomedzi ryzove polia, na konci ktorej nas mal cakat vodopad. Ak nie ste jeden z tych, ktori musia vidiet vsetko, tento maly vodopadik nestoji za to. Cestou naspat sme sa zastavili na kokosovy orech. Este nikdy sme nevideli sposob, ktorym predavajuci pan macetou olupal cely orech az k samotnemu kokosu.

Dalej sme sa rozhodli pokracovat na sever s tym, ze uvidime, kam az dojdeme. A dosli sme celkom daleko. Po deravych cestach a cez ovocne sady sme sa dostali az k ceste, ktora lemuje jednu zo sopiek s jej kraterovym jazerom pod nami – sopku Batur. Vyhlad sme si uzili pocas obeda. Cestou naspat, takmer v Ubude, sa Lukas rozhodol necakane odbocit. Zlakal ho dav ludi, ktori sa pri ceste schadzali na kohutie zapasy, ktore zrovna zacinali. Ako jedini cudzinci, lakali sme pozornost. Vsimol si nas hlavne jeden z trenerov, ktory nas vyzyval stavit si. Lucia, ako perspektivny gambler, sa rozhodla stavit 50.000 IDR na jedneho z jeho kohutov. Predtym, nez sa zapas moze zacat, obidve strany musia najst dostatok staviek aby boli navzajom vybalancovane. Toto dava dobru zamienku pre ucastnikov, aby na seba pokrikovali ci vymienali si navzajom rozne gesta. Kazdy kohut ma britvu priviazanu na jednu nohu, takze pri spravnom kopnuti dokaze superovi rozrezat hrdlo a ukoncit zapas. Krutost tejto hry je ale najhorsia, ked po istom case stale nie je jasny vyherca. Vtedy totizto zatvoria na chvilu oboch superov do relativne maleho kosa, kde jeden pred druhym nemozu ujst. Prekvapivo, nas zapas skoncil remizou, oba kohuti prezili a my sme dostali 50.000 naspat.

Dalsie rano sme vstavali skoro, aby sme sa pocas planovanej 8.5 km prechadzky po hrebeni Campuan vyhli horucavam. Mali sme v plane sa vratit do Ubudu pred obedom. Cestu sme nasli celkom lahko a velmi rychlo sme sa ocitli v medzi ryzovymi polami s vyhladmi na sopky ostrova Bali. Po 3 hodinach chodze stale prec od Ubudu nam bolo divne, ze cely okruh ma mat len 8.5 km a my stale nejdeme naspat. Bolo jasne, ze sme sa stratili a minuli sme nasu odbocku. Rozhodli sme sa ale pokracovat dalej a odbocit pri dalsej prilezitosti. Po dalsej hodine sme dorazili do mestecka, kde sme sa rychlo najedli a zastavili auto, ktore nas odviezlo naspat.

Po rychlej sprche sme sa ponahlali k dalsiemu balinezskemu zazitku. Mali sme obedne stretnutie so Zuzkou a Lukasom v Ibu Oka, jednej z restauracii, ktora serviruje tradicne Babi Guling – pecenu bravcovu specialitu. Ak sa rozhodnete ist, vedzte, ze Ibu Oka ma 3 pobocky (ocislovane), na co sme my prisli len ked sme otvorili menu. Tak sme zacali tusit, preco nasi kamarati meskaju. Casnik nam obvolal ostatne restauracie a ked nasiel cesky parik, nechal ich poslat za nami. Jedlo nebolo spatne, no najzaujimavejsou castou tejto tradicnej pochutky bolo vidiet, ako sa pripravuje. Vo velkej kuchyni vzadu sme videli niekolko cunikov otacat sa nad drevebymi pahrebami.

Poobede Mark ostal ‘doma’ a Lucia si tak mohla plne uzit umelecku cast Ubudu. Prihlasila sa na lekciu tepania striebra. Vsetky nastroje a moznost vyskusat si rezanie, zvaranie a lestenie bolo strasne zaujimave. Po 2 a pol hodinach prace bol na svete novy prsten, no Lucia tajne dufala, ze moze ostat aspon tyzden a uzivat si to este viac.

Poslednym zazitkom v Ubude bolo vystupenie tradicneho tanca Kecak. Tanecna show znazornuje obrazy z hinduistickeho pribehu lasky, no najzaujimavesimi protagonistami su asi 30 muzi sediaci v kruhoch okolo sceny. Rytmickymi zvukmi vytvaraju hudbu a ich tela sa pohybuju v roznych kreaciach. Zlatym klincom je na zaver muz s drevenym konom, ktory naboso kope a slape po horiacich susenych skrupinach z kokosu tvoriac ohnostroje iskier.

Bohuzial sme nestihli vsetko, co sme chceli v Ubude zazit, no vam doporucujeme vyskusat aj: lekcie varenia, navstevu Ubud palacu, cykloturu, lekciu jogy a detoxikacnu kuru. Pre nas snad nabuduce!

Najlepsie fotky z Ubudu su tu.

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2 thoughts on “Cultural Ubud

  1. Pingback: Lombok’s top | Take it and go

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