Because of it's Eat Pray Love fame, Ubud conjures up images of peaceful rice paddy fields and conversations with friendly fortune telling locals. But also because of Eat Pray Love fame, in reality, Ubud is kind of crowded and loud, and while it's an upgrade from Kuta, it's a full-on tourist magnet. When you're in a place like that, you have to just embrace it and go into full tourist mode yourself.
Here's a 10 Step Guide.
1. Arrive in Ubud with no plans or accommodation booked. Dismount your scooter and walk with your giant backpack and surfboard until you can walk no more. Last about 10 minutes. Book a night at the first homestay you see. Pay $5 USD a night for a villa with a full kitchen and cringe thinking about how you once paid $35 a night to sleep in a 14 bunk bed dorm room in Auckland. Continue to cringe thinking about how at the same hostel the kid in the bunk above you snored like a congested freight train while holding a smoothie in his hand, which he later spilled all over the floor next to you in his sleep. Think about how much you hated him. Now think about how much you love your private villa.
2. Visit Goa Gajah Temple. Dodge aggressive Balinese ladies who foolishly try to sell you a sarong to cover up your knees, unaware that you're actually a bit of a temple pro who knows full well you get a free one upon admittance. Be psyched about your new accessory for the day, as you've been wearing the same dress 3 times a week for the past month. Tour Goa Gajah Temple which takes 30 seconds as it's the size of a generous walk-in closet. Walk up many steps that eventually lead to a dead end, walk down many steps and sum that up as your cardio for the day.
3. Visit the Tegallalang Rice Terraces. Put your boyfriend to work.
4. Stop in at at Clear Cafe which has the philosophy "eat the food you wish to be" yet does not have Carvel ice cream cake on the menu. Settle for a berry smoothie and lavender infused water. Notice all of the lone women there working on their laptops. Blame Elizabeth Gilbert. Appreciate the pastel walls and your traveling companions willingness to stand in front of them.
5. Take a yoga class at the giant yoga mecca that is Yoga Barn. Be slightly intimidated by the very cold German instructor who is very strict about the mats being lined up but very amused by the dreaded and tattooed hippies, braiding each others hair while holding their love children outside class.
6. Sleep well until a trio of roosters start crowing hours before sunrise, like disgruntled employees purposefully screwing up their ONE JOB. After 3 nights of this, march outside and try to level with them. Consider yourself a rooster whisperer when they miraculously cease their squawking after your stern talk. Make a mental note to eat chicken that day when they resume 15 minutes later.
7. Take another yoga class at Yoga Barn, this time with an American teacher with a terrible attitude. In you downward dog, think about how humans have made an entire industry out of stretching, breathing and sitting quietly and how absurd it is. Laugh on your mat as teacher gets called out during class for being a bully. You will take many yoga classes in Bali, but this will be your most scandalous. Only to be rivaled by one where monkeys attacked the teacher.
9. Go to a spa/gelato shop (hey why not) and get a hot stone massage, facial, manicure and pedicure for $22 USD total. Leave a massive tip because anyone who spends 4 hours touching your dirty backpacker-y self deserves it and now your toes look hella cute. Emerge feeling like a new woman.
9. Make your way up a hidden, steep and rocky hill to a beautiful green rice field that completely lives up to the serenity-now stereotype of Ubud that you were promised. Eat breakfast at Sari Organik, enjoying poached eggs (to spite the roosters), a banana pancake and coconut water over a quiet, gorgeous field.
10. Start to understand how this really would be a lovely setting for a movie.