June 30-July 21, 2016
21 Days of Abundance, Yoga and Friendship in Ubud
GPS waypoint: 8°30'25.3"S 115°15'45.1"E
Location: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
After years of hearing and reading about Bali, I finally made it to Ubud - the cultural and spiritual capital of Bali. Right at the outset, the energy felt good...like how I felt about Penang (Malaysia). It's a little expensive like Luang Prabang (Laos), but I found ways to stretch the buck. Already, I was off to a good start. I met a couple at the airport whom I taxi-pooled with (splitting the fare 3-ways), then I stumbled upon a room with ensuite for US$5.50, (cheapest bunk bed in a dorm room in Agoda starts at US$10!). Later on, I found a compli-bike use for the remainder of my visa days! Ubud brought promise of good things to come! The possibilities excited me.
Ubud Backpackers Room
A fortuitous thing happened along my early days - while riding my bike to Nyuh Kuning, I stumbled upon a newly opened backpacker lodging - Ubud Backpackers Room. Everything was clean, new and styled along traditional Balinese theme. The staff were friendly and the owner, Dhemi, was down to earth. I had the entire dorm room to myself. It would be my home-sweet-home for 3 weeks until my mad dash to the airport to catch my flight.
Covering my Bases
I was initially lost, not getting my bearing, just like any new destination. I covered my bases first - laundry, finding cheap eating spots (in the local warungs), researching on yoga studios, etc. I was entrenching myself for a long haul - 22 days in Ubud, until July 22 when my Indonesian visa expires. With the energy and abundance doing it for me, I didn't see any reason why I should leave Ubud.
at Kafe coffee shop...my fav cafe
Ubud has many layered dimensions to it. The longer I stayed, the more these layers were peeled-off like onion skin. I got my bearings and got more sense of their culture with every passing day. The little pieces fell in place to reveal the big picture. At the superficial level, of course there is the intense tourism within the city center. That's what you just see if you stay a night or two. Then the culture seeps in, then the people's gentleness is felt...and it cascades as the days go on.
After a while, the Balinese culture becomes evident. It is unique, gentle and charming. This seems the only culture that mindfully pursues happiness. They openly talk about being happy and staying happy. They seem at peace with themselves and are given to laughter and smiles - the locally dominated Laughter Yoga at Amber Ashram underscores the point. They are unrushed, taking their time, and as they call it, Bali is on 'rubber-time'.
I can't say enough about the gentle people of Ubud. They live their lives in accordance to their devotion - it seems to be the same thing to them. Their culture is steeped in tradition and religious customs that continue to be practised to this day while accommodating the increasing tourism that seem to mantle the city center. There is a genuineness to them. Of course, it takes a bit of scratching on the surface, just like in any culture, but their live-and-let-live attitude and welcoming demeanor to outsiders is readily evident at the onset.
Ubud was a revolving door of so many people I met in my 21 days. I like this about traveling - you meet so many magnificent lives just around the bend. Some lives inspired me, some lives opened up doors while some lives simply enriched mine.
Punnu and I were just casual acquaintances in the Philippines, but after Ubud, we bonded. Punnu is a rare and special individual. If you are looking for a guru, you don't have to travel up the Himalayas and live in a cave. Just catch Punnu in one of his many gigs - meditation, kirtan, sound healing, bollywood bangrah dance, etc. I practically attended every offering he had! He has a wealth of knowledge and life experience to him. I wouldn't miss any of his gigs at The Yoga Barn. Thank you Punnu for being so generous!
It is a rare individual who gets me all excited and inspired the way Andrea does. And it's not because she is drop-dead gorgeous. She has this engaging personality, a passion that is infectious, an unwavering commitment to her health advocacy, depth in her yoga practice and an unapologetic radical stance on health and vitality. Like Punnu, I wouldn't miss any of her gigs at The Yoga Barn. I hope I get to work with her on a project some day. I like working with forward-thinking and forward-moving people who march to the beat of their own drum.
His unique Pranawayu Yoga caught me by surprise. It is as organic and genuine as it gets. I haven't seen a sequence so graceful...so elegant...so seamless and yet so challenging. I loved it! And everyone I invited to attend to it likewise loved it - Natalia and Eunice. I met Aki and Shoco, both Japanese with a strong practice who couldn't get enough of it! And the way Ketut cues the sequence...he is anchored on smiles, love, well-being and being happy - not as lip-motion but from a position of bliss. Pranawayu Yoga is a seamless singularity of Hindi and Balinese tradition. It's the one yoga that served as hub for the friendship I had with Eunice, Shoco, Natalia and Aki.
I met Eunice while practicing yoga and we became fast friends. We hung-out for coffee and lunch and met up at Taman Hati Yoga Ashram for Ketut Bandiastra's Pranawayu Yoga. She loved it. We all bonded with Ketut himself and Shoco, a Japanese yogini who also found Pranawayu Yoga quite fascinating. We've kept touch after Ubud and I may see her again as I pass through Singapore.
I met Natalia at a meditation session and we talked yoga. She has a strong practice and raved about her yoga experience in Canggu, Bali where pranayama, bandha, mudra and kumbhaka are integrated into a flowing asana. Our common yoga ground in Ubud was Taman Hati - she was enamored by Pranawayu Yoga. We did laughter yoga too at Ambar Ashram. We could have bonded more, but she had to leave. Such is the case when you stay too long in a place...you develop friendship only to see them go just when you develop a comfort level.
I didn't know her, but she casually talked to me at Kafe Coffee Shop as she remembered me from the Astrology talk as the guy who asked what seemed like an irreverent question. We kept bumping into each other and finally decided to meet up for coffee for some quality time. Berenika is another unique individual who acts as nexus to a community whose members are cut from the same cloth. Her projects are ambitious and her vision is far reaching. I could only speculate that we'll be working together on some project at some point in time.
I owe Dhemi. He went beyond the call of duty when he canceled an appointment to take me on his motorcycle for a fast drive to the airport for me to catch my plane. Ubud to Denpasar Airport is a good 1.5 hours away! I offered, but he wouldn't take my money. Generosity like that moves me, reminding me that there is a lot of good in people. It inpires me to pay it forward and hopefully make these gestures ripple through our common social fabric.
Yoga and Meditation Scene
My stay in Ubud was characterized by yoga, meditation and other spiritual pursuits. I initially offered to teach yoga but the only slot I got was at The Yoga Barn giving me an August gig...a full month away! Yes, there are a lot of yoga teachers here. Most of the yoga practitioners who come here to deepen their practice are yoga teachers in their own hometowns. However, nearly all the studios were receptive to me joining their class with me writing about the experience. This allowed me to practice at different studios with many teachers employing different styles. I found this priceless specially here in Ubud, the Mecca of Yoga in Southeast Asia. Yoga studios abound here and the level of yoga is high. Mediocrity has no place here for a teacher...otherwise the students would prove to be more advanced than you. The yoga teachers here are typically at the level who travel around the world to meet their global engagements. It was a level-up to be practicing in Ubud.
I met a few people who signed-up on nearly all yoga/meditation/pranayama/self-healing offerings. Nothing wrong with that. But from some, I got this eerie feeling it wasn't helping them. Somehow, it was a fix...much like a junkie getting his fix, but not getting better. I see them going from one seminar to another...and not really getting anywhere. I keep wondering...where is the disconnect? Why is this becoming a 'fix' when it should be a catapult to higher evolution?
Initially, I thought life in Ubud existed only within the confines of the Monkey Forest-Ubud Raya-Hanoman area - the main tourism hub. However, when I moved into Nyuh Kuning and explored further on a bicycle, organic life flourished outside the city center. It was a whole new world of discovery that was less touristy but more into the rich local culture and time-honored tradition of Bali. I would strongly suggest exploring what's out there and be surprised!
An essential transport here in Ubud is a bicycle. The tourism hub is huge! Walking along the main drag around Monkey Forest-Jl Ubud Raya-Hanoman is a good 4km loop! We're not even talking about the side streets teeming with galleries, restos and spas! Renting a motorcycle taxi adds up. With my move to Nyuh Kuning away from the main drag, the use of a bicycle was a must. Luckily, I found a good reliable bike at Dayu Rental. This simply expanded my range going to yoga studios kilometers away from Nyu Kuning. Ubud having so many Easter Eggs within and outside its city center, was important to be mobile with a wide coverage.
I have long been fascinated by this radical internet currency - Bitcoin. I even wrote about it and its mysterious developer, Satoshi Nakamoto. I was exuberant when I discovered a Bitcoin center in Ubud. Without hesitation, I opened a Bitcoin account. This is the start I was looking for. Now, in every destination I go to, I'll be looking for merchants who accept Bitcoins. Likewise, I will accept Bitcoin for any service I render. At some point, I'd like to be a Bitcoin power-user - to know more about it in great depth and detail in order to connect it to some other dots in my head - perhaps even trade on it. I just might be able to discover a whole new way of using Bitcoin given my motivation and excitement about this crypto-currency.
As good as Ubud is, it's not perfect. This is my wish list:
- patch the potholes - many potholes on narrow street shoulders forcing motorbike and bicycle riders straight into deep potholes when they're caught between two passing cars in opposite direction
- close the gaping holes on sidewalks - open manholes on sidewalks are accidents waiting to happen. I wonder how many people have already fallen on them
- observe the 'no smoking' by-law - people smoking in restaurants in complete obliviousness to non-smokers around them...and there is actually a 'no smoking' bylaw in place but not enforced
Dhemi to the Rescue
I planned to leave Ubud July 22, maxing out all my available stay from my visa. I started looking for flights only to find out all flights in July 22 have already increased to US$125! Curious, I looked at flights leaving on the same day (July 21) and found one at US$86 but it was leaving in just a few hours! This is a US$40 price difference! Without wasting any time, I booked it, packed up, and tried booking for a van to the airport. Unfortunately, the van people said I won't make it to the airport! I talked to Dhemi, the hotel owner where I stayed if he could find a moto-taxi fast! He called a few numbers but nothing. Sensing I was going to miss my plane, he canceled an appointment and took me to the airport himself on his motorcycle! We were weaving in and out of traffic in a frantic effort to catch my plane. There was no time even to return my bike to Dayu Rental! I made it to the airport on time. Dhemi was my HERO! I offered him what I would have paid a moto-taxi but he refused. It was friendship for him. I was moved by the gesture. I won't forget that generosity. Thank you Dhemi...for your help...and for your friendship.
I'd been traveling nearly all my life...as early as high school when I would jump on board an inter-island ship going to Cebu from Manila. When I came back to the Philippines in 2004 up until now, I haven't stopped traveling. In the last 4 years I'd been traveling without a home or address to ensure a sustained uninterrupted journey. In all this traveling, I've covered many places. MANY PLACES. In all of that, I would have to say Ubud is one of the best destinations I'd been to, if not the best. It's natural beauty is spellbinding. It's culture is rich, gentle and graceful. The abundance rains. The peoplescape is one of a revolving door with one magnificent life after another. The activities that happened were intense, continuous and overwhelming - my calendar was always full, squeezing 3 activities in a day, nearly everyday! Ubud is just so enchanting, I didn't even bother go to other parts of Bali, no matter how beautiful they are too from what I'd been hearing. They will have to be for 'next time'.
Thank you Ubud...until the next visit!!!
Pasar Seni Ubud (market) - main market in Ubud with everything touristy you can ask for
Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) - 9th century Buddhist temple
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary - there really is a monkey forest right in the heart of Ubud!
Jalan Kajeng - animated street similar to Hollywood's Walk of Fame
Nyuh Kuning - wood carving village with a burgeoning chic cafe and resto scene along Jalan Nyuh Gading
Ubud Royal Palace - home of the royal family
Campuhan Ridge Walk - spectacular ridge view and hike ending 1km to the artists' village, Bangkiang Sidem | 8°30'13.0"S 115°15'16.9"E
- Ubud Backpackers Room - newly constructed, all new and clean, lockers, good water pressure, compli tea and coffee, spacious and alfresco chillout center
Jalan Nyuh Kuning, Pengosekan, Ubud, MAS, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali - 8°31'36.5"S 115°15'41.3"E
- Nando House - free WiFi, restaurant, terrace, free private parking, pet-friendly accommodation, private bathroom, room service
Jalan Subak Sok Wayah, 80571 Ubud, Indonesia - 8°30'14.4"S 115°15'28.6"E
- The Yoga Barn - full service yoga studio, holistic healing retreat center
PT. Yoga Barn, Jalan Raya Pengosekan, Ubud - Bali, Indonesia - 80571
- Ubud Yoga House - yoga for Every Body...all shapes, sizes, ages & levels
Jl. Raya Ubud No.23, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali
8°30'07.0"S 115°15'30.5"E | 0821-4418-1058
- Taman Hati Yoga - Pranawayu yoga and Kundalini yoga
Jalan Nyuh Gading No.7, Ubud, MAS, Kec. Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali
8°31'32.7"S 115°15'24.6"E | +62 (0)361-974-058 | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ubud Yoga Centre - Ashtanga Yoga
Jalan Nyuh Kuning Raya / Singakerta Raya, Ubud, MAS, Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
8°31'43.0"S 115°15'15.5"E | +62 812-1020-389 | email@example.com
- Intuitive Flow Yoga Studio - Healing, Yoga, Meditation with a breathtaking view
Jl. Raya Tjampuhan, Penestanan Kaja, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
8°30'10.8"S 115°15'07.8"E | +62-361-977-824 | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ambar Ashram Laughter Yoga - Healing, Laughter Yoga, Meditation
Jl. Nyuh Bojog No.5, MAS, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
- Radiantly Alive Yoga - Vinyasa Yoga, Tibetan Heart Yoga, Iyengar Inspired, Pilates, Fly High, Roll and Release, Ashtanga Mysore, Yoga Dance, Salsa, Arm Balance Foundations, Beginners Yoga
Jl Jembawan no.3, Padang Tegal Kaja Ubud, Bali, 80571
+62 (0)361 978 055 | 8°30'33.7"S 115°16'01.2"E
- White Lotus Meditation Centre - Meditation classes | Meditation retreats
JL. Kajeng 23, Ubud, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
+62 899-0134-962 | 8°30'12.9"S 115°15'43.1"E
- ONEWORLD retreats - yoga, meditation, spa and discoveries
Jl. Suweta, Banjar Sambahan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
+62 361 289752 email@example.com
- warung eateries - a cluster of roadside eateries, essential for those on a budget or those who want authentic Balinese everyday food at local prices
across the Pertamina Gas Station - 8°31'28.2"S 115°15'49.0"E
- Nando's Warung - delicious Balinese food at local warung price in a garden setting
Jalan Subak Sok Wayah, 80571 Ubud, Indonesia - 8°30'14.4"S 115°15'28.6"E
- motorcycle rental
- D&D Rental - motorcycle and bicycle rental, tours, tourist information center
Pengosikan Street, Ubud
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is concentrated within the rectangular area covered by Jalan Raya Ubud, Jalan Hanuman and Jalan Monkey Forest. Best to book your hotel within this area
(US$1 = Indonesian Rupiah IDR 13,140 = Philippines Php 47.00 as of July 1, 2016)
- best, cheapest, fastest and most comfortable (this is what I did for Ubud and in Singapore) - at the airport, talk to other white travelers waiting on the same gate if they are going to Ubud. Arrange for a taxi pool. With 3 guys, you split the taxi fare (usually IDR 200k + IDR 5k for airport entrance) three-ways. You end up paying just slightly more (IDR 68k) than roughing it through a series of bemos and vans.
- take a bemo (public bus) to Kuta (IDR 6k) then take a shuttle bus by Perama to Ubud (IDR 50k)
- one small bottle beer with live band
- 1.5 liter drinking water
- one hour massage
- warung food in hawker style food cart
- coffee in trendy cafes
- bicycle rental
- laundry (although I've seen one at IDR 8k per kilo)
- shuttle to airport
- bunk bed in a dorm room, shared toilet
- internet cafe
- cultural performances
- standard drop-in yoga class
- A First-timer in Jakarta June 23-25, 2016
- Visiting the White Crater (Kawa Putih) of Bandung Jun 28, 2016
- Exploring Bogor, Indonesia Jun 25-27, 2016
- 21 Days of Abundance, Yoga and Friendship in Ubud June 30-July 21, 2016
- Hatha Yoga with Andrea Paige at The Yoga Barn July 21, 2016
- Roll and Release by Rusty Davis at Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio July 20, 2016
- Kundalini Yoga with Ketut Bandiastra at Taman Hati Yoga Ashram July 20, 2016
- Kundalini Meditative Movement with Sandeh at White Lotus Meditation Center July 19, 2016
- Andrea Paige - Health Crusader and Yogini July 18, 2016
- Power Yoga with Ni Made Murni at The Yoga Barn July 18, 2016
- Vinyasa Yoga with Daniel Aaron at Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio July 17, 2016
- Mass Cremation (Ngaben) in Ubud with Louisa July 16, 2016
- Mysore Ashtanga with Laruga at Ubud Yoga Center July 15, 2016
- Kalimasada at Yayasan Segara Giri July 14, 2016
- Hiking Campuhan Ridge July 14, 2016
- Vinyasa Flow with Nina at Intuitive Flow Yoga Studio July 14, 2016
- Laughter Yoga with Kadek Suambara at Ambar Ashram July 12, 2016
- Dance til you Drop at Bollywood Night with Punnu Wasu July 11, 2016
- Mayan Calendar Readings by Vasumi July 10, 2016
- Yoga Pranala with Chiara at Intuitive Flow Yoga Studio July 10, 2016
- Visiting the Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah) July 9, 2016
- Pranawayu Yoga with I Ketut Bandiastra, S. Ag at Taman Hati Yoga Ashram July 7, 2016
- Astrology Talk at The Yoga Barn July 6, 2016
- Yoga with Sasha Lang at the Ubud Yoga House July 6, 2016
- Ananda Mandala Meditation by Punnu Wasu at The Yoga Barn Jul 4/5, 2016
- The Wild Monkeys of the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary July 7, 2016
- Amed - beach, scuba diving and fishing villages stretching for 15 kms along the coast
- Lake Beratan - area surrounding this lake has temples, produce market, waterfall, cool climate
- Candi Dasa RC - beaches, scuba diving, snorkeling
- Kuta - party town with cheap food, lodging and booze
- Munduk - quiet mountain getaway 800 masl
- Sideman - trekking fields along villages near the volcano, Gunung Agung
- Ubud - expensive and sophisticated with trendy restaurants, cafes, galleries, yoga studios and cultural offerings
(Aug 4, 2016) That's so sweet of you Gigit. Indeed it was a great experience meeting you and I'm happy we shared some of the amazing events :)
(Aug 4, 2016) Glad you finally experienced nirvana: Ubud--Indah sekali!
(Aug 4, 2016) Great blogs Gigit :) It was really good to catch up with you there :-)
(Aug 4, 2016) So inspiring reading it! Feeling good
(Aug 4, 2016) Safe and happy travels!
June 30-July 21, 2016
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Ubud Backpackers Room
Taman Hati Yoga Ashram