There is something special about Ubud. I don’t know if its the sounds of cicadas, the nighttime showers or the lush green everywhere, but you can’t help but feel a sense of peace wash over you. Admittedly, the two hour ride up to Desa Visesa from the south side of Bali was a little rough as we were still jet lagged, but that was a distant memory by the end of the welcoming ceremony, which involved rice on our foreheads. Rice represents life in Balinese Hinduism, and the act of placing rice on our foreheads was symbolic of a third eye as a sign of gratitude to the gods for life and crops.We were ready for a nap by the time we got to our room, but we wanted to make the most of the daylight remaining. Our villa faced out onto the rice fields which are the most striking part of the landscape in this area. My favorite little touch was the little towel men that had been lovingly folded onto our beds. They had placed little blades of grass on them to make little faces, and Jason aptly pointed out that since one of them was smiley, and the other one looked a little grumpy, they pretty much represented our dynamic on the drive up. 🙃
If there was a bathroom decor award to win, this would be on the list. Although having a tropical rainforest growing in my bathroom in LA would properly be a landscaping and watering nightmare, I like one in my hotel bathroom. The open-air yet still mostly covered outdoor vibe was amazing – though I still wonder whether our neighbors could hear our hilarious bathroom conversations as we brushed our teeth before bed.
Desa Visesa provided such a unique experience of Ubud, on one hand being a working permaculture farm with daily life activities where guests can experience what life is like for a local farmer. On the other hand, it is the home of one of the most memorable traditional Balinese dining experiences we had during our entire trip.
This balcony is everything!!We had dinner at Lumbung Restaurant. I was really excited to try some home-cooked Balinese comfort food and the setting was surreal. I loved the sound of the bubbling stream beneath the balcony – you can’t see it, but there is a 30 foot drop down into a gully below, every inch covered by lush greens.
We had the chef’s selection and I didn’t really have any preconceptions of what I was about to sample, but I was in foodie heaven when the good stuff kept coming out and it all looked incredible. Imagine my excitement when the dessert sampler included Indonesian Layer Cake, which I had had as a kid, but had not come across for a decade. There were also sweet soupy coconut based desserts, and while the texture is not for everybody, I love them, and it’s definitely worth a try.
Trying new cuisines and exploring restaurants for the first time is probably one of my favorite things in life (although we do order the same date and ricotta pizza at the same Italian restaurant ALL THE TIME), and the knowledge that we were deep in the forest thousands of miles away from our every day made this extra special.
It was raining the next morning over breakfast. One of the features of the forests in the northern areas of Bali is that it rains more frequently than the coastal areas in the south, which is why everything is so lush and green there. There’s something whimsical about having dim sum and fruit as the rain falls around the pavilion that houses the breakfast buffet.
After breakfast, I had the opportunity to get a experience a traditional Balinese healing at the Visesa Healing Spa. It started with a cup of hot ginger tea. While I was at the spa, Jase went for a run at the outdoor gym overlooking the rice fields while I sipped my tea and enjoyed the view. 🙊
After I finished my tea, a Balinese medicine man read my chakras (as cliche as it feels like it to say, it felt like something out of Eat Pray Love). The 24+ hours in transit to get to Bali was brutal, and I had been coming off a cold, and what struck me was how accurately he was able to determine any discomfort I was feeling. I had had a short reiki healing session before and I felt the same cool calming energy as we performed a ritual with holy water. This requires drinking water from your palms so I recommend having clean hands. All this in a natural cave setting, and the massage was to the sound of running water from the rocks. So relaxing and topped off with more ginger hair! 😴
For lunch, we ventured to the main part of Ubud (the hotel provided regular shuttles). Definitely a feature on my Ubud Food Guide, I stumbled upon Watercress Cafe years ago while I was on shoot in Bali for 3 weeks, and came here almost every second day. Get your rustic decor and all-day breakfast. For old times sake, I got an acai bowl and a wellness shot. If there is one place in the world that does organic wellness-oriented food as well as LA, it’s Ubud.
P.S. This cafe is walking distance to the famous Monkey Forest, if you’re interested in a visit. Just don’t leave any sunglasses lying around, or sitting atop your head. You might find that a monkey thinks it looks better in them than you do, and that you have no need for them.
Ubud is such a gorgeous enclave of beautiful food and gorgeous landscapes – we were not able to stay as long as we would have liked in Ubud, and were sorry to leave this paradise. Not only does the area have some of the best food in Bali, you will be surrounded by nature at its best. Thank you to the wonderful team at Desa Visesa for a wonderful stay. ❤
For a more detailed Ubud food guide, click here.