Ubud has become a great attraction for people from all over the world. The small little art village has become a buzzing little town in recent years. One can find almost everything in Ubud, from humble cultural life, to world-class fine dining restaurants.
Since I live in the South, Ubud, found in the centre of Bali, has become one of my weekend getaway destinations. One Saturday, I hit the road after breakfast to enjoy a day of Ubud exploration.
Before driving into the centre of Ubud, I decided to visit Goa Gajah, or the Elephant Cave. One might expect to see a group of elephants dwelling in a cave, or something along those lines, but there are actually no resident pachyderms around! Found at the confluence of the Petanu and Pangkung rivers, the name Goa Gajah apparently comes from Lwa Gajah, meaning River Gajah – which is what Petanu River used to be called. Other theories for the name surround the statue of Ganesha, a Hindu deity characterised by a man with an elephant’s head found inside the cave by two Dutch explorers in 1923.
In the courtyard outside the cave there is an area called Petirtaan, which is a pool divided into three sections: two of which show statues of angels with holy water flowing out of their hands. There are seven of these statues here, which symbolise the seven rivers found in India, from where Bali received its Hindu customs.
After a brief organic lunch at Kafe, a cute little spot on JalanHanoman in Ubud, I headed to the Ubud Monkey Forest. Although a well-known destination now, the sacred area is still a great place to visit, cared for by the community of the Pekraman Village, Padangtegal.
The air in Ubud is cool and fresh, which makes walking around the forest a real treat. The natural, calm ambience, under the shade of the towering trees and the sounds of the chirping birds and insects really soothe the soul! I suggest you visit the two temples in the forest, one is found by the river, which you cross by going over an old dragon bridge. The other is found in the Southside of the forest, and the temple has wonderful relief around it – carved stonewalls in true Bali style. Monkeys are usually hanging out around here, watching the visitors – just remember not to feed them as often they come searching for more food.
It was around 4 p.m when I walked out the Monkey Forest and decided to explore the Monkey Forest Road, a stretch of road filled with boutiques and cafes. Shopping in Ubud is interesting, the boutiques are filled with nick-nacks, handicrafts, funny little souvenirs and clothing you wouldn’t find anywhere else!
Reaching the town’s central football field, I dropped into Havana Café for an early dinner. Time flies when you’re exploring, and a Cuban meal was just what I needed. Shortly after, as night fell, I walked but a few minutes to the Ubud Palace and spent an evening enjoying the cultural dances on show.
Text & Photos By Kartika Dewi Suardana