Ubud: A Quiet Treasure in Bali
January 1, 1970
by Kimberlee June
We arrived at Denpasar Airport at 9:45PM on the 24th of August after a really relaxing 6 hour flight from Brisbane in Australia. It was very humid when we arrived and unfortunately, because it was night time, we couldn’t see much of our surroundings. What we were able to see though was beautiful and as we expected completely different to what we have grown up with. Our driver met us at the airport to take us to our accommodation which was 1 hour and 20 minutes away. He was very kind and told us many things about the country and where we were going to stay.
Coco Alami will be our home for 49 days of our 56 day trip and is located just outside of Ubud in Gianyar, the staff lives on the property also and are like a big family. They work together to maintain the property so it is beautiful for the guests, they cook together and offer to teach you how to cook traditional Balinese food, and they celebrate together. Our driver explained to us that Coco Alami is a place of peace, love and meditation. They love nature and care for it and respect what it provides for them, they love the animals that they raise and respect what they give to them as they also love and support each other. He also told us (and we saw for ourselves when we arrived, much to our delight) that they raise their own animals on the property. There are 6 large pigs, 3 medium sized pigs, 7 piglets, about 10 cows, countless chickens and roosters a duck that thinks he’s a chicken which is entertaining to watch along with the different dogs constantly running around. As animal lovers and myself being a vegan we really love being surrounded by the sight, smell and sound of these animals every day. And although it makes us sad we can also respect the way they kill some of these animals for their food. They raise them, they love them and they really respect what the animals sacrifice gives them. There is no cruelty here on this property, only love.
Our first day in Ubud
Ubud is a smaller village compared to other places in Bali that have a large tourist population. Although there is traffic and lots of scooters it isn’t as congested and dangerous as Seminyak for example. The people are so beautiful and friendly, they don’t hassle you much on the streets and I haven’t felt unsafe at all since being here. As someone who has never ridden on a scooter before I can say it is a very exhilarating and scary experience at first, but very fun when you get used to it. Luke does all the driving as I refused to which I am very happy about after experiencing the traffic and drivers here. In saying that he has tried to teach me to drive the scooter and I am not ashamed to admit that I am a terrible scooter driver. If we ever decided to live here though and work it would definitely be necessity as there is not public transport here.
Our first drive into Ubud had one purpose, to locate places of importance. These included the petrol station, a reliable looking money changer with decent exchange rates and a supermarket. I’m going to give you a few tips now regarding each of these places that no one really tells you before your trip.
Petrol Station Tips
1) Get to know your scooter tank size so you can ask for a specific amount of money to be put in rather than asking them to fill it up. For example, Luke will usually ask for 7,000 Rupiah to be put in which will almost fill it up. We do this because they like to rip you off and not give you the correct change back and when you question it they’ll muck around with the money for a bit and try to confuse you.
2) Keep your bag and items close to you and under careful watch. My iPhone was stolen from our bag on one of Luke’s trips to the petrol station, about 4 men were crowding around the scooter while it was being filled up and just took it from the pocket of the backpack. It’s a shame my phone was stolen but at least it wasn’t our passports or our money. It’s best to keep bags in front of you or on the floor of the scooter where your feet go.
Money Changer Tips
One of the biggest queries we had before our trip was whether we should change our money in Australia or while we were Bali. We just couldn’t figure out which way would give us the best exchange rate without losing too much money. After reading about what other people had done previously we decided to withdraw a large chunk of our money from our respective banks in Australia and exchange it over in Bali in $50 lots as we needed it. As we are going to Thailand after Bali doing this helps to ensure we won’t have too much Indonesian rupiah left over that we can’t use it also helps with keeping track of what you’re spending. Also when going to a money changer make sure you go to one with the best rates and also go to one that’s an actual changer with the rates displayed on a screen, never go to a booth because you will definitely get ripped off. Always calculate your money before they give it to you so you know what you will be receiving and count it when they give it to you. Be safe and smart with your money.
Use the supermarkets for general goods like Shampoo and conditioner, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, tea, coffee, sugar etc. You can also buy fresh produce to cook with, but if you do wish to cook I would go with a local to the markets and get them to buy it for you as they will get it cheaper. Overall though it actually works out cheaper to go out for food every day. The supermarket prices target tourists so they’re a lot higher than what local prices would be, everything is a lot cheaper than Australia but once you start getting used to Bali prices even things that started out really cheap to you start to look expensive. Find a cheap local place you love and eat there all the time, because it will always work out cheaper than one shopping trip.
This was just our first day and we had already learnt and seen so much. We’ve only continued to learn and experience more from the locals and our surroundings. Experience is the theme behind this adventure. We wish to experience the people and their lives, the culture, the religion, the history, and the art. We’ve left behind our lives in Australia to embark on this adventure, and I mean this quite literally. We both quit/discontinued jobs that could have taken us far in our chosen careers and said goodbye to our comfortable and familiar lives because we felt a calling to places unknown.
– Welcome to our adventure