We recently discovered that RICE, does not mean RICE. It is not just food, nutrition, health, white, brown, red or black. In Bali, and now to Bev and me, RICE means a whole lot more.
Even before arriving in Bali we had read about the terraced rice fields at the Unesco protected site of Jatiluwih. Our Airbnb host, Ketut, was kind enough to drive us the two hours to get there from Ubud. We expected beauty, color, and drama. We never expected to be so emotionally impacted.
We’ll never eat rice the same way again now that we have experienced the story of rice by visiting the terraces.
Ubud is a bustling city of motorbikes and tourists.
We spend most of our days at the Yoga Barn doing meditation, yoga classes, and making new friends from around the world, sipping a fresh coconut and eating in the amazing restaurant.
It was time to see what was outside Ubud.
Off we went on the two hour ride up the lush mountain heading to the famed rice terraces.
Ketut, our driver and Airbnb host extraordinaire, worked selflessly to fill our day with laughter and joy.
Along the way we met a beautiful woman who was heading to a village Temple to prepare for an upcoming celebration. She is wearing the traditional Balinese dress. For women, traditional Balinese dress consists of four main items: a kind of sarong known as a kamen, a blouse (kebaya) and two cummerbands, a sabuk and a selendang. The kamen is a long strip of woven or batik cloth wound around the waist, hanging almost to the ground. She was radiant and of course smiling.
Almost immediately after meeting this elegant lady, we came across a group of students that had been practicing martial arts in a rice field. Covered with mud, our “martial arts mud monsters” could not have been happier or more polite. But we were relieved that they didn’t want a hug!
Still, the very best was yet to come.
Our first glimpse of this magical field came as we watched a farmer maneuver his cows to till the wet muddy field. This is work, lots and lots of hard work.
We had not arrived at the Unesco protected rice fields yet and already our heads were bursting from the visual magnificence of it all.
And as we topped the mountains these Unesco protected fields revealed themselves. Lush green, terraced rice fields, and yet there were only a handful of dedicated farmers responsible for the fields and the rice.
Bev and I have never been big rice eaters. But in Bali we ate it nearly everyday, white rice, brown rice, red rice, and black are staples in the Balinese diet. The community depends on their rice and these workers know it. They take the responsibility of watching over the rice very seriously.
Not only did we enjoy eating rice and visiting the rice fields but we have come away with a new appreciation of it. At the risk of sounding a bit corny, yes, we’ll eat more rice, more often. And, we’ll eat it more slowly, enjoying each bite, while remembering the care that went into growing it.
If you ever get the chance to visit Bali, and we hope you do, take a break from the beaches, and the yoga and meditation studios (and the shops) long enough to get out into the country. That is where you’ll find amazing locals who honor their traditions and home and families. And they are so happy to exchange a smile with a visitor. They have all helped us gain a new appreciation for rice.
See you on the road,
Bev and John
Caring for two dogs, two cats, two horses, and three Alpaca in a small village in a foreign country may seem daunting. Not to us. We have done it before, As International Trusted House Sitters we get to do that and make new friends with all sorts of critters, even the two legged kind. That’s the best part.
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