NGADAS, a serene village above the clouds at Mt. Bromo, East Java

These lovely dwellings perched at 2,150 meters above sea level, are the highest village on the island of Java. Flanked by deep gorges on the slopes of Mt. Bromo in East Java, you will find mist hovering, painting the sky as though the village floats among the clouds. Being in the highlands, the average temperature is around 0 - 25 degrees Centigrade, with cool to pretty cold refreshing air. Ngadas Village in the regency of Malang in East Java has recently been inaugurated as a Traditional Cultural Village next to the title it already holds as Official Tourism Village since 2007.

The Tengger villagers are the indigenous inhabitants of this most surreal landscape situated only 6.5 km from the iconic Mount Bromo. Here, the people will welcome you to stay in their homes to be part of your precious travel experience. Mujianto, the village chief said that many tourists spend the night here before heading on to Mt. Bromo. “We have around 50 local homestays, equipped with water heaters to provide better service to our guests,” he explained.

Until today, villagers of Ngadas still practice the ancient rituals and ceremonies that are believed to bring them order, good fortune and prosperity.Despite differences in religion among them, where some embrace Buddhism while others Islam or Hinduism, they, nonetheless, share a peaceful and harmonious communality. In some homes you may even encounter a family where members embrace three different religious faiths, but still live happily together. The kitchen or pawon is the heart and hearth of each home in Ngadas. They sincerely welcome guests to warm themselves by the fire while getting acquainted with the family.

The Bromo-Tengger-Semeru area having been recognized as one of the top 10 new Priority Destination in Indonesia, this has made it important for the people of Ngadas village to enhance their local services to cater to more visitors. The government has supported this progress in many ways such as paving better roads to provide easier walks from Ngadas to Mt. Bromo. The village lies within the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park along with the nearby Gubugklakah Village. Most people here work at farming in plantations and horticultural gardens. There are also many tourist spots to explore around the area, such as the Coban Trisula, Coban Pelangi and Ranu Pani.

“I am very confident that East Java will excel in taking a leading role as Indonesia’s new priority tourist destination. Since it is indeed in the blood of the people here to act fast. They are full spirited and boldly meet any positive challenge,” said Arief Yahya, Indonesian Minister of Tourism.

From the city center of Malang, the village lies around 30 kilometres away. The undulating terrains along some paths may require good off road vehicles as well as an experienced driver. Be sure to rent your car from a trustworthy operator and recheck the price before closing the agreement. You will find the splendor of the green natural tapestry unwinding as you further explore the village. Get to know the village atmosphere and aura exuding from the working farmers, the cheerful children and the women wearing sarongs and batik as their daily attire.

Stay and feel at home here and grasp the beautiful images of Ngadas village, as you will cherish this memory forever.

The Harau Valley, Perfect Holiday Getaway Surrounded by the Chirping Birds

The Harau Valley is sometimes known as the Yosemite of Indonesia. Here, gibbons and macaques and a variety of wildlife still roam freely as this area in the Lima Puluh Kota district has actually been designated a nature conservation, covering some 669 acres. Its beautiful landscape, its peaceful serenity interrupted only by the calls of the macaques and the chirping of birds, make the Harau Valley the perfect holiday getaway.

The steep rock walls here are not only a natural invitation to photographers, but they also attract rock climbers who consider climbing these steep walls a significant challenge. There are 300 spots from where to climb. Looking up, the clear blue sky above is the ultimate finish line as you grab the belay devices, carabiners, and necessary ropes to reach the heights of the Harau Valley. This valley is infrequently visited so that you may have the whole valley all to yourself.

Relaxing is one of the best time-elapsing activities here. Order a cup of coffee and local delicacies and setlle down to write the last chapter of your travels and the extraordinary experiences you had in wonderful Indonesia. Take time for a short walk around the village and watch how people live. Some of the women here work in the rice fields while men plough the fields behind water buffalos, providing the perfect shot for you to take.

Public transportation is available for those wishing to spend the entire vacation time in and around Bukittinggi. Else, renting a minivan or a motorbike will guarantee the time well spent for day trippers to these Minangkabau highlands.

 

Get There

A bus from Bukittinggi going to Pekanbaru will surely stop by the cross road to the Harau Valley, locally known as Lembah Harau. It takes a little over an hour from Bukittinggi. If you take a rented car or motorcycle, just pass through the narrow road where a bunch of motorized taxis or tricycle riders will approach anyone alighting from a public transport.

Going to the valley may take less than a dollar by opelet, the motorized becak. As the region is a nature reserve, you must pay an entrance fee, although the officer can be invisible. The Lembah Echo Homestay is right at the narrowest chasm of the valley, although you will pass a number of homestays along the way. Renting a bike in Harau can be somehow challenging. Many people take the opelet instead. Some of the hotels may, however, offer bikes for rent.

Share The Amazing Jatiluwih Rice Terrace: Beauty and Bali’s Local Genius

Visit the beautiful island of Bali, travel to its highlands, and you cannot but be amazed by the beauty of the thousands of hectares of lush green paddy fields that cascade in terraces from the upper reaches of volcanoes down to the deep valleys below as if sculpted from the mountain side. Among the many fields that stretch almost all across the island, the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces in the heart of Tabanan Regency is the best example of Bali's outstanding picturesque rice fields and represent the Subak system as Bali's Cultural Landscape which has been inscribed a UNESCO's World Heritage Site in June 2012.

The Amazing JATILUWIH RICE TERRACES: Beauty and Bali’s Local Genius
Photo source : www.thejakartapost.com

Last June, former US President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Natasha made Jatiluwih their particular destination in Bali to trek through, enjoy and admire its beauty and significance.

Jatiluwih, in the Balinese language translated means Beautiful Teak. Here, one can marvel at the vast expanses of terraced, green rice paddies stepped along an entire mountain, from its peak to where its foot meets the sea. Aside from its agricultural development, this panoramic landscape has also established itself as a tourist destination and is among the top 10 visited places on the island.

The Amazing JATILUWIH RICE TERRACES: Beauty and Bali’s Local Genius

At the nearby Gunungsari Orchard, located near the coast at an altitude of 640 meters above sea level, the cool mountain air merges with the warm sea breeze. From atop the hill, visitors can take in the fresh air, appreciate the scenic views, and embrace its peaceful atmosphere. Each of Jatiluwih's carefully carved terraces can be seen from here together with the intricate system of irrigation paths that run in between them.

 

Bali's Outstanding Subak Rice Irrigation System

The fields that make up this area are inseparable from the traditional Subak irrigation system – a traditional method preserved for centuries and passed down through generations. Here is local wisdom at its best. Indeed, Bali is blessed with 150 rivers and streams that provide water year round to irrigate this most important staple. Nonetheless, irrigation rice fields would not be successful unless man also has a hand in it.Uniquely, Bali's complex irrigation system has its roots not by order of kings, but its management is very much in the hands of the villagers through village cooperatives. Since farmers depend on the successful irrigation of the fields, the different Subaks form an inseparable bond that unites into a single system.

The Amazing JATILUWIH RICE TERRACES: Beauty and Bali’s Local Genius

At the lowest level, each farmer is a member of a subak, whose rice fields are fed from a single dam. The head of the Subak, called the Klian Subak is elected by its members. In the larger Subak that are fed by a canal, the lowest level is called the tempek. The Subaks, in turn are linked to mountain temples or Pura Masceti, which come under the sway of one of two lake temples, these are the Pura Batu Kau which coordinates irrigation in West Bali, and Pura Ulun Danu on Lake Beratan, which coordinates the north, east and south of Bali.

The Amazing JATILUWIH RICE TERRACES: Beauty and Bali’s Local Genius

Water temples hold festivals every 105 days, corresponding with the 105 days rice-growing season in Bali. This cycle also determines the time of opening and closing of canal sluices, ensuring that plantings are staggered and that water is allocated in the most efficient and equitable manner.The goddess of Rice is known as Bhatari or Dewi Sri, the mother of Rice. As the Indonesian archipelago's staple food, Dewi Sri is not only venerated in Bali, but also on Java and other rice-producing islands.

The Amazing JATILUWIH RICE TERRACES: Beauty and Bali’s Local Genius

By combining sacred traditional values with a highly organized system, therefore, the Subak, the unique Balinese rice farming culture isa manifestation of the Balinese Tri Hita Karana cosmological doctrine. It is the tangible reflection of the original Balinese ideas and beliefs that are essentially rooted in this concept, namely the awareness that human beings need to always maintain harmonious relationship between Man and God, Man and fellow humans, and between Man and Nature in one's daily life. Such particular concept is in fact evident in the Balinese creative genius and unique cultural traditions resulting from the long human interaction, especially between the Balinese and the Hindu culture.

Whether for agriculture, nature or heritage, Jatiluwih and other rice fields in Bali remain important sites that should be preserved and must remain sustainable for future generations.

 

How to get there:

This stunning stretch of rice fields is located in the Tabanan Regency, that lies about 40 kilometers from the island-province capital city of Denpasar, or about 2 hours' drive away. Along the drive, you will pass cafes with tables overlooking the terraces, which make the perfect place to enjoy magnificent sceneries.

Green Canyon, A Piece of Heaven in Ciamis

Green Canyon is located at the Kertayasa Village, in the Ciamis Regency, West Java Province, about 31 km or 45 minutes drive from Pangandaran Beach. Originally called “Cukang Taneuh”- the local Sundanese meaning for Soil Bridge- Green Canyon has a 3 meters wide bridge made up of soil above the twin cliffs on both river banks. This natural wonder is surely a spectacular scene that you will not find anywhere else. The name Green Canyon is believed to have been dubbed by a French tourist who came to the location in 1993. It is said that the clear green water of the river and the abundant green moss on the cliff had given it its popular name.

As you arrive at the main entrance, which is the parking lot of Green Canyon, you will see a row of wooden boats popularly called “Ketinting” lining up by the river. The ketinting will then take you on a ride down the river, splitting the clear green water and creating small wave on both sides. From the boat, you will see green forest trees along the banks, and sometimes snakes or lizards jumping into the river, or come up to surface.

Located not too far from Pangandaran, Green Canyon is a must for those who plan to visit Pangandaran. “A piece of heaven on earth”, as those who have been there describe it. A true Natural Wonder hiding behind the thick bushes and trees of Pangandaran’s forests. If you think you have never heard about this place, it is only because Green Canyon is the best kept Secret of Pangandaran.

Get There

You must first fly or travel by car or train to Bandung. There are direct international flights from Malaysia and Singapore to Bandung. A number of “City Trans” companies operate comfortable, sometimes luxurious buses between Jakarta and Bandung.

From Bandung, the means to get to Pangandaran is by bus, or rented car. If you use public transportation, from the Pangandaran Terminal you can take a minibus headed to Cijulang Terminal. From the Cijulang terminal, the trip continues on ojek popular bike taxies found almost everywhere in Indonesia.

Tebing Keraton, North Bandung’s Fascinating Natural Landscape

Tebing Keraton can be simply interpreted as “The Royal (Palace) Cliff”. The name perfectly illustrates the majestic vista of north Bandung’s fascinating natural landscapes as ones stands on the cliff. At 1,200 meters above sea level, Tebing Keraton is located within the Ir H Djuanda Forest Park, at Ciburial Village, Cimenyan sub-district, in the Bandung Regency. At the main area, there is a rock that bulges over the edge of the cliff which makes it a perfect place to observe over the incredible natural surroundings.

Here, one will be presented with the truly dramatic view of green hills, a winding river, thick forests, rice paddies, as well as the looming mountains on the horizon. The amazing landscape is part of the canyon that is formed by the Lembang Hill on its opposite side. The cliff present its finest vista at sunset and sunrise, when the sky is painted with mesmerizing colors that perfectly fuse with the green surroundings.

Although only recently “discovered” and made famous in the mid-2014, the people around the area are familiar with the cliff which was initially called “Cadas Jontor” or loosely meaning “the bulging rock”. After thousands of “selfies” and social media hypes, the cliff was later given the new name of Tebing Keraton to better illustrate its majestic landscape.

 

Get There

The best way to get to Tebing Keraton is by renting a car or a motorcycle. From downtown Bandung, head to Ir H Djuanda Forest Park in the northern part of the city. You will pass the Dago Avenue, famous for its many shopping outlets, all the way to the Dago terminal until you reach the entrance to Ir H Djuanda Forest Park.

Entering the Ir H Djuanda Forest Park, proceed until you reach the sign that points to Bukit Pakar Utara and Tebing Keraton. From here follow the route of Bukit Pakar Utara-Bukit Pakar Barat-Sekejolang-Cihargem-Cihargem Puncak. The entrance to Tebing Keraton is located at Cihargem Puncak.

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