After packing up our life in London, we were both in need of some relaxation and downtime en route to New Zealand. For months, my Instagram feed had been full of enticing blue hues and images of tropical swimming pools, so I knew the just the place to unwind.
I had visions relaxing by infinity pools reading, stretching out in yoga classes, eating delicious local cuisine and of course some exploring. Bali didn’t disappoint and that’s exactly how we filled our days on holiday. It’s a place where you can do as much, or as little as your heart desires.
We decided to stay in Ubud for the first few days – the ultimate zen paradise filled with yoga and amazing food, all while being surrounded by rainforest and terraced rice paddies.
The beautiful tropical climate hit us the moment we stepped off the plane. The sticky, humid air was a welcome hug after leaving London’s cooler Autumn weather. Tired from our flight with sunshine streaming in the car windows, we were both nodding off in the back seat during the 90-minute drive from the airport to Ubud. Jolting awake as we bounced our way along the roads catching glimpses of local stalls and temples.
Nestled amongst a tropical garden, we arrived at our accommodation and checked into our rustic hideaway just out of Ubud, Desa Sanctuary. Aside from our first night where we had a very unwelcome guest – a large Huntsman spider on the wall (I hid in the bathroom while Mike dealt with it – spiders are NOT my thing), the rest of our stay was comfortable and the staff friendly.
After a quick freshen up and outfit change, we were eager to venture into the main centre of Ubud to take a look around. Being 2km out of town, we opted to hire a scooter as our mode of transport and set off in our new surroundings.
First stop was The Yoga Barn for a snoop and to check out their class timetable. It didn’t look like much from reception, but follow the garden path and you discover their studio, retreat and café set in an expansive and tranquil rustic setting with pathways leading you to all sorts of romantic garden nooks.
Finding a spot at the outdoor cafe, it was time to re-hydrate and get into the swing of holiday mode.
A carrot & turmeric shot for me and wheatgrass with lime for the boy.
And of course, a compulsory fresh coconut.
You know your coconut is served with a whole lotta love when it comes out with a love heart cut into it (I may have been a little more excited about this fact than Mike was).
If you want to detox, this place looked like a great option. Their Garden Kafe menu is full of delicious food, including a great range of vegan, Ayurvedic and Macrobiotic choices. If you are looking for healthy food in Ubud, this is a good place to start.
While sipping away, we ran our eyes over a local map to get a feel for the area and see what Ubud had to offer.
Thirsts quenched and stomachs grumbling, we decided to move on to try somewhere different for dinner. A couple of days later we did go back to The Yoga Barn for dinner and their food is delicious. I tried the Balinese pumpkin & tempe curry with red rice (new rice obsession) and a date almond shake.
Back on the bike, we weaved our way around the streets until somewhere grabbed our attention and luckily came across another Ubud gem – Atman Kafe. I’ll show you more in the next post, but for now I’ll give a sneak peek at some of the incredibly flavoursome food and you’ll see why it became one of our most frequented spots to eat.
We started with coconut crusted mahi-mahi (one of the main reasons we kept going back). It had us hook, line and sinker – fishing pun intended. The delicate fish pieces were cooked perfectly and the coconut coating was fried crispy golden with just the right textured crunch. The food was fresh and the flavours combined with the lime juice, coriander and tomato sambal were unbelievable.
My main was one of Atman Kafe’s top sellers – their Balinese curry. A bowl full of fresh herbs, tofu, capsicum, chill, spinach, beans, garlic, onion and lemongrass in a coconut milk and turmeric soup. All. The. Goodness. It also comes with a side of white and red rice and extra chilli if you need more of a kick.
And Mike’s choice – Mie Goreng. Fried noodles with vegetables and topped with a fried egg served with the same delicious tomato sambal as the coconut crusted fish. And, just to make sure he didn’t go hungry, two chicken satay sticks with a generous dollop of a crunchy peanut sauce on the side.
Bellies full and eyes struggling to stay open, we retreated back to our rustic hideaway to call it a night. After extra thorough spider checks and the mosquito net firmly tucked around our mattress (just to be sure), we drifted off, ready for what the following day would bring.
First Image © Siim Teller via Flickr.