I just got seated on the rooftop terrace of a café on Jl Hanoman, one of the main streets of Ubud. It is Saturday and 9.30am, which means breakfast time. This is one of the earliest mornings for me so far, unless, of course, Thursday night counts, when I did the sunrise trek to Mt. Batur and did not go to bed at all. As I had only just flown in, that was my second night of no sleep in four days, which made it pretty heavy. Thus, yesterday was dedicated to relaxation, as is today. I woke up by myself at 7 am and felt surprisingly energetic. My plans for the day include yoga and writing.
So, what has been going on during the past week? I arrived in Ubud late Monday night. Once I had landed at Denpasar airport about 50 kilometers south of Ubud, it was time for my first bargaining: I had to find transportation to Ubud. As soon as I got through customs I was attacked by a bunch of taxi drivers who just wouldn’t leave me alone. I negotiated the price and picked one, who promised me a price that was less than average – score! Luckily I had booked a hostel for the first night last minute before boarding the plane in Helsinki, so I knew where I was going (Just-in-Time management per definition!).
Traffic seemed crazy. Cars were honking and scooters zigzagging amongst them on the winding roads. I could not help but agree with my Lonely Planet that hiring a scooter should be done with careful consideration.
The hostel seemed nice, as did the 8-bed-dorm that I had booked. The wifi connection was slower than snail mail, which resulted in that it took me about three hours to publish the blog post that I had written on Saturday but not had time to publish. First world problems, I know, but I’d lie if I said I wasn’t both exhausted and frustrated when I finally went to bed at 1 am.
Sidenote: my 10 am alarm just went off. Early bird catches the worm!
When I woke up on Tuesday I was welcomed by the above view. I decided to go for a walk. I hadn’t done any prior research on anything, so I wasn’t really familiar with Ubud’s must do’s. The girl at the reception told me to go right if I wanted to get to the main street and left if I was heading to Monkey Forest. I took a left. Monkey Forest?
Monkey Forest is a sanctuary for some 600 Balinese long-tailed monkeys or macaques, as they are called in English. I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to go in, but since I hadn’t seen monkeys from such a short distance before, I decided to give it a try. The monkeys were jumping from tree to tree and people’s heads to their shoulders, fully determined to catch the bananas that they’d brought with them. As for me, I had taken the “Monkey Forest tips” at the entrance seriously to say the least and hid all my valuables deep down in my backpack. Also, I was doing my very best to avoid eye contact with the monkeys, as it was said that they perceive that as a threat (the same goes for showing your teeth when smiling). Can’t believe!
Although I was enjoying walking around alone, the feeling of needing or having to find someone to hang out with was constantly nagging me, as if it wasn’t okay to be alone. It was only my first day in Asia, and I was already battling between making the most of my time, 110 %, and giving myself a break, letting myself take my time. But why, why was I in such a hurry?
I met two girls, one from Germany and the other one from Ukraine, at a restaurant and had lunch with them. We went for a pedicure (“Miss, are you sure you don’t want a foot scrub, too?”), and dinner in the evening. Quite a few restaurants seemed to serve vegetarian, vegan and raw food, which was a nice alternative to the many traditional Balinese restaurants.
A Dutch girl joined us, and all of a sudden I had a whole lot of plans for the coming days and I had barely even landed. Although I was happy to have met other solo travelers who were no longer 18 years of age (not that it’s all about age, but you know) and excited about the things we had planned to do, I did not feel too comfortable about it. It was too much, too soon.
Everyone was talking about where they’d been and where they were going next, Lombok and the Gili Islands. How long will you be staying in Ubud? What’s your plan, where are you heading next? I don’t really have a plan, I said. Should I? Maybe I should.
Add to that all the plans that I had made for the coming days without even realizing it or knowing if that’s what I wanted, the tiredness and the fact that there was wifi everywhere, free wifi that wasn’t really working but that I was still feverishly trying to connect to (why?)… I was feeling frustrated. I had had a vision of practicing a lot of yoga, maybe even going on a retreat of some kind, but now I was doing everything but.
What am I doing?? Where am I going?
What is my plan???
Maybe I should sleep more.
On Wednesday we took a walk to the rice fields of Ubud. The lush and green landscapes had a calming effect on my mind, and it was nice to do some exercise. We had a tasty lunch at a rooftop overlooking the rice fields and I was struck by the thought that all of this is really happening.
The tempeh and Coke that I had ordered tasted extra delicious.