We had high expectations for Bali before arriving, and the three weeks we spent in Ubud shattered nearly all of them. We loved our time in Ubud. It may be the ultimate cliche but, to us, it is an image of absolute paradise. The food is amazing (vegan and raw food everywhere!), the culture is beautiful and the people are some of the most friendly and welcoming we’ve met anywhere in the world. We spent our time exploring, sampling the menus of dozens of fantastic restaurants, and trying to stretch out our travel-weary muscles in a variety of yoga classes. If you plan to visit the area, a day trip to the surrounding countryside is a must- the lush greenery and rice fields are breathtaking and, of course, the terraced rice paddies are some of the most iconic sights in Bali.
There are a number of hotels in Ubud, but we definitely recommend opting for a homestay (staying with a local family) instead. The family we stayed with taught us many things about Hindu and Balinese culture and truly made us feel at home. Many families live in compound-style properties with other relatives, and it is not uncommon to add a separate building or storey to accommodate guests. We had plenty of privacy, and all the amenities we could have wished for (including an outdoor kitchen!). As an added bonus, we were served an enormous breakfast each morning.
While most people sing the praises of ‘hip’ beach & surfing areas like Canggu and Seminyak, we didn’t see the appeal. We spent a few days exploring Kuta & Seminyak at the end of our time in Bali, and were completely heartbroken. Alongside the luxury hotels and glitzy restaurants is evidence of a local culture on the brink of extinction. The beaches are so polluted that it almost seemed like there was as much plastic as there was sand. As full-time travellers, we couldn’t help to feel some level of guilt in this. As much as we try to minimize our use of plastics (especially single-use plastics), the logistics of travel mean that we often fall victim to convenience. Tourism can be a boon for local economies, but many countries do not have the infrastructure- such as recycling programs- in place to facilitate the vast amounts of waste the industry creates.
Thankfully, there as a number of initiatives popping up to try to reverse some of the damage. Organizations like One Island One Voice (@oneislandonevoice) and Bye Bye Plastic Bags (@byebyeplasticbags) are very active in spreading awareness, and working to ban the use of plastic bags in the province of Bali. They also organize island-wide volunteer-based clean-ups.This entry was posted in Indonesia