Day before yesterday, while wandering the streets of Ubud, the spiritual and arts capital of Bali, we befriended a local named Made (pronounced Mah-dee). A student of Hinduism, philosophy and yoga, he is proudly passionate about his homeland and graciously spent a chunk of his afternoon explaining bits and pieces of the life, culture and rituals here in Bali. Ashlie and I had spent our first five nights alongside the beautiful stretch of sands and water of Bingin Beach – and although picturesque, an area not necessarily overflowing with culture and tradition. So, we were more than ready and willing to be educated on how life truly passes by here in this part of Indonesia.
There was a pretty quick and obvious level of trust established and by the end of our little encounter, we’d set a date to meet him again the following morning. We met outside the local supermarket at 10 a.m. Made rented a car large enough for the three of us, and we spent the entire day slowly exploring the rice fields and villages outside of Ubud. We were showered with smiles, hellos and greetings all day long. Made did an incredible job of translating words, rituals and traditions – consequently, our view and perception of Bali and the Balinese is wholeheartedly enlightened and enriched.
Here are some of our favorite photos from an extremely educational and unforgettable day.
When the sun hits just right, there is a neon shade of green coming from the rice fields.
Rice farming is Bali’s oldest occupation, it’s also one of the most tedious. A process that takes 3 months and requires constant surveillance.
All school kids on the island wear uniforms. They also absolutely love shouting, “HELLO” while throwing up the peace sign.
The beginning stages of placing burning incense and handmade offerings all around her families temple, rituals that are done everyday, multiple times a day.
Hard at work cleaning and maintaing the rice plantation. She stopped at one point to look over, proudly wave her hand high in the air, and say hello.
A calm, cool and collective vibe out in those fields. The fresh air and aroma, without a doubt, connect you with the surroundings.
Traditional Balinese. Fortunately for us, these too, are people that thrive off spicy food.
Made and I discussing all that is well in the world.
The water supply for all the rice fields begins in the north mountains. It is the lifeline for farmers, their rice, and ultimately the people of Bali.
Hard working men and women can labor in the plantations all day, often being paid 50, 000 rupiah ($5 bucks) per day, or being paid in bags of rice.
Everyone, even the older generation, give the biggest smiles and warmest welcomes. A feeling I would wish on everyone while traveling.
A ‘temple’ where the farmers make their offerings to the Gods, for a plentiful and healthy harvest. The gentleman in the distance walked all the way over just to see our pale skin and flash us a grin and welcoming nod.
You’d be amazed by what and by how much the Balinese women balance and carry (long distances) on top of their heads.
This shy, young lad finally came out from hiding behind the gate to meekly say hello.
Incense are lit and burn everywhere you turn here in the villages. We never get tired of seeing the ritual of offerings.
The women of SE Asia have to be some of the hardest working on the planet. Inspiring, to say the least.
This little doll was also very shy. Her mother, from the side, cheering her on to come see us.
Every home, in every village, has a family temple. Some extreme, some nothing more than tree limbs supporting a platform to lay offerings upon.
With the thousand year old stone carvings behind her, this Balinese woman is merely a young lady. She was more than happy to have her photo taken.
Luckily, one of the villages we passed through was having a ceremony. Still rich with traditions from generations long ago, it felt as though we’d stepped back in time.
In route, with her offerings and food contributions in tow.
Men preparing the food for the ceremony, they smiled and gave us each a skewer of the fishcakes.
The spiritual guru for this particular village. He had a way about him.
Best friends. Not only are they beautiful children, they have such sweet, kind and open energy. A theme here on this island.
Big Brother. Keep in mind, this is no touristic show we paid to go see. This is the real deal. The kids’ outfits are just as detailed, clean and crisp as their parents.
Getting a real kick out of me and my non-Balinese accent, trying to repeat what they’d said to me.
Something about this young man reminded me of being that age. A hit of nostalgia that I really cannot explain.
A natural for the camera, seemed like she had been doing it for years. Broke out into the biggest giggle when I showed her the photo.
This is how the majority of families travel throughout SE Asia. Often hard to capture a good image, we particularly like this one.
Adrian was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. After graduating from the University of North Texas in 1999 he spent that summer backpacking throughout Western Europe. The exposure to new customs, cultures and languages opened up a whole new world and appreciation for all things foreign. Since that time he's traveled 5 of the 7 continents and had his passport stamped in over 50 countries.