I woke up early the next morning and as soon as I was looking half presentable, I quickly pitter- pattered my way down to Ayu’s kitchen for my last ever dose of green banana pancakes with honey. (I know I’ve mentioned them in pretty much every post I’ve written about Ubud, but seriously, they are possibly the best pancakes –aside from my sister’s – I’ve had in my life.) After calming my ravenous appetite I made the short walk to Monkey Forest Road to the buy the staple tourist purchases of postcards, bracelets and a trademark Bintang t-shirt. This was my last day in Ubud and even though I was supposed to be leaving for the airport soon, I took my time walking along the road, trying to absorb as much of the atmosphere as I could.
As I heaved uphill along Monkey Forest Road, now past the stage of glistening with perspiration and completely just full on red-faced sweating, I remembered something; the Water Palace.
On my very first night in Ubud I had sat in Café Lotus and had watch the glittering golden Legong Dancers perform in front of a candlelit Water Palace, also know as Puri Saraswati Temple.
Now standing at the top of Monkey Forest Road with Café Lotus positioned directly in front of me, I crossed over and entered the little passageway that crept up next to the restaurant.
Thinking I was in store for some cultural and spiritual enlightenment, it was a bit of a surprise when I found a Starbucks in front of the temple, next to the entrance.
Hmmm, I thought. I don’t quite know what to make of this.
I personally the ubiquity of establishments like that of Starbucks or McDonalds a little tiresome, and when they’re plonked next to a site of spiritual and historical importance, it kind of steals some of the magic away. However, to give it to the Ubud Starbucks management, they did try their best at making it fit in with its Balinese surroundings:
Half amused and half bemused by the sight of a Balinese-style Starbucks, I marched onward and could see the edges of what looked like a beautiful garden appear.
In front of me was the grand Water Palace. Made of stone, it was carved so intricately and ornately in true Balinese fashion. Two emerald green trees curved around its entrance, almost framing it like a painting. A stone path led up to the temple’s steps. Either side the path where two long, stretched ponds, completely flooded by entwining, sun-seeking lilies and lily pads. I felt like I had stepped back in time.
Sadly, before I knew it, it was time to venture back to Denpasar Bali Airport. Both Ayu and Made drove me back to the airport, making me feel as though I was their adopted daughter. They had been so kind and hospitable without expecting anything extra that I would most certainly recommend anyone to stay at their guesthouse.
Kitsch Indonesian songs and love ballads warbled by the likes of Westlife were our soundtrack for the journey to the airport, and in a cheesy way, I thought they were quite fitting and in line with my thoughts and feelings for Ubud; a city full of culture, colour, wonderful people and adventure – a place truly worthy of the word ‘beautiful’.
This was back in 2012. Gangnam Style came on and blasted through the radio. Made immediately turned it off.
‘Not time for that nonsense now,’ said Made shaking his head, turning it back onto his love songs.
I laughed and smiled. ‘Thank you, Made.’
*Tune in next time for some more Indonesian adventures…
Go Go Go!
Where: Ubud in Bali, Indonesia.
Why: Rice paddy fields, culture, art, food, elephants, rafting and monkeys.
How: Direct flights from Jakarta run regularly, numerous times a day with most airline making the route. Fares can differ grealy depending on the time of year, beginning at around 400,000 Rp (approx £20) till around 2000,000 Rp (approx £100) for a return ticket. From Denpasar airport, Ubud is around a 2 hour drive away, dependant on traffic.