Ubud: Bali’s artistic heart
Bali has a long history of the arts and Hindu culture. In the early 16th century with the rise of Islam in Java, many Javanese royalty fled to Bali – at this point an independent state – for refuge, thus strengthening the Hindu traditions and art already prolific on the island. The Balinese have maintained this strong tradition of dance, music and architecture and today it is rare to find a family without at least one artist in it. Every family has a personal temple and, though they have adopted modern construction materials such as concrete, the temples and homes are built with traditional designs as well as statues of demons and gods. Ubud is the cultural center of the island where we spent most of our time. There are an enormous number of guesthouses and although no one would drop their price below 100 000 rupiah (about $10 USD) the quality was worth the cost. The rooms were tastefully decorated, the courtyards were beautiful gardens of frangipani trees, sculptures and ponds and generally the price included a full breakfast.
This family run guesthouse had three attractive rooms. It is down an alley from the main street so the courtyard was very quiet and private. There was a resident turtle in the pond and several small bird came each morning to eat the offerings of fruit and rice.
The second guesthouse we stayed at included a breakfast of sweet lime tea, local fruit (papaya and watermelon) and banana pancakes with a Balinese twist; shaved coconut and palm syrup, similar in flavour to maple syrup.