Photo Journal: Village Life – The Real Bali

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.


Words needed?


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.
  1. Barbara Parlett Reply
    Thank you sooo much for sharing your journey. The photos are fabulous, but how can I describe how joyful reading your journal is. It is inspiring how open your hearts are. I know you will (and already are) blessed. Much love from Texas!!!
    • Adrian Reply
      Thank you, Barbara. It's nice knowing that you are following along, and also inspired by our experiences. I remember a conversation you and I had a few years back, I hope that one day in the near future, when the kids are grown, you will make good on your heart and soul's desire to travel. Big hug.
  2. Carly Reply
    Looks awesome Adrian...your voices come through so clear and beautifully in the writing and pictures. Live it up for us all back home!
    • Adrian Reply
      Hey thanks, Carly. Very happy to know you are along with us and enjoying!
  3. jo Reply
    I am just in awe when I look at these pictures. How the soul of these people young and old has be caught. The land around where you two are being blessed to be a part of. All I can say is WOW.
  4. Gili Back Reply
    Adrian!!! I want to know more!! what about the mix of religions and traditions? how has Islam changed and integrated with the ancient cultures? Have you had a chance to discover the art and the stories, the complexities and intricacies of the Balinese sarongs and fabrics? more more more please!! am so loving the images and words you and Ashlie are sharing with us - thanks from the bottom of my heart. happy days and even happier travels.
  5. Bon Jovi Reply
    Beautiful pictures with a beautiful story, so full of life and color, I felt like I was there. The happy energy is catching. So happy and thrilled for you both to have this amazing experience and so grateful you are sharing it with us also. Hugs and Love to you both!!
  6. Dyas Reply
    You've got an amazing photoshoots, thanks to shared your journey. :)

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