Sunday, October 26, 2014

Starbucks in Ubud, Bali

Starbuck’s attempt to blend in with the local surroundings. Their location in Ubud is in the design of a traditional Balinese structure, located on the side of a lily pond.

It seem enormous but only the first floor is open, and there are not many seats. In true Balinese fashion the furniture is wooden, minimalistic, and sparse. Tall ceiling and wide open spaces seem to be the mark of interior design in these parts.

I ordered an Iced French Vanilla Latte, which was being advertised at the time. MY image of French vanilla is that is should be sweeter than regular vanilla, but this drink was quite bitter. I also felt like the chocolate sauce topping did not compliment the drink. 

Pandan Coconut Brulle Cake! A local specialty!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Writer's Guide to Cafes in Ubud

When I planned my trip to Bali, I imagined my time in Ubud would be spent writing in one of the many great cafes in the city center. Using this woman’s café list, as well as a list of local varieties, I carefully scheduled my time around hours and hours of writing.

That isn’t exactly what happened. Ubud was a whirlwind of markets, temples, and long walks in the countryside. I barely had more than an hour at each café when I wrote, and I almost didn’t make it to all of the ones on my list. I’ll start with my favorite, Seniman’s, the only one I made it to twice.

Seniman's Coffee Studio

Seniman’s is sharp. With locally produced, single-origin coffee and a smart menu of foreign Breakfast treats and cakes, the place is enormously popular. They also had the most reliable wifi in the city. Every drink was served in this elaborate spread, including water and a small cake. I enjoyed sitting at their bar outside facing the street while drinking an iced latte out of a mason jar.

Jalan Sriwedari, Ubud, Bali 80561, Indonesia


Across the street from Seniman’s is their other counterpart, T.H.C.R.. This is wear they pair cold brews with fruit. I had an excellent cold brew with almond milk, which was so pungent.

Across the street from Seniman's


F.R.E.A.K. is another local gem the produces great coffee. It is a tiny place in Ubud, and the store itself is a bit basic. Their wifi signal was ok, but it was very hot inside, not the kind of place I could sit for long and write.

Google Maps will take you somewhere else, so use this address:

Tirtha, Jalan Hanoman Padang Tegal, Ubud-Bali, Indonesia


Anomali is also another great local option. This place makes fantastically sweet iced drinks and has tons of seating. The social crowd seems to prefer the seat outside on the street level, while the writer and couples go upstairs to the open-but-covered balcony, safe from the noise pollution and bustling road below. 

Also, not on Google Maps. Roughly here: Jalan Raya Ubud No.35 Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia

Monday, October 20, 2014

Scenes from My Running Path: Ubud, Bali

I came to Bali with the naïve idea that I would running to and from town on a daily basis. That any and every street would be scenic and smooth. That could not have been further from the truth.

Running in Ubud sucks.

First of all, the sidewalks are narrow, usually only wide enough for one person going one direction. If you cross paths with someone, one of you needs to step out into the street to pass. The sidewalks are also impressively ill-maintained. Large potholes and trash abound. I had to stare at my feet the entire time I walked, because as soon as I looked up I was sure to trip on a stone or fall into a hole.

If you think jogging on the roads is any better, think again. Traffic is Bali is the stuff of nightmares. Nearly everyone rides noisy and smoky mopeds, which they fill with home-brewed gasoline kept in Absolute Vodka bottles. Even if you manage to avoid not getting hit by a car on the road, you can’t avoid the noise and filth they emit.

But wait, not all is lost. There is one running path in Ubud which is safe and quiet and serene. It’s not easy to get to, and you have to get up at 5:30 am, but it’s worth it.

The trail starts at our house in a village just outside Ubud. A quick pre-dawn walk through alongside the narrow pathways between quiet rice fields. A circuitous routs leads to the main temple in town, located beneath the bridge. Walk behind the temple, then it’s straight uphill for twenty minutes or so. The route leads up to the top of a hill, alongside a river opposite of the town.

From there you can watch the sunrise over the palm trees before descending into town. Mornings in Ubud are smoky, like walking through a dream. Although I'm awake the dream continues.

You’ll pass by numerous luxury resorts and villas, the kind of places that appear in advertisements for Ubud. Then it is a slow decent downhill. No sidewalks, so you will be walking along the road, but at 6:30 am there are hardly any cars.

The path leads back to our house, but you could easily modify it to go anywhere you want. We did the entire 2-hour walk on our first morning in Ubud, then again in the evening, when we walked in reverse. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cafes of Legian, Bali

My trip to Bali was fortuitously timed just after Nomadic Notes posted this café guide to Bali.

I am in love with this guy’s blog and I plan to use his café guides religiously on my trips around SE Asia.

I was based in Kuta, and nothing decent was nearby, so I walked about 1 hour to a couple of cafes in Legian.

The Caffeine Coffee Shop

This little gem is easy to miss, just off the busy main road lined with bars and restaurants. Their tiny entrance fools on into thinking that the café is little more than a bar counter and two booths, but once you step inside you are enter a gloriously huge garden, serene and secluded from the moped engines on the street outside. Wifi was pretty stable, but not fast. Drinks were excellent and cheap.
Perhaps the only downside to The Caffinee Coffee Shop is their tables. Most are too low to work from on a laptop, and their bar counter was a bit too high to be confortable. However, I would definitely return for the opportunity to escape the noise and pollution of Legian’s main roads.

Jalan Legian Kaja, Kuta, Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia


Being a tourist favorite, their prices were double that of Caffeine’s.  Our latte came out so piping hot that we had to wait a half hour before drinking them least our lips be seared off. The seating downstairs is more conducive to socializing, so we parked ourselves in a lounge area upstairs. No air-conditioning, as in much of Bali, so it was sweltering. 

Jl. Padma Utara No. 5 Legian Kaja, Kuta, Jalan Padma Utara No., Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Libre Day

 Met up with a friend for happy hour and wore this new dress I bought at a vintage store in Tokyo from my trip in April. It is quite volumin...