“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control.”
( Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love)
A lot of travelers who come to the city where Elizabeth Gilbert found everlasting happiness just plan to stay a couple of days. But for some miraculous reason, most of them get stuck here and days become weeks and weeks become month. Same with me. I stayed longer in Ubud than in any other place of my journey so far. Because I had an indifferent but strong feeling, that at least my heart belongs here. The mind is sometimes bothered by all the crazy people, the hippies, the sense-seekers the yogis and the vegans who are gathering here like amorous bees around a rutting rose bush. The soul instead seems to feel a strong connection to places like this as if it would sent the chance of finally finding a habitat where it can fully express and develop itself. While I am writing this, I am sitting in a tiny, lovely warung in a small side street. It’s one of the local managed restaurants where you still get your Nasi Goreng for a reasonable price and without this annoying service and government tax which the tourist places on the main road charge, a vice, that slowly seems to spread all over Bali. Some older, western ladies are passing by, all of them with a relaxed, blissful expression on their face. They definitely found their happy place here in Ubud. Eat, pray, love, die. You can actually meet a lot of old people here. This place looks to be perfect for the retirement of open minded people and somehow I envy them. All of them seem to be streets ahead of me. Some beautiful young girls in tight yoga pants are hastening by, trying not to be late for their next yoga class. A very old balinese man is carefully placing a small sacrifice made of banana leaf and flowers in front of his house on the other side of the street and addresses a short prayer to his gods. During this, dozens of motorbikes are passing by, some of them driven by locals, carrying everything from living animals like fish or chicken to bulky goods like furniture or cook shops, others are steered by tourists, who are carefully maneuvering through the chaos, panic and excitement glowing in their eyes. It is this mixture that makes Ubud so inspiring, the continuous colliding of worlds, religions, lifestyles and passions.
The longer you stay here, the more you will discover. Somewhen somebody will tell you for example from the spa in the Dragonfly Village. It only takes place from Thursday to Sunday in the evening and offers a steam bath and a salt water pool from which you can watch the lightning bugs or just relaxe on the cozy fireplace. And even if you don’t go to the spa, visit the place else way, because it’s located in an absolutely lovely area, in a couple of rice fields close to the center of Ubud with some romantic cafes and restaurants, but because of the very narrow road no cars will get there and so it preserved a lot of its original balinese country charm. Maybe you also will visit a party in the Mansion or at marvelous Akasha Villa and if you are lucky it’s one, where the local tantra community meets, dances and swings. Perhaps you could join the famous ecstatic dance at Friday evening or Sunday morning at the beautiful Yoga Barn or visit a shamanic breath work class in Radiantly Alive? Afterwards you might enjoy world’s best sushi at Toro’s or the godlike cheesy enchiladas in Taco Casa. And if you get deeper, you will visit the beautiful secret canyon at Michi’s Art Village. The Canyon with it’s wild river, several waterfalls and even a holy spring is a perfect photo location and I liked it way more than any other waterfall or temple on Bali (well, except for Tirta Empul, of course). The Art Village where is an outdated, but still lovely old hotel close to Ubud where a lot of musicians, writers, painters and other crazy people live. Or you explore the shopping grounds around the town and far away from the overpriced tourist shops, but with an wider range of beautiful handcraft and souvenirs. And I am pretty sure that there is still a lot more to see and to discover than what I just named in this small list.
But as everything on my journey so far, also my time in Ubud comes to an end, the still restless wanderer needs to go back on the road, even if Ubud makes leaving very very hard. After sitting for hours in small warungs, just staring on the streets or trying all the different yoga and meditation styles all over the city and meeting exciting and openminded people, my soul soaked itself like a sponge, carrying now all this wonderful memories, experiences, discoveries and friendships and is ready to follow the mind to its next destination. Where this hopes to find the one everlasting truth, the final happy place. Or simply the world’s second best sushi.