It was expletive #63 when I realised I had a problem.  With sweat dribbling down my neck and my eyes burning with car fumes I had to take a cold hard look at myself.  Was I missing something?

This holiday was meant to be many things. A fresh start. A moment of zen. The beginning of a virtuous path of yoga, raw food and all things healthy. Yet there I was, standing in the centre of Ubud in a traffic jam, surrounded by throngs of pious looking Europeans wearing yoga pants.

How exactly did I get there? And perhaps more importantly, how the f&*$ could I get out?

I’d spent years avoiding Bali, chortling at the prospect of braids and bintang t-shirts. Yet after two days in Seminyak I had eaten humble pie – incredible food, luscious cocktails and boutiques that could make even the non-shopper turn. So, what would Ubud, the place synonymous with tranquility, health and zen deliver? The expectations were high. Tripadvisor’s endorsement even higher. It seemed inevitable that this would be the romantic getaway we needed.

As I stood on the pavement confused and groggy a small child looked up at me and smiled…as he urinated between the cracks in the pavement.  At that moment I knew. My salvation was clear.


Ubud Starbucks: quiet and relaxing. I thought that was the point of holidaying in Ubud??

Yoga pants and virtuous eating just aren’t my thing. And this may make me a total nerd but I don’t really get Ubud.  Why does everyone look so serene when the traffic is in gridlock and hawkers barter with you at every turn? Why is everyone wearing Lorna Jane and hippy clothes in public? And why, oh wh-yyy will noone eat cooked food.

Brandishing my Starbucks bag I knew I had visited the most serene place in Ubud. Empty, air conditioned and quiet.  Right at that moment a Dutch woman grabbed me with glee, screeching “Staaaa-bucks – wee-aa?”

I had found my zen in Ubud. It just wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

More on Ubud


Yup, doesn’t get more ironic: Starbucks Ubud


Snakeskin fruit: Lychee and garlic’s lovechild


Ubud: Bali’s art centre


Finally, serenity in Ubud, a villa in the middle of the jungle. NOW I get it…

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