The giant steps and terraces of paddy fields in Jatiluwih across the rolling landscape makes for a jaw-dropping sight. In the island of Bali, paddy is cultivated almost everywhere. What makes Jatiluwih to stand out is the amazing terrain that seem to ripple across a massive area and each ripple is staggered into steps of paddy fields.

Furthermore, the paddy variety planted here is of the fragrant red type that grows to more than one and a half meters tall. Whereas the hybrid paddy planted elsewhere gives 3 yields per year, the red rice takes almost year to produce its yield which is famed for its high content of nutrients.

"The red rice grows in a closed environment. A self sustaining microcosm covering 303 hectares where the cycle of life is allowed to continue without the blundering interference of man ... Frogs, birds, snakes and eels are welcome elements of the red rice ecology and protected under the Jatiluwih people's cultural laws," according to Agus Ketut Nuarta Jaya, head of security and cultural law in Gunung Sari at Jatiluwih.

For further reading on Jatiluwih, please refer to this article

This was one of the highlights of the Kecak performance at the Uluwatu amphitheatre. In the Rama and Sita love story, Hanuman, the monkey king, had the role of trying to rescue the kidnapped wife of Rama.

In this dramatized part, Hanuman ran, skipped and jumped into the ring of fire causing mayhem to the villians. In this image, the faint figure of Hanuman on the left was about to jump into the ring of fire.

We were on our way to Tanah Lot from Ubud when stumbled upon a big group of men and women clearly dressed for a ceremony waiting by the side of the road. We screeched the bike to a halt and threw it to the side of the road. It was in the nick of time. A few minutes later we would have missed it, a few minutes earlier we would have to wait for a long time for the ceremony to start.

As we crossed the road to the crowd, the musicians started playing and the ladies started to walk in a line with the men following behind. The procession led into a temple about a kilometer away. Here in Bali, there is a ceremony, a celebration, a ritual to be performed almost every day. Come during the rising of the moon and you will be spoilt for choice on which temple ceremony to witness!

For the Balinese, going to the temple usually means to partake some form of communal celebration, family ceremony or personal ritual. For this lady here, it is likely that she was performing the Panca Sembah, where Panca means 'five' and Sembah means 'to pray'.

In the Panca Sembah, the devotee prays 5 times, each prayer is either to a different divinity or has a different function. In the second, third and fourth prayer, flowers are used in conjunction with the prayer. After each prayer, the flower is put either on the right ear lobe or slid into the top end of the pony-tail on the back of the head.

In this combo image, the lady is sliding a flower into the back of her head whereas the other shows her hands clasped in prayer with flowers on her ear lobe and just above the pony-tail.

Rituals, ceremonies and celebrations are a way of life in the Balinese community. Every person has a role to play. The community is tightly-knit and does almost everything together. It is common to see ladies walking in a long line towards the temple with offerings balanced on their head for some ritual. It is also not infrequent to come across a whole family performing rituals in front of a shrine in the manifold temples of Bali.

During temple celebrations, the compound is laden with offerings from the villagers not wanting to be left out from the ceremony. Many will come dressed in their best. In this image, there are some offerings in the foreground while a shrine partially veiled by long pieces of white and yellow cloths is blurred in the distant.

The Sidemen Road is well-known for its rustic landscape of paddy fields and villages. We came by groups of farmers harvesting and threshing bundles of paddy the traditional way. Here are two ladies threshing in tandem into a makeshift threshing contraption.

It is common in Bali to have paddy fields with different stages of growth. Some are seedlings, others in the middle stages of growth while still others ready for harvesting. This system ensures consistent supply of rice all year round and it is common to have 3 harvests per year.

The rural and rustic character of the Sidemen road oozed with natural charm and calm. The towering Gunung Agung beyond had a thin layer of clouds crowning its peaks. The paddy terraces were mostly on the left side of the road going north while the terrain seemed to rise up on the right. Sandwiched by the road and the paddy fields was a long and waist-deep canal that seemed to snake along by the road endlessly.

The local people used the crystal clear water in the canal for almost everything. For watering the paddy fields. For washing clothes. For bathing and even brushing their teeth. Seemed to be the main and sole water source. The water never seemed to stop flowing from wherever it came from.

On leaving Songan's Pura Ulun Danu Batur, we came across a village roadside stall selling food. After some verbal exchange in the local language, we settled for Tipat Cantok. What a delightful and delectable choice!

Tipat is made by wrapping rice in a woven palm leaf pouch followed by boiling. The rice grains expands as it is cooked to fill the pouch producing a compacted rice dumpling. To serve tipat, also known as ketupat, a knife is used to cut through the pouch and slice the dumpling into chunks of compressed rice. These chunks are usually eaten with a sauce of some kind.

In Bali, Tipat Cantok is prepared by first mixing and grinding an array of ingredients for the seasoning. Chili, peanuts, palm sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, fried onions, petis and a small amount of water are grounded together. Petis is a mix of sweet soy sauce and fermented prawn paste. Once the seasoning is done, it is mixed thoroughly with the chunks of sliced tipat. Poured into a serving plate, vegetables and boiled egg are added on top for a delicious meal!

It was an opportunity not to be missed! To inspect the gamelan instruments up close and not having to hurry. The array of instruments includes metallophones on elaborately carved wooden stands with golden growling faces, big gongs on stands to mini gongs rested on long narrow but short wooden stands and cymbals attached to the flatten back of a wooden turtle.

Not to be confused with the other Pura Ulun Danu Batur on the crater rim near Kintamani, this temple is the one next to the crater lake called Danau Batur. Although looked abandoned on the outside, it is still in use. The finely carved figures of the shrines inside bear witness that it is well-maintained. Apparently, an elaborate ceremony is held here every 10 years to honour the goddess of the lake.

This stone-carved relief showing a gentleman with floral shorts riding a bicycle was the main reason why we made a stop at Pura Maduwe Karang. It's intriguing to find such a carving on a Balinese temple, even more so with a lotus flower as the back wheel! Some said that the rider could have been the Dutch artist W.O.J Nieuwenkamp who visited and explored Bali on a bicycle in 1904.

Pura Maduwe Karang is located in the village of Kubutambahan in the northern parts of Bali. From Singaraja, just take the main coastal road to the eastern side of Bali. With 34 figures from Ramayana gracing the outer walls of the temple, you can hardly miss it as it is right on the main road, on the left from Singaraja.

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Hello... I Am Josh

A Travel Writer & Photographer from South East Asia

A little about me

Josh For some, it's shopping therapy. Others, movie therapy. Yet more, reading therapy. For me, it's writing therapy.
Why writing? When I travel, I enjoy first-hand the experience like in shopping therapy. But when I write about my travels, I live vicariously the experience again, as if like a movie sequel (or more like GroundHog Day, except that this is fun!). Yes, writing evokes the memories, the fun and the not-so-fun but all-in-all it gives the satisfaction of reliving the sense of place once more.
With images, it enhances the experience down one's travel memory lane. With this in mind, I hope to share my travel stories in words and images with you. For your escape therapy! More...

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