Ubud, Bali: Vegan Food, Zen and Large Wooden Cocks

During our travels our friends back home would often joke that we would eventually return with our hearts filled with love, peace and positivity whilst having taken up new hobbies like yoga, wearing elephant pants and hugging trees. Well, we aren’t quite there yet, but if one place was going to get us down the “positivity path” then it was going to be this place…Ubud, Bali.

Ubud was put on the map by Eat, Pray, Love – the book where some down on her luck girl travels to Italy, India and Ubud on a spiritual quest (i.e. desperate for sex) whilst all the time saying she isn’t looking for sex…or something like that. We did read the book whilst we were away but it was an unmemorable experience. However, wannabe hippies and spiritualists (i.e. other people not having sex so changing their life in the hope to get more) love it and it made Ubud a bit of a spiritual mecca. And that means it is Yoga, Meditation, Vegan, detox-smoothies and self-righteousness overload in Ubud.

Not wanting to be self-righteous ourselves we attempted to get into this spiritual way of living as much as we could…

The Food

We went proper hippie on the food – for the first evening at least. Scuffling around the backstreets we found a highly rated pure vegan restaurant – and unlike the one we tried in Vietnam, this one didn’t have beef on its vegan menu. We decided on some of the restaurant’s specials and, even for us meat lovers, they did not disappoint. And the super powered healthy shakes were utterly delish.

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Yummy!

Throughout our time in Ubud Louise did manage to mainly stick to vegan dishes with her favourite being the Gado-Gado – a fantastic Indonesian salad of vegatables, potatoes and peanut sauce. Thankfully for Rob meat-eaters are well catered for in the vast majority of restaurants and there are plenty of gems to find, especially down some of the side streets off the main drags.

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Gado-Gado – Delish

“Zen”

Those seeking spiritual enlightenment flock to rice paddies in search for the ultimate zen. And thankfully Ubud has rice paddies in easy walking distance from the centre of town. The first walk we did was the Campuhan Ridge Walk. This scenic walk takes you along a paved ridge with sweeping hilltop views over the rice paddies. It is a peaceful walk with decent views and halfway along the route there is a tree swing. Yes – Ultimate Zen!

The second walk we did was actually our favourite. This isn’t as clearly marked on the maps but first takes you up Jl. Kajeng where there are locals selling colourful kites and art/messages/graffiti written into the street paving. It’s really nice to stroll up here and read the message of peace, love and vegan propaganda.

At the end of this street you then enter the rice paddies and the views here are amazingly serene. This walk was a little more lively with locals tending to the paddies so it was great to see this traditional life playing out. However, we enjoyed this walk more as there were two great spots for some rice paddy “meditation”. Well, when we say meditation we mean sitting with a drink whilst looking out over the fields – definitely Ultimate Zen.

The Temples

If you’re after a more traditional spiritual experience then Ubud caters for that with it’s temples (as long as you are not a menstruating female in which case entry is forbidden). There are a number around the town with traditional Indonesian architecture. However, the most famous temple is the Sacred Monkey Temple. This temple is overflowing with Macaque monkeys who wander around like they own the place. Watch out as they will also try and steal things from your bags or, as Rob found out, jump on you and have a fight. But they are cute and it is wonderful to walk around taking photos of the temple and the monkeys.

The Markets

There are plenty of shopping opportunities around Ubud and there is a wonderful street market. Yes, it is very tourist focused but it is wonderfully colourful and lively. There you will find lots of colourful wooden statues, plates and gizmos. An especially favourite piece seems to be the wooden cocks – well I guess with all the people in search of spiritual awakening (sex) there is a large active market for them.

Yoga

OK, we didn’t actually do any yoga whilst we were there. We do actually enjoy Yoga and have enjoyed doing various sessions on our travels. But in Ubud it wasn’t as much of a bargain as it was elsewhere (class prices similar to the UK) and there were a mind-numbing selection of Yoga classes which meant little sense to us. There were also other kinds of courses that were heavily advertised, including group breathing which seems like the ultimate low effort course to host.

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Rob’s Mum and Roger came to visit us in Bali and we loved Ubud so much we took them there on a day trip.

We managed to survive Ubud without turning into spiritual gurus. Whilst a lot of what we have said above is a little tongue in cheek (and hopefully seen as just a bit of fun) we did love Ubud. It is an amazing place which, although very touristy, still has a lot of local energy and introduces plenty of ways to improve yourself. And if you feel down because you’re not getting the experience you hoped…well, there’s always the wooden cock!
Travellers Recommendations/Tips

Stay: We stayed at Belos Homestay which was set in a beautiful courtyard garden. The family running it were friendly and the rooms clean and large. It’s a very short walk to all the main sites.

Eat: Fantastic places to eat all over Ubud. We particularly enjoyed the full vegan experience at Dayu’s Warung and Warung biah biah.

Do: The Monkey Temple is great fun and the walks above are beautiful (although Jl. Kajeng rice fields walk was our preferred one). If you have the time do try and do some yoga and let us know what we missed out on!

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8 thoughts on “Ubud, Bali: Vegan Food, Zen and Large Wooden Cocks

  1. Your paddy fields photos are great and gado-gado is my favorite food ☺. It is nice to know that gado-gado is in Bali. Because as I know gado-gado is a traditional food from Jakarta. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely loved reading your post. I visited in 1997 after a very uncomfortable arrival in Bali from Jave and escaping from a night in hassle central in Kuta. Ubud was simply wonderful then and I am so pleased to see it has retained its charm. I remember we had a beautiful wooden lodge set in a lush garden that cost Β£2.50 per night with breakfast served being fresh fruit picked from within the garden itself. I also remember going to a condensed production of the Ramayana where we got uncomfortably close to flaming torches. We also visited a health spa for a mud bath and massage where we had some hilarious experiences that are best not repeated here! Thank you so much for helping me relive such memories! Wilbur

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, sounds like an amazing time indeed. Sounds like you went at a much more adventurous time – now it is very touristy but there is still plenty of charm and it is easy to escape off the beaten path. We look forward to your blog on your message experience! Thanks so much for your comment, it’s really nice to hear your story.

      Liked by 1 person

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