Lisbon Analogue Photo Blog
I started the St.Combs Portrait Project in April 2020 to capture the people living, passing through, or connected in any way to the village.
The photos are not perfect, but I hope this adds to the character of the work.
You can view the photos on Instagram: stcombs_portrait_project. If you would like to take part please reach out to me. If you want your photo removed, Just let me know.
Early morning is the best time to experience Ubud. Picture yourself on Jalan Gootama. The offerings have just been placed on the threasholds, incense smoke rises into the morning haze, filling the air with the scent of sandalwood, champak and frangipani.
Local shoppers crowd the junction at Bisma Ubud buying their fruit and vegetables from sellers seated on cloths at the roadside. Scooters and cars push and shove inches away, ferrying Yoga practitioners to their shalas or day trippers to the waterfalls, beaches and temples.
The restaurants and cafes are coming to life; eggs are frying on skillets, vegetables are being tossed in woks, palm leaves are being cut to fit wicker plates.
Ubud has done well to keep its character under the pressure of tourism and globalisation. However, change, modernisation, progress, or whatever you want to call it is at work, erroding the very thing that makes many people go there. Finding the right balance is never easy.
Tegallalang, the beautiful rice terraces from Ron Fricke’s Baraka are now more like a Disney imitation than the real thing. Where once you could walk up and down the clay paths, seeing the locals tending their paddies, or selling coconuts from their bamboo huts, you can now swing in front of purpose built statutes and greenery tended only for that perfect, but unoriginal photo, a snapshot of a purely superficial experience.
The surrounding rice fields are, one by one, being sold off as building plots; the colours and smells of nature giving way for white washed walls of modern villas.
Ubud now has not one but two Starbucks.
Despite all that, Ubud is still an amazing place. The majority of restaurants are locally ran and the atmosphere in town is very good. It’s a place where you can make lasting friendships with both Balinese and foreigners alike.
You really are spoiled for choice here. So you can’t go wrong with wherever you end up. The following are the restaurants I visit again and again but there are many more I want to try. Just walk down Jalan Gootama on your first day.
I would say a definite yes.
The Balinese people are some of the most hospitable people in the world, the food is excellent and the country itself has an abundance of natural beauty. It’s no wonder that you seldom meet anyone who has been there once without returning or without having plans to return.
In spite of the selling-off of the rice fields, the two Starbucks and the death of Tegallalang, Ubud retains the local culture and upholds its customs more than any place I’ve been to in Bali. Hopefully when you’re there you’ll see one of the local ceremonies where the people dress in their best traditional clothing and get fully involved.
Like most places in Bali, Ubud is very much worth a visit, and will continue to welcome tourists of all kinds for many years to come.
If you’re considering going to Ubud, like most things in life it’s best to do it now. The ‘golden age’ of Ubud and Bali might be long gone, but your very own golden age may just be beginning. Don’t put off the things you want to do until tomorrow, because as Cat Stevens says ‘you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.’
The present is guaranteed but the future isn’t.
I want to put my novel in your hands. If you found this post useful, share the love by getting a copy next time you’re on Amazon. It’s best suited to readers of literary/classic fiction, but it’s good for anyone who wants to read something different. You can buy it for only £2.99 Kindle/£6.99 paperback (or your currency equivalent). Your purchase will help keep Vagabundo and this blog alive. Click here to read more or search Vagabundo by Steven-John Tait on Amazon. Why not take it to Ubud with you?