Splitting open a plumpious passion fruit and sucking the sweet seeds straight from the two halves was perhaps the highlight of a trek through the rice fields in Gianyur. Led by the knowledgeable Tegu from The Samaya on a private tour, the sun was beginning to lose some of it’s heat and The Grey Traveller was in heaven.
Tourism is clearly the number one earner in Bali but rice is still an important commodity for the island as well as subsistence for many farmers. As we dodged the moped riders on the narrow pathways which link the local village to the fields Tegu shared lots of anecdotes on rural Balinese life. Clearly proud of his heritage and culture we learned much…. although it is with some regret that we travellers impact on these gentle people’s lives.
The fields are edged with banana trees, papaya, chilli, lemongrass, coconuts and passion fruit and we stopped to taste or sniff these plants along the way. Eighty percent of Balinese are Hindu and each home has its own temple and each village has three community temples. These terracotta coloured buildings are festooned with star decorations as ceremonies are frequent. There are even temples in the fields.
Rice picking and planting is back breaking work and no doubt these tiny field temples are a welcome place not only for prayer but rest and shade from the tropical sun. Not surprisingly there are scarecrows in the field not so dissimilar to what we might see in the English countryside.
Teenagers play on bikes and younger children are catching fish in the drains. There are many dogs running loose as each home generally have three! It seems that Balinese homes are full of extended family where the heart is their temple along with their shared meals. Tegu pointed out the different shaped roofs which signify either a Javanese or Balinese shape.
We enjoyed some of this local crop as sticky jasmine in Ubud restaurants with our satay and stir fries. If learning about local life makes tourism even a tad sustainable there then hats off to the The Samaya and Tegu.