Should you ever find yourself in Bali you must visit the Jatiluwih Rice Fields. I did and it was the highlight of my trip. Many people ask me is Bali too touristy and commercial. My answer is yes it is touristy and commercial. But like most any sunny destination in Asia there is the touristy/commercial spots and then there is the authentic experience or at the least, less developed. If you’re in one of the developed beach resort areas of Bali like Sanur or Kuta, Sanur being the more refined of the two, then you will be in the middle of a typical tourist beach center. You’ll have all the comforts of global chain restaurants and hotels, and a sea of bars with the crowds to go with it.
On my last visit my driver insisted we stop in Kuta while driving through from a day at the beautiful Uluwatu Temple by the sea. I hated it! The crowded beaches, big box stores, chain restaurants, aggressive hawkers, beach bars. He knew this would be my reaction but he wanted me to see it so I could have the experience and write about it. I’m not judging though. For some people this is a vacation they need with the familiarity of home. The party scene can be pretty cool too if you’re in the mood.
Like a Living Painting
But if you want a more authentic Indonesian experience go to the country. See the Jatiluwih Rice Fields. It doesn’t matter what time of year. I was there for harvest so there were the many shades of yellow gold and green in the fields. Go in the early morning for sunrise. I actually went twice. Have your driver drop you off so you can do a walk through the quiet roads then meet up with him on the other side for a cold drink or cup of tea. You’ll probably run into some friendly locals who will want to chat. This is all part of the experience.
But the fields are amazing. It’s like a giant live painting right before your eyes. The terraces so perfect. The colours inspiring. You don’t get Unesco Heritage status by just having a pretty place though. Its’ sophisticated aqueduct system for supplying irrigation, the almost 1000 year history of cultivating rice, and the farmer’s culture of Subak, cooperating with each other helped the area gain Unesco status.
No Tour Buses
What makes this place really special though, or at least keeps it special is the lack of accessibility. Tour buses do not travel through here. An undeveloped Unesco Heritage site? Unbelievable but amazing for people like us who appreciate this experience. You either have to hire a driver or find your own transportation to the area. From Ubud it’s just over an hour’s drive. Worth it to get away from the crowds, tour buses, and feel the real Bali, Indonesia.
Tip:Find a good driver. I actually lucked out and found a great driver while lost on a country road near Ubud one day. But I don’t recommend this approach. Ask your hotel. If you had a good rapport with the driver that picked you up at the airport ask him. Caution. Many drivers will want to take you to places of interest to them. Shops or restaurants where they receive a commission on what you eat or purchase. Be clear about where you want to go and what you want to do. Take ownership of your trip and experience.
I am a broadcaster, photographer, writer and videographer with a passion for travel throughout Asia. I love making connections and engaging with people. I am spiritual and seek adventure wherever I go.
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