A walk in the rice fields of Bali
Our tour guide (of Bali Traditional Tours) was weaving the car through the narrow streets of Bali when the scenery changed from trash filled streets and dinky shops to endless fields of rice patties and marshmallow puffs amongst a sea of blue skies. I'm so glad our guide stopped the car for me to take some photos. Better yet, he even led us into the rice patties, and that is an experience that I will never forget.
I knew that harvesting rice was a difficult job, but I didn't realize the conditions until I stepped out of the shade into the blazing sun. Immediately, my sweat glands began increasing production as I felt my skin and hair sizzle. Then I looked at the rice pickers and could not believe they could stand the heat under their long sleeved shirts and pants. But I did envy their paddy hats.
The seemingly inappropriate clothing for the weather protect their skin from the sun and apparently the numerous mosquitoes that thrive in rice patties. To help with the insects, they place plastic bags on sticks to catch any flying by. They use sickles to cut the crops, and walking through the rice fields, I realized another reason long sleeves and pants are worn. The clothing protects the skin from straw and grass scratches. Wearing shorts, I had small scratches all over my legs, and they itched...What amazes me in Bali is the ability of people to carry various sized items on their heads. I've seen it in photos, but it really is a wonder watching them in action with their backs straight, legs and arm swinging, and their heads completely still.
Bali is known for its high-yield rice varieties, which allows this island to produce impressive amounts of rice. Mostly, they produce white, red and black rice in this part of Indonesia.
As we were walking through the rice fields, we suddenly heard quacking as the crops started to move. And in a break of the rice fields, a line of dome shaped heads appeared, quacking away! They enjoy being in the rice fields because of the fresh water present. Nearby, we stopped by another rice field, but here, the rice was nowhere near as mature. Farmers were performing the back-breaking action of planting each stalk of rice separately. I can't even imagine standing knee deep in soggy dirt and bending over to plant rice all day. But they are very efficient - in just one week, they are able to plant about 5 times the area in the picture below.
Earning approximately only $7 USD per day, rice pickers really don't earn their money's worth for the laborious work they do from sunrise to sunset. After this experience, I certainly value Asia's staple starch much, much more. And not a single grain should be left behind on a plate (or bowl) as each one took hard work to obtain.
- Wear gym shoes.
- If you can bear it, wear pants - the rice and grass are really itchy! And your legs get pretty scratched up.
- Put on sunscreen and wear a hat.