We’ve saw quite many rice fields, but rice terraces beat them all. The Tegalalang terraces are definitely the best ones that we had seen.
In Ubud, we rented a motorbike for a day. It is not hard to get a scooter anywhere in Indonesia and they are quite cheap. We paid 4€ for a whole day. Our idea was to make a short trip to the north to see these terraces and also Pura Tirta Empul (Water temple), but more about the later in the next post, this one is all about the green fields.
It wasn’t very hard to get to Tegalalang rice terraces. You just follow the main road towards the north. If you get lost, you just ask someone on the street and they will be happy to help.
Once you get to Tegalalang, you can’t miss the rice fields. They’re on the right side of the road. Scenery is spectacular. You will see neatly arranged terraces, different shapes and sizes. Some of them are abandoned, but most of them are working hard, growing the rice for their owner.
The purpose of such arrangement is obvious. If rice would be grown just on plain fields, they would have enough space to grow rice for everybody. Besides that, water would slowly ruin hills around by washing away all the earth. So, by dividing the hill to the terraces, they get more space water flows evenly through all the terraces and bring enough water to all the terraces. They also look amazing and attract a lot of tourists. 🙂
But if you think, that scenery from the road is the best, you are wrong. You should definitely take a step down and mingle between the rice ears. This is the way to get a real experience of the work local people do. When we got there, we knew that we could go down, but didn’t know exactly where to descend. We asked the first guy we saw. They are all very friendly and helpful. The way down is full of steep stairs. But what was really impressive, was a local lady, with a bucket full of dirt (at least 20kg) conquering these stairs on her way down with such an ease, like sitting on a couch.
Once we got to the bottom, we started climbing narrow paths between rice fields. If you walk down between the fields, we recommend some better footwear than flip-flops. No need for climbing boots, but sneakers or Tewas would be ok.
First person that we met was a local lady in her shack. She was selling some souvenirs, which we didn’t buy. At the end, she politely asked us, if we could make a small donation to the community, working on these fields. We are usually not very charitable, unless there is a good reason for it. We saw this as a good one, so we left some money (can’t remember how much, which means that it didn’t mean a lot for us – the westerners. It definitely was noticeable for them).
Our tour continued. We climbed up, on the edges of fields, which was a bit difficult. Respect on how they manage to work there. Higher on the hill, we met another local. This time it was a man, again selling souvenirs. We politely told him, that we don’t need souvenirs and that we made a donation to the lady downstairs, which satisfied him. Just before we left, he pulled out his greatest souvenir: hat from banana leaves. It was beautiful. If we didn’t need to take a plane home, he would definitely sell two of them. Sadly, we had to pass. We got to the top of the fields and returned the other way back to the main road. We took a mandatory stop in a local bar with a perfect view and drank fresh coconut juices.
When we were sitting in this bar, we saw a lot of people coming to the platform in front of the bar, taking a few pictures, listening to some local guide and going away after 5 minutes. Like instant tourism. Our advice: don’t be like them. Take some time, walk the fields, see the rice up close. It is definitely worth it.
Oh, and we’ve learned some new interesting things about growing rice. Did you know, that there are geese in the rice fields? They eat leftover rice grain, weeds and water insects. The arrangement is great for the rice farmer as well. Geese help decompose harvested rice straw more quickly and they also eat weeds, that would harm the newly grown rice. The birds’ droppings are beneficial as fertilizer. Win-win combination.
Just one more advice: Tegalalang town, can get very crowded (many cars). So it’s probably easier and more convenient if you take a motorbike, since it is more maneuverable and you don’t need to wait in line to pass through.
Tegalalang rice terraces would definitely win a prize for the greenest landscape in Indonesia, maybe even in the World. They are a perfect stone in a mosaic of diverse Indonesian landscape that would impress every time, that you see them.