UBUD: the final stop of my digital nomad world tour. This town has been calling me for a while, what with its abundance of culture, arts, tropical lifestyle and a deep presence of yoga and natural therapies. My past hesitation to make it an online working destination was due to a lingering doubt about whether the internet and wifi would handle the web design work I need to do on a daily basis. So, did Ubud actually get this digital tick of approval?
The short answer is ‘yes’… with the longer answer being, ‘yes, with some money invested into a coworking space’. There are copious amounts of cafes and restaurants throughout the town of Ubud that boast about their free wifi and to an extent I was able to do a bit of work at a number of them. During the busier meal times though, the strength of the connection would limit the type of work I was able to do.
So I joined Hubud, the biggest and most popular coworking space in town. It was worth the investment just for the peace of mind of knowing that I would be almost guaranteed a fast, reliable connection. There were a few short occasions when even their wifi failed to provide adequate strength, perhaps due to the number of other digital nomads who inhabited the workspace. There was a buzz at Hubud with loads of people working hard on their projects but it still managed to sustain that laid back, easy going aura of Bali.
As with most coworking spaces, Hubud provided power points all over the place, as well as a healthy cafe on site (I highly recommend their raw mint choc cup!) and large rice fields out the back that did well to remind me that I was in Asia.
Towards the end of my stay, I changed my accommodation and was happy to find my very own modem in the room, so I opted to work there from time-to-time too. Wifi connections in accommodations are a bit hit-and-miss so it’s best to shop around when you arrive.
During my travels, I searched for two things in each new location: coworking spaces and yoga studios. Having already received glowing reviews of Yoga Barn from Kirsty Innes as well as from numerous other yogis, I didn’t end up practicing yoga anywhere else. Yoga Barn is one of the great meccas for all things yoga in South East Asia and it’s easy to see why. Its timetable provides classes all day, every day, and there’s a generous array of styles on offer too (I was particularly excited to join in the restorative and yin yoga classes, which aren’t always present at studios). I was also thankful that the centre had more than one studio space… the main studio can be a bit daunting as it’s huge and can easily fit in over 100 people, which it regularly does…
I booked my initial 4 nights in Ubud via an Airbnb listing, and I found that the majority of options on the accommodation website were holiday villas as opposed to a room in a private home. I was immediately charmed by the attention to detail that the two Balinese male employees put into making everything (and me) feel special. They took great care each day to arrange frangipani flowers in my room and on the terrace and I couldn’t help but stay longer there, even though the wifi wasn’t the best.
For the three-week stay, I opted to stay in the town itself, making everything easily in walking distance. If I were to have stayed longer, I would have searched around a suitable villa outside of the hustle and bustle of the tourist streets and rented a scooter to help with getting around. Next time…
One cannot escape the bountiful offerings available at the cafes and restaurants throughout the town. There are so many options and I’m sure no one would leave Ubud disappointed. Most likely due to the popularity of yoga, the raw food movement is well and truly present but also healthy food in general. Vegetarians have an abundance of choice with tempeh on the menu just about everywhere. Fresh coconuts can be enjoyed daily, as well as tropical fruits.
It wouldn’t be a true post about Ubud (or Bali for that matter) without mentioning ‘Bali belly’, which unfortunately this digital nomad suffered from after a few days of being on the island. It seemed that my stomach had lost its Asian strength with the months spent in Europe and the UK. Coconuts, watermelon and small meals managed to get me through the worst of it but I did need to visit a local doctor, which in Asia is always a cultural experience in itself. After talking to the doctor on the phone, her ever-helpful assistants rummaged through the shelves of pharmaceuticals to find the tablets I required. Yep, a certain amount of trust was required to get me through the remaining days of my symptoms.
In hindsight and as a recommendation, I should have had taken Propolis with me, which does well to line the stomach, protecting it from nasty bacteria when first arriving to Bali.
Aside from working and going to yoga, Ubud has an array of cultural activities to engage in. Being a major arts centre for the island, I opted for a day class learning Batik, a wax-resist dying technique used to create beautiful designs on fabric.
The abundance of silver jewellery for sale in Ubud also means that there are plenty of jewellery making classes on offer too. During a three-hour class, I produced a simple yet elegant ring and a geometric pendant, under the guidance of a skilful Balinese teacher who had the steady hands of a surgeon. Being a tourist town, there are plenty of other activities to engage in, such as Balinese cooking classes, sunrise hikes of Mt Agung and of course, visiting the Monkey Forest, the main tourist attraction.
Overall, Ubud didn’t disappoint, giving it a worthy tick of approval and I’m already planning to return to this colourful town in the near future.