We can’t seem to stay anywhere too long without finding some horses to ride (although this only stems Bellas ‘I miss Tornado’ lament for a matter of hours…….while we are actually in the saddle….). This particular afternoon and route turned out to be the most wonderful way to experience rice farming practices, real life unfolding in the paddys, and to see a local village entirely off the beaten track.
Even on the drive up we saw interesting sights of bundled straw and rice grains laid out in their various guises to dry in the sun:
Many of the fields we rode through were harvested or in the process, so there were lots of villagers out and about cutting with scythes, threshing, drying, burning etc.
And there was even some evocative stubble burning which took me back to my favourite event of the annual calendar from Mutton Hall in the arable farming days.
It was fascinating to see how people ‘live’ in the paddys. There were clothes drying everywhere, kids flying kites and families and friends hanging out together. There are also huts dotted around where farmers often sleep overnight.
Now as for the horses, they were beautiful, glossy, and well looked after, but someone had given them WAY too many oats, and we subsequently discovered that they were all (recently) ex-racehorses. They had mouths of iron, and stopping was not something they particularly embraced. Mine had the mother-of-a-buck on her which she shared with me every time I held her back from racing the rest. Despite my usual penchant for the ‘interesting/spirited’ horse, this time it was actually somewhat unnerving. James’s kicked and went mental any time it got close to the other horses so he had to try (and sometimes succeeded) to keep it at the back. Emily’s was an incredibly elegant chestnut, but entirely devoid of brakes. Bella’s wasn’t much better and there were lots of raw hands by the end of the day! The girls did incredibly well though, and we survived several out-of-control gallops, as well as the remainder of the 3 hours of more civilised hacking.
Midway, we passed through a very local village in the hills, which was a fab opportunity to see life away from the tourist routes.
Sadly we passed a big bank of rubbish on the way into the village. There is actually not too much around the country in general (most locals buy food wrapped in banana leaves vs plastic packaging, and villagers grow their own rice on a household by household basis), but what there is isn’t collected or managed, so usually ends up on the street sides if it isn’t burned.
Here are some women breaking rocks, which is a relatively common sight. Not quite sure why its always women?!?!?!
We also passed plenty of cockerels in baskets being groomed for fighting. In Balinese Hinduism, the spilled blood in a cockfight is believed to expel evil spirits. Although it is illegal, cockfighting takes place throughout Bali. Men will spend anywhere from six months to two years preparing roosters for a cockfight.
I love seeing the oldest generation out and about in Bali. They are often to be seen walking slowly down the roads with sticks to help support them. Usually very thin, I find their faces very expressive and beautiful, and its always heartwarming to see them out in the community.
The ride drew to a close as the sun started setting.
On the way home I managed to snap this picture (again out of the car window) of a kite on a bike. We see them everywhere, and they have definitely inspired us to see if we can find some way of joining the kiting fun with some locals.