Long a hotbed of cultural activity, Ubud has been attracting writers, artists, and musicians long before Elizabeth Gilbert set her love-lorn feet here. Ubud is also a hotbed of health, wellness, and spiritual living, with vegetarian, vegan, and raw eateries, spiritual healers, meditation centers, and a plethora of yoga studios. So yes, basically, it’s my heaven (if it didn’t feel like 42 degrees…). I found a studio with an affordable week pass, and have been going to a variety of yoga classes, and because of all the ex-pats here, all the classes are in English (unlike the one I took recently in Bangkok that was entirely in Thai… that was interesting!). And due to the heat and humidity, every class is like a hot yoga class, which can be challenging.
The streets bustle but feel intimate with flowering Frangipani trees leaning over lovely, moss-covered stone walls, interrupted occasionally by mammoth banyan trees, narrow laneways, and decorative gates leading to temples or homes. Both temples and homes are open air compounds with thick, thatched-roof shrines, towers, and platforms, and statues of Ganesh, Buddha, and other deities. Homes are beautifully and intricately designed, with hibiscus- and orchid-lined pathways leading to the various rooms, buildings, and sitting platforms. The scent of incense is heavy in the air, while bright orange marigold petals and little squares of green banana leaf dot the ground from the many daily offerings to the Balinese Hindu gods. Terraced rice fields sit on the edge of town, and in the distance you can see the imposing, hazy silhouette of volcanoes. Yes, I think I’m smitten with Bali.