UBUD – Cultural Center OR Spiritual Oasis
In the hills of Bali, between the fields of rice terraces, is the cultural and spiritual center of the island. I had planned to stay two nights in Ubud and I ended up staying six. This community was already known as a destination zone for health and spiritual growth for decades. However, since the “Eat, Pray, Love” movie, this place has become a mecca for a wide range of alternative practices and natural healing.
I met people here from all over Europe, America and Asia on week long to several month retreats. There were a lot of people here for yoga workshops but I also met three people completing intensive week long “colon detox” spa and an entire group of people staying at my hotel doing a ten day mysticism course.
There seemed to be something for everyone and every age here. Vegans and raw food enthusiast would love this place. I have never seen restaurant menus with so many varieties in meal style preparation. I did not even know of the Ayurvedic Diet method and that it was used by some to reach a balance for a particular body type. However, here there are restaurants with a complete section of dishes tailed for this diet on their menu.
It seems as though everyone is out walking in the evening and you can count on live music any night of the week. You will never find yourself lonely in Ubud. There seems to be always someone wanting to socialize.
I went on long walks everyday including walking through the “must see” Monkey Forest. The Monkey Forest is a jungle area near the center of town with hundreds of monkeys. It was pretty but I was more than a bit nervous at times when the diseased infested creatures moved a little to close for comfort.
I also spent parts of four days at the Yoga Barn. I figured it was a good place to try to work on one of my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions to “Try to do yoga again and try to like it.” I figured this had to be a good place to try to work on this goal since all the classrooms overlooked gorgeous gardens. How could I become bored in a class here?
There were yoga sessions every hour on the hour from seven in the morning until six at night. They had a wide selection of yoga styles to choose from–I found one style called Shadow Yoga that I actually really enjoyed. Shadow Yoga incorporated marital arts movements into this style with the focus of intensionally following your shadow with the body movements. So I guess that’s something of my New Year’s list….”Check!”
It is easy to arrange tours from Ubud to see the surrounding area. One day I arranged a half day tour to explore a waterfall and walk through the rice fields. The half day adventure with the driver guide cost twenty dollars.
As we were on our way to the waterfall my guide, Yan Tu, asked me, “Do you like coffee and chocolate?” “Yes. But I like coffee better than chocolate.” I responded. “Have you ever had animal coffee?” “Animal coffee?” I questioned. “I don’t know what that is.” “You know poo.” “Poo?” I shake my head as I try to think. “You know, poo, poo.” Reaching back in my mind for an answer I replied, “You don’t mean coffee like on the movie the Bucket List?”
“Yes, the Bucket List! I love that movie!! Jack Nicholson and Morgan…ah..What’s his name?” Freeman.” I answered. “Yes, yes….Morgan Freeman. Do you know that movie?” “Yes, I have seen the movie. It is one of my favorite’s.” “Yes, well it is that coffee…..Luwak.” I chuckle to myself then answer, “No. I am not drinking that coffee.”
We sat in quiet a couple minutes and I thought– Well, I am back in Asia and have not tried to eat something out out of my comfort zone yet. “Okay, the coffee is on the way from the waterfalls.” “Yes. It is.” “Okay, we can try the coffee.” So yes, while in Ubud I did go to a processor of Kopi Luwak. Coffee made from the fermented coffee beans which have been selected, eaten and exited from the civet before being processed into the most expensive coffee in the world. And I must say it is really quite amazing.
So that was my adventure in the heart of Bali. Are you ready to join me yet or at least share a cup of coffee?