We visited the Ceking Rice Terrace in Bali, Indonesia on our second day in Bali, also called the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Now I have to admit, I wasn't that enthusiastic about going to a rice paddy farm. I mean, not having been to one before, how interesting could it be, right? Boy, am I happy to be wrong!
On the drive in, I began to see the beauty. The rice terrace was in sort of a large ravine, below street level. The golden rice plants really stood out from the surrounding greenery. As we neared the 'tourist' area, our driver rolled down the window and spoke with the ticket agent and told us the price, I wasn't really paying attention, too busy looking for spots to take some photos but I'm pretty sure it wasn't unreasonable (no one complained about it, haha). This area is just a long stretch of road with souvenir shops and eateries on both sides of the street. To get to the rice fields you had to find the staircase down and fortunately for us, our driver dropped us right in front of it. There was a small sign indicating the entrance but it could easily be missed because if you look down over the railing (in between the shop houses), you'll just see more shops or eateries. Some have zig zagging paths downwards seemingly into the terrace but they could very easily lead you somewhere like a short rice paddy field or a plank suspended by two tall palm trees (that you can pay to swing on) or a hidden "coffee shop". Oh, some have a "selfie spot" too so keep an eye out for those as well (they might 'require' a donation to use though).
Here's the sign that we only noticed while rushing back to meet our driver (hence the phone pic):
I don't know if you can tell but in the bottom right of the picture is a person just reaching the top of the stairs and behind him is the roof of a cafe. So all along that side of the road when you're on the street, you'll either see shops or roofs. If you see a roof then close by should be a set of stairs leading down to whatever is in that building. Sometimes there is something else opposite that establishment, it could be a shop, art stand, a selfie spot or another cafe. Sometimes (as is the case with the main entrance) there is another set of steps and path leading down to another level. I walked down several of these paths and none got me into the terrace easily. So yeah look for the sign pictured above for the rice terrace entrance.
It was starting to drizzle so we went into the shops to look at stuff. There were a lot of local arts and crafts on display as well as the usual touristy souvenirs. Our driver, again, indicated that this area is cheaper than in town and that we should bargain for better pricing. This area's terraces were more green than gold so I decided to walk a couple blocks back the way we came in to take photos of the golden rice fields, as my family went shopping. At the check point, where we paid the entrance fee, is where the sidewalk ended so I was walking on the street for a bit. Not an issue as the drivers did very well to avoid hitting me. I noticed there were people who looked like tourists in these rice fields so there was an entrance somewhere but unsure of the weather and not wanting to go shot less, I decided not to take any time to find it. I found a spot along the street, in a building under construction and began taking pictures (I asked the workers in there for permission first, of course). I got some shots I was happy with so i made my way back. At the check point, I just showed my ticket to the 'guard' who nodded and I walked back to meet my family. Here's some shots:
The drizzling had stopped a bit earlier, so down we went zig zagging down the path until it started to get muddy and that pretty much ended our journey into the rice fields. I mean I could have kept going and take photos of other tourists, but i don't find that fun. So we went to hang out at one of the coffee shops, we picked one that wasn't crowded and they were more than happy to let me set up for some family shots, even helping me move a table and some chairs! My younger daughter started making a small fuss near the entrance while my older daughter was like "aww cooool!" so I walked over to check it out and saw this:
It may not look big in the photo but it was big enough that when I saw it, I said it was fake. The relief on my younger kid's face didn't last too long as the waitress started laughing and said it was real and that there were a lot below in the rice fields. That prompted my older daughter to want to find some but was reminded by my wife about her pretty white sandals. Darn it. So we sat back down and my kids started showing me the loot that they had scored and the "cool" shop that they have to go back to because they saw some other loot that they've decided that they were going back to buy. I guess I should find comfort in the thought that they at least take the time to think about their purchases, sigh. Plus it all goes back to the local artists so it's great!
Oh, before I forget, after going down the first flight of steps to the shops just below street level, then a short zig zag down a path to the actual start of the path into the rice terraces, there is a person sitting behind a makeshift table collecting a donation based entrance fee. According to our driver, the rice farmers are paid by the shop keepers on the street to keep the farms going so this "by donation" entrance fee probably goes directly to the farmers. Overall, I had a good time at the Ceking Rice Terrace and am glad that I got to experience it. Sitting in a coffee shop with an ice cold local beer over looking the rice terrace offers a certain tranquility that you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Well worth the trip, in our opinions! Here's some shots from the coffee shop:
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