Once predominantly famous for its royal heritage (think palaces and traditional dance performances, literally fit for a king), Ubud has now transformed into a New Age sanctuary.
Karma, radiance, transition and awakening all reign supreme in this cozy jungle town that attracts advanced yogis from all around the world, spiritual gurus of all sorts, energy healers, mantra singers, mandala drawers, dream catchers weavers and a myriad of other trippers.
There is a large Goa-style tribal community who have found a second home in Ubud, as well as plenty of ‘ordinary’ expats who enjoy living in an artsy environment, eating at the abundance of healthy food outlets, and being close to the genuine Balinese culture whilst surrounded by lush green rain forest.
The life is quiet, with lots of spiritual practices and almost no nightlife activities. There is even a popular joke about “imaginary barhopping in Ubud”.
A street advertisement next to a popular organic cafe tells the synopsis of the town quite perfectly: “Native Indian white magic cleansing, tarot readings, crystal bowls meditation, chakra balancing massage, Kundalini awakening and past life regression”. You name it, Ubud has it. But palm reading is so last season.
Based on the success of our article “You Know You’re in Canggu When…”, we’ve decided to dish you up another 20 points – this time on the signature lifestyle of Ubudians.
If you find yourself nodding at every point, congratulations – you’re an Ubud resident. If only every second line makes sense, you most probably live in Canggu and head out to Ubud for a weekend every now and then.
And if all of the below feels like a poorly-written stand-up comedy speech, you might need to relax and grab a healing crystal or two…
You know you’re in Ubud when…
- referring to yourself as ‘goddess’ is an everyday thing. And it doesn’t require wearing a wig and boa while playing Marilyn Monroe on stage at a gay bar.
- people at the table next to you not only greet their salads, but also ask them for some life coaching advice.
- you consider ordering new custom-made specs because your third eye needs some sun protection, too.
- diarrhea can (and should!) be cured by eye-gazing.
- the words ‘bliss’, ‘awaking’, ‘energy’ and ‘wholesome’ substitute just about any other word in the English language – even (and especially) those that start with F.
- you’re detoxing from your detox.
- ‘Saturday night fever’ means lying on the floor listening to crystals singing in the wind. And an ‘off-the-leash’ night means getting wasted on ginger kombucha using a plastic straw. In bed after 10pm wearing a synthetic nightie? You bad, bad girl.
- you plan your romantic date at the football field.
- a monkey with a new shiny credit card between its teeth doesn’t catch your eye.
- a guy with a bum-long braid filled with feathers who wears a skirt and a full set of jewellery is being called an alfa-male
- bras are for wankers. So are shoes.
- hugging someone until your molecules of sweat mix together doesn’t lead to sex. Ever.
- there are more Japanese home cooking cafes than there are in Kyoto.
- you have to spend half an hour on Google to find a place that serves steaks, and the bar with beef sausages on the menu is where the outlaws hang out.
- having something green between your teeth is considered cute.
- there’s moss living in your hair buns (you have two of them), in between your eyelashes, and in your underwear – but it’s far too humid to fight it.
- your yoga teacher sincerely compliments your new armpit hairdo.
- ‘smart casual’ means wearing your PJ’s paired with as many crystal beads as your neck can handle. And “black-tie” means your fanciest studded vegan-leather vest, worn with just a few drops of patchouli oil.
- a ‘vagina singing class’ is just another way to spend a rainy afternoon.
- a Radiohead t-shirt featuring the words ‘Karma Police’ will scare people senseless.
There is basically only one rule to enjoy this city of [inner] light: When in Ubud – go with the flow! It can be very tempting to swan around smirking about every second ‘weirdo’ you meet on the street (and you’ll meet heaps!) and secretly pointing fingers at long-haired men hugging and smiling blissfully in public places.
But we promise you it’s much more fun to join the hype and unleash your inner hippy.
Attend a Yin yoga class and book a craniosacral therapy session – even if you don’t have the slightest clue what they mean. Buy a new pair of extremely tight yoga pants. Sign up for a Tantra workshop. Let strangers touch your head and look deep into your eyes. Have a litre of green juice for lunch instead of a chicken panini. Ask a girl wearing an Indian sari to join you for a gluten-free date.
Try walking barefoot for a week. Use virgin coconut oil to detox, to sauté your kale, to put in your coffee, to self-massage, and to have sex. Start talking about unconditional love, even when you’re asked if you would like your cereal with cashew or almond milk. Express yourself gracefully through ecstatic dance. Chase and threaten that friend who dared to film it with his smartphone. Rave about chocolate-free chocolate and salt-free salt. Snack on dehydrated beetroots.
Shine! It’s Ubud, baby. The place of the wild and free.
Feature Illustration by Gleb Solntsev