Just a few months before I visited, Unesco named a number of new World Heritage Sites in Bali, including the Jatiluwah rice fields. So of course I made it a priority to go and have a look!
It’s not just the rice fields at Jatiluwah that have received the designation but the “cultural landscape” of the region including the traditional Balinese agriculture system of Subak that can be seen here.
It is an area of 19,500 hectares of rice terraces and water temples. Subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana – where the spirit, human and natural world are brought together.
The Jatiluwah rice terraces may not be as spectacular as in China, rather this is an idyllic valley of gentle and verdant fields, mixed in with other food crops in the way of traditional Balinese rice growing life (which I saw being abandoned in the central highlands region around Munduk).
The soft emerald green of the mature rice fields, punctuated by wood and straw shelters and shrines, shows off the beautiful curves of an ancient landscape that is surely worth preserving.
It was a delightful day in rural Bali. There was never another tourist to be seen, despite a large sign and flags proudly announcing the new Unesco World Heritage Site status.
There is a line of restaurants overlooking the terraces and ample opportunities to wander through the rice fields with a guide or independently.
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you visited the Jatiluwah rice terraces in Bali? Did you think they were Unesco World Heritage Site material?