looking back … ubud & serenity 2019

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As you already know my better half & I stayed in Bali for about 3 weeks. We made our home aka base of operations in Ubud. The photo above shows the view from our terrace.

… & below there is a view of Ubud’s street life: scooters, cars, more scooters, lost tourists on narrow foot-walks …

Well … I estimate that there are at least 5 – 10 scooters per car.

Ubud: what is all this hype about Ubud? Where’s the reason for romanticizing Ubud as the centre of relaxation, meditation, wellness … & whatever?

I think (& I also read about it!) that Ubud, a renowned centre for local arts, became famous & thriving & buzzing w/ tourists & expats by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love.

I read Eat Pray Love years ago (I remember that it was during a holiday in Crete chilling near a pool w/ view of a very blue Mediterranean Sea): the 1st part (Italy & how she ended up there) is funny & really entertaining, the 2nd part (India) is somewhat less funny, but also entertaining – & then there is the 3rd part (Bali). Comparing the parts of the book the 3rd part was the one I … well – whatever. As a whole it’s good reading stuff – what else do you expect from a worldwide bestseller?
Later, of course, there was the movie w/ the gorgeous Julia Roberts … the rest shall be buried in silence.
Nevertheless Elizabeth Gilbert made an impressive imprint on Bali, especially Ubud (where all of the 3rd part of her book comes into life).

We, my better half & I, didn’t decide to make Ubud our home because of Eat Pray Love.
Before booking our holiday we talked about what we would like to do in Bali & sought advice from our reliable travel book. We decided to stay on Ubud because of its very central position allowing us easily to make day trips to the north, the south, the east & the west. In addition we thought that living in a rather small town w/ lots of shops, cafés, bars, restaurants etc. & local ambiance might be interesting & entertaining.

… & we didn’t seek advice from local healers or join meditation classes w/ local gurus or started discussing about becoming an expat in Bali living from selling handmade jewelry.

So: What do all these people – if tourist, if expat, if temporary dropout – search in Ubud? Or more generally in Bali? I think we might name it serenity as an umbrella term for meditation, enlightenment, relaxation, wellness, tranquility, peace …

Serenity – is there any serenity at all?

Bali is a small paradise.

When travelling the island we discovered many a spot filled w/ beauty. All Balinese people are very friendly & helpful – this is one of the advertising slogans of Bali’s busy & successful tourist management.
… & it’s true! We enjoyed staying on this island in the sun.

There are beaches & cliffs where temples are perched on the edge. (Sometimes temples are even in the water only accessible during low tide.)

There are the mountains aka volcanos in the background where clouds get packed later during the day resulting in rain falls. (We were in Bali during October …) The rain & the surplus of water sustain the green island.

… & there are rice fields all over Bali. This one was near our resort next to the road. Ducks waiting in the shade each day for enjoying the watered rice field later.

The blue sky & the blue sea: don’t underestimate the power of the waves & the currents.

Along the beaches, especially in the south resp. southwest, there is the tourist boom region. Along the secured beach line there is a paved promenade w/ access to hotel & pools in the background. All gates guarded by the inescapable stony guardians & demons native to Bali …

There are fine sandy beaches prepared for tourists who like to dine in the evening watching the sunset.

Ubud is a small town far away from the beaches. At the beachfronts there are – of course – lots of hotels, big hotels & lots of all the entertainment businesses known from other beach destinations … (A friend (born Australian) told us that Bali is the Ballermann for Australians … (Ballermann – for all non-Germans – is the nickname for a notorious beach quarter in Majorca where to find Germans, beer, parties …)).

Ubud concentrates on art, wellness, restaurants, shops … There are small art & jewelry shops along the alleyways. Bigger art factories are on the arterial roads out of Ubud.

There are lots of alleyways where shops & cafes are squeezed in next to small temples for families.

The international wellness concepts have made their way to Ubud: you’ll find not only many offers for beauty & massage, but also organic food, snacks & meals matching vegetarian & vegan diets.

The international Italian coffee culture is also present in Ubud – from espresso, macchiato, latte … to any specialized coffees. You even find French bakeries & Italian pizza & pasta restaurants.

We enjoyed starting roaming Ubud’s alleyways rather early in the morning – let’s say about 10 am. Shops & stalls open for business at that time, only few tourists are active as well as the number of scooters is low compared to the afternoons & evenings.

After 2 h of strolling the alleyways & exploring shops – or less! – we usually rushed into some café or bar to get some shelter from the blazing sun while enjoying ice cold beer or ice cold juices …

There are Buddha statues – some. Bali is a Hindu country, not a Buddhist country. From the western perspective all these wellness & mediation & enlightenment affairs etc. are mainly connected to Buddha. So it’s no surprise to find Buddha statues here & there.

The wellness oases are great although we cannot really give a balanced summary because we experienced only 2 of them. These establishments are spots of tranquillity transferring you – body & soul – into another state of feeling: calm, friendly, chilled.

This is the view of our preferred café/bistro/bar in Ubud. We liked to sit at the long tables around the dining area, sip some ice cold fluids or some hot espressos & just watch the activities around us – after exploring whatever.


Bali is a typical region of Southeast Asia: full of people, full of scooters, small roads, stalls everywhere, demolished houses, shacks next to modern high-tech buildings … It is hot, very hot w/ high humidity … chaotic, noisy – like all these countries in Southeast Asia around the Line.

Balinese people are friendly – in our experience from prior holidays also Cambodian & Thai people are friendly. Bali surely has the advantage of never having got involved in the bloody civil wars of the 70s & 80s.

The basis for finding serenity is laid, however, you’ll have to define your personal pursuits for serenity. Maybe it just arrives when you are sitting on your terrace watching the palm trees slowly moving in the wind.

Balinese food exists – you may indulge in any western style cuisine & be sure to find it somewhere, but there is also this special diet you’ll find all over Southeast Asia.

Let’s start w/ rice growing, growing … everywhere. Make a trip to the famous rice terraces & enjoy the view.

Rice is the base ingredient of all meals. (Of course there are also these special noodles of the Southeast Asian region.) Either the rice is fried w/ vegetables/fish/seafood/chicken/pork & enriched w/ spices or vegetables/fish/seafood/chicken/pork enriches w/ spices are served w/ rice & always a selection of sambals (mostly hot & spicy!).

There are also fruit, more fruits than you can imagine. All is fine, but have in mind: „Boil it, peel it or leave it“ to stay on the safe side. Ok, from our experience we had no problem to trust the fresh fruit in our resort …

It was a fabulous holiday. Full stop.