video Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto

Some people say they learned more by traveling than they did in school. I’d guess most travelers would agree that traveling definitely expands your mind, broadens your perspective on your personal reality, and teaches you lessons about life and yourself you’d never glean by sitting on your porch swing at home.

Looking at a photograph of a rice field that stretches from the foreground to the horizon in the scene, you get a glimpse of another culture, perhaps. But it’s like snapping a picture of the Grand Canyon, or some huge waterfall like Iguazu, and then getting home to realize that the photo simply does not capture the immensity and depth and awesomeness of the place. Something’s missing in the photo–the vibe, the feel, the negative ions. Rice fields are like that, too. A photo of a rice field simply cannot give you the feeling of standing in the middle of one.

Caveat: if you have read my previous post, “Shall We Talk About Karma Again,” you’ll understand why I say: “standing in the middle of one…not sailing your motorbike into one.

Still, if you are simply not ever going to get on a plane and haul your fine butt over to the island of gods and demons, a photograph of a rice field in Bali is better than nothing. And to be fair, other people I’ve met say traveling is just a pain in the butt, and they’d rather just sit on their porch. They say, learning that much about yourself is highly overrated. I guess everything is relative.

If you’ve never been in a rice field at the beginning stage when they are preparing the paddy for planting, it’s just a mess of mud and water. Someone wades into the mud and sticks the fragile rice stalks into the mud, and this is what a rice field looks like once the rice starts growing.

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A rice field in Bali is not like a corn field in Minnesota—simply a place to grow crops. The rice paddies in Bali are also pathways from one village to another and playgrounds for children. Balinese boys, of all ages, display a penchant for flying kites where ever the wind blows in Bali, whether at the beaches or in the rice fields of mountain areas. Rice plants begin to grow and fill out the paddy.

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Once the rice starts popping out of the plant, it looks like this:

3 RICE-tall 458

Here’s a close-up of rice almost ready to harvest.

4 RICEclose 462You ever see a scare crow in a vegetable garden? You ever wonder if scarecrows in Iowa look the same as scarecrows in Bali? They don’t. Once the rice starts popping out of the plant just before harvesting time, all kinds of birds come flocking in for a fine dining experience—all things being relative, remember. Everything about cultivating rice is labor intensive. To keep the birds away takes quite a bit of diligence, all day long.

To assist, they string up long strands of fabric, which blow in the wind and act as “scarecrows.” The growers also insert tall bamboo sticks in the field, fill soda cans with a few stones, tie the cans to the sticks, connect the sticks with kite string, and one man then sits at the edge of the field and intermittently gives it a tug. It seems to work fairly well. Video below:


  1. Here in my place , we used to have a lot of paddy fields. Now new constructions are taking place on these fields and we are slowly losing this kind of views!


  2. Yeah, that’s exactly what’s happening in Ubud. Someone got the idea to build a house with a rice field view, then others built alongside them, others next to them, and now there’s no rice field, only a suburb of town. It would be funny… if it just simply wasn’t!!
    Where are you located?


  3. Never having seen a rice field, I found this really interesting! I’ve often wondered about the whole water and mud thing.
    I never even seen a picture of rice on the plant ready to be harvested before now. Great photos!


  4. I’m so glad you liked them. And yes, most people have never seen rice growing. It comes in a bag at the grocery store. We don’t even think about where it came from, like beef. At some point, I think I’ll go through my photos and do a longer post with pics about the process, in a little more detail. After 101!


  5. Beautiful. I loved walking along the berms of rice fields in Africa and watching the sunset over the fields. Where I lived, the women would harvest it. The days I helped are some of the best memories I have


    • Yeah, I know what you mean. There is a serenity and certain kind of feeling you get just by standing in one. I have never helped with the process, but I think that would be a lovely experience–that one would never forget. I’m always amazed at the way they created the fields, calculated the flow of water, carved beautiful curves into the mountains. Some rice fields are quite simply…works of art. In Bali, they are also places of worship. When I think of Africa, I don’t think of rice???


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