The Other Side of Bali, Far From Its Tegalagang Rice Terraces…

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Like many travelers, I was shocked and amazed – in the worst possible way – upon arriving to Bali for the first time. Where were the picturesque beaches, the relics of migratory Hinduism and the laid-back vibe that drew millions of annual tourists here in the first place?

And, more importantly, where the fuck was Julia Roberts’ cute villa? (I was in search of her sexy Brazilian man, too, but let’s be realistic here.)

The Bali you encounter when you first arrive at Denpasar International Airport couldn’t be further from the one depicted in “Eat, Pray, Love,” from steel-grey waters and trash-covered beaches in Kuta, to the disproportionate numbers of foreigners in could-be-charming places like Seminyak, to the blatant commercialism that has nearly wiped out the semblance of anything local around the island.

The good news is that bits and pieces of Julia Roberts’ Bali are within your reach. Today I’m going to talk about my favorite of them, the Ubud region, which is home to the lush rice terraces, Hindu temples and the gives you the opportunity to get up-close and personal with monkeys.

The Tegalagang Rice Terraces are a good balance of accessible and picturesque

The Tegalagang Rice Terraces are a good balance of accessible and picturesque, although more and less scenic rice terraces do exist in Ubud.

Friendly locals will try and hustle money out of you in exchange for tours

But it's perfectly easy to walk through the terraces on your own

After you've finished exploring the terraces, sit down for a nice drink or meal – but be prepared to pay for it

Visit the Sacred Monkey temple – you'll be in good company

If you're patient and pay attention, you can get a glimpse at more intimate moments the crowds may miss

The Sacred Monkey forest is also home to trees of a pretty sacred variety

Many Hindu temples sit between the tourist areas of Bali and Ubud, although they are wracked by the influence of modern civilization and technology. Cell phones are everywhere.
Many Hindu temples sit between the tourist areas of Bali and Ubud, although they are wracked by the influence of modern civilization
Top photo credit:essenceinphotographydot.com. Rest are from Robert.
Robert Schrader
Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who's been roaming the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as "CNNGo" and "Shanghaiist" along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, provides a mix of travel advice, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of life as a traveler.
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One Response to The Other Side of Bali, Far From Its Tegalagang Rice Terraces…

  1. Expat Explorers May 28, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    We’ve just got back from Java and Bali. While we hardly saw another Western in Java, by comparison we struggled to find the real Bali at first. As you say, it’s there; you just have to look further. Great monkey pic by the way.

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