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Untouched Bali still found in Selemadeg Kaja

Features - December 20, 2001


Wahyuni Kamah, Contributor, Tabanan

Being famous as Bali's rice barn, Tabanan regency offers breathtaking views of terraced rice fields, like those in Selemadeg Kaja village.

Located about 26 km from the province's capital Denpasar, it is clear that Selemadeg Kaja has not been much affected by modernization.

For instance, the houses are still traditionally true Balinese in terms of architecture and function. Some houses still have rice barns and outdoor water containers that are made out of a single large stone.

The residents still adhere to traditional life, and children are not addicted to modern entertainment like play station or video games. Unlike in other villages in Bali where play station stores and VCD rentals are found everywhere, there's not one single such store in Selemadeg village.

According to the village head, I Putu Mahardika W., local residents still adhere to customary law and follow cultural wisdom.

The village's asphalted road is only 400 meters long, with other streets being tracks paved with large stones.

One ecotourism operator has being eyeing the area as a possible site for an off-road tour. There is a spot where a base camp could be set up from where there is a complete view of terraced rice fields. The spot is ideal. On a cloudless day, the peak of Mt. Batukaru in the north can be seen in the distance beyond the green rice fields. Once in a while, white egrets feeding on the paddy can be seen.

The track covers 10 km and can be used for trekking, mountain biking and off-road driving.

"Three weeks from now, the rice fields turn into a green carpet," said Putu upon seeing the newly planted paddy. "As you already know, terraced rice fields are made possible by subak," he explained. Subak is an irrigation system that dates back generations, in which farmers share water.

However, artesian water is scarce in Selemadeg Kaja village.

"We dug 125 meters deep but still failed to find any artesian water," Putu explained. "If you dig five meters you will only find stone." This is the reason the town is called Selemadeg, which means standing stone.

Farmers working in rice fields is a common sight in the village.

Driving along the track can be difficult, especially in the woods where it becomes rough and narrow. And it is a bit risky passing the river because the track is steep and slippery. The stone track is lined with shrubs, bushes and trees.

"This river depends on rain," said Putu pointing to the protruding rocks in the turbid river, which indicates a long dry season. The river is also a bathing site for villagers.

Still, trekking through the green, traditional village is a refreshing trip.

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