The Rice Joglo
May 2, 2018 • 4 min read
Before I left for my month in Bali, I knew it was going to be a magical place. One of the places I was most excited to visit was the rice terraces. I had seen countless images of Tegalallang Rice Field and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself. So, you can imagine my disappointment upon entering through the gates to see a commercialized space chock-full of tourists, just looking to get a cute photo. I mean there was drone traffic…
That’s why, when I had the chance to stay at The Rice Joglo, I couldn’t have been more excited. I discovered this remote little eco-luxury hotel via Instagram, and it immediately piqued my interest. Not only was it nestled in between authentic rice fields, but the joglo was an almost self-sufficient property, complete with a farm and restaurant. There are no cars that can access this part of Ubud, as there is only one “road”, just slightly wider than a motorbike.
I was picked up by Made from my hotel in the busy part of Ubud and dropped off at a specific drop-off point. There, I met Sonu, who is the property manager, and unofficially, the entertaining storyteller. He told me that my luggage would arrive separately, and we sped away on his scooter down a tight corridor lined by a brick wall. I clutched my bag and hoped that I’d made the right decision. We picked up speed and soon were on a tiny dirt path surrounded by lush rice fields. We passed little cottages, cafes and stalls selling artisanal goods. I couldn’t believe how far we went, passing a yoga shala, more restaurants, and never-ending rice fields. Finally, we arrived at a quaint-looking farm. To the right and to the left were expansive rice fields, and the farm was nestled amongst them, with the joglo all woodsy and unique behind it. The minute I swung myself off the scooter and Sonu cut the engine, all I could hear was nature. The stifling heat of Ubud was nowhere to be found, and rather a cool breeze ruffled my hair. There were no horns, no thrum of cars and bikes, just wind rustling the rice reeds, the sound of water rushing by, and quacking ducks…okay, I made the right decision.
You might also like: The Sustainable Guide to Bali
Sonu was nothing if not enthusiastic. He invited me in for a welcome coconut in the joglo’s open-air restaurant. The coconut was refreshing, complete with a papaya stem straw! The first I’d seen. We chatted, him telling me all about his fascinating background, growing up half Indian and half Indonesian. He showed me the bottle of fresh coconut oil that they had been pressed that morning – so cool. He then took me on a tour of the farm, mentioning that mostly all the ingredients used in their breakfasts are from their organic farm. I was amazed to see raw turmeric root (it smelled amazing), budding vanilla bean, pineapples, a plethora of herbs, lemongrass, and all the vegetables you could want. The farm also housed some shy rabbits and resident guinea pigs (the farm and restaurant are vegetarian; the animals on site are solely kept as pets). There were two owls that had been injured that they were nursing back to health. The ducks had their own mini joglo, and they quacked loudly as I walked by. Sonu explained that not only did they use duck eggs for breakfast (they taste incredible!), but the ducks play a very important part in sustainable rice farming.
Ducks are let into the fields after the rice has been harvested. Because of the way rice is harvested, much of it falls back on to the fields. The ducks go in and eat up all the fallen rice, and this serves two purposes – it ensures the beds are kept flat for the new crop to be planted, and as the ducks eat, they leave their droppings. These droppings act as a natural fertilizer, giving the soil a richness it otherwise wouldn’t have.
For those of you wondering, a “joglo” is a traditional Balinese structure, usually made from teak or wood. The entire hotel is made from recycled teak, lives off the land, uses solar panel energy for electricity, and doesn’t have any air conditioning at all. Because it is situated in the middle of rice fields, the breeze that comes through is cool and refreshing, eliminating the need for any AC. What’s truly enchanting about this particular joglo is the history. The recycled teak we mentioned comes from a building built in the last century in Java. Constructed in the Dutch Colonial style, the original joglo was built using already antique teak, with traditional carvings. The owners couldn’t maintain the property anymore, so it was moved to Bali, its new home. Each piece of the original joglo was dismantled and carried across the car-less path to its current location, where workers put it together, piece-by-piece. The history of the place could be felt in the walls, the floorboards, and the incredibly detailed doors.
My room was truly from a fairy tale. I was given the Ravine Suite, aptly named for the outdoor bathroom that looked over the dense jungle. I felt like I was in a beautifully carved treehouse. The bathroom and sitting area were on the main floor, the second floor was where my Pinterest-worthy bed was, a meditation nook, a yoga space, and a gorgeous balcony with a swing, and the third floor (yes, there were 3 floors), had a cute little bed. There was nothing as soul-soothing as waking up with the sun, stepping out onto my private balcony and soaking in the early morning light.
I had some friends join me the next day, and we loved walking on the trail near the property, going for lunch (and back again for dinner) to a nearby restaurant serving amazing vegetarian nasi goreng, overlooking peaceful fields of rice, palm trees, and mountains in the distance. As night fell, fireflies lit up the sky, adding to the mystical vibes we were already feeling.
I will definitely return to The Rice Joglo next time I’m in Ubud, and if you’re traveling there soon, and looking for a sustainable and off-the-beaten path experience, this is where you need to be!
Save this post for later on Pinterest