Sun, 26 Mar 2000

Far from the madding crowds in a guest house

Text and photos by Mulkan Salmona

BOGOR, West Java (JP): Entering the HB Garden Guest House area in Cihedeung Udik village, Ciampea, Bogor, you will be stunned by its beautiful, quiet and pleasing ambience. Harmonious landscaping, lustrous grass fields, a swimming pool with a mineral water source and three houses in Sundanese style, occupy the 4,000-square-meter plot of land.

Owners Willy and Hester Basoeki found this area about 10 years ago when they were visiting friends who lived nearby. Since then they have gradually arranged the environment, while preserving existing plants and planting others, to enhance the natural harmony of the area.

"In the beginning, the place was used as a rest place for the family, but gradually we started to think that it could serve as a tourist site. Especially since we saw that the village had a lot of unexploited tourism potential and the community was very friendly," said Hester, a former tourist guide and fencing athlete. The guest house was named after her.

There is indeed a lot of potential for tourism in this area. Not far from the guest house there are a number of old sites, including the Ciaruteun ancient inscription, an archeological garden, a megalith site and relics of the Tarumanegara kingdom.

Located at the foot of Mount Salak, the area offers beautiful natural views and a number of waterfalls. The community continues to use traditional systems of agriculture. There is also a unique community which lives in a bamboo forest. In the bamboo forest village there are only 41 houses, and no more houses are allowed. If a community member wishes to build a new house, he must do it outside of the bamboo forest. The people of this community make bamboo handicrafts, wayang golek (wooden puppets), mendong mats and other items.

"For a long time, we have approached the communities in the areas around the village to help them learn things, to show creativity in art or other work, in order to attract more tourists to the village. We have also informed them about simple communication when they interact with foreign tourists, e.g. when the tourists pass a coconut plantation it is enough for the owner to say 'coconut', or if they invite the guests to visit them in their house for a cup of tea, they simply say, 'Tea at my home'.

"Basically we teach them a simple language that is easy to remember," said Willy Basoeki.

With the support of the regional government, the Basoekis have undertaken to introduce a tourism package called Kampoeng Wisata Cinangneng, or Cinangneng Tourist Kampong, which was launched two weeks ago. The name is derived from the location of the area, near Cinangneng River.

Cinangneng village is located not far from the center of Bogor city. From Jakarta by car, it takes about 90 minutes to reach. Every month hundreds of tourists, both domestic and foreign, come to this village.

"We are now trying to approach the community about offering a home-stay program. As an example, we built two rooms owned by the community in Kondang village, located opposite Cinangneng village," Willy said.

The rooms he spoke of are three by five meters each, and are owned respectively by Pak Otih and Mang Ade. The facilities and prices of the rooms are the same as at HB Garden Guest House.

"If this runs well and lots of villagers are interested in offering their homes for home stays, we can be more active in selling tourism packages to the village. With lots of tourists visiting and staying in the village, we would not have to worry because of the many home-stay facilities," said Willy.

The cost of a room at the guest house is Rp 125,000 per night.

For a reservation, call Garden Hotel at (021) 765-7217 or (0251) 621-895.