They are centered in Ubud. Spirited in their hearts and minds. It seems people arrive and never leave. They are beautiful here, living naturally, connected with themselves and their surroundings. This is all very true, however there is a large part of Ubud that feels manufactured, playing into the spiritual journeys being sought after a certain book and movie came out.
Yoga and juice shops are a dime a dozen downtown. Generic handicrafts and paintings duplicated, allowing you to never miss out on purchasing that acrylic rice paddy photo, or that painted wooden egg.
So to escape, I took a hike. Not far, but that’s the beauty of it. Step outside of the downtown block, and you will find authentic Ubud. Walk up the rice paddy hills, through the tall grasses where the snakes slither around your legs. Check your reflection in the still ponds, make sure you aren’t burned from the sun. Sit down, close your eyes, and breathe in the peace.
I made it to the Karsa Kafe, a gorgeous cafe nestled into the rice terraces at the end of the hike. Sipping on a lime juice and honey concoction I watched the egrets swoop over the adjacent paddies. Without the noise of the motorbikes and car horns, the constant “transport, transport?” cat calls, it starts to make sense. Encouraged by the reflecting images of swaying trees in the mirror like rice ponds, this is a beautiful place for self reflection.
I can see why millions come and spend millions more in Ubud. They call it the cultural center of Bali, but to become centered, the center you must leave behind.