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Published: March 27th 2020
Baduy village was on my "to go destinations" for a long time. It's an Indonesian version of the Amish people given the similarity of their concept of living: community based living, no modern technology and being self reliant. Located 120 km from Jakarta, there are a few Baduy villages in the area, consisting of Baduy Dalam (Inner Baduy) and Baduy Luar (outer Baduy). The Baduy Dalam tribes are not allowed to wear footwear and only wear white color clothing, while their kin at Baduy Luar wear black clothing. All clothings were hand sewn. The Baduy Luar people are those who have left Baduy Dalam, and once left, they are not allowed to return. The Baduy Luar have the benefits of using technologies but remained strict in following other traditions. Up to a few years ago, Baduy Dalam was not easily accessible. Little information was known how we could get there.
On our way to the village, we stopped at the local wet market and purchased chicken meat, eggs and vegetables and arrived at Ciboleger village 3 hours after we left Jakarta. Our guide, Mursyid, had waited for us. He was accompanied by young porter from Baduy Dalam. It was noon,
and the sun was scorching. Little that we knew we had to trek 12 km from Ciboleger to reach Cibeo, Baduy Dalam village. There was no other methods of transportation to reach the village. Panting, we ran out of breath only after one kilometre trekking up hill. It must have been the humidity and heat. Only after we chatted with Mursyid we learned there was another closer way to reach Baduy Dalam village via another village. We had to leave our porter as it was forbidden for him to take a car ride and left for Cijahe. Baduy Dalam people travel everywhere on foot. When they had to visit Jakarta, they went on foot, and interestingly, they did not need any map or compass; they would find us just from knowing the area we live in. Cijahe village is about an hour drive from Ciboleger, primarily because of the poor road condition. Arrived at Cijahe, we were greeted by Misya, the younger brother of Mursyid.
The trek from Cijahe to Cibeo was closer, only 4 km, but the terrain was hilly. After one kilometer of trekking, we arrived at Ciujung River and had to cross a bridge made of
bamboo, upon crossing we were not to use any of our gadgets. It was the border between Baduy Luar and Baduy Dalam. Half heartedly, I had to keep my camera and mobile phone in my backpack. We came across a man carrying rice sack on his shoulder as we headed up; when asked what's the rice for, he said Baduy Dalam did not consume their own harvested rice. They use it for storage and for occasional celebration. After walking for two hours and crossing Ciparahiyang river, we finally arrived at Cibeo village.
Every year during March, all Baduy Dalam villages were closed for visitors for three months for Kawalu, a traditional ritual for the people to pray and fast in preparation of rice harvest. The two of us were grateful we were granted to visit Cibeo village. As we crossed Ciparahiyang river, we arrived at Cibeo village. Rows of stilt wooden houses with thatched roof, neatly lined up facing each other. All houses are faced North-South with stone-covered path in between. In the front of each house, there was a dustbin made of bamboo. No trash were seen. The village looked orderly and clean. All houses were made of
the same heights. The Baduy Dalam followed the tradition by building their houses using natural materials. No nails were used. Houses were not supposed to be built on the land. Baduy people believe they should respect the earth and not damage it. For the same reason, the houses did not have bathrooms.
No one was home at the unlocked house when we arrived. Their parents had left for the field in the morning. Only older people and young children were seen in the village. At the front of the house, there was a bamboo-floored porch, used for receiving visiting guests and used by women to weave clothes. There was no furniture in the 6mx6m house. No partition, except for the kitchen located at the left end of the house. There was no windows, and there was only one door. Walls were made of woven bamboo. The left side of the house was our sleeping area, the middle was dining area and the right hand side was the sleeping area for the family. The two young men went straight to and lit up the traditional stove with woods.
I and my niece decided to check on the village and
that separates Baduy Luar and Baduy Dalam; beyond this bridge, we could not use any electronics
visited crystal clear river. Soaps, detergents and toothpaste are not allowed to be used in the river. A few ladies covered only with clothes up to the chest were seen washing their clothes and also took a bath in the open. No partition. We were not prepared for this and decided to return when it's dark. Later we learned that the villagers had designated certain part of the river for ladies and followed the rule strictly. The villagers were friendly but seemed to mind their own business. A few ladies were seen carrying water in bucket made of bamboo back to their houses.
As the sun was setting, we returned to the house, where our lady host had arrived from the field and took over the kitchen tasks. She started preparing our meals, and soon dinner was served on the floor. Water and coffee were served on a bamboo cup. Interestingly, the Baduy people were allowed to drink coffee but not allowed to grow the trees! Later, I learned every household owns the same amount of kitchenware and utensils; the village guards often raided homes for any use of strictly forbidden plastics. Each village has a leader, called Jaro,
and a few villages have a leader called Pu'un who had the highest authority.
A relative joined us for dinner in a lantern-lit room. The host, father of Mursyid, arrived after dinner, and I was startled to see how young he was. This village must have been the Shangrila of Indonesia as people don't seem to age. We chatted a bit before being handed mattresses. He was curious what made me wanted to visit this village as most people visited the village to meet Pu'un for his future and well wishing. Using torchlight, we headed back to the river, and oh boy, it was not easy to walk on the stony river in the dark. That evening, we finally dozed off accompanied by the sound of nature.
The next morning, we headed back to Cijahe after breakfast, and only when I was home I googled our host, Ayah Mursyid, who turned out to be the official spoke person for the entire Baduy Tribe! He had even gone to the Presidential Palace in Jakarta and met with our President. It was an honour to have been received by he and family. The trip made me realised to be grateful
The brother of our guide from Baduy Dalam
for every single things in our life, and most importantly, the people's way of life has reminded me to always stay true to ourselves and not only to appreciate nature but to respect them!
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