Ubud, Top City in Asia

Feb 8th, 2010, in Travel, by

UbudUbud officially becomes the “Top City in Asia”, as a hoop dancing festival approaches.

The winner of Conde Nast Traveler magazine 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards for Top City in Asia is the small town of Ubud in Bali, population 8,000.

25,000 readers were surveyed with the evaluation criteria being Atmosphere/Ambience, Culture/Sites, Friendliness, Lodging, Restaurants, and Shopping, with local news reports ascribing Ubud’s top showing to the recent filming in the town of Hollywood movie “Eat, Pray, Love” (EPL), starring Julia Roberts. antara

The top ten, with scores:

  1. Ubud, 82.5
  2. Bangkok, 82.2
  3. Hong Kong, 81.3
  4. Chiang Mai, 80.9
  5. Kyoto, 80.2
  6. Singapore, 79.6
  7. Shanghai, 75.9
  8. Jaipur, 74.2
  9. Tokyo, 72.9
  10. Hanoi, 69

In worldwide scoring terms Ubud was an astonishing 5th:

  1. Sydney, 86.9
  2. San Francisco, 84.8
  3. Florence, 84.6
  4. Charleston, South Carolina, 83.1
  5. Ubud, 82.5

However Bali as a whole, which is described by the Conde Nast online travel guide as a place of

pervasive spirituality, with daily ceremonies at more than 1,000 temples

failed to win the Top Asia Islands category, just losing out to the Maldives. concierge.com

Meanwhile, basking in its glory, Ubud is to play host to Bali Spirit Festival 2010 in March, said to be

a spiritually charged event that celebrates yoga, dance and music and the synergy of global cultural collaboration through the arts

Hoop Dancing in BaliUbud Festival Yoga
Pervasive spirituality in Ubud, hoop dancing and yoga.

4,500 people are expected to attend some of the 95 yoga, dance, and music workshops with in addition nightly world music concerts. balispiritfestival

22 Comments on “Ubud, Top City in Asia”

  1. Burung Koel says:

    Conde Nast Traveller, at the cutting edge as always.

    Provided that you’re American, aged in your 60s and filthy rich to boot.

  2. ET says:

    Provided that you’re American, aged in your 60s and filthy rich to boot.

    Or a new age wanker, wearing dreadlocks and still believe that Bali in general and Ubud in particular is the spiritual center and ‘Morning of the World’.

    But you can earn your future place in paradise here by giving generously to the scores of beggars that roam the main thoroughfare.

  3. Ross says:

    If you got to Sukorejo, in Jawa Tengah, it has a giant statue of a chicken on its alun2…and not that many beggars.

  4. David says:

    Are you sure Ross? I tried searching google images for ‘Sukorejo ayam’ and this is all they gave me

    In fact even ‘Sukorejo patung’ shows that picture. Nothing to do with me though.

  5. Odinius says:

    Good for Ubud! It’s a smart tourist trap in the sense that it attracts generally wealthier but less destructive tourist types, and gives an opportunity for many artisans, musicians and so on to make some money off their goods.

  6. Ross says:

    Yeah, I was up there in December, saw the chook. You sure you weren’t googling the other city that sounds like Sukorejo? Sukoharjo? I have a pic somewhere, will send it.

  7. Ross says:

    Thanks for excising the ‘tourists’ from the snap. My ‘secret identity’ remains for the time being sacrosanct! My local contact tells me it was originally white ( the hen, not my i.d.) but has been allowed to fall into neglect for many years.
    Anyway, has Ubud got anything to match such a monument?

  8. David says:

    It’s certainly an impressive chicken statue, even without you and your young girlfriend in the foreground, the eggs are a classy touch that cap it off. Ubud, maybe they could build a giant monkey statue, they’d be playing catch up though, uphill battle.

  9. Burung Koel says:


    Sukorejo wannabes.

  10. timdog says:

    … Ubud’s got a bunch of big white geese and a couple of elephants, in similar style, on one of the approach roads, but nothing like that mighty hen.
    The ghostly echo of Ross’ excised image adds hidden depths to the picture.

    Here’s my Ubud story:

    The week before last, early in the afternoon, I stepped into a Circle K on Jl Hanuman to buy a newspaper and a drink (I had just ridden up from the South Bali maelstrom and was a little parched). I sat down outside to sip my Nu Green Tea and peruse my Jakarta Globe and unfortunately caught the eye of a scrawny white woman of a certain vintage (there’s the chicken connection).

    Her accent was floundering in mid-Atlantic and she was drinking something the colour of tea (not of the Nu Green variety) that definitely wasn’t actually tea from a bottle wrapped in a plastic bag. She was an “Ubud Resident”.

    She proceeded to tell me various things, including many stories about “dear Julia” who she claimed to have bonded with during the filming of Eat Pray Love. She reacted to my polite conversational mention of the fact that it was raining rather more in Java than in Bali with an eye-watering explanation of the science behind that fact:
    “Well that’s because the Muslims have cut down all the trees and concreted everything. There’s no green space in Java. The Muslims don’t respect the environment like the Balinese.”

    There are times when even I recognise the value of nodding politely and saying nothing. I did so.

    Then, after tall tales of being hounded out of Thailand by the mafia and wild celebrity name-dropping, we reached her current passion: despite “dear Julia” she had a furious issue with the author of Eat Pray Love.
    She reached into her organic handbag and pulled out a photocopy of a page from the book, riddled with furious underlinings.

    Now I confess to not having read the tome in question, and to harbouring deeply prejudiced views about it. But the excerpt that had so enraged her actually rather impressed me. It was a mildly acidic little critique of “the Ubud set” in which the author explained why she was doubtful about settling there. There was mention of self-indulgence, pretension, and to my informant’s great distress, of “drinking before noon”…

    Now this is the best bit: because of this short passage in the book, she told me, “the Muslims want us out…”

    “What on earth do you mean?” I asked, genuinely intrigued. In short, for your enlightenment, it goes like this:

    Until the publication of Eat Pray Love, “the Muslims” had no idea what sort of thing went on in Ubud. However, they have now all read it, and have been horrified by such outrages as dining in (possibly non-halal) organic restaurants, and of course, “drinking before noon”.

    Because of what they read, they are now determined to get the Ubudinistas out of the Islamic Republic of Indonesia. “The Muslims” (who apparently are also “the Government”) are now – entirely because of Eat Pray Love – making visas difficult.
    The lady told me, clutching her plastic-wrapped bottle, that when you go to Malaysia on a visa run, the immigration staff there (who are also – a conspiracy if ever there was one – “the Muslims”) scan your passport and pass the information on to their allies, the Indonesians, who then – oh the horror! – ask you how exactly you support yourself in Bali when you apply for your social visa at the embassy in KL the following day. Evidence – as if more was needed – that they “want us out” and that Eat Pray Love is to blame.

    I am not indulging in any poetic license in the retelling of this tale, I swear.

    At this point, I told her, “I really have to be somewhere” (and I really did, it was organic, “Bali styled”, decidedly alcoholic – though it being post-noon I don’t think that’s an issue – and quintessentially “Ubud”).
    As I stood to leave she thrust the photocopied page from Eat Pray Love on me (“I have more!”), but not before writing on the back, in a very shaky hand, a note, lest I forget. I have it on the desk in front of me right now:

    “This is from EAT PRAY LOVE BOOK what the “stupid” writer said and why the Muslims don’t want us here and are making visas difficult”

    “You need to tell people about this,” she quavered (which i am hereby doing).

    “Have a nice afternoon,” said I, and wandered away feeling somewhat dazed and thinking wistfully of Kuta…

  11. Odinius says:

    It’s ironic how widespread this kind of latent Islamophobia is among the supposedly tolerant Bali-yoga crowd.

  12. Burung Koel says:

    The funny thing is, I do really like Ubud. I’ve got some ‘family’ connections there going back nearly 30 years.

    But of course you know it must be a crap book and crap film, because you can already read the parody.

  13. Janma says:

    Love that story Timdog! Laughing I am! I live near ubud have some great stories like that too….. we call them the purple people….. they hate javanese and muslims almost immediately upon arrival after ‘bonding’ with various balinese.

  14. Janma says:

    Plus…. I didn’t know Ubud was a ‘city’?

  15. deta says:

    @ Timdog

    Actually, muslims have a better version of that movie. It’s titled ISHOMA. Istirahat, sholat, makan.

  16. bs says:

    what? no isterahat between sholat and makan?

  17. deta says:

    bs, Ishoma only tells the names of the activities, not the frequency or time span of each activity 😉

  18. ET says:

    Burung Koel said

    “But of course you know it must be a crap book and crap film, because you can already read the parody.”

    Talking about parody, I wonder who is plagiarizing whom.

  19. Odinius says:

    Personally, I hope ubud gets flooded with hoop dancers and appleyogis, so flooded, in fact, that the ‘city’ executived finally raise enough money for that statue of the nusantara’s most loved ukelele player…

  20. Burung Koel says:

    I found his picture:

  21. deta says:

    I kinda miss Achmad…

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