First Love: Ubud, Bali 

27 Aug

First loves pack the biggest punch. My very first overseas trip was a monthlong, solo idyll in Bali aged 18. This was 1974 when only surfers, anthropologists and artists went to Bali. I chose it as an antidote to a full on first year of nurse training (back in the pre-degree days when the Australian government paid nurses well to study and work). 

Shift work, study and partying had taken their toll. I was looking to chill out cheaply at the beach and maybe pick up a cute surfer. Legian and Kuta beaches entertained me for a couple of weeks but I got restless and started exploring inland. Someone suggested I catch a bus to Ubud, the seat of the royal family of Bali, so I did.

A town of palaces, intricately carved Hindu temples, tropical gardens and artists’ studios, Ubud comprised a few dirt streets surrounded by forest and terraced wet rice fields worked by straw hatted sarong-wearing men and their water buffalos, I fell in love with its quiet beauty and gentle, open-hearted people. I also fell for a beautiful, young prince I met in an artist’s painting studio. It was the briefest of affairs but sweet. I stayed a few nights within the palace compound, a rare privilege.

I’ve returned to Bali several times since but began to find the crowds of tourists, traffic and overdevelopment distressing. The couple of times I ventured to Ubud it was hard to reconcile my memories with the exhaust fumes, crass bars and bogans so I steered clear. However my sister Maria wanted to stay in Ubud for the second part of our double birthday celebration to practice yoga at the famous Yoga Barn and to catch up with her close friend who was on a yoga retreat at the same time. 

This called for five nights accommodation away from the madding crowds but within walking distance of The Yoga Barn. Kajane Mua Villas and Hotel met those requirements on paper and exceeded them in practice. I’m not sure which god looked down and sprinkled magic dust on us, but our supreme room was upgraded to a private villa with a three-sided infinity pool. Admittedly there was another suite above us but we were rarely aware of anyone being there and those guests never used the pool when we were around. 

To give you an idea of the scale of the villa, our bathroom featured a massive outdoor caesar stone tub, as well as a shower much larger than the caravan I’ve been living in on our Broken Head land.


Our AUD250 rate included breakfast, afternoon tea and cakes (served in the restaurant or at the villa for no extra charge), hotel car drop offs and pick ups around town and a butler at our beck and call. Well, we couldn’t be expected to light our own mosquito coil on the pool deck could we?

Maybe this stroke of luck tinted my glasses pale rose but I rediscovered my love for Ubud.

Wayan has the best spices, coffee, jamu and cereals in Ubud market.
I took five excellent classes at The Yoga Barn and received the best massage treatment of my life from its Balinese inhouse healer, Ngurah Sudana, an Eselan therapist. The shopping, especially for locally made yoga gear and handmade jewelry, is outstanding. And Ubud’s organic, vegan food is as good as you’ll find in Byron Bay or New York. 

I even refound the beauty and serenity of Ubud’s rice fields of 42 years ago during a trip to Bambu Indah hotel with its beautifully landscaped gardens and an early morning bicycle ride and a walk along Campuhan Ridge, stopping for Bali coffee in the beautiful gardens of Kafe Karsa and Spa.

To crown the experience Bali gifted me a clear sunrise viewed from the summit of Mt Batur. With a full moon shining over my shoulder, a liquid red-orange sun slipped out of the sea and into my hand. I took a deep breath and thanked the universe for that perfect moment.

At the summit with my guide called Ketut (of course).

3 Responses to “First Love: Ubud, Bali ”

  1. HeathervWatt August 27, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    All very tranquil Sharon. You may not come back or go hiking in the Alps?? You may become a “Ubudnesian”!

  2. Stuart Elliott August 28, 2016 at 7:18 am #

    Just as well i’m not the sensitive type! You never told me he was a prince.


    • Sharon Tickle August 28, 2016 at 7:25 am #

      Aaah, well I am not sure you asked ;-)) I always choose quality, you should know that. SXxX

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