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The Ayung River and the Subak of Bali : Hydro-agriculture meets Aerial Fieldwork

Overall, my Global Exchange was truly a sublime and fascinating experience which is undoubtedly due to how welcoming, friendly, fun and hard working my fellow peers and the people of Bali are. I am extremely grateful for the numerous friends I made and will certainly cherish these memories I have.

Last summer, I was extremely fortunate enough to be a part of a Global Exchange Studio within the DAB Faculty called The Ayung River and the Subak of Bali : Hydro-agriculture meets Aerial Fieldwork. As a Landscape Architecture Student, I’m fascinated with the different and diverse landscapes this world has to offer, and undoubtedly, Bali, Indonesia, did not disappoint in the slightest.

The intent of this Landscape Architectural Led Global Studio was to investigate Bali’s Subak (Rice fields) and map these intricately engineered Hydro-agricultural landscapes through a variety of means, with one of the most crucial being Drone Mapping and Photogrammetry. What I quickly learnt about Indonesian culture was the Balinese dependence on the land and specifically their dependence on the intricate Subak system. The locals and farmers in Bali view rice as a gift from God and a symbol of life. Farmers pay special tribute to Dewi Sri, Goddess of Rice and Fertility, with small shrines they place in the fields.

During my time in Bali, I had multiple opportunities to work alongside tutors and students from the Udayana University, workers from Astungkara Way, farmers and many other locals. I had an enormously positive experience with the people I met and worked alongside, with some of the best experiences including working on the rice fields where we helped the farmers plant and harvest crops and explored the ways they moved water through their intricate troughed system which seeps through the land like an intricate web.

Within my group, I was in charge of piloting a drone to create a 3D model of the entire north side of the rice fields. This was such an amazing experience as I have never had the chase to drone and create models on this calibre. What was rewarding from this experience was the fact I was able to teach one of the Bali students how to fly a drone and also provide the local organisations with this data as they did not have the equipment to make their own. After a long day on the fields, we came together and learnt how to cook traditional Balinese meals with the plants and rice we had helped harvest.

After working hard in the fields and labs, we were also given some time off to explore different parts of Bali. Some of my favourite things to do in the offtime was to explore the many different restaurants and bars, in which I discovered a new love for Indonesian food. Some other cool things I got up to was climbing the Mt Batur Volcano and droning the summit. I also got to ride ATV’s through a muddy trail, swim in waterfalls and visit different temples and festivals.

Leon Dib

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (Honours)

Global Short Program Student (Faculty-Led)

New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant Recipient

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