What to Do in Ubud? Dancing and Drugs (the Pharmaceutical kind!)

Ubud is famous for it’s nightly traditional dance performances. Kecak Fire, Trance, Legong, and shadow puppets arranged for tourists on a regular schedule. Each takes place on different nights and at different locations. The Tourist office has a schedule of all performances.Many of the travel agents and tourist agents can provide programs, and book seats to performances. Expect to pay from 5,000 to 10,000 IDR’s. This may include transport to nearby villages where the performances are held.

Buy your tickets from the Tourist Office, your hotel, or one of the sellers lining Ubud’s busy streets. You are really helping the local people if you buy from them rather than your hotel; they will receive the commission instead of the hotel. This is the only job for most of them and the small amount of money earned selling tickets will put food on the table, help with school, etc. Think about that when you pass a person offering to sell a dance ticket. They are not trying to con you out of money. Almost everyone in the group on our previous trip headed for one of the dances (the majority don’t begin until 7:30p), but we were just too tired. “Maybe next time” is a common refrain of mine.

Balinese god on top of the Ubud Tourist Bureau, Bali


Kecak dance. Of all the dances seen on Bali today, the Kecak dance is perhaps the most dramatic. Taken from the Hindu epic, Ramayana, the dance tells the story of Prince Rama and his rescue of Princess Sita, who has been kidnapped by the evil King of Lanka. Unlike other dances, there is no Gamelan orchestra accompanying it. Instead, a troupe of over 150 bare-chested men serve as the chorus, creating a cacophony of “chak-a-chak-a-chak” clicking sounds while swaying bodies and waving hands.

The Legong may be the most graceful of Balinese dances but Steve and I thought it was like watching paint dry. Slow, stylized movement that left us cold. A Legong dancer is usually a young girl, can be eight or nine years, and rarely older than a teenager. There are various forms of the Legong but the Legong Kraton is the one most often performed.

Even though most of the dances are performed to entertain tourists rather than for genuine festive occasions, they are usually well presented and worth seeing.

I really was determined to see the Kecak Dance but ended blowing it off once again with a “too tired” excuse after spending a day searching for “drugs.” I’m talking about prescription drugs. What to do when it is discovered prescription meds are sitting back home in Chicago? We’re in Indonesia, thank you God, where prescription drugs are available over the counter without a prescription as long as they are not narcotics. That’s the good news. The bad news was where to find a pharmacy that stocks your particular medication.

map of Ubud, Bali


Cendana Resort & Spa gave directions to the nearest pharmacy opposite the football field, and we began walking down Monkey Forest Road. Indeed there was a tiny pharmacy that didn’t stock what we needed. The pharmacist gave new directions. Walk down to the main light, make a right and go to the “big pharma” somewhere on that road. In case it’s slipped your mind, Bali is hot, hotter, hottest. We walked and walked and walked with the strong sun beating down on us. Asked directions, and kept walking passing a few even smaller, hole-in-the-wall pharmacies on the way. Two long hours later, Kimia Pharma. Remember that name. It may come in handy when you travel throughout Indonesia.

Kimia Pharma is a chain of reliable and safe pharmacies throughout Indonesia. The stores are clean, reliable and air conditioned. You can be assured that none of your prescription meds have been sitting out in the blazing sun, disintegrating. A flashback to a Kimia Pharma in Sulawesi when we bought Antibiotics. Kimia Pharma only had two of my three daily drugs, one in the wrong dosage; double the prescribed dosage and the tiny pill couldn’t be cut in half. Beggars can’t be choosers.

carrying sanitary water in Ubud, Bali


Now, how to get back to Cendana Resort & Spa? There were no taxis in sight or, believe me, we would have gratefully jumped into one. More directions from shop keepers every few blocks to make sure we were going in the right direction and, zounds. The Puri Dalem Cottages were directly in front of us. Puri Dalem is where we stayed last time. A right on Monkey Forest Road and we were almost home free, too exhausted for anything but a cool shower.

Let me know how the Kecak Dance is. Perhaps one day, we’ll actually motivate to see one.


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