The best parts of a town, many of the most interesting places to visit, its curious quirks and the soul of it, are not always found on the main roads, those along which all the other tourists roam. Yes, in Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, there may be many wonderful restaurants and cafes, delightful boutiques and more than enough kitsch souvenir shops for the most die-hard souvenir hunter on its main street. But much of its charm that I discovered on my recent visit (my second to the town after a first that only scratched the surface) were simply moments of serendipity.
Colourful Street Markets
There was the moment that we turned down an alleyway on Monkey Forest Road, following it to a delightful narrow street that continued past the back of Ubud Market, but had not previously discovered when at the market. Free from cars, the street was bedecked in many colours from the assorted clothing and trinket vendors, mixed in with fixed shopfronts with cute outfits. At the end of the street we discovered its name embedded in tiles, Jalan Karna.
A Restaurant Down a Side Street
Or there was the evening when we were looking for a restaurant, but couldn’t wander too far away. We wanted to catch the next shuttle back to our resort, that only ran every 2 hours. Again we were around the northern end of Monkey Forest Road. Trusting our luck in a sign for a “warung” (the Indonesian word for a small restaurant) at a side street, we turned the opposite way off the road. Then came across a delightful restaurant in a green and lush garden, the Alit Warung.
Hiking among Rice Fields
But my favourite moment of serendipity in Ubud, was our discovery of the lush rice fields that are able to be hiked, to the north west of the town, it’s called the Campuhan Ridge Walk. Looking for somewhere to have lunch after booking boat tickets to Gili T, we headed west from Ubud Market, along Jalan Raya Ubud. It was a direction that we hadn’t previously taken. Seeing a sign that said it led to rice fields, we decided to check it out, and ventured down the narrow footpath.
Note: I later discovered this is the Campuhan Ridge Walk, number 6 on TripAdvisor for what to do in Ubud. But like many people I hadn’t looked at the TripAdvisor listings and it wasn’t on my resort map.
Rice Paddies and Cafes
There was soon after another sign for the Sweet Orange Warung. After a 500m walk, we came to the delightful restaurant in the middle of ricefields. On the menu were delicious juices and excellent curries. And it was a serene spot to relax until the increasing sunlight made it too warm to stay in our low-slung chairs.
So off we went, and ventured even further north from the rice fields and along footpaths next to a deep running creek, surrounded by jungle. After awhile, we turned roughly back in the direction we had come, but down another pathway. It didn’t seem that likely we could get lost. And there were plenty of offers for drinking coconuts or even a stall of packaged drinks along the way. Getting closer back to town, there were even more cafes to choose from along this path. Kiss Me Ketut Warung and the Frangipangi Cafe are two of the options. Plus there were some peaceful villas to rent and the Ubud Yoga House also to be found.
Leave It to Serendipity
So next time you’re somewhere, whether Ubud or elsewhere, find an alleyway to turn down or a interesting sign to follow, and see where you end up, whether for a short but interesting visit or to spend the rest of the day.
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