A Day in Ubud with Kensington Tours

In the middle of the rice field, I click away at the shutter with dedication, blown away by the pristine beauty of Ubud. A quiet thud a few steps ahead beckons me to look up from the viewfinder. A coconut had fallen from the tree and landed on the narrow dirt path that separates one owner’s field from another. 
My first inclination is to sigh in relief that the coconut didn’t land on my head, but before I could, a farmer jumps out from the field and runs up to the freshly ripened fruit. 

“Want a coconut?” He chops the fruit  open with his knife and smiles at me.
Traveling is a big part of my job, but traveling for work is not nearly the same as taking a vacation. While this summer has been full of some amazing trips abroad for work, I was starting to feel burned out from living out of a suitcase for the better part of 3 months. When I found myself in Indonesia in September, I knew exactly what I needed to unwind – a quiet week in Bali with a few friends.  

When the folks at Kensington Tours heard about my trip, they kindly offered for me to join them on a day trip to Ubud. I was still buzzing from participating in their luxury 3-day tour in Portugal this summer and immediately accepted the offer. 

Ubud is the arts center of the Indonesian island. Removed from the beachheads and nightclubs of Kuta and Seminyak, this is where visitors come to soak up the culture and arts of Bali. If I had just one day in Bali, I would spend it here: learning about the traditions of the Balinese, browsing the art galleries and markets in center Ubud, taking in the scenery of the rice fields, and visiting the Royal Palace. 

Entrance to a family temple
Our tour guide explaining the layout of a traditional Balinese home
The silversmith at work
Bali is famous for its handicrafts so we started off the day to see the works of the woodcarver, the silversmith, and the batik fabric-maker. Along the way, we became fascinated with the home of the silversmith. Occupying a traditional Balinese home, the compound of the silversmith consisted of 4 pavilions and a family temple. 
Hinduism is the predominant religion on the island and you cannot go far in Bali without seeing a temple. There are family temples, village temples, rice field temples, mountain temples; in fact, it is often said that there are more temples per square mile than anywhere else in the world. 
One of these famous temples is situated in the Sacred Monkey Forest, home to over 600 long-tailed macaques. On our visit, these monkeys played, swam, and fought over the food from visitors. While I was a bit afraid of the tribes of monkeys, the boys seemed unfazed, taking turns feeding peanuts to the animals. The Monkey Forest is more than a show of playful animals, but also a cultural sanctuary that shows harmony between human and nature.

Temple entrance and statue with an offering for the gods
The boys inquiring about worship of the dead
Observing our genetic cousins at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Left: entrance to the Ubud Royal Palace | Right: farmer splitting a ripe coconut
The highlight of the day was a meal at Sari Organik. This all organic restaurant overlooking the rice paddies of outer Ubud was a photographer’s dream. Throughout the meal, I was glued to the restaurant patio that looked out to where the fields where the lush green met the blue sky. 
Photographers spends years training their eye – their ability to read light, compose a picture, and translate their vision into an image. On any given trip, I come home with a few thousand images easily. But I believe some moments are not meant to be captured, they are meant to be lived. 
Under the clear sky of Ubud, overlooking the exotic scenery of island known as paradise, spending the week with 3 close friends, and enjoying the cultural immersion from our generous tour guide – it was an experience that no photograph could do justice. 


This blog post was made possible through my partnership with Kensington Tours, but they did not request that I write a favorable review or have a near miss with a coconut falling on my head.

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