Bali – Life in the Countryside

Bali Countryside

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 Terraces - Bali Countryside

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.

Jatiluwih Rice Farmer - Bali Countryside

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.Bali Wood Carver & Chicken Farmer

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.

Wood Carver - Bali Countryside

Prized Cockerel – Bali Countryside

Chicken Farmer - Bali Countryside

Bali Countryside Rice Farmer

An elderly rice farmer carries baskets filled with palm fronds for use in weaving.

Bali Countryside Rice Farmer

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.

Tegallalang Rice Terrace

Iconic Basilicas of Montreal – Christmas Special

We are well into the festive season and tomorrow we will once again be celebrating another Christmas. To mark the occasion, I decided to publish photos of beautiful Catholic basilicas that I visited during my trip to Montreal, Canada.

Montreal Basilicas

Montreal has been nicknamed the city of a hundred bell towers due the to the large number of beautiful churches. Wherever you look, you are likely to see a church steeple or dome. A number of these buildings, are world class in terms of architectural beauty and design. The following are just a few that are well worth visiting.

Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal

The Notre Dame Basilica that is well known to visitors to Montreal. It has a long history and has been built and demolished a number of times since the erection of the original small chapel in 1642. Construction of the Church as it stands today commenced in 1824 and was completed in 1829. In terms of architecture, the Church elders opted for a Gothic Revival style that was in vogue in England and the United States at that time.

However, what makes the Notre Dame Basilica an icon today is not the style or scale of the building but the magnificent interior. The sheer beauty is within its wall and the intricacy of its decoration. Sophisticated detail in the carvings, coupled with magnificent paintings and the magical blending of the principle colours of blue and gold are truly masterful. It is no wonder that international superstar Luciano Pavarotti performed his 1978 Christmas concert here or why Celine Dion choose it as the venue for her marriage ceremony. Notre Dame is rated by many as one of classic churches of the world and Montreal’s top tourist attraction.

Montreal Churches

Architecture – Notre Dame Basilica

Basilicas of Montreal

Notre Dame Basilicas Intricate Carvings

Basilicas of Montreal

The Interior of Notre Dame Basilica

Basilicas of Montreal

Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal

The stately Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal is one of the World’s great Catholic churches. Its visual attraction differs from the Notre Dame Basilica in that it is not the interior that draws hordes of visitors. Instead, it is the imposing size and position on top of Mount Royal. For me, of all the churches in Montreal, it is by far the most impressive structurally.

Montreal Basilicas

Saint Joseph’s Oratory – Interior

Basilicas of Montreal

Saint Joseph’s Oratory – Architecture

Montreal Basilicas

Basilicas of Montreal – Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral

The Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral is often missed by visitors to Montreal who opt instead for the more popular Notre Dame and St Joseph’s basilicas. It is modelled after the famous St. Peter’s in Rome and is the seat of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Montreal.

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Seasons Greetings

Remo Pollastri - Seasons Greetings

The Laurentian Lake District, Quebec

Laurentian Lake District

The Laurentides or Laurentians as it is generally termed in English, is one of seventeen administrative regions in Quebec. The southern most border is located just north of Montreal and encompasses part of the Laurentian mountains. It has become a popular tourist destination, based on a cottage and lake culture in the summer, and skiing in the winter months. Like most of Quebec, this region is covered by thousands of lakes. During the warmer months, Inhabitants of Montreal escape the hustle and bustle of the city and head to the many quiet lake locations in this area.

Lakes and Rivers of Quebec

Quebec has often been described as the land of rivers and lakes. This is not surprising considering it is home to the mighty St Lawrence river and to hundreds of thousands of lakes. There are over half a million lakes in the province and four and half thousand rivers. Many of the lakes are immense, with thirty having a land area of in excess of two hundred and fifty square kilometres.  A total of over three hundred and fifty thousand square kilometres of land is covered with water. In comparative terms, this equates to the total land area of Germany. The Laurentian lake district is one of the regions that is packed with lakes and rivers.

Lac De Cornes Sunrise

Lac De Cornes is just over 250 km north west of Montreal and borders the Parc Regional Kiamika. Secluded cottages are available to rent and it is a wonderful place to hike and paddle. It is also an excellent base from which to explore the rest of the Laurentian Lake District. I highly recommend waking up early and taking a walk along the shoreline. On a crisp morning, the mist and the sunrise make for a beautiful sight.

Laurentian Lake District Sunrise

Lac Vaillant, Laurentian Region

Lac Vaillant lies immediately to the north of Lac De Cornes and the two lakes are connected by a narrow stream. The beauty about staying at this small reservoir is that there are only 4 cottages/chalets on its banks. This means that visitors have a high level of seclusion and privacy.

Lac Vaillant, Laurentian Region

Kiamika Regional Park

Kiamika Regional Park is one of the lesser known parks in the Laurentian region but is well worth a visit. It is far less crowded than the popular parks. In terms of size, Kiamika is over a hundred and eighty square kilometres and has dozens of lakes as well as over forty islands.

Kiamika Regional Park, Laurentian Region

Lac Kiamika, Laurentian Region

Lac Kiamika is the dominant lake in the Kiamika Regional Park. There are two islands on the lake (Ile de la Perdrix Blanche and Petite Ile de la Perdrix). They are both amazing places to paddle to and explore.

Lac Kiamika, Laurentian Region

Lac Perodeau, Laurentian Region

On a calm day, it is possible to capture the perfect reflection of the trees on the water.

Lac Perodeau, Laurentian Region

Lac Vaillant Sunset

Lac Vaillant Sunset