“Whoever offers to me with devotion, a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, with a pure heart, I accept.” ~
I once read that a walk through a rice field is like a walk through God’s garden.
I believe that to be true.
While in Ubud, our plan included a rice field walk that began with a visit to Threads of Life, an Indonesian Textile Arts Center and end with lunch at Sari Organik, a restaurant located in the fields, adjacent to its organic farm.
It was a warm, humid but lovely day. Ready to leave the crowded tourist area, our walk began close to the Ubud Palace along Jalan Kajeng, a side street that proudly displays a sign with all the contributors’ names who donated to pave the narrow road. Walking past tiny shops and family compounds each with their distinctive temples, we spent much time at the Threads of Life, made our purchases and headed up the narrow road.
Turning onto a paved foot path, it takes us across the river and becomes a dirt pathway. Immediately we recognize the absence of the noise and distractions of the city and immerse ourselves in the beauty surrounding us. My husband, adult daughter and I are in photographer’s heaven. The lush green foliage along the river mixed with tall coconut trees and the ever presence of rice fields create this oasis. Sounds gurgle from the steady and abundant flow of water from the irrigation ditches. It reminds us to drink some of our own water before we continue on our way. We pass an occasional rice field temple with its offering basket placed nearby and further up the path is a hibiscus bush with lovely white blooms.
A colorful scarecrow stands sentinel along the edge of the verdant green field. How artistic it looks. Our only encounters on this footpath is with the woman and child who shyly walk past us and later on the men who carry their heavy beams to build yet another house or bed and breakfast which is slowly displacing these lush rice fields. Off in the distance we hear the rooster’s crow and tinkling of the whirly-gigs placed in the fields to chase the birds away from the ripe grains of rice. We stop and watch workers in a field harvest their rice, a long hard process using age old methods. We notice the smiles on their faces and listen to their singing out to each other.
Rice is life. It is this ancient system of cultivation that connects the farmers to the land, to each other and to their spiritual life. They live in tune with the rhythms and cycles of water… planting, harvesting and crop rotation. Our quiet walk takes us past fallow fields where flocks of ducks are used for pest control and natural fertilizer. And to think that because little has changed over 1000 years of Balinese agriculture, UNESCO has recently recognized Bali’s irrigation system as a “world-heritage activity.”
After a couple of hours of walking, we arrive at Sari Organik, an open air restaurant that looks out over the rice fields. It’s a welcome respite from the heat as well as an opportunity to enjoy a tasty meal while taking in the beautiful views.
This is the Bali we came to see…on foot.
For more on Bali see http://ronmayhewphotography.com/portfolio/galleries/travel/Bali/
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