During my first week in Bali I went on an herbal walk through the jungle and rice paddies to learn about local medicinal herbs. The word Ubud actually comes from the Balinese word ubad which means medicine, and many medicinal herbs and plants are grown in the region.
I first met my guide Komang in Utama Spice, a shop which sells locally made natural skincare products based on ancient Balinese medicinal knowledge. I ended up talking to Komang for about an hour in the shop as he told me about different products, traditional customs and ceremonies. He told me his grandmother taught him the traditional healing knowledge and asked him to share it with the world, which he does with great joy on his Bali Green Walks.
The following morning I met Komang and we set off on our herbal walk. Streets and alleyways quickly opened up into green countryside, I never knew this beautiful scenery was right on my doorstep!
We followed a narrow path through acres of rices paddies, which are still tended by hand. The unique communal irrigation system used for the rice fields, called subak, has existed for over 1000 years – a complex system combining spiritual practices, irrigation technology, and social organisation (so special it has been added to UNESCO’s world heritage list for its outstanding universal value to humanity).
As we walk along Komang picks leaves and flowers for me to smell and taste, clove leaves, lemon grass, citronella, billy goat weed (viagra for men he tells me) and a magical little plant called touch-me-not which closes its leaves when you touch them – fun!
Half way through the walk we take a break at Sari Organik restaurant which is right in the middle of some rice paddies. Sari Organik is one of Ubud’s most well known organic restaurants (they have a second restaurant and a store in town). Komang and I take a walk through their organic garden and I am amazed to see that not only are they growing their own produce, they are converting cow manure into biogas to cook with – impressive!
Wandering through the vegie patch I spot a brown snake. Trying to keep calm I point it out to Komang and quietly move away – all of a sudden a lizard darts in front of the snake, the snake streaks towards me as it chases the lizard, I shrek and climb up Komang. Eeek! Making a quick exit from the garden we continue on our walk – my closest encounter with a snake so far, my heart is still pounding!!
As the rice fields give way to jungle we follow a path next to a stream and I’m in awe of all the birds and butterflies around us. Everything is lush and green and humming with life. Komang walks along with his hands stretched out either side – channelling the amazing jungle energy. This place is something special.
Recommendation: Join Komang on his Bali Green Walks tour for a unique insight into the plants and medicines of Bali, a chance to discover some amazing scenery.