Spiritually Cozy Ubud

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 , Posted by HB at 4:15 PM

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You have not been in Bali if you haven’t visited Ubud, a village (or a town, or a city, you decide) whose rustic charm can work wonders on you.

 

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Ubud is a small town that lies deep in the middle of the island of Bali amongst rice paddies and steep ravines in the central foothills of the Gianyar regency.

 

It has narrow streets inundated by backpackers, mostly in minimum attire, and gigantic tourist busses causing unbearable traffic jams.

 

But Ubud’s discreet and overt charms apparently more than make up its downside, so much so that in 2009, 25.000 readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine decided that it is the “Top City in Asia”.

 

(The evaluation criteria: atmosphere/ambience, culture/sites, friendliness, lodging, restaurants, and shopping.)

 

“We are grateful and happy that Ubud has been chosen as the best city in Asia, defeating Bangkok, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai and Kyoto. But that has also brought to our attention the need to address the disorderly situation one sees everywhere in the city,” said Gianyar Regent Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, in a statement that will sure be endearing to traffic-weary visitors.

 

In recent times Ubud again came under the spotlight when Hollywood mega-star Julia Roberts traveled half way around the world to film “Eat, Pray, Love” there.

 

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Philips joined the ranks of millions of visitors who have been coming to Ubud since 1930, the year the village started to open up and became renowned for its natural beauty and spirituality.

 

Elegant five-star hotels, upscale villas and luxury mansions now stand on its prime areas, making Ubud perhaps the best place to use as a base on your visit to Bali looking for culture, comfort, nature and inspiration.

 

Ubud teems with what attracts bring people to Bali: panoramic rice fields, small but charming villages, art and craft communities, ancient temples and palaces, budget accommodation and unique luxury hotels.

 

It is also situated in a way that makes it easy for you to get to the mountains, beaches, and major towns. It is so centrally located that the beach is only 15 minutes away.

 

Ubud has a population of about 8.000 or 12.000 people; as the lines have become increasingly blurred, it is difficult to distinguish the town from the villages that surround it and get an accurate figure of its inhabitants.

 

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The town originally gained prominence as a source of medicinal herbs and plants. Hence its name which is the Balinese word for medicine.

 

In contrast to the main tourist area in southern Bali, the Ubud area has forests, rivers, and cooler temperatures.

 

Ubud’s popularity is in part derived from the notion that it is the best place in Bali to break out of the tourist mode and get on off-the-beaten track sites. Tourists often base their stay in the city and travel to other destinations from Ubud.

 

Tourism on the island developed swiftly after the arrival of foreign painters such as the Russian-German Walter Spies Willem Hofker and Rudolf Bonnet to the area.

 

In the course of time, celebrities including Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward, Barbara Hutton, H.G. Wells and Vicki Baum came to the village and spread the good word once they returned to their to their western comforts.

 

A burst of creative energy is said to have exploded in the 1960s in the wake of the arrival of Dutch painter Arie Smit.

 

Museums abound in Ubud, including the Museum Puri Lukisan, Museum Neka, Rudana Museum and the sprawling Agung Rai Museum of Art.

 

But no matter how and where you spend your day doing sidetrips in Ubud, you always tend to end up at Jalan Monkey Forest, a narrow street inundated with coffee shops, eateries and boutiques, the city’s proverbial nerve center.

 

Indeed, the Ubud atmosphere is perhaps the major attraction. As visitors as well as long-time Bali residents often sum it up, Kuta is madness and Seminyak is chic while Sanur is for oldies and Nusa Dua is sterile.

 

Ubud? It is simply the place to be in Bali.

 

 

Must-visit Places

  1. 1. The Ubud Palace
    Puri Saren Agung is a large palace and the home of Tjokorda Gede Agung Sukawati (1910-1978), the last “king” of Ubud, located at the intersection of Monkey Forest and Raya Ubud roads. It is now occupied by his descendants; dance performances are held in its courtyard.
  2. 2. The Ubud Monkey Forest
    A sacred nature reserve located near the southern end of Jalan Monkey Forest, housing a temple and and some 300 Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) monkeys.
  3. 3. The Moon of Pejeng, the largest single-cast bronze kettle drum in the world, dating from circa 300BC.

 

Place to Stay

 

Maya Ubud Resort & Spa: A masterpiece of contemporary wonder and ethnic chic, its accommodation includes individual Balinese-style villas, many of which boast private pools. Favoured by honeymooners and holiday makers alike, Maya Ubud is an ideal choice for those looking for luxurious facilities in a special piece of untouched Bali, where guests can experience peace and tranquillity in beautiful surroundings.

 

 

 

Source : http://garudamagazine.com

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