Oh, Ubud

An hour and a half north of Canguu, Bali is a small town known as Ubud. You may recognize this name from the famous book/movie, Eat. Pray. Love. This is where Elizabeth Gilbert finds her zen and learns how to meditate and pray the Bali way. Hundreds of yogis from around the world go to Ubud for teacher training or yoga retreats. The vibe is very calm and every store smells like you’re walking into a yoga studio, sweaty with a hint of essential oils.

Every month, We Roam organizes a small excursion for the entire team and this month was a day trip to the Ubud Rice Terraces and Monkey Sanctuary. I was especially interested in the terraces because I’ve been watching the farmers beside our guesthouse and was curious about the process.  Also, growing up on a farm I always find it interesting to see the way of life for other farmers.

I made the mistake of dressing in a polyester romper this day, thinking I’d try to look cute for pictures. News flash… The sun actually shines in Ubud and it’s spicy. I was sweating bullets before we even started trekking.  The first view was breathtaking. Lush green palm trees and layers upon layers of terraces go deeper and higher than I could have imagined. We trekked all the way down and all the way back up.

The farmers had just harvested all of the rice and started prepping for a new round. Each plant is hand placed and in perfect straight rows.  I offered to help the farmers beside our guesthouse but my dad must have sent them a picture of my tilling skills – they kindly declined.

At all hours of the day I’ll see a farmer till the ground with a contraption that requires a lot of manual work, pushing this awkward machine through a foot of water. They make this look so easy AND it’s 85+ degrees with 100% humidity. No machinery, no GPS, no animals. Crazy.  I’ve seen up to 4 individuals hand planting a field, they’ll start in the late afternoon and by morning acres will be planted. They each wear rice hats that are big enough to shade their shoulders.  I admire their work ethic and perseverance. I have a hard time walking the streets to shop when it’s that hot, let alone plant an entire terrace. When I think of Bali, I’ll think of these rice terraces. They line every road and they seem to be the way of life and a main source of income for most families.

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Bona Kubu Rice Terrace

This rice terrace is located right beside the guest house I stayed in the month of January. I tried to help them but no dice. 

Our next stop on the We Roam excursion happened to be the Monkey Sanctuary. Before going I really hadn’t given it much thought and assumed it would be fun.. but certain individuals scared the crap out of me before going in. The rules 1: Hold your bag tight, or they’ll unzip it and steal your stuff. 2. Don’t look them in the eye, they’ll bite you 3. Don’t scream if they jump on you…. Uhh yea, ok. The first monkey I laid eyes on ended up jumping on some random guy, taking his water bottle and pouncing on a tree looking for his next victim. Like I said in my last post, they’re not cute. I think they look like rodents and some of them have FANGS!! I power walked through this sanctuary holding my back pack tight and right out the exit. I wasn’t about to let some monkey touch me and wanted my “free time” to start early so I could explore the market. Several other Roamers spent a great deal of time there. Why? Who knows. I was so thankful to be out of there and planned to never return.. or so I thought.

This is clearly a girl but her face screams old man. 

This is clearly a girl but her face screams old man. 

Megan, new Roamer friend, had several friends come into town and Ubud was at the top of their list, specifically a visit to the… you guessed it, Monkey Sanctuary. We had already planned an overnight stay in Ubud so we changed up our schedule to kill two birds with one stone.

On our way to Ubud we stopped at the famous Tegenungan waterfall. Unfortunately, Bali had received two horrible rain storms which caused a lot of flooding. We didn’t so much see crystal clear water but a waterfall that looked like chocolate milk. We weren’t allowed to swim as the current was so bad and we would have been swept away.  I’m not sure it was worth the stop so maybe if you ever decide to visit Ubud, go during their dryer season.

We took her friends back to the Rice Terraces. It was just as breathtaking the second time around. It was a joy to see how much the terraces had changed since visiting two weeks prior.  For anyone considering a trip to the Rice Terrace expect to pay 15,000 RP to get in and give a donation at two different stops throughout the terrace.

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On our way back from Gili T the day before, we were all talking about the famous “Cat Poo Coffee” so we made a group decision to try it out while in Ubud. We were under the impression a cat ate some coffee beans, did the deed and then some brewing took place. A deliquesce to the Balinese. We couldn’t leave Bali without trying “Cat Poo Coffee,” so we were on the hunt. Our driver took us to Merta Herum Lewak Coffee where we received a tour of the plantation and learned the proper ways Lewak Coffee is made. Let me give you a brief description of the process.

  1. A coffee plant produces what looks like small cherries and the coffee bean is inside, similar to the pit of an avocado.
  2. They feed these cherries to a Civit (Not a CAT!)
  3. The Civit … you know.. #2
  4. The coffee beans are washed, roasted and ground

I did try the coffee and I wouldn’t say it was any better than what I get at Starbucks or McDonald's. Yes, I said it and I’m not sorry. Now that I’ve had to reflect back I think this form of coffee creation is just cruel. The Civits are living in a cage and forced to eat the coffee beans (I’ve learned they also feed them bananas and other fruits.) I’m not a fan of any animal being kept in a cage, let alone for some freaking coffee that really isn’t that great. However, the plantation itself was gorgeous. They gave us a taste of all the different types of coffees and teas they produce from the plantation. It was quiet the experience.  I probably won’t drink Lewak coffee again but at least I can say I tried. I believe others in the crew really enjoyed it. 

After caffeinating our souls, the crew was hell bent on seeing the dern monkeys so I willingly went back. Megan’s friend, Nate, wanted to get a picture with a monkey so, he was teasing one with an empty banana peal. When the monkey realized there was nothing inside, he bit Nate. We were all cracking up. Nate was so concerned he had rabies the rest of the day. I’m pretty sure at one point he said “I feel faint… Do you think it’s rabies?” Can I say “Told you so?”

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At this point, the day had been long and it was time to relax. The guys had to fly out so they left and Megan and I went to Jannata Resort and Spa. Next blog post.