Bali, Indonesia: Ubud and Uluwatu Fun Stories, What I Did, What I Learned, and What I Recommend
Bali Destination #3: Ubud
Where I Stayed: Airbnb
The next morning we were up bright and early to catch our boat from Nusa Lembongan back to Bali to start making our way to Ubud. We got off the boat in Sanur and took a taxi to our villa.
Our villa was absolutely unbelievable. It had 3 bedrooms with full bathrooms, a pool, a kitchen, a staff, and it was completely private. The best part was that it was only $33 each for the night! We were greeted by our head staff guy, Gede, with delicious fresh pineapple juice served right from the fruit. Once we got there and finished running around exploring the place, we were off to do some sight seeing. We were only going to be in Ubud for one night and we had things that needed to be checked off our list.
Our first stop was the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Not gonna lie – it was kind of scary. We were holding water bottles and the monkeys weren’t shy about coming up to us and trying to swipe them right out of our hands. I was shocked about how many of them were running around everywhere. Big and small, old and young, the monkeys were everywhere we looked. The sanctuary itself was pretty too. There was a lot of temple architecture and greenery throughout. At one point, a monkey jumped up onto Connor’s head and started sifting through his hair looking for bugs! It was funny until he started biting him…
When we were done with the monkeys, the crew headed back to our villa and Sage and I stayed in the city to do a little exploring and take a yoga class at Yoga Barn. We had heard great reviews and after seeing that Balinese man do his practice on the beach in Nusa, we were excited to participate in a little meditation. We had an hour to kill before the class started so we walked around to some shops nearby and practiced our haggling as we purchased some gifts for our family and friends. It was kind of fun to be on our own for a little while. We relied on the boys so much through the whole trip to navigate for us and find the fun spots, so it was nice to be forced to do it for ourselves for once. We successfully found where we needed to go and made it back to the villa in one piece, so go us!
Yoga Barn was beautiful. The studio space was enormous and elevated high off the ground. It was an open concept space so it felt as though you were outside and it had plenty of natural light. There were no mirrors anywhere so it was nice to not be constantly aware of what you look like in the poses and looking in the mirror to try to correct yourself. The class that we went to was a 90 minute Vinyasa flow and our instructor, Michael, was so cheery and friendly. At one point a lizard fell from the ceiling onto the ground and Michael pounced on it to release it back outside. It was crazy. The class was clearly geared to please the foreign tourists who attend. It was filled with people from all over the world, so it was really cool to be meditatively connected to so many different people. We felt an unspoken unity with everyone as we chanted our “ohms.”
Once class was over, Sage and I rushed home because we made an appointment for masseuses to come to our villa and give us massages. This was going to be an ultimate evening of relaxation! They were there when we got home with the mats all laid out and ready to go. We got many massages while we were in Bali, but this one was hands down the best. Our villa staff arranged it for us so I’m not sure what made them contact these particular women, but the techniques that they used in this one stood out in comparison to the other massages that we got on the trip. It was also fun to all be getting massages in a line at once in the privacy of our own home.
By the time we were done, it was dinner time but we found ourselves in a bit of a dilemma. We knew that this would be our only night in this gorgeous villa and we wanted to get full use out of it, but we were a little ways outside the city and there weren’t many options nearby as far as food goes. We decided to take a walk to see what we could find and quickly realized that our best options would be to buy food from these people that set up little stands on the side of the road. Bali street meat – hooray! (yikes). The lady that we got food from had a little fire going and was cooking right there on the dark road. She didn’t speak any English so trying to figure out what the heck she was making was interesting. We definitely know that we got rice and pork, but the third thing we got was a little unidentifiable. She was saying the word “fig” but I’m fairly confident that those WERE NOT figs. It was also the spiciest thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. We were guzzling beverages between every bite and sweat was pouring down our bodies. It was delicious but it was HOT!
This night in Bali was one of my favorite nights because we all just went crazy. We got a lot of Bintangs and a bottle of Arak – the liquor of Bali – and all just got blackout drunk in our villa. I’m pretty sure that we shattered about 5 beer bottles throughout the night. We kept blocking off areas in the kitchen and saying “wear shoes over here,” and “ahh over here too guys!” We were all laughing hysterically, swimming in the pool, playing “would you rather,” blasting music, and just genuinely enjoying life and each other’s company. We had already accomplished so much and done so much traveling around and it was exhilarating to realize that the fun was just continuing and knowing that we still hadn’t even made our way to Uluwatu yet, which was the place we were most excited for.
The next morning, I was sure that we were going to get in trouble to trashing the place the night before, but when we woke up the villa was already spotless! And the staff had our breakfast ready! It was actually great because we were all wildly hungover and unable to function. We knew that we couldn’t check into our Uluwatu villa until late afternoon, so we wanted to use the rest of our time in Ubud to explore a few more things. We could tell the boys weren’t really into the idea of being productive that morning, but Sage, Lindsay, and I forced them to come to the Tegalalang Rice Terrace with us. It was the thing that Lindsay most wanted to see on this trip so there was no way we were leaving Ubud without doing it.
It was a really hot day and none of us were feeling well, but the rice terraces were worth the pain. They were so green and we had fun climbing around on them. We were interacting with some of the people that worked there and talking to other people who were exploring and having fun taking pictures in a place that made us feel like we were in Jurassic Park.
It didn’t take long to feel like we fully conquered this, so doing it in the morning right before leaving Ubud was the right move. It was time to get out of the “city” though and get back to a place by the ocean. Our next stop was Uluwatu and we couldn’t be more ready to explore one of the top surf locations of Bali.
We left our villas shouting suksma to Gede for being so great to us. And because I felt bad that we were so rowdy the night before. To our surprise they left us a great review on Airbnb saying that we were very friendly and polite. Brownie points for the suksmas!!
Lesson #4 of the trip: Suksma.
Our new favorite word. It means thank you and was literally the only Indonesian word that we knew. And since the Balinese are so kind, we were saying thank you pretty frequently. It was so cute to see how happy they got when we said it. They clearly appreciated our slight effort to speak their language and would give us these big smiles from ear to ear. I think they were also kind of laughing at us because I’m sure it was funny for them to hear us singing the word constantly with our American accents.
Bali Destination #4: Uluwatu
Where I Stayed – Airbnb – Villa Awan
And off we went to another sweet villa. We took a taxi from Ubud to Uluwatu and once again somehow managed to shove 6 large bags, 6 small bags, and 6 bodies into another vehicle. Every time we did this, Cameron did the best job at packing and then Connor somehow managed to snag the front seat…not sure how that happened.
When we got to the villa, there was someone there to show us around and leave us our note from Irene (our trendy Balinese airbnb host) that explained where to rent motorbikes and some rules of the house. It was already kind of late that day and everyone was still fighting through the hangover pain after a long morning at the rice terraces and then traveling, so we went to Single Fin – a place overlooking the ocean that we’d read about to get some food and try to watch the sunset (which were never good the entire time we were there btw).
When we got home we were all falling asleep and it started pouring rain. Connor found a bootleg copy of the movie War Dogs and we all gathered around to watch it. After 2 hours of fighting off sleep to watch a terrible copy of this movie with Balinese subtitles, the bootleg cut out before the last five minutes were over. We were ready for bed.
The next morning the guys went to the grocery store to get some food to make us for breakfast, Cameron whipped us up a lovely meal (he was the chef of Uluwatu) and we were ready for another day of exploring. The first place we went was Pura Luhur Uluwatu, a water temple that is believed to be one of the six pillar temples of Bali. This temple was completely different than the Mother Temple that we saw in Candidasa. We were able to casually walk around the temple and take in the beauty without being harassed and bombarded by guards trying to get money from us. And the cliff views of the water were spectacular.
Next we went to Nyang Nyang – a secluded beach that we’d heard about – and we stood out on a cliff that was overlooking it. It would’ve been cool to make our way down onto it but we opted out of that climb. My favorite part of going here was the ride there. We had to motorbike down this tiny little path the could only fit one bike at a time and we got stuck behind a local who was riding his bike with a giant basket of stuff on his head.
After that we were ready to finally hit the beach and relax for a little. We spent the last few hours of the day at Padang Padang – one of the popular beaches that was closer to our villa. We swam in the ocean and got lunch at this little beachfront spot, Lopo, where we had our daily dose of Mei Goreng.
Then it was gameplan time. We knew that we had the villa and we wanted to make use of it so we decided to hit the supermarket. We bought rice and veggies and a ton of Bintangs and liquor and shoved everything into our backpacks for the motorbike ride back home. Cam whipped us up another delicious meal, we cracked open our Bintangs and started just drinking and hanging out. We were playing Uno and before we knew it a few hours had gone by, we were all pretty drunk, and we were out of alcohol…
There was a minor altercation after a disagreement about being too drunk to drive that ended with some bad vibes among the group so we decided to split up. Brad, Connor, and I decided to leave the villa and take a walk to find some more beer for everyone. We made our trek down the ginormous hill when we finally got to the bottom and could hear music and saw lights at a beach down below us. We saw some girls who had just left the party and insisted that we had to check it out.
When we got down to the beach we found a huge stage with a Balinese band playing, a small bar off to the side, and a ton of people. The one problem – all of our friends were still back at the house! Since our phones didn’t work, I started running around the party asking to borrow everyone’s phone. I was trying everything – texting, Facebook, anything that might work to get in touch with the people at the house. Unfortunately nothing worked. We decided to get beers and enjoy the show for awhile. I was talking to a bunch of different people that were from all over the world and dancing around the sand when suddenly I realized something. I no longer had my phone…
We did a few laps around the beach to retrace our steps but I knew there was no way we were going to find it. There were tons of people there and we were in the sand and it was pitch black out. We were running around with the flashlight from Brad’s phone and I was telling everyone that if they found a phone it was mine. I was sure we were doomed and that all of my pictures from the whole trip were gone forever.
I had just about given up on this situation and I was ready to accept that Bali took my phone. I knew I had it coming after making it out of the wreck unscathed. That’s when the miracle happened – Connor all of a sudden emerges from the darkness with my phone in his hand! He somehow stepped on it when we were walking around and decided to check it out and dug it out of the sand. The phone was a little sandy but it was working perfectly otherwise. The chances were one in a million so naturally I was screaming with happiness. I was so excited and yelling that karma is real. I was trying so hard to keep positive vibes through this trip and felt like nothing but good things kept happening. To me, this was proof that you get back whatever attitude you put out and I was pumped about it.
We did a few more happy dances at the beach party and then started to feel guilty that we left the rest of the group at the house and managed to find so much fun. We left the party and climbed back up the mountain and jumped straight in the pool when we got back. Sage, Lindsay, and Cam seemed fine. They apparently started having a heart to heart conversation that Cam initiated? Not really sure but I was told that some deep life topics came up. For a group of people that basically started out as strangers, we were clearly getting very comfortable with each other by the end of the trip.
The next day was our last full day in Bali and we had some big plans. We were off to a bit of a rough start – I was super hungover and laid dead on the couch all morning trying to force down a dry pancake that Lindsay had made for the team. She told us later in the day that she accidentally used the tap water to make them, so thanks Linds for almost killing us.
Once we were able to pull it together, we were back on the bikes and ready for the last of our adventures. We spent most of the afternoon on Green Bowl beach – a small secluded beach at the bottom of a mountain that required climbing down and then up a million stairs (per usual). The beach is famous for these huge caves that you can go into and see offerings that people have left for the gods and a lot of bats that were hanging on the ceilings.
We hung out and relaxed in the sun and swam in the ocean for a few hours before making our way back towards our villa. It was Sunday and we knew that there was a big surf party at Single Fin that night that we wanted to go to. We had a couple of hours left before we needed to go home so we went back towards Padang Padang. I was insisting that we have at least one Nalu Bowl before leaving Bali. I had seen them all over Bali and it was the one thing I was desperate to try. It was delicious as could be expected.
We stopped at the market again to pick up all of our supplies so that Cam could cook for us again and went home to eat dinner, get ready, and pregame before heading to the bar. After a few hours of hanging out and drinking at the villa we headed to Single Fin around 7:30. This party was sooo fun and rowdy. It was outdoors on the deck with a DJ and lights, and there were people there from all over getting wasted. We were talking to people from Australia, Portugal, and other places telling our stories about what we did during our amazing week in Bali.
We were there for a couple of hours when all of a sudden Lindsay grabbed my wrist and was like “Casey, I’m not okay.” She was all of a sudden wayyyy too drunk. I went to the bar to get her a bottle of water and Sage, Cam, and I took her to the outskirts of the party where she could get some air. It was pretty clear that she was going to throw up so after Cam put her hair into the best bun I’ve ever seen, Sage and I took her to the bathroom so that she could puke. This is when it became decision making time for me and Sage. Lindsay clearly wasn’t going to make it but we obviously couldn’t send her home alone when she’s wasted in Southeast Asia.
Thank goodness our villa wasn’t far from Single Fin because we decided to take her home to put her to bed and come back to the party. It was only 9:30pm at this point and we weren’t done yet. So we got refills on our drinks, dragged Linds out to the parking lot, haggled a bunch of different people until we got a good deal on a roundtrip ride to our villa, tucked Lindsay in, and jetted back to the bar as fast as we could.
After that, we pretty much spent the rest of our night on the dancefloor. The guys were a big hit going crazy in their hawaiian shirts drawing all of the attention to themselves with their crowd pleasing dance moves. We made friends with this one guy in particular. His name was Luke and he had this thick long hair and awesome hawaiian shirts so he of course got along with Cam and Connor. Luke was European and at the bar with his dad who was also wasted and hilarious. At one point he asked this cute girl where her mom is and we absolutely lost it.
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend our last night of the vacation. We crushed it.
And then it was finally our last day in Bali. We hung around the villa and packed up our things in the morning before it was time to head to the airport. Connor and Cam had a trip to Sri Lanka planned, but we were happy to have Brad join our travel team for the long journey home. After 30 hours we finally made it back to New York City itching to take another trip as soon as possible.
Click here to read about the beginning of my trip in Candidasa and Nusa Lembongan!
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