I had read so much about Ubud and had even heard about this little town from a dear friend. And here I am, sitting at the cafe of my guesthouse, Jati Home Stay (Wi-Fi is freely available at most cafés), after a long day of walking around and, of course, the press meet for the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2014.
I arrived last night and was booked for a night at Honeymoon guesthouse, one of the many properties owned by the festival director Janet De Neefe. Staying in a traditional Balinese villa, although just for a night, was such a treat. I find it a bit daunting to arrive at a new destination in the dark of the night when travelling solo. I took a little walk outside and chanced upon Nick’s Pension, where I devoured a meaty club sandwich after travelling for hours from Mumbai. Yes, the adventurous side in me was dulled. But I knew I had plenty of time to sample Indonesian cuisine at its best.
Each room has a huge, ornately carved patio—something that I only noticed once I woke up. It was here that I thoroughly enjoyed a strong cup of Balinese coffee and felt much better, ready to take on the day. The rooms are clean and the bathrooms rustic, while breakfasts are as perfect as can be. I had to check that day as their rooms were already pre-booked but all went well as I would soon come to see.
I’ve been meeting many new people, mostly writers, many of whom are from Australia given its proximity to Ubud, as well as journalists from Jakarta and Bangkok. The town is a small one, so you can walk around if you have time to spare. But since I’ve to be at festival venues, some of which are over 15 minutes away, I’ve decided to take a ride every morning.
I had some free time today and spent it walking around the new place in which I checked into – Jati Homestay – run by the family of the famed artist Nyoman Dewa Jati.
The family lives in several houses in the same courtyard as the guesthouse. It was a pleasure to have met one of them, Budi, also an artist who is clearly inspired by nature.
Outside, there’s much to do: stroll along Jalan Hanoman road and browse through the many cute stores, or dine at one of the cafés. Well settled into the place, I finally ate my first Indonesian meal. The Nasi Goreng at Atman Cafe is a must-try, even though the cafe seems to offer a wide range of vegan food. Pair that with a Bintang and you’ll feel like you’re well settled in! Naturally, I was tempted to do a bit of shopping. But I figured that looking around near the Monkey Forest Road would throw up some better deals. Many of the stores that sell beautiful jewellery, yoga attire and knick-knacks are run by expats. In between all this are the many souvenir stores that if well sifted through can produce some great buys, like hand-made fans with lovely prints that are perfect for the scorching afternoons here. I’m definitely getting one of those!
Today’s been one busy day, shuffling between guest houses, attending the press meet, window shopping, getting stuck in traffic behind a never ending Hindu festival procession (more on that in another blog post!), spending some quiet time reading, and finally eating a delicious dinner of Nasi Goreng. Still, life seems so slow here. Can’t wait for tomorrow!