Ubud is located in attractive environment of picturesque emerald green rice fields, along the edges of deep gorgeous river in the stunning center Balinese foothill around 30 km from Denpasar town. Ubud got its name from ubad, which means medicine, due to the fact that there are many plants in this area used in making traditional medicine. Ubud surrounding, are considered the best on the island, the traditional dancing and music is of excellent quality.
The trip to Ubud is a time change: from stone dwellings of antiquity to a current center of fine arts noted for its painters. On the threshold of Ubud is the village of Peliatan with an especially active dance troupe and gamelan orchestra. These famous musicians have represented Indonesia abroad in Europe and the United States. The village puri continues the tradition of fine performing with private dance lessons for aspirants from the age of five. it's delightful to watch a Legong instructor glide through the motions of the dance trailed by four little girls, their feet weaving patterns over the courtyard and their faces set in concentration to the essential rhythm of the drum.
A quieter rhythm guides the daily life of Ubud. Each morning, farmers set their fighting cocks along the roadside to bask in' the sun. Covarrubias says they do this so the cocks will be amused watching the passerby: sturdy women suspending hemisphetes of pots to be sold at market, farmers bearing sheaves of rice, and nowadays passing automobiles. It's nice to join them and stroll through the plentiful shops that line the avenue opposite the old puri in the town's center. Ubud is excellent for shopping. Galleries display contemporary styles by old masters of thirty years experience and young boys who have developed a manner of their own-the "Young Artists" style. Many shops have studios at the back where you may watch painters at work.
For decades the serene beauty of this village has lured celebrities and artists from all over the world, some of whom stayed to build their homes here. Down the road at Campuan, the junction of two rivers that flow through Ubud, are the former residences of Waiter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet, artists who lived here during the thirties. With the support of Cokorda Gede Agung of Ubud, these two painters founded the Pitha Maha, a society which encouraged the young artists of the area, criticized them, provided them with materials and encouragement, and patronized their work. Spies' own paintings inspired the Balinese artists to abandon the rigid forms of the traditional style and adopt such European techniques as perspective. (Spies died during World War li.)
Since the turn of the century the art of North Bali had come under European influence. The modern styles of Ubud and Batuan drew their inspiration from the scenes of everyday life about them, besides from the classic stories of Old Javanese literature. Many Balinese painters associated with Pitha Maha are internationally renowned, like the late 1 Gusti Nyoman Lempad, and others remain to this day among the island's most outstanding artists: A.A. Gede S brat, lda Bagus Made Poleng, I Gusti Ketut Kobot and several others, each working in his own style. An outstanding woodcarver was 1 Tjokot from the village of Jati, 1 5 kilometers north of Ubud. Mas and Nyuhkuning are other early woodcarving centers still active.
At the present time, Dutch-born Han Snel and the American Antonio Blanco are the long resident foreign painters. They have galleries in their homes where their works may be seen. Dutch-born Arie Smith encouraged young artists to create bold, simplistic paintings from which arose the "Young Artists" style with its bright colors. The patronage of the arts continues, with friends and collectors intermittently sponsoring exhibitions abroad.
The Museum Puri Lukisan (Palace of Fine Arts), also called the Museum Ratna Wartha, was begun in 1954 and opened two years later as a permanent collection of modern Balinese art. Beautifully situated above a garden, the museum displays sculpture and paintings in chronological order, giving a clear view of the modern movements in Bali's art centers. In the early seventies two new buildings were added, one being used for exhibitions. Bonnet returned to Bali in 1 973 to help expand the permanent collection.
Ubud is the only important tourist center in Bali outside the Denpasar-Sanur-Kuta area. There are several hotels, and recently in 1975 electricity came. Many tourists like to make Ubud their home while in Bali and travel out from there. Besides the main trips, there are many roads and places near at hand that are enjoyable to visit. The terraced fields and waterfalls in nearby gorges invite one to leave transport behind and set off on foot. Any direction is fine. The best-known walk is to the monkey forest, just south of Ubud, where a troop with a fine-looking king inhabits the surviving patch of jungle. A great banyan tree straddles the nearby gorge on the path down to a delightful 13tthing place. The Pura Dalem on the edge if the forest has exceptionally fine statues of Rangda gorging herself on young children. The road south through Padangtegal leads 6rf to Pengosekan, a village of painters since the thirties. It is well known for the varied and individual style of its artists and was visited by Queen Elizabeth 11 in 1974.
Cross over the suspension bridge at Campuan, and turn left several hundred meters beyond, for the path to Penestanan, main village of the "Young Artists". On trips further a field on the back roads, a motorbike is best. From Ubud, two roads, besides the usual one via Tampaksiring, lead to Kintamani. One road goes through Payangan, famous for its lychees which grow nowhere else in Bali. The second road is surfaced as far as Tegaialang. Jati, where 1 Tjokot lived, is just off the latter road beyond Tegaialang. There are several art shops along the road. Up nearer the crater, be prepared to encounter thick volcanic sands left behind when Gunung Agung erupted in 1963. Ubud serves well both the traveler who wants to get about and those who prefer a quiet relaxing stay.