And, by centered, I mean catching up on yoga, sleep and morning mimosas. I heard mixed feedback on Ubud before I went to Bali; my original plans planted me in the island's inland spiritual mecca for 3 nights, and I ended up staying 3 more.
The drive from Seminyak to Ubud, without traffic, was about an hour. Along the ride, as we ascended into Bali's inner-island elevation, the transition from Kuta's famous party mode into Ubud's ethereal, peaceful tone was undeniable.
Peering in between buildings along main roads exposed lushly set homes.
My driver (Ballon), whom I met when he drove me to Cocoon one afternoon in Seminyak, suggested we stop by Celuk, where craftspeople turn raw silver and gold metal primed to jewelry making. Along the outside perimeter you can see folks (primarily women) at work. Across the interior, you'll find a variety of silver works, with a small selection of gold.
Upon arriving at Uma by COMO, I was surprised with both a (non-alcoholic) welcome cocktail and news that my room was ready <3 (Full disclosure: I rolled out of Seminyak early when I panicked, thinking I'd lost my passport and packed furiously to get myself to the US Embassy; turns out I'd "carefully" tucked it away in a picket of a purse.) The entire staff @ Uma knew my name. The grounds are stunning. I knew pretty quickly I wouldn't want to leave.
My "room," if you could call it that, was beyond comfortable, with a beautifully done outdoor shower, front patio and private pool with lounge chairs in the back.
By day, I didn't bore of strolling around Ubud.
Even Ubud's street art charmed.
Strolling along Monkey Forest Road you'll stumble upon a number of shops, restaurants and cafes. (I stayed out of the Monkey Forest, itself, as I was told folks who didn't love the idea of having its residents jump on them didn't relish the experience - I fit this category.) Lamak and Cafe Wayan were a couple of highlights along the restaurant spectrum.
Uma had a shuttle to take visitors into and back from town several times a day, but I enjoyed the walk into town in between the height of the heat and sundown. Along one of my walks I stumbled upon hand-crafted leather shop Ernov. This specialty brand produces beautifully hand-painted water snakeskin handbags, shoes and other accessories.
By far the highlight of my time in Ubud was a half day tour where we were taken to the local market, saw the rice terraces and ultimately were taught to cook a Balinese feast. Husband & wife tea Wayan and Puspa of Paon Bali Cooking Class provide an exceptional experience to visitors seeking an inside view of the Balinese lifestyle. Above are some views into the local Ubud market, which opens at 4am for residents to buy produce and other groceries for the day (before kids must be taken to school!).
Many family homes own acres of rice terraces. The rice produced is for family consumption only; not for commercial purposes. Homes without land buy rice from the market.
The cooking class portion of the day takes place in Wayan and Puspa's beautiful (& traditional) Balinese home. The traditional home is comprised of a number of buildings, each serving a unique purpose (children's room, family meeting room). My favorite lesson from the Balinese: a family never goes to sleep as long as there is a conflict. If there is a conflict, the adults gather in the meeting room to resolve the issue.
The product of our education! Chicken, satay, chicken curry, gado gado and tuna pepes. We used all fresh ingredients, and each dish's flavor was pronounced.
Uma's heavenly poolside setting at night.
Uma's staff thoughtfully delivered French macarons on my last night.
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Stay. Uma by COMO is, by far, one of the best hotels in which I've ever stayed. The service was top-notch. The rooms are incredibly spacious yet comfortable and cozy. The grounds are beautiful. Four Seasons Sayan is another option my friend highly recommends.
Shop. Ernov for hand-made and -painted snakeskin goods. Amouk for beautiful jewelry crafted by a Parisian designer (wish there was a site - I'd give it some action). The jewelry boutique in Mozaic's entrance/lobby.