| Shahminan Ibrahim |
Paddy field farming is a dominant form of rice growing practice in almost all parts of Asia. It is also an integral source of income in many parts of our neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia.
In many parts of Asia’s rice-producing countries, paddies are planted in what is called terrace cultivation or step farming, where cultivation is done at sloped land, usually mountainous terrain.
In countries like China, Japan and the Philippines, the terraced paddy fields are widely used for rice farming.
Paddy fields in the vast country of China, exist just about anywhere – on mountains, plains, deserts as well as the swamps.
In Brunei, there are a few paddy plantations that are spread in all the four districts. Some of the local paddies are known as Padi Pusu, Padi Bario, Padi Adan, Padi Laila and Padi Bario – to name just a few.
Some of the paddy plantation projects in the country are done in collaboration with some of the more experienced paddy-producing countries in South East Asia.
One of the most well-known paddy field in Brunei is the Wasan paddy field in Mukim Pengkalan Batu.
It is located about half an hour from the capital city Bandar Seri Begawan and also not very far from Kuala Lurah, Brunei’s immigration post bordering with Sarawak, Malaysia.
Paddy plantations are known to be very scenic. This provides photography enthusiasts with excellent subjects and some photographers have even made Wasan as one of their must-visit places!
Be it in the middle of the hot day when the sun is harsh, or during sunset or sunrise when the grand sky is painted with an unbelievably gorgeous colour, or perhaps when storm is approaching – a good photographer always cherishes the subjects in this scenic village.
Activities here virtually never stop. It is quite common to see hardworking men wearing a wide-brim hat with hoe in their hands digging and moving soil. Position them nicely against the huge paddy field or underexpose them under the blistering sun and you can be sure to get a perfectly framed composition.
Under the zinc-covered smoking-hot hut, you will get to see workers stirring with wooden pole the burning paddy husks. Putting your DSLR camera literally a few inches away from the fire, you are indeed practicing one of the earliest and most famous mantra of photography, “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”.
We all know that almost all plantations have countless of scarecrows to scare away the menacing birds and Wasan is no exception. Scarecrows and bird-scarers here vary, from a wooden pole with its top end tied with old can drinks to a very old women’s shirt.
One of the most interesting bird-scarer of them all, and obviously a good photography subject, is the plastic kite in the form of a predatory bird. Tied to a pole of bamboo, and relying on reasonably strong wind to fly, the continuous flapping noise produced from its plastic-made body adds more effect to the fear factor.
When visiting Wasan for photography, one of the things that you wish for is the dramatic sky. When you have a good subject, the dramatic cloud adds up further dimension to your shot and when you are about to think you are lacking a good subject, the sky provides a great backdrop to what could have been a dull shot.
As one of the biggest paddy plantation in the country, not only Wasan helps the nation with the much-needed agricultural economic boost, its very scenic vista certainly provides photographers, seasoned and young alike, with endless subjects of photography.