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From 14th-16th January, 2011, 12 friends from Couchsurfing and I went to Baduy for a weekend getaway from hectic Jakarta. I personally wanted to experience a totally different atmosphere of life, thought that it might make my mind and spirit refreshed.

Who Are These Baduy People?

People of Baduy live in Kanekes Village, Leuwidamar District, Lebak Regency, Banten Province in western part of Java. They live in an area of 5,1082 ha and seclude themselves from the influence of modern world. However it doesn’t make them isolated if that what you’re thinking. The Baduy are divided into two sub-groups; the Baduy Dalam (Inner Baduy), and the Baduy Luar (Outer Baduy). Foreigners are not allowed to go to Baduy Dalam, though may visit  Baduy Luar under certain terms.

There are 3 villages considered themselves as Baduy Dalam: Cikeusik, Cikertawarna and Cibeo, whereas the villages around those three villages, around 53 of them, are considered as Baduy Luar. People of Baduy apply a rigid tribal regulations with their own administration system. The villages of Baduy Dalam are headed by Pu’un who also act as spiritual leaders. They are forbidden to kill, steal, lie, commit adultery, drink alcoholic beverage, eat food at night, take any form of conveyance, wear  gold or silver. Included in their restrictions are: they may not grow sawah (wet rice field), use fertilizers, raise cash crops, use modern tools to work on their ladang (field), or keep large domestic animals.

You may distinguish people of Baduy Dalam from Baduy Luar from their fashion. People of Baduy Dalam wear white or black to without buttons with white headband while people of Baduy Luar with their black top with buttons and black or black and blue headband, though nowadays they also wear modern clothing as well.

Baduy Dalam & Baduy Luar

Let the Adventure Begin

The journey began when my Friday working-day ended. The meeting point was at Tanah Abang Train Station. Pak Budi, a colleague, took me to the station by motorcycle to avoid traffic jam commonly found in Jakarta before and after office hours. Arriving at the station I soon spotted Arta and Zee. According to our plan, we should have taken the train of 18.15 to Rangkasbitung but that day the train was canceled. So we took the train of 19.20. We had a very entertaining 2 hour train ride to Rangkasbitung. We took economy class train which has no AC. I could find people filled any possible space in the coach we were in. We had some songs sung by some boys. A big group of young men, who are factory workers I supposed, were playing card. The others were merely chit-chatting with those sit next to them.

We stayed for the night at the house of a friend called Nandha. We actually have prepared for the worst. Sleeping at the train station! Instead we were sleeping in comfortable beds in a house.

Saturday morning around 6 am after having a shower and quick breakfast, we walked to Rangkasbitung market to grab a mikrolet (minibus) to go to Aweh bus station to then continue the journey to Ciboleger. We arrived at Ciboleger around 8 am. After having some coffee and breakfast -for those who hadn’t got it- we started the amazing 5.5 hours trekking through a complete slippery mud slide all the way as it was raining. We were accompanied by Lamri, our guide, who is a man of Baduy Luar (Outer Baduy). However in the middle of our journey we met Aja, a man of Baduy Dalam, who then helped Ailsa to bring all of her bags.

Welcome to Baduy

Baduy Luar Houses

The scenery all along the way is virginal beauty. It’s so green and simply amazing. In my life it was the first time I saw a huge earthworm, about 50 cm long. The local people called it udu. Unfortunately it was raining almost all our way so that I couldn’t capture as many pictures as I wanted. Ah, for your information, you are not allowed to take any picture once you reach the area of Baduy Dalam. It’s strictly forbidden. You may only take photos while you are in Baduy Luar.

Giant Millipede

Not even half way, my right-side sandal was broken when I fell into muddy-bedded river. I had to drag my right-side sandal to continue the journey and extremely careful not to lose it because it would have been very slippery to walk without sandals on such path. However amazingly the Baduy walked very  fast barefooted.

Around 12.45 pm we finally arrived at Cibeo in Baduy Dalam. It was such a huge relief for me after walking through muddy slippery steep path. The steepest spot is Pagelaran Hill. It’s a 70-degree elevated mud slide! I really had to crawl, literally got down on all four, to get through it.

Cibeo

Wild Wild Bamboo

Cibeo is such a beautiful village with houses made of wood and bamboo which roof are made of palm leaves. The typical of Baduy houses are raised houses with stones to support the pillars of the house. There’s a kind of common yard with stone pavement and green spiky grass where the children are playing. People of Baduy Dalam are beautiful. They have fresh-looked skin, bright eyes and their cheeks are pinkish.

We were accepted at Pak (short for Bapak, means Mr. or father) Ayani’s (or so) house. I saw a row of bamboo in the shape of kentongan (slit drum) at his terrace. I later found out that that bamboo tube is filled with water from river to wash our feet before entering the house. The floor is made of bamboo which produces sounds as I moved. There’s only 2 rooms in the house; one huge common which also functions as bedroom and a kitchen. No bathroom. The only common bathroom is the open-air river. That pitch-dark night, 14 of us plus Pak Ayani’s family, which consists of 7 children and a wife, would sleep peacefully next to each other.

It was a merry dinner time with that many mouths to feed. Pak Ayani himself prepared the rice. I don’t think any of my friends know how to cook rice properly without the help of rice cooker. After waiting for about an hour, dinner was ready. We had instant noodle, rice, abon (meat floss), and sardines a la Balado. Despite its simplicity, it was the tastiest dinner I ever had in years.

Washing dishes is women’s job of course because part of the river where all the dish-washing job is done is located at the women’s part. Chemi and I went to the river to help Pak Ayani’s wife to wash the dishes. To wash the dishes, the Baduy women use coconut coir and ash to replace the dish-washing liquid. It’s a big no no to use any kind of detergent nor soap in Baduy Dalam.

In the morning the howl of children looking for their mother ended my good night-sleep. I went to the river to do my business and to take my ablution before performing shalat fajr. Pak Ayani’s wife helped us to prepare breakfast. Again the menu was instant noodle. I preferred to eat my normal breakfast which I brought all the way from Jakarta; milk, wheat brown bread, cheese, and an apple.

Bidding Farewell to Cibeo

We left the house at 7.30 am. Lamri told us that we would take another way to get to Balingbing, the outer Baduy village where our journey first started . There would be only 2 rises to climb which were not so high. Whewww…. What a good news!  After an hour or so of walk, the rain started falling. Exactly when we were about to go down on a very high slope. Some friends had to get down on their butt to slide down the slope afraid from falling to the valley just next to the path. It was way much more difficult of going down a slope than climbing it. Just like living life, it’s easier to go to the top and getting all the successes then facing the degradation and losing fame.

In every journey, a group of people are naturally divided into 2 groups; the fast and the slow. The Fast was guided by Lamri, while the Slow was accompanied by Aja.  In this journey back I belonged to the later for 2 good excuses: I was wearing broken sandals and that I got lost with Ailsa and Vennie in the forest. Luckily we found 2 Baduy Dalam people who informed us with sign language, as we don’t speak Sundanese, that our friends were waiting at another direction.

The Helpful Broken Sandals

Kang Aja

When we were passing Timayang bridge, borderline between Baduy Dalam and Baduy Luar, the rain stopped and I could finally take photos again. But the journey wasn’t getting easier for me as on the way my left -side sandal also broke. We stopped at Gazebo and got something to drink. I don’t know why that particular part of the village called Gazebo. Ah! Before reaching the Gazebo, we met a man carrying bakso (meat ball) with carrying pole!!! It’s totally crazy! We were dragging ourselves out that mudslide with so much pain and he was selling Rp. 5,000-per-bowl bakso!!!

Unbeatable Bakso Man

When we arrived at Balingbing, I found out that apparently we were an hour slower than the Fast. Arta had taken photos around the village. Chemi had taken a shower. Other friends had bought souvenirs, honey, etc. from Lamri. Besides working on their ladang, to make their living Baduy people make handloomed sarung and scarves and handicrafts made of natural materials such as tree bark fibre, coconut shell, seeds, etc. They also collect and sell honey from the forest.

Back to Modern World

We left Ciboleger at 2 pm to go to Rangkasbitung train station. Our train was scheduled at 15.57. We had enough time to have lunch. We went for Padang food next to the train station. The train that we took this time is Patas (fast and limited) train of Merak-Tanah Abang. It’s a bit more expensive than the normal economy train we took 2 days before. Yet, oh Lord, the regular economy train is much much much better than this one, even the people were far more friendly in the economy train.

Reaching Jakarta at 5.45 pm, I had barely enough energy to go home by public transport. I then took taxi together with Ailsa, Arta and Zee as our houses are in the same direction. I surely had much cleaning to do to my body and belongings once I reached home.

Lessons Learned

  • Being grateful of any ease and facilities that I have;
  • Being grateful that I don’t have to go to work through mud-slide, though I have to bear with the traffic jam;
  • Happiness is not based on how much wealth you have, but based on the gratitude to accept what you have and what you will have;
  • Cosmetics don’t make you look beautiful. The Baduy ladies are beautiful without those chemicals;
  • Stay being who you are when you think it is best to stay so, even though there are invasion from the changing world;
  • Do travel light, especially when you need to walk and climb long distance.

Itinerary

In short, this was the itinerary of my backpacking trip to Baduy. May you find it useful.

Friday, 14 Jan 2011
18.00: Meet up at Tanah Abang
19.20 – 21.30: Tanah Abang – Rangkas Bitung (by economy train, Rp. 2.000)
Stayed at Nanda’s di Rangkas Bitung

Saturday, 15 Jan 2011
06.25-06.35: Rangkas Bitung market – Terminal Aweh (by red public transport of 07, Rp. 3.000)
06.40-08.00: Terminal Aweh – Ciboleger (by Elf, Rp. 12.000)
08.30-1245: Ciboleger – Cibeo

Sunday, 16 Jan 2011
07.30-13.00: Cibeo – Balingbing
14.00-15.30: Ciboleger – Rangkas Bitung train station (by Elf, @Rp. 15,000)
15.57-17.45: Rangkas Bitung – Tanah Abang (by Patas Economy train, Rp. 4.000)

Each person gave Rp. 40,000 to be given to Pak Ayani and Lamri as a token of appreciation of their help and hospitality.

Thus, the total cost apart from food: Rp. 76,000.

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