Hardly had I left the bustle of the capital city Denpasar behind when the rice paddies came into view – carefully laid-out terraces that stretched out like an endless pattern over the landscape. Inspired, I began to conjure up this image that the island could have evolved in the following manner: at the beginning there was just one rice field in the middle of the ocean, which was cultivated by a single farmer. Then came a second farmer who laid out his terrace right next to the first one’s field. Others followed, and with the passage of time the island of Bali had thus been created: a carpet of tidily-knit rice fields that floated like rafts through the ocean.
Only when I set foot in a forest on the south bank of the Buyan lake did this image begin to lose its power. Here, I sensed the strength of the dense vegetation which could swallow up everything that did not retreat. Only the rain, which clattered down like hail on the fields and slashed against the windshields of cars, appeared to make a crackle now and then in this forest – as if the water of the world was trickling in, bit by bit, through the skin of the treetops into the interior of this dark green organism.
Bali is what the people of this forest have wrested out of the jungle – the result of a daily struggle with nature.
First Publication: 19-12-2013