After a brief night spent in Kuta (a necessary transport hub, but overall a pretty depressing product of mass-tourism… All tacky bars, drunk tourists and Western over-development) we took a cheap Perama bus to Ubud in Northern Bali. We were meeting my old work buddies at the villa that they’d rented, and kindly allowed us to crash in for freesies! By way of thankyou, we stocked the fridge full of boozes for our first night together.
Ubud’s a pretty nice place, but I have to say – having been there 6+ years ago – it has REALLY changed. It used to be all hippy vibes, boho boutiques and dance shows, but now the main road is heaving with overpriced shops, bars and supermarkets, with traffic choking up the narrow streets. That aside, we had a beautiful villa with a pool, and managed some nice activities in our time there – so all in all, we had a great time.
Our first night in the villa and the following day was full of overexcitement – reunion with friends, splashing around in the pool in the sunshine, swilling beers and enjoying delicious breakfasts prepared by the villa staff. We also found an incredible Warung (local eatery) called 9 Warung, where the hippy management served a buffet for which we paid by the scoop and left donations in jam-jars on the table. We went back to this place a couple of times, as the food was great and it had a nice feel-good vibe.
After the initial high of larking about for a day or so, we got our arses in gear and did some activities like cycling up to town for dinner (pretty damn hard in the heat and post-beers!) and walking through some rice terraces (still beautiful despite being pretty heavily touristed)
Afterwards we visited the Monkey Sanctuary, which is kind of like a huge botanical garden, but full of tons of adorable monkeys, who weren’t afraid to come pretty close and impressed us with their savvy usage of a water bottle! Obviously pretty used to humans!
We also spent a bit of time wandering around on the main street, which is full of pretty homestays, small temples, and traditional Indonesian statues, which provided some pretty good photo-ops. After one last hilarious night of drunken buffoonery at the villa, featuring vodka watermelon cocktails and paddle-ball in the pool, we took a (very hungover!) bus and boat combo to tropical island Gili Trawangan, off Lombok…