Surprisingly Ubud

Fourteen years ago my husband Chris went to Ubud. It wasn’t so famous or trendy then, and Elizabeth Gilbert of eat pray love fame hadn’t met her medicine man yet. Chris volunteered on a papaya plantation, teaching people how to make humus out of decayed leaf matter instead of burning it all off.

So he was keen to take us all there and see what he saw and eat where he ate. We loved the friendliness of the Balinese people, the climate was a welcome 10 degrees cooler than Vietnam. Speaking of the medicine man, we stayed quite near his place. Let me tell you, that guy is now making a whole lot of money. He charges $25 for fortune telling, and the road outside is lined with cars and taxis everyday. In fact, in order to direct people to our place, we would just say ‘ketut liyer’s house’ and every driver would know it. The locals say he no longer has any ‘powers’.



We enrolled Meena, Tintin and Snowy at a local school and were able to do more concentrated work and ABR therapy with Sparky. After two weeks we pulled them out and reverted to homeschooling.

It was a good experience, if for no other reason than it confirmed homeschooling is right for us.


We lived in a traditional Balinese family compound alongside a large extended family. It was great to potter about in the gorgeous garden with them, and Baby Boy took his first steps surrounded by the full extended family who praised his every effort with gestures and cheers, and long exhortations in Bahasa and short ones in English. He was very pleased with himself!


We made a bunch of friends in Ubud, from all over the place.  One big advantage of staying in one spot awhile is getting to know people, much more than our own neighbours at home!


It was great to have our own rudimentary kitchen. We even had two bedrooms!!  Here’s Chris cooking ‘toast’


We went to a traditional Balinese dance with Balinese orchestra. The costumes were wonderful, but the music….. let’s just say two hours of discordance was quite enough for our ears.

I am not a bit artistic, I can’t even draw a tree. Being creative with food is a bit closer to what I’m interested in. So Tintin and I did a fruit carving class at the local library, here are our masterpieces!


Ubud is a “spiritual market place”. Everything from shamans to aura healing to new and improved types of massage…. Sadly we did not find a church the whole time we we there.

What’s our best memory of Ubud?


The skyline always has kites flying. Sometimes there are heaps of them over the rice fields. When we went our walking grown men would be chatting and flying kites together with obvious enjoyment. We bought one. It didn’t work.

This guy fixed our kite and taught us how to fly it.


Baby boy saying “its up there!!”

Surprisingly, despite being busier, Ubud was still tranquil.  Thanks Ubud, it was lovely to live with you for a while.  We’ll come again.


This is really a catch-up post.  We stayed four weeks, but it was a few weeks ago. Actually, now we are in China and 37 people just died in the floods and we are watching a very Chinese version of the Olympics. I’ll get up to date just as soon as we get a handle on dodging the silent but deadly electric scooters, ‘saliva chicken’ and other delicacies, and 13 million noisy people out our window…..

Related posts:

16 Responses to Surprisingly Ubud

  1. Mary-Louise August 2, 2012 at 5:31 am #

    Great photos, Jill! And fantastic to see you working hard with dad, Sparky. Xxx

  2. Bron August 2, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Looks and sounds amazing as usual! I am super keen to hear about your China adventure, it is one i would love to take. I am thinking BB must be approachihng one or just turned? Happy birthday or belated birthday to him :) i just love all your pics especially the ones that seem to capture Meenas thoughfulness and sweet character xx
    Bron recently posted..KLCC water park.My Profile

  3. Margaret Hogan August 2, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    There’s a real sense of peace in this post Jill. Sounds like a beautiful month. Had to laugh. When I read “Chris volunteered on a papaya plantation, teaching people how to make humus out of decayed leaf matter” I thought you meant humous for a moment! What a versatile bloke. Must be the Beirut connection haha.
    Margaret Hogan recently posted..It wouldn’t be a farmers market without the farmers. Thanks for coming!My Profile

  4. tereza crump aka MyTreasuredCreations August 2, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Your carved watermelons look like real artwork! Beautifully done!
    tereza crump aka MyTreasuredCreations recently posted..A Sophisticated Halloween WeddingMy Profile

  5. Mary August 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Wonderful, we hope to get there for a week or so soon! Funny about the school, we also tried school a few times in Costa Rica at the boys request. That lasted a VERY short time and like you said its quite reaffirming that homeschool is the only way for us. I hated the whole thing and so did they:)
    Mary recently posted..Reality Sucks, or Does It?My Profile

  6. Travel with Bender (Erin) August 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Love the watermelon carving, gorgeous !

  7. Cindy August 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Great article. We also loved ubud and long to go back their. It a perfect stop to start and finish our adventures being relatively close to home.

    Those food cravings look awesome, what fun !

    Can not wait to hear about china.

  8. Bampa August 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    Loved your carvings. Will you be able to show me how to do it sometime?
    Love Granny

  9. Lisa Wood August 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    I watched the Movie Eat, Pray, Love movie and read the book ~ was wondering what it did for the medicine guy. Funny how much money he is now making, and yet he has lost his powers?
    Love the idea of staying somewhere/visiting somewhere through your husbands eyes, and then getting to see it all over again with family!
    And yeah we think homeschooling works better for our boys :)
    Lisa Wood recently posted..The Secret To My HappinessMy Profile

  10. Aunty deb August 4, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Loved the photos. It looks like a beautiful place to get creative. I shall put it on my to do list. Look forward to hearing about China. Love deb

  11. A King's Life - Digital Nomad Family August 7, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    We love the kites here and some are so large! We had one down in our yard that was well over 12 feet tall.
    We particularly like the sound they make when they turn in the air. I thought at first the sound was coming from a temple, but no.The Balinese put a special strap on their kites to make the sound.
    A King’s Life – Digital Nomad Family recently posted..Discovering Kuala LumpurMy Profile

  12. Tracy August 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    We were in Ubud back in 2001. It was so so different then. More laid back, less polished. But it still have that same arty, peaceful feel that made you want to just sit back, enjoy life and create something, whether it was helping the kids paint, cook or carve a watermelon (looks awesome by the way, I didn’t get time to do it so I’m so jealous that you did!). Did you take the kids for a music lesson at all? I got a video of my guys and you can see the exact moment the instructor game up and let the kids go crazy!
    Tracy recently posted..A week in Katherine, Northern Territory, 2006My Profile

  13. Maria August 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    I’m starting to catch up with all your posts, and I’m so glad Baby Boy’s walking now!

    The fruit carvings are amazing… I can’t believe the detail on them!

    The very first picture in this post is my favorite though all of them are fantastic.

    Miss you!
    Maria recently posted..Is This Real?My Profile

  14. Deb @ Bright and Precious August 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    Jill! I’m just catching up with your posts for the last month – so I decided to start back here. Ubud is one of my favourite places. I hadn’t thought of it in terms of a spiritual place – maybe because the Indo culture is like second nature to me and I’m oblivious to certain things. But you’re right. (And it’s weird that I didn’t REALLY notice it – because I have my own faith and I’m fairly in tuned with these things). I do remember Ubud being so artistic and peaceful. Those rice paddies were stunning. Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed your four weeks there. What a good amount of time to stay and appreciate the culture. Living in a compound would have given you such a good insight. Congratulations to Baby Boy for taking his first steps! Very memorable for all I imagine. And yes, I couldn’t take more than an hour of the gamelan music… even though I grew up on it. Last time I went to a dance (in Ubud actually) I left early. Brilliant fruit cutting. And would love to hear more about your homeschooling one day. I can imagine that you’re too busy actually LIVING life to document and converse too much. When you’re bored at home in Australia one day (as if that’s ever going to happen?!) – I’d love to chat to you about so many things. :)
    Deb @ Bright and Precious recently posted..The Blossom TreeMy Profile

  15. Chloe March 4, 2013 at 1:20 am #

    Hi, stumbled across your blog and I’m hooked!
    I’m in my final year of a psychology degree, mid dissertation, no maternity leave, with a 4 1/2yr old daughter and a 7 week old son! We are contemplating heading of as soon as I graduated as I think both my babies need me full time. I mean, baby isn’t in childcare, he comes to lectures with me, I mean he needs me 100% mind and body. Which is the wonder if your style of travelling.

    Please could you tell me where you stayed in Ubud? The family complex?

    Ps, I LOVE your post about breastfeeding. I’m in th uk and went to my mother and baby group last week. Out of the 19 mums inwas the youngest and the only bf mum. Really encouraging to see you continuing while abroad. Makes me more determined to bf for even longer than with my daughter (1yr), despite being in the minority at home.

  16. Ruslan Wiryadi January 21, 2015 at 11:45 pm #

    Hi Jill
    In fact there is one and only church in Ubud. It is on Gunung Sari street. Here is their website

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes