I had been looking for suitable camping options and found my dream camp van at last! It’s a yellow 4WD jeep with rooftop tent. Perfect. The prolonged stay home had forced me to explore outdoor activities, reachable by road from Jakarta. My pick was Pangalengan and Ciwidey, 4 hours drive from Jakarta, both of which were well known for its tea industry. Along with my three other friends, we drove from Jakarta on Friday afternoon and reached Pangalengan in the evening. The drive was painless as the new toll road, Seroja, saved us an hour.
Not ready to stay over-night in a tent, we decided to stay in a wooden bungalow by the lake and were relieved to find out we were the only guests. The next morning, we left before sunrise towards Situ Cileunca, a 17 meter deep damn built in 1918 by Kuhlan. A group of young adults had gathered by the lake with their camera, ready to capture the sunrise. Apparently, they had camped by the lake overnight. It didn't take us long to see the mist coming out of the water as the sun appearing above the horizon. The combination of light blue color in the
sky, the yellowish red of sunlight and their reflection on the water made it picture perfect. I had wished I stayed here longer and sip my coffee while enjoying the magnificent view. From a distance, I could see a local fisherman throwing fishnet into the water. How I wish to capture this moment in photograph!
Next destination was Cukul view point, at Malabar plantation, another good spot for sunset viewing. Despite scening tea plantations covering hills, I found this place too touristy. The 2,000 ha tea plantation was founded by Kavel Albert Rudolf Bosscha in 1896. There were two tea factories in the area and his residence, turned into bed and breakfast. We had dismissed the idea of staying at his residence as rumours had it he was often seen playing piano or reading newspaper in the house. By all means, no, thank you!
He was known as a kind hearted businessman as he built an elementary school as well as housing for the plantation workers. His contribution to the society was countless as he also built Institut Tehnology Bandung, the top notch university in Bandung and also observatorium in Lembang. Our local guide lived in one of
the tea plantation houses belonged to his grand father who used to work for Bosscha.
For breakfast, we headed towards Malabar Café next to the tea plantation where it sold best in class Arabica coffee. We must have had coffee overdose that morning as each of us had two cups of coffee while enjoying the view of tea plantation. After breakfast, we headed towards Kawah Wayang, an active volcanic crater located at Wayang Mountain next to Windu Mountain. It was a scenic drive as we were spoiled by the endless sight of carpet-like tea plantations. We passed by two geothermal power plants: Patuha and Wayang Windu both of which, combined, produced 287 MW of power. Kawah Wayang is a nice photography spot for sunrise as the white steam coming out of hilly greyish rocks would make a dramatic scene; it was too bad we reached it at noon when sunlight was strongest.
After lunch, we drove towards Ciwidey, famous for its panoramic Rancabali tea plantation, Kawah Putih or White Crater Lake and local produce: cabbage, potato, strawberry and blueberry, etc. Rancabali is one of the 23 tea plantations owned by State Owned PTPN VIII and manufactures tea under
Walini brand. The two hour off road going through the tea plantations was a pleasant drive, and along the way, we made a stop to have our tea break. By the time we arrived in Ciwidey, it was dark. The temperature was colder than Pangalengan. The thought of going out at midnight to shoot Milky Way seemed remote.
The next morning, we had to leave early in order to catch the sunrise at Kawah Putih at Mount Patuha. Because of the highly acidic content of the water, the color of the lake is whitish turquoise, contrasting the white sand and rocks surrounding the lake. At 2,430 meter above the sea level, Sunan Ibu Hill was the best spot to have a sunset view of Kawah Putih, which was easily reached because of the paved stairs. From a distance, I could see layers mountains as the sun started to surface over the cloud. What a sight! For a moment, I was speechless; it had moved the very deep of my soul. Where was I again all these years? How could I not see this place earlier? Grateful for the magnificent sight before my eyes, I found it difficult to descent
and part with this place. Back at the camp site, bon fire was ready for us to grill our breakfast: bread with cheese and corns, while coffee was brewing.
As I roamed around nearby, I came across a old man carrying an at least 50 kg of freshly picked tea leaves on his back. The sight of it had a pang on my heart: how could I purchase international brand tea all this while? It was then I was determined to always purchase locally made tea, in particular Walini brand, in the future.
The last stop before we headed back to Jakarta was Curug Citambur or Citambur Waterfall, located near Ranca Bali tea plantation. This area is another nice landscape photography spot for sunrise or sunset. If I were to come back, I'd love to have a camping by the tea plantation at Rancabali.
Some part of the roads to Curug Citambur were unpaved which made the place less favourable to the local visitors. Arriving one and a half hour later, we were stunned to see the 130 meter waterfall. Not only it was gigantic, but also the water flew through three cascades, which created a natural
plunge pool on the lower part of the waterfall. During rainy season when water debris was high, the plunge pool was swimmable. There was no one else except us. Most local visitors would have stayed at the lowest part of the waterfall as it was slippery and challenging to get to the plunge pool. The cool water instantly made us felt refreshed and rejuvenated. This was the moment we had been waiting for!
When we went back to the jeep, our tasty food was ready: fried freshwater fish with veggie, tofu and soyabean cake. In no time, we finished them all. It was the end of our trip and had to return to Jakarta: yes, back to life, back to reality, but the trip made us realised there were many more destinations could be explored in the near future. Till next trip and stay safe!
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