I’ve had my fair share of rice while traveling. From arroz con pollo in the Caribbean to sweet mango sticky rice in Thailand. Curious about this simple grain that seems to grow so abundantly in Asia, I walked down to the rice fields at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai to get a closer look and learn about how it is harvested.
Each afternoon, I’ve watched as the farmers parade out into the field wearing their blue long sleeved “mor nom” uniform and woven palm hats to protect themselves from the sun. They seem to come from multiple directions and move so swiftly while delicately balancing the narrow pathways between the flooded fields. It’s actually quite the show. I tried walking those same terrace walls and almost fell in! In addition to a green thumb, I guess one also needs grace and agility to grow rice.
One farmer will carry a bamboo pole with two baskets filled with baby rice plants dangling from either end.
I watched as they tossed these bundles of grass into the water and thought, “well, that looks easy.” Though, it’s not that simple. They start the rice in soil, then cut the ‘baby rice’ as they call it and move it to the mud in the flooded fields. Each grain in the bundle is then stuck upright in the mud. Apparently, it needs lot of water to grow and the flooded terraces are a unique and beautiful form of irrigation.
The whole process takes about 120 days from seed to harvest, and all the rice grown at the Four Seasons is donated to local schools and temples.
This story was originally published during my Around The World By Private Jet experience with the Four Seasons. Take a look at my section in Four Seasons Magazine to see a chronological account of what it’s like to circumnavigate the globe in style.