I fantasized for days, weeks, months after reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love of traveling to Bali. Then, when I watched Julia Roberts bike along the rice paddy fields in Ubud in the film version, it was a done deal for me. I knew that this was one place that I had to visit before I died. Sounds morbid but it’s part of the bucket list that we all have, right?
After a year of planning and gathering a few likewise wanderlust friends, we headed to the heart and soul of Bali, Ubud. It’s about an hour and half drive outside of Denpasar. I recommend hiring a driver to pick you up at the airport but there are also many taxis available. (Remember – the Rupiah is sooooo in your favor so don’t freak out when you take out 1 million Rupiah at the ATM. It’s only about $74 USD.)
We stayed at a wonderful hotel called the Alaya and had a room overlooking the rice paddy fields. It is amazing how many sounds from various animals and birds that you’ll hear - pretty much 24/7. At dawn when you look across the way at the rice paddy field while sitting on your balcony, you’ll see a farmer opening up a small corral and one-by-one, ducks will form a single line and head out into the fields for a day of work. Ducks are very beneficial field workers as they help to eat insects which might harm the vegetation and their poop fertilizes the soil.
Admittedly, as I’m such a foodie, I was excited about the breakfast that was included with our room. Each morning, I partook in a traditional Balinese dish ranging from Mie Goreng (see below) to Mie Bakso. So yummy!
Now, let’s talk about the DaLa Spa which is the featured spa of the Alaya. When you arrive, you’re seated and asked if you want a cold washcloth (which you do because you’re usually drenched in sweat!) and a Jamu (herbal drink) that makes anything you get in the States seem plain and boring. I opted for the Sandalwood Healing Massage which lasted 90 minutes. A lot of spa treatments that you’ll get in Bali start with a foot massage/bath and then the masseuse will offer up an offering as a part of the Balinese culture. I had petals of a hydrangea tossed at my face for one treatment. They would roll warm pieces of sandalwood over the body to loosen up your muscles and just allow you to fully relax.
For all you beauty and spa junkies, Ubud is a mecca of nearly any type of spa treatment that you can imagine and I pretty much tried them all. And because they’re affordable!!! From a Lymphatic Treatment at the Ubud Bodyworks Centre to organic ear candling from SKIN Spa & Organic Waxing Salon, you will become the most relaxed person on the planet after a stay in Ubud. It is such a magical and spiritual place that I highly recommend it!