P is for Paddy Fields

For my 16th post for the  Blogging A to Z Challenge, I compiled photos I took at the famous Sekinchan paddy fields on 30 August 2014 into a photo essay.

P is for Paddy Fields

Paddy Fields in Sekinchan

Sekinchan is nicknamed the ‘rice bowl of Selangor’. The name Sekinchan literally means ‘village suitable for plantation’ in Chinese. Large plots of flat land are cultivated exclusively for rice planting year round and the farming methods are modern and mechanised. The area is well known for its high yield. There is a fixed time table for farming all year round, and you can see it here.

Seedlings freshly planted. Photo taken on 30 August 2014.
Seedlings freshly planted.

The months of March and September are seedling transplanting periods, when the seedlings are transplanted from their little trays into the paddy fields, so the rice fields will be all green. On the other hand, June and December are the harvesting periods, so the fields will be a golden yellow hue. As you can imagine, the place is a magnet for photography enthusiasts looking forward to taking nice scenery shots of paddy fields.

Seedlings freshly planted. Photo taken on 30 August 2014.
Seedlings freshly planted.

When I went on 30 August, the seedlings has already been planted. So, the farmers were ahead of schedule. ūüôā Visitors can visit the processing plants too, such as PLS Marketing (M) Sdn. Bhd. During the visit, one can purchase¬†rice and other local produce.

Photo taken on 30 August 2014.
Scenic paddy fields of Sekinchan
Red flowers blooming beside the irrigation canal at Sekinchan paddy fields. Photo taken on 30 August 2014.
Red flowers blooming beside the aqueduct (irrigation canal) at Sekinchan paddy fields.
Busy worker in the fields at midday. Photo taken on 30 August 2014.
Busy farmer in the fields at midday, working in the scorching heat.

The modern mechanised farming methods used in the Sekinchan fields ensure the systematic running of operations and a consistently high yield.

Rice seedling transplanters. Photo taken on 30 August 2014.
Rice seedling transplanters.
Seedlings growing in the fields with a backdrop of a swiftlet house. Photo taken on 30 August 2014.
Seedlings growing in the fields with a backdrop of a swiftlet house.

There are roads connecting to a small village in the middle of the paddy fields, so visitors can actually drive beside the fields. There are also aqueducts (irrigation canals) beside the roads and cutting across the fields.

Traditional Malay kampong complete with coconut palms right in the middle of the paddy fields. Photo taken on 30 August 2014.
Traditional Malay kampung complete with coconut palms right in the middle of the paddy fields.

B for Bali

Today, I wrote my second¬†post for the A-to-Z Challenge. In this challenge, bloggers from all over the world¬†have pledged¬†to¬†write one post every day for 26 days in April, except on Sundays. Such commitment! ūüėČ The topics to write on will follow the letters of the alphabet, starting with ‚ÄėA‚Äô on 1 April, followed by ‚ÄėB‚Äô on 2 April, and so forth‚Ķ

B is for BALI

Enchanting Bali

It was one of those places that featured prominently in posters and travel magazines. I have wanted to go to Bali since before there was Air Asia, when I was a research assistant at the Institute of Oceanography, UPM Terengganu and doing my Masters in 2000. Somebody put up a poster of an International Coral Reef Conference on the wall right in front of my desk, which got me interested in going to the mystical and enchanted island.

An island and province of Indonesia, Bali is the No.1 tourist destination in the country. It has its own unique blend of culture and architecture, and over 80% of its inhabitants are Balinese Hindu. The island is renowned for its highly developed arts, dance, painting, sculpture, metalwork, leather and music. I love Balinese gamelan music.

The best time to visit Bali is during the dry season, from April to October. Please take note that visitors should¬†not¬†go during the Balinese new year in March, because all shops and businesses¬†will be closed on the third day. Called Nyepi, this day¬†is a religious event. Nyepi actually means ‘to keep¬†silent’. So, please do not expect dynamic and exciting activities on¬†this day.

Tanah Lot

I travelled to Bali over a decade later, in 2012. My favourite place in Bali was Tanah Lot. The landscape was just breathtakingly surreal. If there was a signature location that represented Bali, this was it.

Tanah Lot temple complex, one of the most beautiful places on Bali Island.
Tanah Lot temple complex, one of the most beautiful places on Bali Island.
Tanah Lot temple complex, one of the most beautiful places on Bali Island.
Tanah Lot temple complex is one of the icons of the island.
Tanah Lot temple complex, one of the most beautiful places on Bali Island.
One of the small shrines located on an outcrop of rocky cliff at Tanah Lot temple complex.

Kintamani 

The journey to Kintamani took a few hours of travel by car. From the little town, one can see Mount Batur, an active volcano. The blackish lava field from the 1968 eruption is still visible today.

Beautiful view of the volcano on a sunny day
Beautiful view of the volcano on a sunny day

Beside Mount Batur is Lake Batur, a scenic lake where locals rear fish. They also plant vegetables and other agricultural produce in the lush volcanic soil next to the lake.

Kintamani volcano is surrounded by water
Lake Batur on a sunny day

Plants and animals

The locals like to use leaves and flowers as decorations. These are placed outside restaurants as well as used as offerings for prayers.

Weaved leaves as decoration outside restaurant
Bamboo used as decoration outside a restaurant next to the Tanah Lot temple complex. And nope, the seafood restaurant was not open for lunch.

The people of Bali are very religious. Early every the morning, offerings are made in front of their houses and shop lots. Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, the locals practise a combination of local beliefs and Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia. Gods and demigods are worshipped together with Buddhist heroes, the spirits of ancestors, indigenous agricultural deities and sacred places.

The people of Bali are very religious. Early in the morning, offerings are made in front of their shop lots.
Natural plant-based offerings to deities at the roadside in front of shop lots.

Greenery abounds everywhere in Bali, and flowers and trees feature very prominently in gardens. One of the most common flowering trees in Bali is the frangipani, available in a profusion of colours. Ladies put the flowers in their hair and offer them with their prayers.

Frangipani trees are everywhere
Frangipani trees are everywhere

Rice is a staple diet of Indonesians, and the people of Bali plant it on hilly ground, in tiers. The landscape covered with rice fields also attracts visitors because of its scenic beauty.

Paddy fields are everywhere on Bali Island. The rice is very good and tasty here.
Paddy fields are everywhere on Bali Island. The rice is very good and tasty here.
Paddy fields are everywhere on Bali Island. The rice is very good and tasty here.
Tiered paddy fields on Bali Island

While exploring the little lanes of Legian, I saw this little rooster with upright tail, sitting on its bamboo enclosure, in a garden outside some houses.

Little rooster sitting atop its bamboo container in a house's garden
Little rooster sitting atop its bamboo container in a house’s¬†compound.

Architecture

I love the unique blend of architectural elements in Balinese buildings. Best of all, houses are still constructed by hand, as can be seen in Legian. The details are elaborate, with a story waiting to be told at every carved panel and stone statue.

Ornate gates
Narrow ornate gates with two deities standing guard on the left and right

Elaborate and beautifully artistic architecture is the hallmark of Bali. Every house features such decorative elements and it is part of what attracts tourists to visit the island every year.

I love Balinese architecture
Classic Balinese architecture

Stone statues and reliefs are prominent in house compounds as well as public spaces. Some of the town streets are literally lined with shops selling sculptures and statues, ready to be packed and transported to any location in Indonesia or overseas.

Statues figure very prominently in the outdoors
A statue outside a house

One particularly memorable statue was a gigantic Garuda at Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural Park. The Garuda is a large bird-like creature or humanoid bird that appears in both Hinduism and Buddhism. The Garuda is the fabled mount of Lord Vishnu. It is the national symbol of Indonesia, and the country styles its image as a Javanese eagle.

Garuda Plaza at at GWK Cultural Park, Jalan Raya Uluwatu - Jimbaran Badung 80364, Bali, Indonesia.
Garuda Plaza at at GWK Cultural Park, Jalan Raya Uluwatu – Jimbaran Badung 80364, Bali, Indonesia.

Barong dance

The Barong is a mythical lion-like creature in the legends of Bali. He is the king of the spirits and leader of the good. His enemy is Rangda, the demon queen, who is said to be the mother of all spirit guarders. The Barong dance is a depiction of the battle between good and evil, represented by Barong and Rangda, respectively.

Barong dance at GWK Cultural Park, Jalan Raya Uluwatu - Jimbaran Badung 80364, Bali, Indonesia.
The Barong in the Barong dance at GWK Cultural Park.
Barong dance in action at GWK Cultural Park, Jalan Raya Uluwatu - Jimbaran Badung 80364, Bali, Indonesia. GWK = Garuda Wisnu Kencana.
Rangda, the demon queen in the Barong dance, at GWK Cultural Park.
One of the performers at GWK Cultural Park, Jalan Raya Uluwatu - Jimbaran Badung 80364, Bali, Indonesia.
One of the performers at GWK Cultural Park, Jalan Raya Uluwatu – Jimbaran Badung 80364, Bali, Indonesia.

Bali is fantastic and beautiful and four days is definitely not enough to see most of the island. I hope to go there again one day, to visit Tanah Lot at sunset, and all the places I did not go to, such as Pura Ulun Danu Bratan and Pura Luhur Uluwatu.