LIVE LIKE A LOCAL
Our day began with a morning trek through the Ayung river valley (aka the jungle), the very friendly Aguse (fitness instructor) took us through the jungle and through some local villages. We found it very bizarre to just walk into someone’s “compound” and watch them go about their morning routine, however they didn’t seem surprised to see us or bothered that we were there. Aguse explained that this is the way of life with the Balinese, everyone comes and goes and they usually have several families in 1 compound, sharing food, clothing and different responsibilities or chores.
We had a quick stop off at a hut that housed a few large pigs and a few little piggy’s, they were soooooo cute but sooooo smelly!! (unfortunately Pete won’t let me get one of our own).
After working up an appetite on our morning jungle trek, we were provided with breakfast in a private bale, located next to the rushing Ayung river, surrounded by rice plantings terraces.
Once we had, had our fill of breakfast, we were asked to remove our shoes, roll up our pants and put these hat we were provided with, which were “authentic Balinese hats”, Aguse and farmer gave us a quick demonstration on how to plant rice seeds.
We started off “hoeing” the ground, mixing up the mud and water, the mud was cold an squishy in between our toes, it was such a strange feeling, it reminded me of when I was I kid playing in the mud! Pete and I hoed and dug up little holes, making sure the whole rice patty was mixed well.
Next we threw (literally threw) the rice seeds onto a small raised portion of mud and then covered it with leaves to keep the birds and animals away.
Then we used a large flat rake to flatten out and smooth the ground that we just dug up, making it ready for planting.
Once the farmer was satisfied with how flat and even the ground was, he provided us with bunches of more mature rice seeds to plant. The farmer gave us a quick demo with very quick fluid movements, which was almost impossible to follow, he was so quick! We followed his direction and soon made a massive mess of our rice field, our lines were all over the place and our spacing was terrible, it’s a good thing we weren’t hired to do this full time!
I was a little grateful when we were done as the bending over to plant motion, does put a lot of pressure on your lower back however I did have a lot of fun and would happily kept going, with or without pain… (I’m weak!).
After our muddy morning of jungle trekking and farming we were taken via buggy to the spa where it was time to relax our sore muscles and scrub away the dirt of a hard half a day’s labour in the fields with a river stone bathing ritual, called batukali. We were told that the bathing in the river ritual is both an age-old ritual and a social event for the Balinese where the villagers share laughter, songs, gossip, and stories after a long day in the field.
The treatment we had included an application of fresh herbal blends on the hair and scalp, a fragrant warm bath, an invigorating river stone scrub to revive the skin and finally ending with a soothing Balinese massage complete with fragrant coconut oil and freshly grated ginger paste to warm and relax the body.
Sadly the day’s adventure had to come an end with a traditional lunch of Nasi Campur. Nasi Campur, literally means “mixed rice”, it is an Indonesian dish of red rice topped with vegetables, meat or fish, and other accompaniments that might include egg, tofu, and fried soybean cakes known as tempe. Nasi campur is a typical everyday Balinese meal that a farmer’s wife might prepare and share with her husband in a small shelter known as a pondok in the rice fields. Our Nasi campur was enjoyed in a private bale along the river, where we were presented a memento photograph from the day and the Nasi Campur recipe to enjoy at home.
While I’m sure the Balinese people do not received this luxury experience on a daily basis, it certainly gave us a small view into their life’s and provided us with a whole new appreciation of the toll on their bodies.