Bali: Ubud & Uluwatu

I made a traveler mistake here.  Well, several.  My experience in Bali was partly my fault and the part was just that Bali wasn’t my cup of tea. I know everyone is like, “Omg ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ Bali must be amazing.”  So I went! I booked time in Ubud, the cultural hub of Bali. Then I wanted a beachy town and I asked a friend of a friend that lived in Bali where to go.  So she said Uluwatu. In retrospect, I should have gone to the Gili Islands but whatever.

Ubud was beautiful.  My hostel My hostel was incredible with banana pancakes for breakfast, a stunning garden, and pool.  It was also located in the main part of town.  Now where things went South was when I went out to eat and it was much more expensive than I anticipated.  My research told me that Bali would be as cheap as Thailand but this area was back to almost American prices with Americanized food.  Everything was gluten free, vegan and macrobiotic.  Obviously, catering to westerners coming to Asia for “enlightenment.”  

Now I booked what I thought was a group tour with Golden Bali.  My hostel had a better deal with better sights.  It turned out it was a private driver which was like $45 for the day.  

We started the day at a cultural show that was interesting but obviously made for tourists.  

The next three places I went were awful.  It was a silversmith, art gallery, and woodshop.  Everything was overpriced and fake.  The salespeople were rude, in my face, and were frustrated when I didn’t buy anything.  It was overwhelming how many people were coming at me.  

Next, we went to a Luwak Coffee plantation which was interesting.  The Luwak is an animal that eats coffee beans and then people collect their poop and roast the beans into the world’s most expensive cup of shit.   Supposedly the luwaks live in an open air area and they only keep show ones in cages for a few weeks at a time unless they’re pregnant.  I feel like this is a lie but whatever.  I drank the shit, literally.  For the plantation, I paid like $5 for tea samplers and a cup of the coffee.  Then when I went into the store I was going to buy something so I opened my backpack to get my phone to check the conversion and the sales associate’s started yelling at me like I was stealing. So instead of buying the teas, I was going to, I left.

Then finally we went to the Monkey Sanctuary that was finally something enjoyable.  It’s a huge area where there are monkeys living.  They come and go as they please.  Some people feed the monkeys but they have so much food.  The property is large so you can just stroll and enjoy nature or observe a troop of monkeys.  I loved it.  I was warned to make sure not to touch the monkeys especially babies lest I be attacked by a monkey.  

Next, he took me to a super expensive, American restaurant called Urban. There was nothing else around so I just had to deal with it.

Then we went to the palace and a temple that would have been free and walking distance if I went on my own.  

Lastly, I went to the rice terraces which were stunning and should not be missed.  It was so satisfying to go all the way down and climb up to the top.  It is a bit of a dangerous hike.  Some people were not in shape to go all the way down to the bottom up to the top and back again. So be prepared for some hiking, climbing, and mud! 

It is really hard to find tours in Bali.  you have to basically bargain with a driver or ask your hostel to make sure you get a decent price.  Like everyone is just aggressively trying to get to your money here so it’s really hard to fish out what is a good deal.

For my time on my own, I went to the Blanco Museum which was like ehh… Some rich Spanish painter built a house in Ubud because he could and now it’s a museum.  The house is cool, there’s parrots, a nice restaurant, and some great views plus of course some art. It’s $6 for entry.  I could take or leave this attraction.  

One of the main highlights of my trip was Yoga Barn and Radiantly Alive.  I’ve been practicing yoga since I was like 14-years-old. So I was overjoyed to be swept up in a like-minded community but in the back of my head, I was like, I’m just in a westernized version of Bali. Anyway, Yoga Barn was down the road from my hostel and the studio is incredibly with views of the forest, teachers from all over the world, and even a small cafe with ultra-healthy food.  I had my first raw vegan meal.  (It was still hungry after) I didn’t like 7 yoga classes in 2 days.  I got to try new kinds of yoga I’d never heard of like Yin, Myofascial and Sound Medicine.  It was actually inspiring to be in such a passionate community and seeing what the world of yoga is capable of.  In a way, I was grateful for my trip to Bali simply to expand my yoga experience.

Uluwatu sucked.  Don’t go unless you’re a surfer.  It sucked… I mean I guess I should elaborate.  So first of all, my hostel, Ampel Terrace Backpacker’s  was beautiful looking but the staff was so rude.  They would overcharge us, they weren’t helpful and almost no one spoke English.  The beaches were dirty, there are entry fees, the terrain was rocky and the tide was so strong you can’t swim safely.  Of course, there are no lifeguards.  Nothing is accessible unless you have a scooter.  They wouldn’t rent to me because I couldn’t get the hang of the scooter so I was stuck.  The taxis were super expensive.  So I was stuck.  I met some girls and they gave me a ride to the temple on the rock.  It’s was a good sunset spot bit careful for the monkeys because they are mean.  The temple was underwhelming but seeing the sunset was kind of cool. We also went to Single Fin to party.  It was okay.  It was just like any other bar ever in the world.  

I should have done a lot of things like not booked that tour and gone to the more touristy Gili Islands that was more accessible. But in all, I wouldn’t go back to Bali.  The people were so aggressive and rude, everything was a scam, and it was so polluted.  Though, I was grateful for Yoga Barn opening up my yoga practice to new ideas.  My experience is simply a lesson that even seasoned travelers can make mistakes.  

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