Two Days in Baduy

Monday, October 08, 2012

A woman of Outer Baduy was weaving a cloth using a traditional device which was operated manually and had been recognized since many centuries ago.
Many years ago, watching a group of men of Inner Baduy walking barefoot in Jakarta always made me wonder why those people would rather have walked kilometers away back and forth from Baduy – Jakarta than just took a bus. I never tried to understand them until I trekked to the village of Cibeo on October last year.

To reach the village, we had to walk kilometers away, climbing up and down seven hills, crossing the woods and passing through some traditional villages of Outer Baduy. It was unbelievable how these people founded a village in such a remote and isolated place. Perhaps, even the most sophisticated satellite wouldn’t be able to detect the location.

It had been almost one year since the first time I trekked to Inner Baduy. For me at that time, life in Baduy seemed to be few ages backward. I was lucky to get the opportunity to come back to this place on this early September. If it was WABI (Wisata Alam dan Budaya Indonesia) who organized the event last year, this year it was held by PETA (Penjelajah Tanah Air).

What follows are a short journal of my last trek to Inner Baduy. Thank you for coming.

A young man of Inner Baduy guided us to the village of Cibeo where we were going to stay overnight.

A man of Inner Baduy posed at the lake of Dandang Ageng. All men of Inner Baduy wrapped their heads with white cloth which became some sort of identity, distinguishing them from their relatives at Outer Baduy. 

Standing in front of Leuit (local term for rice barn), Aldi was a typical of Inner Baduy’s young generation today. Instead of letting his hair grow long like most old generations did, he decided to have it cut short. 
After a five – hour ride from Jakarta, we arrived at the base camp at Cibolegar at around three thirty in the morning. It was Saturday and we only had like three hours to sleep before preparing for a seven – hour trek to Cibeo, a village in Inner Baduy where we were going to stay overnight.
At around seven thirty, after taking a bath and having breakfast at a food stall nearby, we were gathered in a hall, ready to hear a briefing given by Zaenal from PETA (Petualang Tanah Air). For many of us, this was the first time to trek to Inner Baduy. We left the base camp at eight.

Zaenal briefed us about the route we were going to trek to Inner Baduy. 

All participants were gathered in front the base camp at Cibolegar. With the help of porters from Inner Baduy, they were ready to trek to Cibeo.
Shortly after we started the trek, we had to hike a hill. 
Sometimes, we had to cope with a steep stony hill that required extra effort to hike.

Along the trek, I noticed deforestation activities occurred nearly everywhere. Many places I had seen as woods in the previous year had then been cleared for rice field, ready to be cultivated. There was no such thing as irrigation system. People of Baduy simply relied on the rain to water the field. 

Any electronic device was not permitted within the Inner Baduy's region. So it was only possible to take pictures at Outer Baduy. I took as much pictures as I liked before crossing the border.

Two participants, coming from Kalimantan, walked through the woods guided by a man from Inner Baduy.

Deforestation activities were increasing in Baduy due to land opening for farming and also high demands of woods.

While taking a break under a huge tree, shortly after hiking a steep hill, my porter Safri who was fifteen years old talked to me about his marriage which he said was unhappy. The reason was simply because he didn’t love the girl who became his wife. He later explained me about how he got married and that would also explain the traditional mechanism of a marriage in Baduy. There were three stages that he had to get through.

In Baduy, a marriage is set up between parents when their kids had reached the age of 13 (for girls) and 15 (for boys). Amazingly, there was no case of divorce or marriage annulment in there. Once, you get married, you are married forever. Commonly, parents will first ask the kid whether he or she likes the person they choose for them. Sadly, that was not what happened to Safri.

One day when he woke up in the morning, his father asked him to work on some family’s farm for one day, from eight to four. Safri realized that it was a sign that he had been forced to marry the girl in that family. That day, he had encountered the very first stage of a marriage.  

Three months after that, he was sent to work on that farm again. This time was for three days. And not just that, Safri also had to stay in the family’s house for three nights. This was more like an introduction to the new family. And that was the second stage of the marriage.

The final stage meant the two families met each other at the bride’s house. Each of them brought offerings like cloths and cookware. Then the marriage became official with the groom moved to the bride’s house.  

A typical Outer Baduy village that we found on the way to Inner Baduy. 

A boy from Outer Baduy played with his kitten on the porch of his house. Having not been used to visitors, this boy took several minutes to let me take his picture.

Sangsang, one of the porters from Inner Baduy, stood in the border between Outer and Inner Baduy. Across that dry small river (looked more like a ditch), we were no longer allowed to take pictures and use electronic devices.
The porters took a break shortly before crossing the small river that was the border between Outer and Inner Baduy.

Around the afternoon, I crossed a bamboo bridge, spanned over a clear water river, reaching the village of Cibeo. I walked to a house we were going to stay overnight and soon fell asleep on the wooden floor.

The typical Inner Baduy house doesn't recognize room separation. It only consists of a hall and a kitchen. The hall is spacious enough to accommodate bedroom activity for like fifteen persons. The house is not designed for morning and midday activity, considering that most the time they spend the day on the farm. So it is just a huge bedroom I guess.

Sounds of nature could be literally heard at night. Many weird sounds - that I never heard in Jakarta - came out from the woods surrounding the village. The only sound I recognized was the sound of frogs. Since there was no electricity and the moon was still crescent, that night in Inner Baduy was totally black out.

While Jamidi, sitting on the right with the boys of his age (they were about four years old), was drinking from the bottle, the participants were crossing a bamboo bridge that connected Inner Baduy with Outer Baduy on their way back to the base camp at Cibolegar. 

On the way back to the base camp on Sunday, the participants took different track from the one they had taken on Saturday.

A woman at one Outer Baduy village tried to make sales of the traditional clothes she had woven at the porch of her house. With the coming of many visitors every year, people of Baduy were introduced to the modern monetary, even those of Inner Baduy who enjoyed shopping at one franchised mini market at Cibolegar.

A man from Inner Baduy walked away from woodpile that had been cut down from the woods. Several woods were cleared to open the lands for farming. All trees were allowed to be cut off except those producing eatable fruits.
A young woman was weaving a cloth in the porch of her house. 
Morning at Baduy means heading to the river for bathroom activities. Since I was not accustomed to taking shower in an open air, I begged my porter to take me to the woods where there was a shower that the locals used every day, and it was secluded. Anyone could hardly see it. 

At noon, as we walked back to the base camp at Cibolegar, we passed by a cemetery that could hardly be noticed since there were no tomb stones or any sign indicating that there were graves. For the Baduys, once someone's gone, they've gone forever, even in the memory. 

Along the way back, we found many "leuit" or rice barns nearly in every corner of each village. These barns could indicate someone's social status. The more barns a man had, the higher his status was. Amazingly, the barns could preserve the rice for two centuries long.

The numbers of villages we passed through on the way back to Cibolegar was more than the one we did on the way to Inner Baduy on the other day. Many of the villages were well organized. Most of the paths had been paved with stones.

Two boys were jumping to the river on the midday, few meters before we entered the village of Gajebo at Outer Baduy.

One participant carefully crossed a bamboo bridge that would shake as someone walked on it.

A boy from Inner Baduy stood in front rice barns (leuit), few meters before the village of Gajebo. The more barns someone had, the higher the social status they had.
Participants and porters were crossing a bridge over a river to reach the village of Gajebo.

Participants and porters took a break at the village of Gajebo.

Two young girls from Outer Baduy with their baby brother who physically didn’t look like a local baby.

Participants and porters walked through the woods before finally reaching the base camp at Cibolegar.  
My favorite part was walking through the woods. That was what we did before finally reached the base camp in the afternoon. We then had few hours to clean our selves in the public toilet, have lunch, and sleep for a while before heading back to Jakarta.

I was happy to have the opportunity to return to Inner Baduy and witness a very basic and sustainable way of life where everything came from and returned to nature. Even for drinking and carrying water, they used bamboo. Sometimes I wonder, would Inner Baduy, particularly Cibeo Village, remain the same in the next years to come? Considering that it has become some sort of guest village, receiving many outsiders every year.  

I think the answer would depend on the young generation like Juli, Sarwadi, Aldi, Jamidi and the other boys their age who had seen Jakarta many times and were familiar with malls, fancy restaurants, and even clubs. Well, like always, only time can tell.


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  1. seru euy ada yang curhat segala, hahaha

    1. hahahha iya. Coba kalo waktu itu Mala yg dicurhatin, pasti bakal ampe malem deh curhatnya.

    2. teu ngarti ah kalau curhat rumah tangga haha

  2. gimana sih cara seTTing bLogspot biar bisa aplot gambar gede??

    *komen ga nyambung ama postingan*


  3. huaaa....menyesal gak jadi ikut.

    nice story & pictures Wib :)
    my fav is the 3 children drinking from bottle with the participant crossing the bridge in background. that picture really tell you a story.

    1. Thanks El!

      This is some sort of annual event. So be prepared for the next one ...