After spending my first few nights in Seminyak Bali, followed by a two night stay in Canggu it was time to check out of my hotel and head inland to the popular destination of Ubud.
This article details the following aspects of my visit to Ubud.
Desak Putu Putera Cottages
Overall Destination Rating
Ubud is known as the cultural heart of Bali and a magnet for those who seek out alternative therapies, natural environs, artisan crafts and holistic lifestyles. Ubud burst onto the tourism horizon when in 2006 American author Elizabeth Gilbert released her memoir detailing her journey around the world after divorce from her then husband to ‘rediscover’ herself.
The movie rights to the book were purchased and in 2010 the movie was released starring actress Julia Roberts. Since that time, a number of local travel operators featuring 'EPL' - Eat, Pray, Love experiences, burst onto the scene and took advantage of the growing momentum created by the book and subsequent movie release.
However, like most things in Hollywood all is not what it seems. Perhaps way back in 2005 or so, Ubud provided visitors with a unique experience but sadly in my personal experience those days have gone.
Ubud Fast Facts
Ubud's history dates back to the 8th century with much of its cultural history to be found close by as visitors explore the town itself. Temples and monasteries are dotted throughout including unique and fascinating locations including Goa Gajah, Chapel of Mother Goddess - Rajarajeshwari Tripurasundari and Puri Saren Agung, also known as the Royal Palace or Water Palace, just to name a few.
Due to its elevation at 200 metres above sea level, Ubud boasts a mild climate much cooler to that experienced along the coastal areas of the island. For those who appreciate a cooler climate, Ubud is well suited to those seeking relief from the humid conditions in Bali.
Getting To Ubud
Getting to Ubud from other areas of Bali is easily achieved by private taxi, for example costing around IDR270,000 or the equivalent of AUD$27.00
Its worth mentioning, that Blue Bird Taxis and other service providers including Uber are prohibited from venturing into the town of Ubud which is serviced by the local private taxi operators who have formed a co-operative to service the local market.
After checking out of the Kirana Hotel Resto and Spa in Canggu, I booked a private transfer at a cost of IDR200,000 - around AUD$20 for the 1.5-hour drive to Ubud. The journey was pleasant and relaxing for the most part, and the traffic ticked along at a reasonable pace until we hit the outskirts of Ubud.
Ubud is an urban nightmare for pedestrians and motorists alike, the town is loved each and every day, to within an inch of its life. It's seams are bursting with humanity and without some reprieve in the street conditions, sadly I think many will leave with memories vastly different from those which they had envisioned.
Desak Putu Putera Cottages Accommodation
Situated in the heart of Ubud Desak Putu Putera Cottages provide a sanctuary away the hustle and bustle of the action of the nearby streets outside. The resort is warm and friendly and the environs inviting. There are a range of accommodation options in Ubud to be sure, so you may ask why in fact I chose to stay at Desak Putu Putera Cottages?
Jungle Frog Restaurant - Calamari Rings IDR45,000
Named after the matriarch of the family – Desak this grand lady can be seen each and every morning preforming blessings in and around the resort. The family own and operate 2 other hotels in the area, one being a homestay run by the matriarch herself who is in her 80’s.
My reservation was for a two-night stay including breakfast at a total cost of AUD$160.00 The resort is situated in the heart of Ubud, and just a short walk from the Ubud Monkey Forest.
Like most people I put a lot of consideration into where I’m going to stay before booking a reservation, after all it’s one of the most important considerations for any traveler. Having researched using my preferred booking engine, Booking.com – the resort rated highly, acquiring a 9 overall for guest satisfaction.
I wasn’t disappointed - in fact far from it. From the moment I arrived the Reception staff made me feel welcome and wanted. My room – a Super Deluxe Double was exceedingly larger than expected with plenty of open space, and featured a king-sized bed shrouded in netting.
One of the biggest surprises was the bathroom. It would have to be the largest I’ve ever seen in a standard room configuration, and featured a large solid stone carved bath, deeper, wider and longer than any standard hotel bath.
One topic worth speaking of is the water. I happened to overhear a couple speaking about the smell emanating from their bathroom. They were concerned it may be sewerage related. However, this is not the case. Bali is a volcanic island and as such the water table travels along underground and it naturally comes into contact with mineral deposits.
The smell emanating from the bathroom is caused by sulphur water, as the water contains high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide gas in the town water supply. The smell is unpleasant - like rotten eggs, however its not harmful to bath or shower in. The water in Bali is not suitable for drinking no matter where guests choose to stay.
Pool Area - - Desak Putu Putera Cottages, Ubud, Bali
The cottages are terraced throughout the property and provide privacy for those seeking peace and relaxation without feeling interrupted by fellow guests. Each cottage features double opening sliding glass doors fitted with floor to ceiling curtains.
For those thinking how they might navigate the stairs to access the terraced cottages, there’s no need to be concerned, as rooms can be requested along the top tiers affording easy access to the restaurant. Alternatively, those with a poolside preference may choose a cottage poolside, and opt to have their meals served by the pool.
Jungle Frog Restaurant - Desak Putu Putera Cottages, Ubud, Bali
After checking in guests walk down the terraced steps and first come into contact with the Jungle Frog Restaurant which serves a delicious breakfast each morning. Throughout the day staff are on hand to provide guests with a range of dining options, cocktails or a refreshing fruit beverage by the pool.
The restaurant is spacious and open, featuring a thatched roof and bespoke hand-crafted table furniture, which adds to the overall feel of being in a natural environment.
The restaurant opens from 6.00pm each evening through until 10.00pm. Meals are freshly prepared and are well priced. The staff interact with the guests and are keen to practise their English language skills, making it mutually beneficial as I attempt to grasp some key Bahasa Indonesian phrases during my journey.
Stepping further down the terraced grounds one gets the experience of being in a rainforest, as the canopy rises high above. Delightful and relaxing, the environment is green with a range of exotic plants and bird life surrounding. No matter where guests are situated around the resort, they are provided with a genuine sense of inner calm.
It was easy to spend a couple of hours poolside under an umbrella watching the birds dipping into the water without even realizing it - as I did.
Jungle Frog Restaurant Prices Current September 2017
On reaching the swimming pool area, guests can relax on a reclining lounge by the pool or opt to seat at one of the tables. The wait staff will be happy to take your order and return promptly with a fresh cold pressed juice or maybe an Arak cocktail.
I’ve been asked why I waited so long to travel to Bali and the reason has been explained previously – as the bogan factor. Why travel to a foreign destination only to be amongst the hordes of fellow Aussies abroad?
However, I have to say, to date my experience in other regions including Seminyak and Canggu, Ubud is the complete opposite. As I write I’m seated in the garden area adjacent to the restaurant which is packed with overseas visitors, none of which are Australian.
Speaking with the Manager he confirms the majority of guests come from Europe, including France, Germany and Eastern European countries with a few Aussies staying from time to time.
We discussed the congested traffic situation in Ubud and he mentioned the local tourism board have a solution which includes the creation of a dedicated parking precinct nearby which will accommodate parking for local vendors working in the centre of the town.
This new initiative will relieve congestion significantly allowing traders to park their vehicles and motorbikes nearby, which will drastically change the travel experience for visitors to the area.
It’s expected this change will be implemented within the next 2 years. Currently it’s incredibly difficult to navigate, either on foot or by motorised means to make your way around the town.
Fresh Food Market - Ubud, Bali
I braved the early morning traffic and took a wander around Ubud stopping at the local food market along the way to watch the vendors selling their wares. A number of fully escorted tour groups were present at the same exploring the market.
Indoor Area Fresh Food Market - Ubud, Bali
The town is full of many great restaurants serving local and international food. The usual collection of shops selling souvenirs, locally produced art and carvings are in abundance.
Overall Destination Rating
Ubud is not for the faint hearted, you need a solid 'ticker' (heart) and a brave resolve to tackle the streets of Ubud and make the mad dash between the traffic when crossing the streets.
The town is a hive of activity and it's humming to the beat of car horns and other traffic noise. Don't get me wrong Ubud is a great destination however for those seeking relaxation and solitude on the streets of Ubud, disappointment awaits.
Older persons who may have difficulty walking or navigating narrow sidewalks and exposed drains consequently a night time walk is best avoided.
For those looking to experience Ubud for themselves, I highly recommend a stay at Desak Putu Cottages for its proximity to the all attractions and its ability to provide an oasis in the otherwise crazy environment of Ubud central.
Finally, a nod to the staff at Desak Putu Putera Cottages for their professional approach to their work, their friendly and gracious approach to guests and their wonderful sense of humor.