The rice fields in Bali are the most incredible bright green that I’ve ever seen – my pictures don’t really do it justice. And the contrast between the green of the fields, the darker green of the palm trees and the blue of the sky is magical. Before we moved from our house in Penestanan to our current pad, the Merthayasa Bungalows on Monkey Forest Street (still in Ubud, but “downtown”), we ventured out on a walk through the rice fields near our place.
Climbing up the hill to a swanky hotel on the side of the river gorge, we turned left following the “Up the Hill” sign, and snaked our way up and along a small paved cement path into the hills.
The path travels up and along a ridge between two river gorges, one side of which is planted with rice and the other with villas and hotels terraced down to the riverbed.
After a walk of half an hour or so we reached a small village at the crest of the hill, seemingly every house of which belonged to artists and all selling paintings, carvings, and drawings from their home galleries (as well as renting bikes, motorbikes, etc).
Some of these places were very elaborate and also contained rental units; others were much more modest in scale.
As we walked along we could hear the hordes of ducks honking in the fields as they nosed in the cut rice for critters to eat.
We’d worked up a sweat from our climb and so stopped at one small home and gallery for a beer and to admire the view. While there, we had a look at all the paintings on display and decided to purchase one small painting on canvas of a barong dance and a stylised drawing of three figures dancing. Prices for the paintings here are incredibly inexpensive and if we had untold funds and untold room in the bags, we would probably buy more.
Further along the path we came to a newly-opened cafe situated in a lotus pond with a view over rice terraces, a perfect spot for lunch, after which we continued through more artists’ villages and onto a main road.
I had thought that this particular path returned via a loop to town but it became increasingly obvious as we went further along that it did not. Several cycle tour groups had passed us on the way and, luckily, one small group was just loading up the bikes to return to Ubud as we approached. After inquiring about how far the road went, and realising that, at 20 km, it was too far to finish that day, we asked for a lift back to Penestanan which they were kind enough to give us at no charge – huzzah!
Now that we’ve moved to the epicentre of Ubud, Monkey Forest Road, there are innumerable cultural options open to us just outside our doors (I can hear Ty sighing …).
After a torrential rain yesterday morning, we headed out down the road to visit the ARMA, Agung Rai Museum of Art, about two km from our place. This, along with the Neka and a couple of others, is one of the main art venues in town, set in several acres of beautiful gardens above and along the river.
In addition to the museum, and two open stages for dance performances, the compound includes a resort area with what looked to be rather swanky bungalows fronting the rice fields. The caretaker told us that the place had been neglected for some years and was only now seeing some money come in to refurbish some of the buildings. Few people seem to visit this place; other than us, I saw two others and they did not make the journey down to the rest of the compound. It’s too bad because the collection is interesting and the grounds are fantastic.
See more rice field pics here.
Read more about ARMA here.