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The sweet delight of Tegalalang tourism

Anggara Mahendra

The Jakarta Post

Gianyar  /  Wed, September 6, 2017  /  09:04 am
The sweet delight of Tegalalang tourism

Percussion sounds: Wayan Kantun shows a French tourist how to play a traditional gamelan instrument in his stall. The farmer lives near the terrace trekking area and sells young coconuts to get additional income. (JP/Anggara Mahendra)

Paddy fields are a part of the Balinese community’s rituals dedicated to Dewi Sri, the Goddess of Fertility.

Today, instead of functioning as a food supplier, paddy fields in Bali are shifting to tourism. The paddy fields of Ceking in Tegalalang, Gianyar regency, for instance, are famous for their well-maintained terraces that attract numerous tourists enchanted by the gorgeous views.

“My family gets Rp 10 million [US$750] a month from the village for a plot of just one hectare,” said Vitri, a Sebatu villager married in Tegalalang.

This allowance is provided to help farmers maintain their paddy fields in Tegalalang. In another area, Wayan Runia, a 90-year-old farmer, receives Rp 2 million a month for his rice fields, which can be easily seen from the road separated by a small river and a small cliff.

Green territory: A red and white flag is seen in the middle of a green paddy field in Ceking, Tegalalang, Gianyar, ahead of the country’s Independence Day in August. Paddy field terraces are popular tourist destinations in Bali.Green territory: A red and white flag is seen in the middle of a green paddy field in Ceking, Tegalalang, Gianyar, ahead of the country’s Independence Day in August. Paddy field terraces are popular tourist destinations in Bali. (JP/Anggara Mahendra)

Runia asks for donations from passing tourists who use a bridge constructed from iron pipes and bamboo to get to his rice field. Some tourists donate money while others show some reluctance as they already pay an admission fee at the main gate and make voluntary contributions at the trekking entrance.

Becoming a farmer in this modern era, Runia says, is difficult because farmers can only enjoy the fruits of their crops every five months, while prior to this they have to spend money on fertilizer and farm laborers. At his age, he is physically no longer capable of working in the fields.

The Tegalalang tourist destination has several zones of paddy field, with some parts allowing free passage and others seeking donations. The more creative owners turn some corners of their plots into food stalls and places of attraction. They seem unwilling to jettison the sweet delight of tourism.

Step by step: Foreign tourists climb down the paddy terrace wall in Ceking.Step by step: Foreign tourists climb down the paddy terrace wall in Ceking. (JP/Anggara Mahendra)

Daily offering: Vitri, a resident who lives in Sebatu village, Gianyar, says her family receives a monthly stipend to take care of their paddy fields.Daily offering: Vitri, a resident who lives in Sebatu village, Gianyar, says her family receives a monthly stipend to take care of their paddy fields. (JP/Anggara Mahendra)

On progress: Wayan Arnawa (center) builds a simple kitchen around the paddy field tourist site in Ceking.On progress: Wayan Arnawa (center) builds a simple kitchen around the paddy field tourist site in Ceking. (JP/Anggara Mahendra)

Ride the ship: Nyoman Wastu creates his own tourist attraction from bamboo. His paddy field is located far from the main street, so he has to make an effort to attract tourists.Ride the ship: Nyoman Wastu creates his own tourist attraction from bamboo. His paddy field is located far from the main street, so he has to make an effort to attract tourists. (JP/Anggara Mahendra)

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