Living in Ubud, Others: Insects, Language, Internet Speed, and More (Conclusion)

Image Credit

This is a 5-part travel series on Ubud where I share things to note as a traveler living in Ubud and how to make the best out of your trip here.

  1. Living in Ubud Series: Introduction, Visa, Accommodation
  2. Environment: Nature, Climate, Villages, Animals
  3. Transport: Scooters, Taxis, Go-Jek
  4. Food: Amazing Vegan Food, Vegetarian Restaurant Reviews
  5. Others: Insects, Language, Internet Speed, and More (Conclusion)

Hey everyone! I’m now back home after one month in Ubud. 🙂 In this last part, I share about other things to note about Ubud and round off the series. 🙂

Insects

When you’re in Ubud, you have to bear in mind that you are living in nature. The forests and nature are here first, not whatever lodging you are staying in. So there will be random visitors that enter your place throughout the day, and that’s just part and parcel of living close to nature. They probably think your home is some highly developed tree with very angular structures. <_<

Advertisement

This is really true for every other place too, including urban cities. It is nature that existed first, not high-rise flats or buildings. That humans, including authorities, can just claim ownership of a land and start destroying everything and build railways, condominiums, skyscrapers, malls, etc. is just sad, I feel. It’s one thing to build a lodging because it’s necessary for people to live; it’s another to destroy every single plot of land that isn’t “utilized” yet to “maximize the economy.” It’s insane, and it’s little wonder why we’re facing climate issues now.

So staying in Ubud, I came across many insects. Here are just some of them:

  • Geckos. Geckos are ubiquitous in Bali/Ubud and you will see them no matter what lodging you live in. In fact, geckos are very welcomed here — the Balinese believe that geckos bring good luck to the home they are in! Personally I was quite worried about geckos before coming here as I wasn’t sure about their natural behavior. Do they get on the beds? Do they get into your clothes? Do they drop from the ceiling? Do they disturb you? Lizards in Singapore stay away from you as much as possible, but how about geckos in Ubud?

    As it turns out, geckos here are pretty much the same — they get out of your way as much as possible. I never had a gecko get on my bed or touch my clothes. However, I did find a gecko among my skincare products on day 1 — he ran away right after I found it, but not before giving me a shock. -_- Geckos also sometimes crawl on the floor (maybe because I lived on the 2nd floor so my floor was their ceiling), so I always had to watch out when walking.

    Gecko

    Gecko. This one is pretty large. The ones that came into my place were usually small or medium-sized.

  • Mosquitos. Mosquitoes are aplenty here! You definitely need a mosquito repellant and an anti-itch mosquito cream. I got several mosquito bites every day and nearly finished my anti-itch cream during my stay.
    Mosquito

    Mosquitoes are everywhere and THEY WANT YOUR BLOOD. Bring your repellant!

  • Fleas. This is a nightmare. I don’t know how but I got a nasty flea attack in my 2nd week! At first I thought I was just getting mosquito bites, but after I noticed that (1) I was getting 6–8 new bites every day, (2) these bites were EXTREMELY itchy, (3) they were small red dots vs. big soft bumps typical of mosquito bites, and (4) they occurred behind my legs/thighs and were fairly near each other, I realized I was being attacked by fleas!
    Flea bites

    Just a partial shot of my flea bites, behind my thigh. This is only 1/5 of the bites I got. I had like 50 bites. 🙁 It was pretty depressing.

    I promptly washed all my blankets and towels in hot water, changed my work chair, cleaned the area, bathed myself thoroughly (including my scalp and hair) EVERY DAY, and started wearing long pants, and the bites stopped days after. They were still really itchy though and wearing soft track pants helped sooth the itch somehow. Read: How to Make a Flea Trap and How to Get Rid of Fleas

  • Moths. Large, small, of all colors. There are plenty of them in Ubud. I saw 2–3 every day.
    Moth

    They come in all sizes and colors and they rest everywhere. Once I saw a white one on the floor, and I thought it was a loose piece of tissue until I peered closely! This is just a small one.

    Large moth in a container

    …and this is a super large one. I caught it in a container and released it back outside.

  • Drain flies. During my 2nd week, I saw this small dusty-looking fly in the bathroom and ignored it. Over the next few days, I began to see more flies looking just like that in the bathroom. Concerned, I decided to look them up. Apparently they are drain flies, and while they pose no immediate threat, drain flies can multiply very quickly and create serious health hazards. So then I began killing all of them (sorry!) and didn’t see anymore in my last week of stay. Read: How to Get Rid of Drain Flies
    Drain fly

    This is a drain fly with a 2-3X magnification.

  • Centipede/Millipede. I picked a 2nd floor unit just so I wouldn’t have to deal with worms and all that, and was surprised when I saw a centipede-looking thing climbing up the curtain one day and on a separate occasion, a worm-like millipede (?) thing in my bathroom. These were the only 2 I found though.
  • Beetles. One or two each night. They would just stick on the curtain. Maybe they think it’s a tree?
  • Some fly that’s attracted to light. On my third night, there was a heavy rain. About an hour after the rain stopped, there was this medium-sized fly with longish wings that started climbing through the gap between the balcony door and floor, and into my room. Which would be pretty normal except that soon, there were a dozen of them. Then it became 20. And 30. And 40. And soon there were 50 of these flies inside my room, climbing my balcony curtain. With even more coming in by the second. It honestly felt like some horror movie. -_- I realized that these flies (1) appear after a heavy rain and (2) gravitate to a light source, so I quickly switched off the room lights and stayed on my bed, inside the mosquito net. Subsequently I did this whenever it rained heavily at night, and never had this issue again.
  • Ants. You see ants in every tropical country including Singapore, but here they are EVERYWHERE. You can’t leave food out for more than 30 seconds without risking it being found by ants. Even my loaf of bread got attacked after a few days (and I had already sealed it and put it in an inaccessible place), so subsequently I put all my food in the fridge, including bread.
  • Other honorable mentions include a caterpillar in some cocoon (?), a praying mantis (found in the kitchen), scorpion-looking bugs (a few; they move FAST), bees, houseflies, random flies, a baby roach, a grasshopper, spiders, and random unidentifiable bugs.
    Insect with a long sting

    One of the unidentifiable insects. This one has a VERY long sting. I definitely do not want to get on its bad books. <.<

 If you’re resistant to bugs like me,

  • Pick a lodging above ground floor. While I did come across quite a few insects, I believe it would have been more if I were living on the first floor.
  • Do NOT get an outdoor bathroom/shower. There are some places with outdoor bathrooms/showers — avoid them like the plague. I read of this guy who lived in a place with an outdoor toilet and he would see random insects in it sometimes. Once he saw a nasty-looking caterpillar with spikes on the toilet seat!!!! Imagine if he had just sat without looking!
  • Get a place with air-conditioning. This way, you can seal the entire place at night. Because many bugs are attracted to light (they think it’s sunlight/daytime), when night falls at 6pm and you have your lights on, they start coming in. Despite having an air conditioned room, I still had many bug visits because of gaps around the balcony doors.
  • Get a place that has a bed with mosquito net (if possible). It’ll protect you from mosquito bites and random flying insects when sleeping. Believe me, there will be quite a few of these — even more if you sleep with lights on.
  • Close all the windows and doors. Especially before sunset, for the above reason. I always kept the doors/windows sealed, only opening the balcony doors in the day and the front door when I’m going out (obviously).
  • Bring a container. I’d rather not kill bugs unless they are hazardous, so bringing a container allowed me to capture and release them back outside. I wound up using my container very often, capturing geckos, moths, and random insects daily.
  • Bring a mosquito-zapper machine. If you’re staying for a long period, it’s worthwhile to invest in a mosquito zapping/killing machine, the kind that emits carbon dioxide AND light. Get it in your home country (try DIY shops) and put that in your check-in luggage because I’m pretty sure immigration scanning stations wouldn’t let you through with that. The ones that emit light only is not effective and will only kill random bugs. Mosquitos are mainly attracted to carbon dioxide and heat. I have one that emits UV, and unfortunately it didn’t really work on mosquitos.

And the mandatory stuff: bring (1) anti-itch cream for bug bites; (2) mosquito repellant’ and (3) blanket if your place doesn’t have one, to cover you when you’re sleeping. And long track pants in case you get an insect/mosquito attack, so at least you can protect your legs.

Local Language

The official language in Bali is Indonesian while the locals speak Indonesian or Balinese. That said, you shouldn’t have a problem in Ubud as most of the shop owners in Ubud Center, particularly if their shops are targeted at tourists, know English. The young people should know some English — I chatted with a few waiters in their early 20s who told me that they learned English in school. 80% of the Go-Jek drivers I encountered could speak basic/okay English.

That said, don’t expect deep conversations in English. I found it difficult to converse with my host so I kept communications limited to simple Q&A. Same for my driver. When speaking to locals, I always spoke slowly and stressed every syllable just to ensure people could understand me. When I was in Alchemy cafe, the waiters in the dessert section could only communicate very basic things that were very obvious, like the price and name of items (which are already labeled), but they couldn’t answer (or didn’t understand) questions like whether the raw cake would melt if I did a takeout. People in rural areas, unless they are involved in tourist operations, will probably not know English. My host’s mom (in her 50s?) didn’t know any English so I could only smile and nod at her whenever we ran into each other.

Internet Speed

I was concerned about internet speed as I read that internet in Bali is bad. Apparently the internet is slow (average 5 MBPS, while it’s average 110 MBPS in Singapore), and it can get slower or even get cut off when it’s raining??

Advertisement

But surprisingly I didn’t have major problems in Ubud. My host has fiber optic installed and he has a router specifically for my floor, so my internet was very fast for Bali standards. I could watch HD videos on YouTube with no lag, and I could access and edit my site with no issues. I also had Skype calls with my assistant and clients with no lag nor weak connectivity. When uploading audio files for my podcast, it was slower than in Singapore because, well, my internet in SG is 1 Gbps. Because of that, I stuck to just writing and podcasting in Ubud and didn’t do any video work.

I tried using Wifi in a couple of restaurants here and they were okay for surfing. I also used internet using my local prepaid SIM card and it was okay most of the time. Occasionally it would be super slow.

One issue I did experience was a power outage for 5 minutes in my first week. This would have caused data loss if my browser hadn’t automatically saved my draft. The power came back on after that. This happened again after 2 days. When I asked my host about this, he said some stuff that I didn’t really understand, but the idea I got is that it’s normal and it happens as part of “regulating” or “resetting” the power? Subsequently it didn’t happen again, though it could have occurred when I was sleeping.

Expat Community

There is a thriving expat community in Ubud, though I didn’t engage with them when I was here. Besides being a tourist destination, many expats use Ubud as a base to set up and work on their business, usually a blog or some digital startup. With the low cost of living, amazing healthy foodbeautiful nature all around, life-centered (vs. money-centered) atmosphere, and great weather, it’s little wonder why.

  • If you’re staying for a while and you’re looking to meet new folks, check out many Ubud meetups via Meetup.com.
  • Hubud is a collaborative coworking space for entrepreneurs, techies, and creatives. If you are in desperate need of a good internet connection in Ubud, you can sign up for their coworking space to work, network and meet like-minds. It’s pretty expensive by local standards though.

Rounding Up

I’m now back in Singapore and I’m already missing the cheap, healthy food, the nature, and the spaciousness of the place relative to Singapore. 🙁

Will I be back? For sure. 🙂 I’m already thinking of my next trip to Ubud, hopefully with Ken this time. I look forward to explore more veg restaurants and the nature/tourist spots with him in my next visit, and when I do that I’ll update my Ubud veg restaurant guide. 🙂

I hope you’ve found this guide useful. Be sure to bookmark it for your Ubud visit next time. 🙂 And pass it along to friends who are traveling to Bali! Ubud is an amazing place and I hope it doesn’t change into some crazy tourist trap like Seminyak/Kuta. The beauty of the place, the rich culture, and its forwardness in healthy eating/living are things lost in many modern cities today. Ubud may seem like a “backward” place, being “rural” and all, but it’s surprisingly more progressive in how it approaches life and living than all the supposedly “modern” cities I’ve been to / lived in. And I hope its beauty and ideas can spread to other parts of the world someday, so others can benefit and see for themselves that this is how life can be like. Not centered around materialism, aesthetics, money, mindless work, busy work, or even eating, but around human development and life.

This is a 5-part travel series on Ubud where I share things to note as a traveler living in Ubud and how to make the best out of your trip here.

  1. Living in Ubud Series: Introduction, Visa, Accommodation
  2. Environment: Nature, Climate, Villages, Animals
  3. Transport: Scooters, Taxis, Go-Jek
  4. Food: Amazing Vegan Food, Vegetarian Restaurant Reviews
  5. Others: Insects, Language, Internet Speed, and More (Conclusion)

Images: Gecko, Mosquito, Drain fly, All other images © Personal Excellence

Advertisement