travel - places

The Rice Fields of Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali is one of those stunning places, even more beautiful and Gauguin-like in its lush, verdant greens and washed out sunny glow falling over the rice paddies than what you’d read it in the travel guide. I didn’t know much about the place before I went. I had seen Eat Pray Love and read the book.

I’d read a funny piece by Geoff Dyer, one of my all-time favourite authors, in his new classic travel book, Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It, which the NY Times called a loiterlogue. But what did I expect?

Not much: a bunch of new age-y places, yoga retreats, vegan food. And there was all of that, a ton of loitering ex-pats, mostly women, some of whom were feeding the booming buy a guy industry among the young Balinese men in town. But I also eased into a place that was redemptively gorgeous. It needed to be nothing but itself.

My travel partner got paralyzingly sick from something she ate at a hostel in Denpasar, and while she was laid low by the famous ‘Bali belly’ and got hit on while bedridden by the boy who slept the lawn every morning, I rented a moped and clipped around, looking for places to wander.

I’m lazy by nature, I love to loaf days away, to read flat on my back or floating in a hammock. Ubud was the kind of place where a walk at dawn, then a coffee and a few hours on the laptop and in the journal are enough. After that, it’s ping pong and reading, munching on the granola and salads with other tourists in elephant pants, or visiting the monkey garden and a spa.

At night, chill out or go to one of the Balinese dance theater and dance shows, or down drinks with other travelers, if that’s your thing. I found a lady standing on the side of the road with a deep fryer cart, selling paper bags full of crispy-skinned chicken at dusk that I can still taste back home in Toronto. I hope you find her one day as well.

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