Friday, May 28, 2010
Planting Rice Is Never Fun
The one thing that I didn't manage to persuade the butler to organize, is a white water rafting trip down Balian River. He cited that even at this period which is the end of the rainy season, the river could swell to Grade 4 - 5 and it would only for the instructors to do their training, not for tourists. It's exactly what I want. I don't want the dainty-no-kick Ayung River bluff-tourist type of rafting. But he gently persuaded me not to make such an attempt on the Balian River. Why??!!! Grrrrr.
Ah well, there're other things to do. Planting rice takes place throughout the year. Each crop takes 120 days to mature. Technically, each plot of land is able to produce 2 crops annually, with the months in between for the land to rest and become fertile again. I was quite sure the butler would be able to find me a plot of land that had been ploughed and ready for seedlings for a new crop. My butler (I love the idea of the word!) was a little incredulous. "You want to plant rice?" His tone went a little higher and unwittingly glanced at my varnished nails. I gleefully nodded in affirmative.
The deed was to be done early in the morning before the heat of the land got to the farmers. Waking up at 4.30am was no sweat. It was the back-breaking action of bending and squatting that made it a total work-out. I was too chicken not to wear shoes. So I wore sandals and sank knee deep into mud. Then, I had to push the seedlings in the right way. Otherwise, they'll just keel over when the wind rises. Planting rice is hard work. And what I did, was probably the most fun portion out of the entire cycle of growing rice.
Apparently, farmers in Tabanan Regency might not own the land they painstakingly nurture. If they maintain, plant and harvest for a landlord, they stand to earn 50% of the profits. However, if they only plant and harvest, then they earn a meagre 25%. The rice farmers don't seem to have an easy life. But who am I to comment on what's best for them? Looking at the narrow roads in Tabanan which are only made up of 2 lanes for traffic travelling to and fro, it won't be able to contain the busloads of tourists who might venture here in the near future. I hope it doesn't turn into Ubud where traffic is already ridiculous. Narrow lanes like that are not meant for heavy vehicular traffic. Yet, the natural pace of development dictate that its local charm might disappear in another 5 years.
Would I want to become a rice farmer and do this year after year? No way. But if I've never known any other way of life, who knows. Perhaps I'd be contented doing so. There's something very attractive in the simplicity of life here.