Before its too late, I must write about Seminyak and Ubud, polar opposite paradises in the magic of Indonesia. We had flown into Bali from Phuket, Thailand. One difference we noticed right away was that everyone wore helmets on scooters, versus the 50-75% of locals that we witnessed in Thailand. The roads being so much more congested, it seemed they were even more necessary here.
Bali, as a whole is pretty “developed” and incredibly touristy. We stayed in what is known as one of the nicest neighborhood, Seminyak.Practically everyone spoke English, well too, and worked relentlessly hard to get customers. As a Caucasian, you are automatically a target, meaning people think, “I must talk to them, they are on vacation, spending, and I need money.” So naturally, every time you passed any type of business, weather it was a salon, food cart, taxi or souvenir stand, they will holler at you. “Hello! How are you!? Where are you from..” It may seem polite and nice, but after the 50th honk (no, not an exaggeration) in just a few hours of walking around, and the 20th person to ask you how you are, it starts to get annoying. Because, the trick most might not get is that the question of where you are from pertains to money. If you are from Australia, they automatically assume you are rich (perhaps they are not wrong, the minimum wage there is almost $17/hr) and the price they tell you will be probably double or triple what they offered someone from Russia. A guy who sold me some awesome feather jewelry said he would have made the price double or triple if I had said I was from Australia.. and most likely USA, and that’s why I went with Russia.. and hey, its not really a lie. 😉
Besides the endless honking on the streets, and some crazy scooter drivers (yet nobody compares to the crazies in Bangkok, future blog coming) Bali has a magic feel to it. Chefs from around the world come here, so the cuisine was top notch, from fresh sashimi to delicious squid, tacos & guac and really anything you can dream up, you will find here!
Arriving in Ubud is like arriving in a different country. Its much smaller and you can easily walk around the town. There are also actual sidewalks to use, unlike Denpasar (capital of Bali) or Seminyak, a neighborhood of Denpasar that we stayed in, where the sidewalks blend in to the road and at times car’s side mirrors will bump your arms as they pass by, honking, of course.
The trinkets you will find in Ubud are also unique, mostly made by hand, and still much cheaper than anywhere else I found on the island. Which goes well with the architecture in this town. Every building looks like a peak into ancient history, with ruins, worn down statues and a beauty that doesn’t seem normal to be present in the time of Iphones and Fitbit. You can tell they were built with love, you feel it in the air.
My favorite part was the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, which is what Ubud is most famous for. A huge national park that is like a zoo a kid can only dream of. Where the animals have freedom to jump on any branch they choose or a poor passerby. We saw a monkey jump onto a woman, grab a bag of bananas and run away. They are assertive and aggressive here, but if you don’t provoke them or attempt to hide a banana, they can be pretty gentle and sweet.
I recommend to make a visit to Ubud if you ever find yourself in Bali. Well worth a stay in town for a few days or a week. The organic food, local crafts & jewelry and monkeys will make your heart melt, your stomach sing and your wallet to be happy with you.