Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bali, Romantic Ubud

My first love to Bali happened in 1993 during my first trip to this Island of Gods.  Is it two decades ago?  I went to Kuta like most tourists from Jakarta would do, for New Year holiday. 

My love to Bali seemed stagnant.  I didn't go to Bali again until 2003. Since then, I was addicted...

I visited Ubud only after 2003, and I started to love it.  Even though it is located a bit far from the airport or around 1-1/2 to 2 hour drive, but it is worth the travel.

Rice field, Ubud

Ubud is a small town located amongst rice paddies and steep ravines in the central foothills of the Gianyar regency.  One of Bali's major arts and culture centers; many beautiful paintings, galleries, stone carvings, it is a quiet and bloody damn too romantic place… 

Tips: bring sunglasses, hat, fan and it is useful to wear sunblock.  Drink lots of water. B ringing a small flash light might be useful too.  Many hotels are typical of villa where one room to another, and to the reception is a bit far, and we have to walk in the open garden under the moon.  Some locations are hilly, be ready to go up and down.

Lotus Pond, Ubud - day time

Lotus Pond, Ubud - before the dance starts

Things to do in Ubud

Watching the Balinese Dance Performance is a must!  There are a few places offering performances in the evening, they dance under the stars. 

Welcome Dance, Balinese traditional dance
During my childhood, girls' common extra curriculums were either practicing traditional dances (Balinese or Javanese) or ballet.  

Legong dancer, Bali

My mom sent me to Balinese dance class. I attended it twice a week ever since I was at the first grade of elementary school until I graduated! Six years practicing Balinese dance, every Monday and Thursday. Each session lasts two hour class.

Oleg Tamulilingan (the bumblebee dance)

The lessons were run by Tante Wila Wirya, the wife of Doctor Wila Wirya, a pediatrician. My house used to be only 15 minute walk from theirs in Kebayoran Baru, south Jakarta.

Mask dance, Bali

Doctor Wila was my family doctor. Every time I got sick, I ended up in his practicing room - that is just next door to the hall where we practiced the Balinese dances. Oh yes, I could hear the gamelan Bali instrumental from the cassette player. Ok, please laugh reading "cassette" player, no CD nor MP3/4 nor ipod during those times! 

…….. Ubud has a few places where we can watch dance performances. One of them is the lotus pond in Ubud main road, next to Starbucks. This beautiful pond becomes more beautiful in the evening, especially with the lights and gamelan orchestra (traditional music)……. 

Gamelan orchestra

Together with many girls around my age, Tante Wila taught us those dances;
  • Pendet (welcome dance),
  • Tenun (about several girls who make cloth with traditional tools),
  • Margapati (the dance illustrates the movements of a lion roaming in the jungle hinting for prey),
  • Panji Semirang (it is about a lady who tried to find her lost fiancé named Panji in a battle field),
  • Nelayan (fishermen dance),
  • Oleg Tamulilingan (bumblebee dance),
  • Kebyar Duduk (sitting dance)
  • Wiranata (the magnificence of a prince)

Kebyar dance

I still remember some movements. Tante Wila's instructions ringing in my head: tangannya tinggi, nyeledet kanan, ekspresi matanya..., ngeseh, kanan, putar, kiri..., goyang pinggul, kepala...

"Nyeledet" - eyes expression, Balinese dance
I used to like the male dances such as Margapati, Panji Semirang, Nelayan, Kebyar Duduk and Wiranata. The movements are more energetic, the outfit and make up are simpler! No need wearing long sarong or extra long hair wig as pony tail.

Quand j'etais petite - Pendet - une dance balinaise

Walking Tours
Rice harvest, Ubud

Thanks to TripAdvisor, we found a good walking tour. Wayan and Balioffcourse took us visiting Balinese traditional home compound, walking around the rice field in Ubud, dropping by a water fall, and walking again until wherever!

View around Ubud, Walking Tour
Having Balinese food for lunch was a good way to end the tour. Thanks for the wonderful walk, Wayan!

Left: traditional Ubud market which soon be replaced by modern building (right)
Ubud Market

This is the place to shop. This traditional market is under renovation and soon will occupy a modern building.  I am worried about its uniqueness but we shall see…

Ubud Market, July 2008
Ubud Market, Feb 2013 - soon it'll be ready

Stalls in Ubud Market

Other good areas for shopping are the along Monkey Forest road and Hanoman road. Lots of things to find there; clothes, souvenirs, silver wares, restaurants, cafes, mini markets, gelato shops, ATMs, etc.

Lotus Pond, Ubud

Pura (Temple)

Ngaben preparation, July 2008
Ubud has many beautiful Pura. I have not visited many of them except Pura Desa Ubud (the main ‘town temple’) which is located across Ubud market.
I went there just before “Ngaben” the Balinese Royal Cremation which was a huge event held in July 2008. Refer to this link for more info;

Ngaben preparation, July 2008

Monkey Forest

During Walking Tour, Ubud
Yup, another place to be visited with the family in Ubud. Oops, sorry, I have never been to Monkey Forest even though I had been in Ubud a few times. But please feel free to check this for more info....

Riding in Ubud

Rent a motorbike to go around Ubud is fun! If you are energetic, you may also rent bicycle. Please bear in mind that Ubud is hilly!


Spa, Yoga, Meditation

Ubud is the place to balance your holiday; art, culture, shopping, fun exercise - refreshing the body, mind and soul!
Somewhere in Komaneka Bisma, Ubud

What’s next? Still about Bali... Let's go to the beach!


  1. I like this post of yours about travel Bali :) Can you give me your email or drop me a note as I would like to contact you? Thanks!

    1. Dear Indonesia Travel Guide, thanks for your comment. Sure, you can email me at - I hope we can stay in touch. I love Bali!