Considering I’ve spent 2 weeks in and around Ubud, time to share some of the highlights I’ve observed and experienced. Some I have photos for, some I do not – I’m not always fast enough with the camera.

Motorbikes, mopeds, scooters – this island is over run with them. I’m told the ‘regulation’ is that you must be 17 to drive one. But I’ve seen many a child much younger than 17 riding them – sometimes even driving their parents around. I’ve also seen families of 4 on one bike – who knew they were also a family vehicle! I’ve seen more stuff piled onto one than I ever thought possible. And girls/women riding in the back like to sit side-saddle – sometimes with stuff piled up on their heads. Wish I had photos for all of the above, but afraid not. Given the small size of the roads here, it’s definitely the best way to get around if where you’re going isn’t walking distance.

Ubud – Known a the ‘cultural centre’ of Bali, there are artists everywhere and a good number of art galleries. I didn’t actually visit any, so I can’t comment on those. Not all artists here are visual artists – there are musicians, dancers and writers too. And all this filters into all aspects of life here – there are restaurants and cafe’s that host literary evenings, art shows, etc. Other than that…. At the main intersection of the central roads in the city lies the Royal Family’s palace. I finally went in to see the areas they allow visitors to see.

Walking down the Streets of Ubud can sometimes feel like you’re taking a chance with your life…the motorbikes, cars, tour buses and pedestrians all vying for the same space – remember, the roads are not very wide. But even so, if there’s a ceremony to be conducted…it happens…and the procession will make its way down the main street. Traffic comes to a standstill, and can be mayhem to clear, but everyone understands and no one gets upset.

I was sitting in a cafe along the main road on Saturday, at about 6pm. And suddenly....here comes the procession. The temple they were going to is on the main corner (opposite the Royal Palace).

Although the buildings/shops are really close together, there are little lanes that pop up. Do yourself a favor and have a look as you never know what that lane opens up to.

Also in the centre of the city is a lotus garden. It has the lotus cafe on one side of it, with tables overlooking the garden. On the other side…..Starbucks. That’s right, there’s a Starbucks here. I’m only happy to see that they’ve at least modified their sign to fit in with the local aesthetic (it’s wood on wood instead of the green sign).

The Lotus Garden by day.

The Lotus Garden at dusk - even prettier. And all set up for a traditional dance show.

We allowed ourselves to be 'that tourist' and each bought a Starbucks Bali mug. What can I say, it's a nice mug. With it you get a free coffee - I don't drink coffee, so Jacques had two.

I’m always surprised when I travel to far away places to see what from the ‘west’ makes its way there. In Korea it was Dunkin’ Donuts, they were everywhere. Here?

The Circle K... Really??? But they are everywhere. It made Jacques and I laugh. And nobody here even knows about Bill and Ted's excellent adventure...

Ubud’s first ‘modern restaurant’ was opened by Murni in 1974 – that’s right, 1974. She still owns and runs the restaurant and in fact now also has a few guest houses and a spa. I had to have at least one meal there. It was delicious. And I particularly liked the menu – where the front page tells you that they do not use any MSG but….

I love that they go for taste. I also love that they let you know that sometimes the service is just slow for no reason. It was not slow when I was there.

It’s easy to spend time walking the streets of Ubud and even doing a little shopping. It’s also easy to cycle or walk the countryside and villages that surround it. About 10 minutes from where I’m staying is a village that still has the old, old original walls around its family compounds.

It is just so pretty.

The entrance to Pancasila village

The entrance to Pancasila village

And my favourite part about wandering around the countryside – the children. Choruses of “hello, how are you, what is your name, my name is…., good afternoon, good morning” – it’s like they’re simply repeating all the English they’ve learned to date. On my last bike ride I came across a group of 4 boys who giggled non stop, kept yelling out hello, and when I stopped to chat two were too shy to do so. Even after they were out of sight I could hear them laughing and repeating all the English they know.

Good morning. Good afternoon. How are you. What is your name....

So fricken cute.

And then there’s a little area above Ubud called Penestanan. This is where you’ll find ‘artists houses for rent’ when they are off the island. Some cute cafes, and yoga Yoga has definitely infiltrated Ubud. Seems they are catering to the yogi traveler. The best way to get to Penestanan is to climb the stairs from the main road and then just walk the little paths/streets.

The stairs up to Penestanan

You know you're getting close to a yoga studio when these signs start popping up.

As you can see, there’s plenty to keep a girl busy meandering through Ubud and its surroundings. Merci Ubud and the House of Singing Bamboo.