There isn’t much not to love about Ubud. It’s quaint and has the vibe of a very chilled town – much like Hoi An in Vietnam – despite the fact that every corner you turn you’ll run into people asking if you want a taxi or motorcycle. I originally booked two nights here but after one day Omar and I decided to finish our trip here. The weather is the same as the other places I’ve been in Indonesia – blistering hot day and night. I’m actually blogging at a nearby Starbucks as its the only place I know of that has awesome AC and wifi! The hostel I’m staying at has an interesting setup for dorms. We are in a 4 bed room, which sounds great and all, but there’s two rooms beside us; one to the left and one to the right, that’s also 4 bed dorms. The issue is that to enter those two rooms you must cut through our room. And the bathroom in our room? No it’s not strictly for our room – it’s for the other two rooms to use as well. As a result, it’s more of a 12 person dorm but with walls separating it into 4 bed dorms. So it’s kind of annoying in the early mornings with people coming into your “room” to use the bathroom since you think it’s your own…but hey that’s what you get when you pay $9CAD a night (and no AC either)!
Meet momma Pia and her son Zaki – this Danish duo is exploring Indonesia for slightly over a month. Pia is retired and her 35 year old son Zaki is a singer/songwriter and actor in Copenhagen. He actually is on Netflix for a series I can’t remember the name of…we met these two at the port returning from the Gili islands and we happened to be sharing a van to Ubud. In the van Zaki was talking about taking mushrooms on the island and Omar is looking nervously between Zaki and his mom thinking she would give him shit. “Nah man, my mom don’t care too much. I think she understands because she was kind of a hippie growing up” Zaki assures Omar and I.
Meet Louise – an early 30s actress and singer/songwriter also from Copenhagen, Denmark! While in the van into Ubud stuck in traffic Zaki goes “I think I know that girl…” So Omar knocks on the window from inside the van. Louise looks at us confused, unable to clearly see through the tinted windows “do I know you?” She asks Omar as he rolls the window down and the van slowly driving off. Later that evening while at dinner with Zaki and Pia, Zaki mentions that it indeed is a girl he knows from back home, confirmed via Facebook message with her. Louise then comes joins us for dinner and explains how they know each other “we both were cast for a tv show to be boyfriend/girlfriend! It’s too bad the series never went through with production though hey Zaki!?”.
Meet 19 year olds Annie and Julia from Germany. These two minx’s were our dorm roomies at the hostel and when they’re not on their phones you’ll catch them sleeping or eating. In their gap year, these two are still undecided on what to study but Julia is leaning towards design. These two only speak German to each other most of the time so Omar and I would throw in random German sayings to annoy them and get them to speak English. “We are like two peas in a pod” I told the girls about Omar and I. What I didn’t know was it would take some explanation of the metaphor to have these girls understand. Or the time I said that Google photos is a “game changer”…”you Canadians have messed up English” says Julia.
Meet Lucy and Stacey – 26 year olds paediatric nurses from England. Met these two sweethearts as part of the sunrise hike up Batur Volcano. Started their trip in SE Asia with G adventures and came to Indonesia after that ended. “What do you prefer, tour group or solo? I asked. “We were lucky in that our tour group had really good people but we met this one girl in Bali who just left her group after 2 days with G Adventure! She didn’t even ask for refund…just left. But I’d have to say going on your own is better! It was fast paced with the group!”
Meet Canadians M.C and Jamie. There is nothing mysterious about “MC”, a 25 year old who hails from Montreal, I just can’t spell out her full name as its pretty French! Currently travelling as she just graduated her masters program in Financial Engineering and doesn’t start her new gig in downtown Toronto until August. Jamie is also 25 from Vernon, BC! She worked in Calgary for a few years with Cenovus Energy before leaving to work for United Way. Recently quitting that job to travel.
Meet 22 year old Simone and 19 year old Nadine – two friends who are traveling for 3 weeks on a study break from Germany. When asked what they’re studying, both replied with different answers at the same time – ” business administration” Simone answers, whereas Nadine goes “economic systems!… No Simone say economic systems! It sounds more smarter haha”. When I asked for a good story they drew blanks but managed to tell me a time near Jakarta they were followed by a mob of locals before finally being asked if they could have a photo!
Meet Rikki and Shaun – 25 year olds from England who both left their jobs to go travelling. Rikki is a chef who left when his boss moved on and is following him to his new restaurant that is currently in the works. I originally met Rikki in Kuta a week ago and ran into him here. In Kuta while at Sky Garden he got so drunk and ended up footing a $700,000 bill hooking up with a prostitute. Shaun is currently travelling until who knows when. I also met him in Kuta at Sky Garden. No desire to go back home but when he does he will look for a job in his area of studies – marketing. Once got chased by a local in Kuta for an undisclosed matter and he came up to Omar and I saying we need to leave this bar asap!
Meet Gwerdjan, or “G”, because if you’re like me chances are you just butchered his name saying it in your head. This 27 year old from Holland hasn’t been home in over 2 years, having spent those years working in Australia picking fruits and vegetables and using money earned to travel
On our first night here we went lounge/bar hopping as places here close quite early with the exception of one bar (that we know of) open til 4am. Louise and Zaki really wanted to find a spot where there was open mic so the two can get up on stage and do a duet but we had such luck….so we just went to this shisha lounge and had some drinks along with some shisha, of course.
The monkey forest here is also a must-do and well worth the $40,000 (~$5CAD) entrance fee. Monkeys are let loose to roam free around the park with literally nothing holding them back from leaving but they choose to stay in this area and I don’t blame them. Walking through the forest you’ll quickly understand why they would have no reason to leave. I tried so hard to get the perfect selfie with the monkeys on my GoPro as well, with each attempt pissing the monkey off as they assume it’s a weapon (gopro selfie stick). I had multiple hiss/growl at me and a few chasing me briefly. Omar actually got uneasy each time I tried to get the perfect picture and I don’t blame him – even I was super nervous. The worst thing I would want is to get cut or bit by these guys and having skipped my rabies shot – it’s kind of stupid of me risking it but hey, I got to do it for a 60-liker on Instagram for that straight dopamine hit. Zaki was a fearless fucker I got to give it to him. Putting his hand out in front of the monkeys and they would grab his finger back and hold on to it. There was one monkey who jumped on him and began to bite him and he just let them bite, not phased one bit. “No no it doesn’t hurt guys, it’s like when a dog is biting you but it’s more of a playful biting you know?” Zaki explains. Omar and I are just like “yah fuck that”.
On another night Zaki was able to finally get on stage and do a little rap/reggae he longed for…and man, he was really good. People from the lounge began to hit the D floor and even the local band there that was on stage with him loved what he was doing. We ended up getting a bottle of vodka with mix this night and kind of felt like celebrities because of good ol’ Zaki boy!
The next night I went to the Shisha lounge with Omar as its the only place we know that shows Premier League football and Omar wanted to catch the matches tonight. We got here around 9pm and began drinking a few of the local radler beers (Bintang Radler), super light in alcohol content it was like drinking juice. I stayed with the boys here until 130 before heading back to the hostel. I booked a hike up Batur Mountain, an active volcano that last erupted in 2000, to catch the sunrise. Definitely a stupid idea to pull an all nighter and drinking before a pretty treacherous hike but I just couldn’t get myself to sleep before midnight and I figured it’d be pointless to try and sleep for 90 minutes as I feel I would be more tired doing that. Either way, it worked out well and the scenery at the top for the sunrise was just amazing. I didn’t think anything could beat the sunsets/sunrise I witnessed in Vietnam but this was the best hands down. The total time it took round trip was about 4.5 hours. There were also monkeys all along the hike! And these monkeys were a lot more relaxed than the ones at monkey forest.
After coming back from the hike I decided to be a lazy cunt and ride the scooter Omar rented earlier for the day to the Starbucks less then a km away. On my way back to the hostel I got was going on an adventure and got caught going against traffic on a one way road. I’ve been warned that when you get pulled over by cops here and all over SE Asia that all you need to do is pay them off so don’t ever carry too much cash on you as they’ll demand all of it. So as luck would have it as I’m driving against traffic (which is actually not a rare thing to happen in Asia!!) this cop steps out of this booth and says “you come here…registration please”. I get off bike, show him the papers…”international license please” and this fucker obviously knows I don’t have one…”oh no licence!?!! Wow that’s not good sir. Come with me”. He pulls me to his desk and shows me the fine for no license. He asks for 500k. Now, I’m pleading with him saying I got nothing on me. He then says that he’ll take the bike then. I would call his bluff but it’s under Omar’s name and I don’t know what information Omar had to give. I have roughly 1 million in my pocket. But I try to pull out like 200k as I suspect hell just take any amount. But as I pull out the cash I ended up pulling out 400k!! Fuck me…and yes, he gladly took it and put it straight into his pocket. As I drive off he and his mate are having a laugh…
All in all, I had an amazing time here and met a ton of good people. Here are pictures from random times throughout my time in Ubud.