What Kate Does Next: My Best of Ubud 2023

2023 was the year I locked in for a Life List Go Big Goal to live and work in Bali for a few months – to road test being a digital nomad in paradise – with the added benefit of avoiding the worst of another Melbourne winter. I have been living in Ubud for 5 weeks and as far as possible I have tried to immerse myself in this beautiful place. Five weeks was never going to be long enough to really get to know Ubud, but I have done my best and wanted to share my best with you.

The Best Place to Stay

I stumbled across Rumah Jelita by accident on Airbnb – by accident because I was 100% sure I wanted to stay at a place with a pool, and Rumah Jelita does not have one. But I was so drawn to this place that the ‘no pool’ issue was a very small price to pay for this gorgeous, light filled studio apartment, tucked neatly behind Money Forest Road and accessible only by foot or motorbike along a long narrow path that draws you away from the hustle and bustle of the main strip. It is quiet, peaceful, open and simply perfect for a solo writer. The apartment is managed by Ketut and he is a gem.

The Best Place to Eat

I ate a lot of meals in Ubud, became seriously addicted to Acai Bowls (see below as a separate entry) and ate my fair share of Mie Goreng. From time to time over my 5 weeks I craved, and caved in, for a pizza, but on the whole I was faithful to traditional Indonesian food. By far and away my best place to eat is Warang Garasi (Garage Family Restaurant) a second generation establishment in the very heart of Ubud, just off Monkey Forest Road, run by the happy and very welcoming Ketut Bobi and his wife. Bobi’s mother and father started cooking and selling food from the Ubud market in the 1990’s before the family set up a table at their front door in central Ubud to sell their food, and eventually turned their garage into a restaurant – or to describe it more accurately – set up a kitchen in their garage, which they still use as a garage. The food is delicious, very hearty, maxes out at 30,000 IDR (roughly $AUD3) a dish and are all Bobi’s father’s original family recipes. Bobi’s wife is the cook these days, however his mum still cooks the rice every morning. Bobi hopes that one of his 3 sons will take over the restaurant when the time comes. I probably ate here 10 times over my 5 weeks and did not get to sample the whole menu – which has a lot of choices – but the traditional ayam (chicken curry) ($AUD3) was bloody delicious as was the fresh mango juice ($AUD1.80).

The best Acai Bowl

I ate at least 20 smoothie bowls while staying in Ubud – extreme I know – and there was only one place I returned to more than once (four times to be accurate) for their exceptional offering: The Seeds of Life and their very audacious Choc Berry Breakfast Bowl topped with sprouted granola, coconut and cacao nibs, a thick chocolate protein bar, and spirulina yogurt. OMG. I will probably have dreams about this.

The Best Place for a Massage

Ubud is dripping in spas – from the incredible high end, high touch, high price point establishments to the basic walk in off the street options. Being here for 5 weeks and with a plan to have as many massages as possible, I was not interested in high end, so sampled a lot of smaller spas. A lot. My absolute favourite is Sacred Ubud Spa, tucked off Monkey Forest Road with a view across small rice fields. The menu is generous, the location is central, the facilities are good enough and the team are exceptional at what they do. I loved it.

The best place to get away from the traffic and have a walk

Ubud is busy. I first came here on my honeymoon in 1995 when it literally had a handful of restaurants set amongst the rice fields. The main streets these days are crazy busy with people and traffic and lots of shops, but it is very easy and quick to find some lush green space. My favourite option was to walk The Campuhan Ridge Walk nestled above where the Cerik and Wos Rivers converge. The hike is mostly uphill from the Gunung Lebah Temple and my favourite time to walk the trail was early – around 7am – when I virtually had the trail to myself and the temperature was cool. The trail is only a few kilometres long, but once you get to the end of the trail, you are in genuine farmland with rice fields, farmers working the land and very little traffic. My general route would see me hike the trail at pace for some good exercise followed by a meander through the countryside, followed by a circular hike back past the Blanco Museum which afforded me a good 10km walk.

The best way to get around

I hired a Scooby (scooter) through Ketut who managed my homestay. Daily rental is around $8 but as I hired my bike for 5 weeks I only paid $4 a day. I absolutely love motorbike riding. It is so freeing and fun and makes me feel like a complete badass. I navigate the traffic jams like a pro and go with the traffic flow like a local – there is an art to merging, giving way and completely ignoring ‘do not enter’ and ‘one way only’ signs here, and after 5 weeks I am all over it.

The best yoga studio

This entry will be a bit contentious, as I only tried one studio – The Yoga Barn. And while I appreciate that the Yoga Barn is a very commercial operation catering almost exclusively to Westerners with absolutely no yoga experience, I am in fact a Westerner with absolutely no yoga experience, which is the exact reason I chose it. It is a large establishment, with lots of class options and lots of different teachers – which made it perfect for a newby. Now that I am 5 weeks and about 25 yoga classes in, and feeling a little more seasoned when it comes to my poses, next time round I will know the difference between Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 and having partaken in Yin Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Arial Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Beginners Yoga, and Stretch Yoga, I will broaden my yoga wings and sample other yoga offerings.

The best way to spend a day

I simply loved jumping on my bike, heading to the petrol station to fill her up (a full tank will set you back 25,000 IDR, approximately $AUD2.50) and hitting the small roads to explore. There are main roads in Ubud, small roads in Ubud and an endless and intricate web of bike/ walking paths just wide enough for a motorbike to navigate. I spent hours just riding around and taking a left when the option presented itself or a right if that looked like the road less traveled. I discovered farms, rivers, streams, koi ponds, rice terraces, and even broke into (well, ducked under the boom gate to explore…) an abandoned hotel. Exceptional fun.

The best place to work

Unsure of how good the wifi in my apartment would be (very good actually) and also knowing that I might crave a little company and some unique working facilities from time to time, I decided to join a co-working space. The Outpost is absolutely terrific. There are 2 office spaces in Ubud: Penestanan and Ubud (south of the Monkey Forest). I bought a package of 50 hours over a month ($USD77) which entitled me to all of the spaces (the quiet room for focussed work, the non quiet room for running meetings/ talking/ coaching online, air conditioned rooms, open spaces, gardens and outdoor working areas), incredible wifi, and access to 6 hours in a private Skype booth which was very handy for when I was running workshops. Both Outpost sites come with access to a pool, cafe and are staffed 24 hours a day by a very professional team who double as a concierge function – they helped me find the best place to get booklets printed, pointed me in the direction of to the best local eateries and remembered my name every single time I walked into the place. Worth. Every. Cent. I preferred the Ubud central space and found a very useful little shortcut down a forest path from my apartment through the actual Monkey Forest, which was a thrilling and sometimes terrifying ride, navigating a fine line between a gauntlet of monkeys and oncoming motorbike traffic.

Best Bakery

I can’t go past Bakery – Bali Bohemia, which was very conveniently located at the end of the shortcut path through the Monkey Forest on my way to work at The Outpost. Banana and Choc rolls for 15,000 IDR ($AUD1.50) saw me through many an early morning of work (Bali is 2 hours behind AEST, so my 9am meetings were held at 7am Bali time).

My Favourite Tattoo Place

Ok, I know I now ride a motorbike and all but that does not make me such a badass that I have sampled multiple tattoo parlours. But I did do a lot of research and absolutely loved Karma House in Penestanan. I got my first tattoo at Karma House in 2022, and it was always my plan to return this year to acquire some extra ink (god I am cool). Dedi coordinates the team of artists and he is divine. My tattoo artist is called Ben and I love him. Highly recommended – this place is uber cool.

My Best Medical Care

It would be wishful thinking to live in Bali for a few months without needing a visit to the doctor. The team at Ubud Care Premium on Sukma Kesuma Road operate an on-call/ just rock up/ but preferably make an appointment via WhatsApp service. Manned by a doctor and nurse at all times, they were highly professional and provided excellent care. I met a number of expats who had used their service and everyone spoke very highly of them. I hope you don’t need them, but if you do, they are excellent.

My Best Laundry

Being in Bali for 7 weeks and having only 7 kilos of luggage (I set myself the challenge of travelling super light and avoiding the hassle of having checked baggage), I needed a great local laundry. Mae Mae Laundry was at my doorstep, providing a next day service for 20,000 IDR per kilo ($2AUD) or same day service for slightly more.

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I am an executive coach and small business coach specialising in time management, productivity, goal setting and life by design.
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Grief and loss taught Kate—a top lawyer turned time management expert for global businesses—life is too short. You need to set then chase outrageous goals. Now.
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At its heart, this book is about sharing my story so that you know you aren’t alone – that there are many women just like you who are reflecting on what’s next.
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