A visit to the countryside is the best way to experience the traditional way of life in Bali. Once you leave the city limits, you will be captivated by the rolling hills, golden rice fields, volcanic mountains, tropical forests and warm friendly people.
Tourism is by far the island’s single largest income earner. However, agriculture continues to be the biggest employer with rice cultivation the dominant crop. Other agricultural activities include coffee, fruit, vegetables and livestock production. Activities such as wood and stone carving, batik and other art are also prevalent in the villages.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces – Countryside Landscapes
There are a number of rice growing operations in Bali that are open to the public. Most charge a small fee and there generally is the option of hiring a guide. I visited two during my stay in Ubud. The Jatiluwih rice terraces are in central Bali and cover over six hundred hectares of scenic undulating farmland. I also visited Tegallalang rice fields which are much smaller but more popular with tourists, due to their close proximity to Ubud. I much preferred Jatiluwih as it was less crowded and I also felt that the latter was a bit of a tourist trap.
Jatiluwih Rice Farmer – Countryside Portraits
The farmers at Jatiluwah were busy harvesting their rice crops when I visited. The fields are mostly inaccessible to machinery and motorised transport due to the rugged countryside and saturated soil. This means the crop has be reaped by hand and then carried fair distances on foot. I was amazed at the heavy loads that were being carried by the farmers.
Bali Wood Carver & Chicken Farmer
One of the major drawcards to visiting Bali is its wonderful people. This is particularly the case in the countryside, where everyone is so friendly and even more relaxed than in the bustling towns. Wherever possible, I took the opportunity to talk to as many of the locals as possible. Whilst visiting a small village, I was introduced to a wood carver and chicken farmer. His booming laugh and wide toothy smile were highly infectious.
The Wood Carver – Bali
Like many of the countryside folk in Bali, the ‘Wood Carver’ had a trade and this was subsidised by some form of farming activity. In his particular case, chickens and rice cultivation helped him provide for his family.
Prized Cockerel – Bali Countryside
Bali Countryside Rice Farmer
An elderly rice farmer carries baskets filled with palm fronds for use in weaving.
Tegallalang Rice Terrace – Bali
The Tegallalang Rice Terrace is just ten kilometres north of Ubud and is popular with tourists wanting to get a feel of countryside life in Bali. Tegallalang is very different from Jatiluwih and features far steeper terraces and pretty coconut palms.