Thursday, January 10, 2013

East Java Tour

Purwodadi Botanical Garden

A man who has lived in Surabaya for around 24 years does tours of different parts of East Java on weekends. They are just day trips. I signed up for the Discover East Java Tour that took place on Sunday, November 25, 2012. We assembled at the meeting place and got on a small bus. There were a few people from my school that went on the tour and several from two other International schools that are close by. There was a little over 20 of us. A few people were sick and so they were unable to make it, but it was a nice number of people.

Purwodadi Botanical Garden
Our first destination was Purwodadi Botanical Gardens located in Pasuruan. We took an hour tour. We started off in a large cluster but they broke off into smaller groups. It was a nice place. There were not as many flowers as I thought there would be. I know botanical gardens aren't just flowers, but since we are in a tropical climate I thought there would be more of them.  I think the gardens are probably much larger than I realize, but with only an hour we did a quick walk through some of the areas. I don't remember seeing anything remarkable, but it was nice. There was supposed to be a huge suspension bridge, but we did not find it before we ran out of time. Maybe if the small group I was with had chosen a different route.

Haunted Hotel
 On our way to our next stop we passed this hotel. We were told that it is haunted because it used to be this guy's house and he didn't want his daughters to marry so they committed suicide by jumping off the roof to their death.

Wonosai Tea Plantation
Our next stop was the Wonosari Tea Planation. It is situation on the slopes of Mount Arjuna in Malang. I thoroughly enjoyed this place. I have heard of tea planations and there is one in Malaysia that some of the students, of my former school,  did an overnight field trip too, but the timing wasn't right, so I decided to stay back with the students at school. I really didn't know how tea was made. I knew there are tea bags and tea leaves, but I didn't even know what a tea plant looked like. They employ mostly women at the plant to do the picking of the tea leaves. It is a huge plantation. They also have houses for some of the more senior level workers. Plus, bungalows that people rent on the weekend and stay there. They even have ponies that give children rides. I am not sure if I would stay there only because I don't know what else there is to do in the area, but maybe if I had more knowledge I would. I could also see it was a nice weekend getaway for locals. It was very educational and we had a nice lady, that spoke fluent English that gave us a tour. The only part that was a bummer was that since it was a Sunday we didn't actually get to see the different steps in the process of making tea.

Chart that explains process

The lady did open up the plant for us and did explain each step, but since I am a visual person it would have been nice to see the actual process. At the end of our tour we got to sample some of their tea and then buy tea. I love tea, so it was great. I learned that the older tea leaves that are lower quality are what they use for tea bags and the process that they use for them is that they make tea quickly and dark. I learned that the new leaves are the best quality and make tea that is lighter in color and takes a bit longer to seep. They also had white tea leaves, but I passed on buying any of them. They were expensive and I wasn't sure if I would like the flavor. I like my tea very strong and with no sugar, milk or anything else.

After the Tea plantation we traveled to Kaliandra Sejati Foundation. I think this was my favorite part of the trip. We pulled up to this beautiful house. It is the owner's childhood dream house. The foundation was founded by Atmadja Tjiptobiantoro. It is to help improve the welfare of the people of Kaliandra, preserve Javanese culture, and help with reforestation of Mount Arjuna. His gardens are incredible. He has several peacocks and what look like deer. Plus, a few other birds I was not sure what they were.
Looking back on the main house
They do organic farming and bring the vegetables to Surabaya to sell in some of the grocery stores, they even will deliver to a person's home. I was able to buy actual lettuce and have been able to eat salads again. After having a snack we toured the grounds. People can stay at Kaliandra. They have rooms in the main house where people have stayed. They have bungalows that are accomodations for groups of up to six people. I loved the layout of them. They had an outdoor bathtub and shower as well as an indoor shower.

One of many beautiful buildings

 They have cottages for up to 12-15 people. They also had dorm style cottages for up to 70 people. One of the upper elementary grades at my school stays here for their camp week. One of the other schools has some of their students stay there as well. They had a villa that had a private pool for honeymooning couples. Since this is located on a mountain we were told it can get cool at night. They also had huge mosquitoes. I could see if I were to get married while I lived in East Java I would stay there are part of my honeymoon. We walked up to their restaurant. The food was pretty good. Next to it was a roofed but open sided area that had the Gamelan musical instruments.
Looking from back of main house

Another features was a plunge pool surrounded by Hindu deities. We were also told they do massages. Before we even got to the main house we saw they have a ropes course that they use with different groups for leadership and team building.  They also have packages for activities for people staying there: hikes, cultral experiences, tours, golfing, etc. It is also looks like they do quite a bit to help the people and the community to help them be successful.

Our last stop was Jawi Temple. We were supposed to have another stop besides this one but we were running behind all day and so early on we knew we wouldn't make that. It was a Hindu ritual bath. I kind of had a feeling when I read the original itinerary on the first e-mail that it seemed too much to accomplish in just one day and with travel time and making sure we stayed on schedule. I figured getting to see some of them was better than staying at my house and not seeing any of them. By the time we reached the Jawi temple it was already dark out. Our tour guide knew that sometimes they have rituals or celebrations at night and that many times it is still open. Luck was not on our side that day and the gate was closed, there  was one small light by the entrance gate but it was not enough to light up the temple and the moon didn't really provide enough light either.  I did take a picture, but it is really hard to discern what is in the picture. There were also tons of flying bugs by the light that kept attacking us. So we were just a few minutes before calling it quits and heading back to Surabaya.

We were told at the end of the day that sometime in the spring of 2013 there will be another tour to different sights and places. I am looking forward to going. 

No comments:

Post a Comment