Irresistibly Ubud

Irresistibly Ubud

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Ren and I enjoy hiking and don’t really care much for the beach. So when we decided to celebrate our 5th year wedding anniversary in Bali, it was a no brainer for us to stay in the more mountainous, inland town of Ubud. It proved to be a perfect choice as it provided the calm, serene atmosphere we were looking for. Lush greens abounded, art galleries lined the narrow curvy streets, local warungs (restaurants) serving delicious Indonesian and Western food were all around. Ubud reminded me of a more rustic, Asian version of Carmel, CA. We fell in love with it instantly. πŸ™‚

Here are some pictures from our week-long adventure.

Ubud Bungalows

Our home for one week. What a great place to stay and highly recommended to anyone who visits Ubud. Instead of typical hotel rooms, you’ll be treated instead to these gorgeous little stand alone bungalows surrounded by lush greenery. We stayed in the airconditioned honeymoon cottage πŸ˜‰ which went for USD 40/night inclusive of breakfast.

Our little nook in paradise – bungalow number sex…I mean six… πŸ˜‰

Ren showing off her new bikini. Vavavoom! 😯

In & Around Ubud

Suffice to say, Ubud was pure ecstasy for the senses.

There was no shortage of intricate statues…

…calming water features…

…or funky shops in Ubud.

Gastronomic Adventures

Two of the most important things for me when visiting a new place is hiking and sampling the local fare. In searching out some of these remote, off-the-beaten path restaurants, we were able to satisfy both.

Bebek Bengil

One of the most popular restaurants in Ubud. So popular that we were advised by the immigrations officer immediately upon landing to try it out. Apparently the president of Indonesia can’t visit Ubud without enjoying a meal here.

Bebek Bengil means “dirty duck.” Apparently the name came about when a flock of muddied ducks waddled from the rice paddies onto the restaurant grounds. Serendipitous? The restaurant has been serving their specialty of crispy fried duck for the past twenty years. πŸ˜†

Snail stuffed mushrooms

Pepes Ikan Bumbu Bali – Fish with Balinese spices wrapped in banana leaves

The famous Bebek Bengil or crisy fried duck. Delicious!

Kopi Luwak

The world’s most expensive coffee. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet. This animal searches out and eats only the choicest coffee berries. The beans pass through it’s digestive system intact and are then collected from its droppings and processed. Yummeh. πŸ˜†

The poor guy looks stressed. πŸ™

Ren tries her hand at coffee bean roasting.

The infamous Kopi Luwak! At the plantation, each cup went for Rp 30,000. In town, they go for twice that at Rp 60,000. At a Starbucks, they retail for USD 20 a pop.

How was it? Good shit I must say. πŸ˜† I love my coffee strong and this had a potent but pleasant aftertaste that lingered on your tastebuds minutes after each sip. It was unlike any coffee I’ve ever tasted. But at Rp 300,000 for a small jar, I think I’ll stick to my instant. πŸ™‚

Ibu Oka

Another must-try restaurant. They serve only Babi Guling, which is roasted suckling pig. Instead of the liver sauce which accompanies the Philippine version, they served it instead with a nice, spicy sambal. Delicious! I prefer this version since I love spicy food and have never been a fan of sarsa.

The restaurant is only open for lunch and is always packed, so we decided to get ours to go.

Naughty Nuri’s

Another one of the destination restaurants in Ubud. They’re known for serving the best pork ribs as well as the world’s best martini, according to Anthony Bourdain. Amen on both counts!

The ribs were so tender that the meat literally slid off the bone. Yum yum yum!

Ren looks like one satisfied customer in that picture. πŸ˜†

Meet the world’s best martini. I’m no expert but Ren says it’s deserving. At Rp 100,000 per glass it better be! Check us out trying to look all serious and mature before drinking it. πŸ˜†

Sari Organik

A scenic twenty-minute hike through the rice paddies took us to Sari Organik – rated by TripAdvisor as the number one place to eat in Ubud. They showcased a menu of healthy, organic fresh food and drinks.

Situated in the middle of rice paddies away from the hustle and bustle of urban living, what made this place special was the experience. Looking back on our trip, this was one of my favorite moments. Having the opportunity to spend the afternoon with Ren eating mushroom pizza and sipping watermelon shakes in the middle of rice paddies reminded me of how lucky I truly am. Life is GREAT. πŸ™‚

Rai Pasti & Bebek Betutu

This warung sort of became our local hang out. They served delicious food at reasonable prices against a scenic backdrop. Walking through a long, dimly-lit hallway led you to a balcony overlooking the rice paddies. It was here where we decided to enjoy Bali’s most succulent and extravagant local specialty – Bebek Betutu.

Ren looking all cute for the camera.

Here’s me telling Ren not to take a picture of me.

The scenic backdrop for our most special and anticipated dinner. (Picture taken with a 15-second stutter…I…I…I mean shutter. πŸ˜› )

Behold the Bebek Betutu! Normally prepared on special occasions only, the duck is massaged with a secret blend of herbs and spices before being wrapped in banana leaves and baked buried under a pyre of rice husks and burning coconut fiber for eight hours. It’s so time-consuming to prepare that you have to order it a day in advance. Judging by how quickly we devoured it, it was well worth the wait!

Mt Batur Local Warung

We took a day trip to Mt Batur and requested our guide to take us to a local warung instead of the usual tourist trap restaurant. What we were treated to was a delicious Lake Batur specialty of crispy fried fish served with a spicy sambal and soup. Mmmmmm!

Other Dishes

Mie Goreng

Satay Babi

Ubud Paella – A little less traditional but equally delicious πŸ™‚

Pizza del Sol – Mozzarella, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes

Aaaaaaah Bintang beer! Our third wheel for a week. πŸ˜†

Art Galleries & Museums

Though a majority of the galleries showcased traditional folk art, a few of them displayed some fantastic contemporary work. Judging by how vital art is to their culture, I now understand why Indonesia is king of the South East Asian contemporary art scene. Even their carvings were amazingly intricate and had so much more character than anything I’ve ever seen.

You can’t tell from these pictures but these paintings are massive, maybe around 6-8 feet tall each.

Some nice examples of trompe l’oeil work. These are paintings, not photographs.

“You’re like a baby. Make noise…don’t know what to do.” πŸ˜†

Animal Encounters

How can a trip be complete without a few animal encounters?

Bali Bird Park

Behold the magnificent Komodo Dragon! This was the reason why we visited Bali Bird Park, to see these amazing animals in the flesh. It was truly an incredible experience to see these giant lizards for the first time, one I’ll proudly be crossing off my bucket list. πŸ™‚

Deadly bacteria-laden saliva

Feeding time!

Bali Starling – One of the world’s rarest (and most beautiful) birds. Endemic to Bali, it’s now believed to be extinct in the wild. If I’m not mistaken, Bali Bird Park is the only place in the world where you can see these striking animals.

Sailfin Dragon

Rhinoceros Iguana

Ren looking vibrant with a pair of Scarlet Macaws.

L: Ren holding a big lizard. Not the first time if you know what I mean… πŸ˜‰ R: Blue-Tongued Skink

Big-ass Varanus Salvator


Two pretty birds. That’s all I know.

L: Some type of owl R: From the Birds of Prey show

Cute little grasshopper

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

This place was fun. Cool walking paths abounded under a dense canopy of leaves, with Macaques roaming freely along the trails.

R: Behold the biggest nuts in the forest. πŸ˜†

L: A big leaf for a big boy. πŸ˜‰ R: Habang buhay ako sayo’y maghihintay…umaraw man o umulan, di sasablay…

There are 5 cute little monkeys in this picture. Can you spot them all?

Hint: the fifth one can cook. πŸ˜†

Ubud Textures

Just a montage of the many beautiful and varied textures in and around Ubud.


Just a few random images

We were there in time for the holy day of Galungan – a celebration of darma’s (good) victory against adharma (evil). As part of Galungan holy day, every house in Bali erects a beautifully decorated tall bamboo pole called a penjor. These were everywhere.

L: Statue feeling threatened? πŸ˜† R: I look like a Sumo wrestler. πŸ™

Ren looks much better in her sari.

Worshipers bathing at the water temple.

R: RAWRR! I fear nothing…except the rain cause I am made of paper.

The Company You Keep

At the end of the day, apart from all the beautiful sights you’ve seen, the delicious food you’ve eaten, and the adventures you’ve experienced, what makes a trip truly special are the people that you meet along the way. Here are a few people that made our trip all the more memorable.

Kadek – Our driver and guide for several excursions. Really nice guy always with a bright smile on his face.

Moyu and Katut – Ubud Bungalows staff members

And of course my beautiful baby Renee – Best friend, loving wife, lifelong travel companion with whom I’ll share a lifetime of adventures and memories. Nepal 2011?

I’ll take that as a yes. πŸ™‚


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There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Lia Atienza at 8:06 am

    Happy 5th Anniversary! Wow, your pictures are amazing!! I’m so happy for you πŸ™‚

  2. RJ at 9:44 am

    belated happy anniversary! i didn’t realize this was an old post. haha..great pictures & great writeup. it almost feels like i was there.

    i almost laughed out loud when i saw the picture which followed the caption:
    “…calming water features…”

    looking at that fountain does make me feel very relaxed. haha..

    random thought: i think sambal would go really well with pizza.

  3. JB Macatulad at 10:32 am

    Haha! Yeah, I just learned last week what “TBT” meant, so Ren suggested I repost old posts on FB every Thursday. πŸ™‚

    Sambal would be awesome on pizza! The spice would go really well with the cheese I think. Hmmmm….

    Did you see that babi guling from Ibu Oka? That is REALLY good. I’m not too big a fan of pork, but that is seriously delicious. If you haven’t seen it on TV, Ibu Oka is the same place that Anthony Bourdain, Samantha Brown, etc feature on their shows whenever they’re in Bali.

  4. Alex at 6:22 am

    Hi there, My wife and I where in Ubud last year and a painting caught our eye. We saw it through a shop window, the shop was closed. Tonight we decided to try and track it down and in only 5 minutes I tracked it down to one on your blog. It’s the second picture from the top, beneath the one of the woman. It’s the portrait of the man. Do you know the name of the shop or artist? That picture is destined for my home, it was made for us. πŸ™‚ appreciate your help.

  5. JB Macatulad at 7:30 am

    Hi Alex, apologies but this trip was from 5 years ago so I unfortunately don’t remember the name of the artist or gallery. I’m actually surprised that the painting is still there. If I’m not mistaken, the gallery is not too far from Naughty Nuri’s. I think we passed it on the way there. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help with this.

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