Rice and Peace
Trip Start Jan 07, 2012
10Trip End Mar 22, 2012
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A couple of hours on the road got us to the ‘village’ which was basically this water palace on one side of the road, and two warungs (local eateries) and a home stay on the other
The funny thing about the epic gardens is that Amlapura’s raja, the last king of Karangesem had built them in 1948, just because he (I quote) ‘liked water’, and it wasn’t dedicated to any Hindhu God or anything normal like that. Brilliant. So after splashing about and finally trying Bali’s local black rice wine in a restaurant we had to ourselves, we got an early night to get up at 6 (I know, we were shocked too) for our hike. We began our walk through the rice terraces and by 8am we were drenched in sweat, covered in insects and Lucile had one soaked boot from slipping into some poor farmer’s rice field… So it was tough going, but it was excellent.
We’d started by leaving the main road to walk along the thin streams that are diverted from central rivers. These small offshoots are then split again and again before trickling into the terraces that have just been harvested, in order to feed the new rice seeds for the next crop. This complex system of irrigation which feeds all the fields on these hills is an agricultural masterpiece, and it was great having it explained to us by a local instead of a geography teacher. Locally it’s referred to as ‘sanak’ although I told Boudhi I prefer rice as a full meal (dad joke, 10 points). We then moved on walking along the narrow corridors of grass around the terraces, which means you’re always having to tear yourself away from the beauty around to check where you’re stepping, and this was where Lucile went for a little swim.
The farmers don’t usually allow guides to bring tourists to their fields through fear that crops might be damaged, but Boudhi’s family are popular in the village and they often offer the farmers certain foods and cigarettes meaning we were allowed this great access, and could look around their homes whilst Boudhi would catch up with them all
So after politely finishing my generous portion of raw, dead (but still moving) eels, we moved on and exited the rice paddies to head uphill through some light jungle, which was a tough walk but promised some amazing views of the rice fields. We stopped by at Boudhi’s cousin’s place half way up, his family had a few small more modern huts in a sort of compound in the trees where we were offered tea and with a very long stick with a knife attached to the end, Boudhi’s cousin kept pulling exotic fruit down from the green rafters around us for us to try. Wanting to practice his English we even had a surreal conversation about the global recession. He asked me what unemployment was in England, not knowing I guessed around 15%, he said ‘oh that’s bad, but you know in Indonesia, it’s closer to 45%’
We continued on and Boudhi wanted to stop to watch some cocks being trained by local guys, as cock fighting is still a big cultural tradition here. It was a little odd watching it, and I’m glad we didn’t see an actual fight. Apparently one or the other is usually dead within one minute at a real event. I didn’t want to ask what happens to the victor, they’re probably eaten or something in some cruelly ironic ceremony. After seeing some beautiful views around the rice fields we headed back down to the home stay to chill for the afternoon, and we even both treated ourselves to a reflexology massage from ‘Rudi’ (everyone’s names in the village seemed to have to fit some sort of rhyme scheme) a charming Balinese guy who gave us ‘student price’. Feeling my big toe he said I had a strong heart, and I really needed it for the torture that ensued, it felt good afterwards but his massive thumb jabbing into the sole of my foot for half an hour was a lot more painful than expected.
So our short but sweet time in Eastern Bali ended, and the next morning we got up early to head to Borobudur, our jump off point in Central Java some 500km away
Sneak preview: Java’s all done, and we’re still alive. Woo. Today is the two week countdown to the end of our trip, so the next few blog entries will come thin (well, you can always hope) and fast. Until that time dear reader, you stay classy, and I’m off to visit some temples.