For once, let’s forget the hip and happening scene of Seminyak, the luxurious Nusa Dua, or the crowded beach of Kuta. How about we travel Ubud, to the unique cultural hub of Bali for a change? From the scenic green panorama, vibrant local vibes, mesmerizing art centers to peaceful activities, Ubud is going to be a fresh change of scene you never know you needed. Whenever you’re ready, here are the top 6 picks for the most refreshing things to do at Ubud:
The Tegalalang Rice Terraces really needs no lengthy introduction. This iconic spot is well known for its dramatic views of emerald green slopes with a local irrigation system, namely subak. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the sight alone is awe-inspiring but the story behind it will make you fall in love with this place even more. The rice terraces were built in a way that reflects the Balinese philosophy of life or Tri Hita Karana. In essence, they are paying respect by creating harmony with nature, other humans and gods. So remember to take in that magical vibe and snap a few instagrammable pics when you’re there.
If you’re a fan of exotic temple and the playful creatures, we recommend visiting the lush forest where hundreds of monkeys roam free. Located in Padangtegal Village, this over 12 hectare of land offers an exploration of nature with spiritual and educational atmosphere all around. As a sanctuary to the grey long-tailed macaques, you’ll enjoy the collection of ancient temples and moss-covered statues under the tall green canopies. Just be warned, the monkeys can be cheeky at times but generally won’t turn aggressive unless provoked. So play it nice and you’ll get an afternoon of wonderful experience for sure.
Up for some free and easy trekking? Just head over to Campuhan Ridge Walk which is arguably one of the most popular and favorite trekking spots for good reasons. The hilly areas boast a superbly photogenic green vistas with contours that are truly soul-soothing. Combined this with the awesome rice fields views, it’s no wonder that tourists and locals flock here on the daily for the dose of nature.
We recommend heading for the location either early in the morning for sunrise of late afternoon before sunset, you’ll not only get a good leg stretch but some rejuvenating views that will calm your mind.
Thanks to Ubud’s talented artists and craftsmen, there is a wealth of carvings, paintings, clothings, local souvenirs, and other handicrafts to be discovered at any given minute. Just head over to Ubud Traditional Art Market or Sukmawati Art Market and you’ll soon blend into the vibrant shopping scene. You will not only be spoiled for choices when shopping in Ubud, but may score some authentic purchases at affordable prices too. If you’re not into shopping or bargaining, you can always channel your inner Julia Roberts character in Eat Pray Love by strolling around and seeing all the gorgeous colors through her eyes here!
Known as Bali’s art and culture capital, there’s no better place to witness the magnificent traditional performances than Ubud. From the notorious Kecak fire or Legong dance, gamelan practice, to other Balinese art ceremonies, Ubud packs a full schedule in different locations which you can adjust to your own preference. You can also catch one of these performances anywhere from the Royal Palace and public places. More than just observing, you can even join in the fun by learning traditional performances or trying your hands on local crafts!
Ubud is a yoga heaven one simply must not miss! Whether you’re a beginner or long-time fan, there’ always a perfect class for you somewhere in the abundance of Ubud yoga studios. You will find a range of classes of all different levels of ability, designed to fit your stamina. It’s really only natural to get on the mat and join yoga here, what better way than to inhale-exhale and truly immerse yourself as one with the tranquil Ubud surroundings?
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Back in early 2001, Maritoni Fernandez, a Philippine cinematic gem, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. At the time, Maritoni was very busy with her acting career and during a brief visit to the US to get a second opinion for her mom’s medical condition, Maritoni was surprised to find out that a lump she had noticed years prior, which she thought was benign, turn out to be positive for cancer. It’s 20 years later and she still tears up when she recalls the moment that turned her life upside down. But as surprising as the diagnosis was, her year-long struggle with a disease that could have taken her life, soon came to an end with her on top. Feeling very strongly about paying-it-forward, she’s been an iCanServe member for 19 years and has made sharing her story a personal advocacy; “The day I stop sharing my story is the day I’m no longer brave and I hope that never happens.”, she says.
Maritoni grants us an afternoon to share her inspiring story with the hopes that it gives others, going through the same experience, strength to overcome it.
Looking back, she feels blessed that she followed her instincts to have herself checked again despite getting initial medical advice that she had nothing to worry about. Admittedly, she was hesitant to bring it up again as having the thought of a possible sickness is something she didn’t want to verbalize. Being the strong and determined person that she is, soon after confirming her diagnosis, Maritoni set her mind to overcome the biggest hurdle in her life. “In hindsight, it felt like a wild roller coaster ride. It’s also a test of patience and grit.,” said Maritoni. She decided to create a relationship with her cancer to help prepare her for the long journey she had ahead of her.
During treatment, she went through 4 Chemotherapy sessions followed by 26 sessions of radiation therapy. She was then put on oral medication and was instructed to stay on it for 5 years but with the help of her medication complemented by natural supplements, her body recovered in just 3 years and was blessed with a miracle of being pregnant with her second child.
Despite the terrifying experience, her faith got her through the ordeal. She says “I knew the fight was not mine. I physically had to fight it, but the fight was really HIS. I was allowed to get sick because a lot of people are gonna learn from it. “ Her lovely daughter, Lexi shares the same sentiment saying that “The world can get to me but having faith keeps me grounded. And this is something I’ve learned from my mom’s journey.”
Ever since she was declared cancer-free, Maritoni has taken it upon herself to share her experience and inspire people to keep the faith and to not look at cancer as the end of one’s journey. Her advice to those who’ve been diagnosed? “Have faith, don’t lose hope, and pray as God is a mighty healer. Breast Cancer is not a death sentence. Follow what your doctors tell you to do but don’t be scared to get a second opinion before getting aggressive treatment. At the same time, don’t just leave your prognosis to your doctors. Do something about it and research. Keep your chin up, keep going, and find something to live for everyday - for me it was my daughter Lexi. If you do get healed by the grace of God, pay it forward.”
For this shoot, Maritoni prepares for a charity ball which she supports. She believes this is worth remembering because she attended with her daughter and SweetEscape is the perfect partner to capture this moment in this warrior’s life.
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