One-A-Week # 2 The Tegalalang Rice Terrace and the stampede

We woke up at dawn on a Saturday morning to get to the Tegalalang rice terrace early, in the hopes of catching the first light before the sun rises above the horizon. However, poor planning in relation to transportation – the phone we had been using to navigate the region ran out of credit and no SIM card shops were open yet, so we were left driving around searching until a shop opened – meant that by the time we got there the sun was well above the horizon. Nevertheless, the rolling hills stretching out through the land and the rice terraces carved into them were spectacular and well worth the 45 min scooter ride along bumpy roads. 

 

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We had missed the early morning golden hour, but we were still bound to get great photos no matter where we focused. We spent roughly an hour walking around the terraces, taking a variety of photos along the way. For the most part, we had the terraces almost to ourselves, besides the occasional tourist walking around and the local farmers reaping the fields. Or the occasional local whom had fashioned a gate of some description out of random materials at random places throughout the track and was charging a toll to proceed. While we were there we paid three separate “donations” – as they liked to call it – although there were at least another four shacks that appeared to be toll gates, but at the time the people had not woken up to man it.

 

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Besides the few people mentioned prior, the rice terrace was ours to be explored without hassle, until about mid-morning at which point it changed dramatically. It seemed to occur in less than half an hour. The terraces went from almost abandoned to packed with people scattering every level. There wasn’t a steady flow. When the clock struck 10:30 am, a stampede of tourists engulfed the place with everyone prying to get to the best photo spots. It became difficult to walk along the 1-foot wide pathway that led around the terraces, with people coming both ways. It was fortunate that we had gotten all the pictures we wanted and so we didn’t have to worry about getting in anyone’s way to take pictures or lining up to go to the best spots.

 

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By lunchtime we had seen most of the area, the sun was high in the sky and scorching our back, and so we decided to head off. By this time there were hundreds of people lining every level of the rice terraces. Even the local rice pickers seemed to be struggling to navigate through the crowd. Regardless, it was still an incredible experience and one of the most picturesque locations I have been to. However, I would have some recommendations for someone deciding to visit the terraces. If you don’t mind trying to take pictures amongst other people or if you just want to experience the location there would be no issue in going at any time during the day. However, if you were looking to come for photographs and you don’t want other people in the background, the only way this can be done is by getting there early. And early in Bali is about 6:45 – 7 am. Even the worst of morning people should be able to get up this early because the sunrise is something not to be missed.

 

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