Ubud and Sekumpul Bali

Holy smokes…this place. The thick jungles, monkeys, beautiful mossy temples and sculptures are all here and it’s an AFFORDABLE vacation paradise. Rooms from $20 bucks a night. Yes there is lots of rain and the buzz of the jungle will keep you up at night, but it’s so worth it. Ubud is gorgeous. We stayed here for a few days, visiting temples, hiking the ridge walk, floating in pools and running from aggressive monkeys (funny story).

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

Where we stayed:
DD Ubud Jungle Villa
Jalan Raya Cebok, Banjar Cebok,
Kedisan, Tegallalang, Kedisan,
Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia
T: +62 851-0007-4102

Places we checked out:
Campuhan Ridge Walk
Monkey Forest
Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3, Ubud
Ubud Market Jalan Karna
Bollerro
Pura Taman Saraswati Temple
Tegallalang Rice Terrace
Bali Pulina Kopi (Coffee) Plantation
Sekumpul Waterfall (North of Ubud)

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

We stayed at DD Ubud Jungle Villas – private villas in the middle of the jungle. Romantic and rustic. You’ll have to be OK with a gecko chirping in your rafters and sharing your outside bathroom with a frog, but that’s a part of the magic in my book. The villa’s are about 15 min from the city center. There were two vans that will drop you off and pick you up for free each day if you want to spend your day in town and your evening at the villa (very convenient). The rooms even come with a mini fridge and coffee maker! We would shop in town and bring back food and drinks to snack on during the evenings and mornings.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

I think my favorite part was listing to the rain at night and waking up to a hot jungle with breakfast and coffee on the porch.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

Breakfast… for pennies! We’d stock up on goodies from Ubuds market and keep them in our fridge at night. Instant coffee with bottled water ūüėČ + ¬†Salak (or snake fruit) taste a bit like crunchy green apples and mangosteen (my fav) tastes like a combo of peaches, sweet strawberries and vanilla. They’re so good.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali
Evening swim overlooking the jungle

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

Such ambiance – the path leading down to our villa was beautiful and so slippery! I ate IT walking down in the rain one night. I had a giant bruise on my booty for the rest of the trip. After inspecting myself for broken bones, we had a good laugh.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

We walked around town and stumbled across  Pura Taman Saraswati Temple. A lotus pond surrounds the temple with a path leading down the center. There are restaurants within the temple walls that you can have lunch at while enjoying the view.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

I’d highly suggest¬†Campuhan Ridge Walk,¬†it’s beautiful! Start it early in the morning so the sun won’t fry you alive. We started our walk around 10:00AM and wished we did it¬†even¬†earlier…it’s¬†scorching! Bring LOTS of water, sunscreen and a hat. The hike is¬†definitely worth the sweat! Some of the best views in Ubud.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^Our buddy Dany joined us half way through Ubud. What a trooper – she was ready for a full day of trekking through rice terraces and coffee tasting after 21 sleepless hours of traveling!

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

Coffee tasting at Bali Pulina. The tasting is free (or maybe we got a deal bacause we brought our driver buddy with us) but I think it’s free. You’ll have to¬† pay for tasting the Luwak coffee if you dare (cat poo coffee). It was a fun and cheap tour that takes about 30 min. They have a fantastic view of a valley rice terrace while you sip your coffee and tea. They serve, lemon tea, ginger tea, ginger coffee, ginseng coffee (my favorite), chocolate coffee, pure cacao, vanilla coffee and Bali Pulina coffee were all tasty and free! There is a shop at the end of the tour where you can buy the tea and coffee that you like.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^Dany roasting coffee beans.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
^^^View from the tasting deck at Bali Pulina coffee plantation.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

A walk through the¬†Tegallalang Rice Terrace. If you hire a driver, they’ll most likely drop you off by the shops on the far side. You’ll start by walking down a staircase where you’ll have to pay a small fee to enter the terrace. We hiked down and up to the other side…the further you hike in the more “donation stations” you’ll run into – giving you access to go deeper into the terrace and away from the majority of the tourists. I think we spent about $3 USD each.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali
Babe^

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

Ducking into the Ubud market on a rainy morning. And when it rains here it RAINS! Bring an umbrella when you’re out and be sure to haggle, haggle, haggle if you plan on going to the market! It’s fun, frustrating, and hilarious! I think markets are one of my favorite places to checkout when we travel. Ubud’s market has everything from fruit and veggies to knock-off purses, coconut bowls, Bintang shirts, fake designer watches, leather bags and beautiful macrame wall art. I usually like to offer 1/3 of the asking¬† price and then settle around 1/2ish. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and sometimes you won’t, but it’s all fun.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^Guys and their jewelry. Barong a Balinese Hindu God Рguardian and protector spirit portrayed as a lion/bear like creature with long fangs. Villagers still believed in the supernatural protective power of animals to this day.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali

^^^After Shopping around the market, we stopped for matcha latte’s and taro ice cream in a covered cafe on Jalan(street) Karna on the side of the market.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

Sun’s out scooters out! Getting around bali can be quite difficult if you aren’t used to riding motorbikes. Almost everyone uses them for transportation here. We saw 3 kids under 10 and their dog all on one scooter! If you don’t feel comfortable riding one, you can always hire a driver, but they cost more and they’re harder to get around in traffic. Roads in Bali are narrow and crowded – especially Ubud. They even have motorcycle uber-like apps ( GO-JEK or Grab app) where you can hire a scooter driver and you can hop on the back.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali
Lunch at Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3, Ubud. Crispy crackling pork skin, wonderful spices and okra. Thumbs up.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^The Sacred Monkey Forest! What an awesome place. The monkeys are a bit scary here, so be aware and try not to make eye contact with them (I guess they find it threatening). But the experience is like no other! Make sure you don’t store any food items in your backpack. They’ll find them.¬†Entry Cost: 20,000 IDR = $1.64 USD.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^Monkey on the bridge

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali
^^^Best sign EVER!

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^Monkey Incident #1: This monkey decided he liked the rustling of the plastic bag sticking out of Dan’s pack. He proceeded to sit on Dan’s head, rip the bag open and chew on our art that we had just bought from the market. Damn you little monkey! I clapped at him and made eye contact (my bad). He hissed, jumped off Dan and tried to attack me while I ran away screaming. Fun times.

Monkey Incident #2: I left a bag full of fruit at the ticket counter so the nice lady could protect it for us while we walked around the sanctuary. I picked it up from her when we were leaving. We walked down the street and my arm was yanked back…I thought I was being mugged. Nope, just a big ass monkey stealing my bag of fruit. He had been watching me. I fought with him and pulled back until the bag broke and the fruit went flying everywhere. He scurried to pick up what he could hold and ran back into the forest to share his bounty with his friends. Terrifying and hilarious.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^So many mandalas!¬†A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism.¬†¬†Mandalas¬†offer balancing elements, symbolizing unity and harmony for Hindus, it means ‚Äúcircle‚ÄĚ and represents the universe. It‚Äôs also a spiritual and ritual symbol which stands for protection, good luck, and the notion that life is never ending. Lovely. We found these all over Bali, especially in Ubud.


Refreshing drinks after being robbed by a monkey

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^from our walk around town

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

– Northern Bali and Sekumpul –

We hired a driver from our place in Ubud to drive us to Lovina – a beach town on the northern coast of Bali (which I wouldn’t fully recommend staying here), it’s somewhat necessary if you want to see Sekumpul. The ride from Ubud to Lovina is about 2 hours on a map – up and over a big mountain with a windy road if you have a fast driver. We had a cautious driver (thank the lord), so it took us about 3-4 hours with a food stop along the way. This road is one of the steepest roads I’ve seen and I wouldn’t recommend driving a motorcycle or even a car of your own…hire a driver who knows this road!

Lovina was once a thriving tourist town, but in the early 2000’s there was a terrorist bombing which scared off most of the tourists. Things have gone down hill ever since. It’s sad really, to see the socio-economic impact on towns when terrorism has left its mark. This town was empty, “this is the aftermath of a bomb, this is what bombs do, this is what terrorists do. This is not just one initial bomb, two initial bombs this is the domino effect, the aftermath of terrorism.” — Gloria Goodwin.

We stayed in the massive Sunari Beach Resort…it looked like what once was a royal palace by the beach with at least 200 rooms, but the place was empty and the rooms were abandoned, paint was peeling, doors missing and the garden overgrown. It was creepy and dilapidated. Some call it a ghost resort. Don’t believe the pictures on the internet. We ended up staying in a room with a missing door knob, so we pushed furniture up against the door during the night. We were the only ones at the hotel! The town had an eerie feeling. Have you ever felt a place that gives you chills?

Now I don’t want to contribute to making Lovina’s situation any worse, but I do want to be honest. I wouldn’t go back. Maybe you’ll like the ultra quiet fishing beaches and no tourists. But none us felt comfortable here. To make a longer story short, we were recommended to stay here (probably a friend of a friend helping a guy out) so we hunkered down for the evening and arranged an early morning driver to take us to Sekumpul Waterfall! And boy was it worth it!¬† (Below)

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

The picture doesn’t even do it justice! It’s breathtaking! We literally had to gasp when we came up on this view. It’s about 262 feet of cascading magic! It’s crowned the most beautiful waterfall in Bali.¬† Our driver dropped us off in a dirt parking lot. We were practically forced to hire a guide (although I’ve heard of people avoiding them and finding it on their own without any trouble). We paid around $40 for a group of 4 of us to get a guide for Sekumpul. I know…that’s crazy expensive for Bali, but our driver was giving us a glare and the group of “tour guides” sitting under an awning smoking Lucky’s seemed hard-up for some business. We didn’t want to piss-off the man in charge of watching our luggage so we agreed. A nice young guy 20 something (really into tatoo’s), walked us through a small village – a windy stone path lined with modest houses, flowers and cacao trees. We bought a fresh pod from from a farmer and shared it while we walked. The trail came to a steep cliff side. 20 minutes or so of switch backs and then we made it to the bottom of the canyon. What a spectacular place! And we had it all to ourselves. Bring your bathing suits…you can swim at the base of the falls. So fantastic! – worth the long car ride, creepy Lovina hotel and over priced guide! All worth it. I don’t think it can be topped!

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^Fresh Cacao pod fruit! It sort of tastes like creamy, sweet citrus. This is where chocolate comes from! You can eat the pulp and leave the seeds for drying/roasting and then grinding into 100% pure cacao. Mix it with milk, sugar and cacao butter and you’ll get milk chocolate.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^Hiking along the Sekumpul river to get to the base of the the waterfall.

A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali
Ginseng coffee and boiled peanuts on the way to Canngu. A typical Indonesian snack.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Ubud + Sekumpul Bali

^^^We stopped by a monkey hangout by Danau Buyan (Buleleng) crater lake. They were the cutest and so much friendlier than Ubud monkeys! And they REALLY love bananas. Now onward to Canggu for the last week of our trip.


Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)

British Virgin Islands
BVI
The 3rd and final post of the BVI trip — I blame the severe lateness of this post on Captain Evan for holding his BVI pictures hostage….and maybe me for being a bad blogger. But guess who just gave me a little sailboat memory stick full of priceless pics!? Thanks Ev and Monica. These are amazing! And without further ado…here are days 7, 8 and 9 of our British Virgin Islands Trip. If you are new to A Bit of Bees Knees and want to catch up, here are parts One and Two.
BVI
Day 7
We sailed¬†away from Norman Island that morning and started our way to the east side of Jost Van Dyke for the Bubbly Pool. I woke up to the rocking of the boat and¬†Enya’s Caribbean Blue being played on the loud speaker. My jam! I climbed out of the bedroom hatch and¬†a plate of eggs Benedict was waiting for me. The Wannamaker’s don’t mess around – vacation perfection. We moored the catamaran and motored¬†the dinghy to the dock. The hike to the pool is about a mile, it’s fairly¬†easy, but beware of the poisonous plants along the trail. If you stay on the path you’ll be fine. It’s a wildly¬†fun spot (I wouldn’t suggest it for the kiddies), at high tide it can be dangerous, so make sure you don’t go beyond the funnel or stay high up on the rocks if you want to venture further. When a big wave rolls in, it will burst through the narrow passage leading to the pool. There are a few rocks that you can hold onto while the wave passes overhead. Please be careful that you don’t let the current pull you out to sea. Hold on tight! It can be a blast if you’re smart about it.
BVI 8

Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
BVI
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
Doing what I do best ^^^
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
BVI
After the bubbly pool we crammed everyone into a dinghy and ventured out to a little island called Sandy Spit¬† (18¬į26’59.83″N 64¬į42’31.46″W) just off Jost Van Dyke. The whole island is less than 1/2 an acre with a ring of white sand, a few plants and palms – the most picturesque deserted island you could ever dream of.
Sandy Spit, British Virgin Islands
^^^ Dan jumped out of the dinghy and swam the rest of the way. He wanted the island all to himself .
BVI
BVI
Slightly ecstatic crew ūüėČ Funny thing… we meet a group with @natgeocreative on assignment in the BVI’s at Willy T’s the night before. Nat Geo’s can party ;)! They followed our route a day later and took some fantastic pictures of the island from above. Check them out here.
BVI
BVI
That night we moored off Jost, made garlic shrimp for dinner and sipped on OJ, cream of coconut and rummmmm to our hearts content.

Day 8
We sailed to Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke for ice cream and walked the beach, put our reservation in for Vinny’s that night. Then sailed to White Bay just around the point, swam, checked out The Soggy Dollar, napped¬†on the boom (Ry’s favorite sleeping spot) and watched the sunset. We sailed back to Vinny’s and had conch fritters for dinner. I wrote our names inside the E of “Be Happy Don’t Worry” on the back wall of the restaurant. Lots of visitors leave there mark here¬†– for future travelers to read or with hopes to¬†revisit someday. We danced the night away at Foxy’s and enjoyed our last night on the boat.
BVI
BVI
White Bay, BVI
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
^Bruised up, bit up by skeeters and still loving every second.
BVI
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
BVI
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
Sailing the British Virgin Islands | White Bay
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
BVI
Day 9
We woke up early around 6:00AM to sail back to Soper’s Hole on Tortola to return the boat. We grabbed some coffee and breakfast at D’Best Cup Coffee Shop¬†and stocked up on Harbor Market’s ginger hot sauce and fresh nutmeg for family back home. We took a ferry¬†back to St.¬†Thomas for our flight to NYC for the weekend before flying back home to California.
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
BVI
^^^Dan walking the streets of Charlotte Amalie. Lunch at Glady’s Cafe – ¬†stewed oxtails, w/ peas, rice, plantains and sweet potato.
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
BVI
BVI
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
The last hurrah. I could get used to vacations like this. A once in a life time trip with the best crew of buds.
Daniel BVI
What a fantastic trip! We prepared¬†to switch weather from 85F to 35F and population from 10 to 8,500,000…off to NYC for a few days! Bye bye BVI’s¬†you were so good to us!
BVI


Our Trip to Nashville, Tennessee

FullSizeRender (41)
Dan and I hopped on a plane a few weeks ago to visit our friend Evan for his White Coat Ceremony. Evan just got into Pharmacy school and we’ve been dying to visit him…so this was our opportunity to support Ev and check out his new town. We had so much fun, eating, drinking and partying our way through the city!
Here we go
^^^Taking-off from SNA our local John Wayne Airport. It had been raining all week – we flew above those grey clouds and burst into a gold n’ pink fluffy sunset. It’s fun to get a bird’s-eye view of your neighborhood. We even spotted our house!
Nashville Lights
We arrived in NASHVILLE! Poor Ev had to wait at the airport all evening…first picking up Dany and then us a few hours later. We all spent the night in his apartment and then woke up early the next day to explore the city, search for good coffee and peruse through antique shops.
Coffee TN
Headquarters Coffee & Tea
4902 Charlotte Pike
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 386-6757
It may be small, but this Charlotte Avenue shop acts as a caffeine oasis in the West Nashville coffee desert. It also offers baked goods from locals such as Dozen Bakery and Vegan Vee. The coffee is superb! Smooth as silk. I ordered a cortado and Dan got a honey latte. Both were fantastic.
Coffee
FullSizeRender (37)
Cool Stuff Weird Things
4900 Charlotte Pike
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 460-1112
Coffee and antiquing…right up my alley! We stopped at Cool Stuff Weird Things to look at antiques and vintage items. They have lots of jewelry, signs, records and clothes. Dan found a funky plaid jacket. Score. It’s right next-door to Headquarters Coffee & Tea! You can grad a cup of joe and walk over to the vintage shop to be entertained while you sip.
antiquing
Danny
Antique Archaeology
1300 Clinton St., Suite 130
(Marathon Village),
Nashville, TN 37203
Dan is obsessed with the American Picker’s TV show, so we had to stop at Antique Archaeology. Danny loves finding old things and making them useful again. You should see this man flip stuff on Craig’s List. It should be his job. Any who… this place is one of the locations where Mike Wolfe stores and sells some of his American Picker’s items. It’s located just a few blocks away from downtown Nashville, you can find them in the old Marathon Automobile car factory dated from the early 1900’s right along I-40.
Antiquing in NashvilleBritt Bryce Dan
^Our adopted son.
Nashville TN Home
The houses here are ri-dic-ul-ous. Huge, gorgeous houses on acres of land. Open lawns, friendly neighbors and trees for days! I would love to dig up this land and transplant it back at home. All of our friends and family can pick a house to live in ūüėČ wishful thinking. Ev drove us around a few beautiful neighborhoods so we could creep on the houses. Would it be weird if I knocked on a door and asked for a tour?
TN houses
1734688-residential-1mrperg-m TN Houses
Broadway Night Life
Later that evening we headed down to Broadway…because that’s what all the first timers in Nashville do. It’s like Vegas…but country themed and no gambling. Haha. The people watching is fantastic. At one point we saw a tractor pulling a trailer-full of boozed-up-bachelorettes and a few sidewalk squabbles between lovers. Perfect country music lyrics in the making…
Acme Feed and Seed
Acme Feed & Seed
101 BROADWAY
NASHVILLE, TN 37201
615.915.0888
Way happenin’! It’s located towards the end of Boradway a 3 story – cocktail, culinary and music venue with an open rooftop bar. The first floor at Acme plays classic honkytonk. The second floor has a lounge and bar and the third floor is home to The Hatchery, the largest one-level event and music venue on Broadway. Their open-air rooftop bar overlooks the entire downtown area. I really liked the concept of a multi-level bar and music venue…if you don’t like the vibes on one level, head to the next. It was the perfect place to spend our night out with friends.
Acme  Broadway Nashville
^^^These ones are classic too!
Friends
^^^Evan’s support team during his White Coat Ceremony – sitting quietly in the balcony. Go Bogard!
Pharm Ev
^^^The Next day we had lunch at The Pharmacy. It seemed most appropriate to celebrate the new pharmacist at The Pharmacy…we should have made him wear his jacket!
pharm
The Pharmacy
731 Mcferrin Ave
Nashville, TN 37206
The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden serves 100% Tennessee-raised beef for their legendary burgers. It’s located in a residential area 10 minutes from downtown. They have a fabulous selection of beers that you can enjoy while sitting in their beautiful biergarten.
Jeni's Ice Cream
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
2312 12th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37204
I first heard of Jeni’s in Los Angeles (although I think it started in Ohio) and made it’s way to Nashville. Gawwwww this ice cream is the best. Dan and I ordered a scoop of Bangkok Peanut and Bramble Berry. I love their creative flavors. It’s by far my favorite ice cream shop. All natural, no synthetic flavorings, dyes, or off-the-shelf mixes, stabilizers and emulsifiers. Some of their fun flavors include gooey butter cake, sweet potato eclair, juniper and lemon curd, goat cheese with red cherries, brown butter almond brittle, whiskey and pecan, wildberry lavender, hot toddy and pink grapefruit buttermilk etc. the list goes on and on!
Jenis Ice Cream
Urban Grub
2506 12th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37204
After Ev’s ceremony, we celebrated with a fancy dinner at the Urban Grub. Wowza this place is amazing! Their menu is a combination of southern traditions with a “flavored up tweak,” fresh fish, seafood and smoked meats.
Urban Grub
Urban Grub
^^^Miss Thor and I shared an order of their famous shrimp and grits with tasso cream and smoked gouda and Dan had a braised Andouille pork shank with celery root puree, smoked creamed mustard greens, chili butter. Their popover biscuits and strawberry honey butter were a crowd please too!
Over OC
Home again home again. So much fun and so much foooood! OK roll me back to the gym ūüėČ

Here are few other spots for eats, drinks and sight seeing that were on my list:
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art
Fido
Grand Ole Opry
Colts Chocolates

Epice
Old Glory
Pinewood Social
Two Ten Jack
Holland House Bar & Refuge
The Crying Wolf
LA Jackson
Frothy Monkey
Crema
Bastion
Biscuit Love
Sunflower Cafe
Belmont Mansion