After taking a while to get through Bali's very disorganized Denpasar airport, we pre-paid for a taxi to Bali's Arts and Culture capital, Ubud. The drive took about an hour and half due to Bali's very small and congested roads. We immediately fell in love with Bailnese culture on our way from the airport. It is hard to describe just how beautifully this place is.
Since the book and film 'eat, pray, love' where some of it is based, Ubud has become slightly over run with tourists. Never the less, it still maintains its unique spiritual and creative aura which made it so popular in the first place. The streets of the town are lined with painters selling work, art galleries, jewelers, dance performances and kooky restarants and boutiques. The town is surrounded by beautiful rice paddies providing some glorious views of the Balinese countryside.
We found lodgings at Jawi homestay. Our room was one of two above a painter and his wife's house. The room was beautiful and finished with incredible furniture and even a bath! The wife bought up the most delicious breakfast to enjoy on our balcony every morning. I can safely say it is the best night's sleep I have had throughout this entire trip. I can't even describe just how lovely the owners were - they took customer service to a whole other level!
On our first night in Ubud we went to a recommended restaurant from the lonely planet guide. Our meal was incredible (if a little pricey!). We indulged in three course and wine which was a real treat! Our first full day in Ubud was spent exploring the town. We checked out the markets, art galleries and local temples. Its very easy to spend hours wondering around as every road you walk down, there is more to see. On our second day in Ubud, we hired a car (which turned out to be a cheap way of getting around) to take us to Bali's largest volcano - Anung Batur. The views of rice paddies along the way the way were amazing. We stopped at several temples en route, full of Buddhists dedicated to praying for the majority of their day. When we arrived at the volcano, the weather had started to take a turn for this worse. Fortunately, this only added to the breathtaking view as you could see dark clouds pouring with rain in the distance.
Feeling tired after a very hectic few days, we decided to have a quiet evening, ready to move on in the morning. A minibus collected us at 6.30am to take us to one of Bali's piers. We got onto a large speedboat which was powered by 6 engines at the back. The 1 and a half hour journey to our next destination, Gili Trawangan was one of the best yet!