Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 6 August 2015 • Destination
Vira and I have had numerous chats about the definition of hipsters; who is and who is not a hipster. We’ve come to a conclusion that hipsters are the anti-mainstream people that choose and maintain their different kind of lifestyle such as growing and eating organically, whether it’s a trend or not. So, when traveling to the Portibi Farm, Cicurug, I became a hipster for a day understood a little bit more about organic living.
The one thing on top of my head when remembering my visit to Portibi Farm a while ago was their food. It wasn’t anything traditional, but the food was ridiculously delicious. Vindhya, Windy and myself easily gobbled our way through the menu with no question of seconds.
A mix of eggplant prepared in a tagine, tempe or bean cake (my fav) in herbs and sambal or chili paste, were so good, I stopped eating just because my tummy had a limit. At the lunch table, Jocean, who is the owner and manager of Portibi Farm, tol us that the secret of the good food, aside to the talented cooks, are the abundant herbs and spices. As many other restaurants rely on the magic of MSG, Portibi’s kitchen relies on chucking more ingredients in the pot to enhance taste. This is one of the perks of living on a farm; there’s plenty of what you need in your backyard.
No surprise that Portibi Farm also provides organic ingredients to some of the high-end restaurants in Jakarta. Munching fresh rockets and spinach straight from their storage room was a delight, as these two greens aren’t the most common veggies in Indonesia. They also grow many other source of protein such as papaya, peanuts, tomatoes, etc. I always enjoyed the act of picking things from trees and eating them straight. Ripe or not, it’s always refreshing because it gives a sense of connection to the ground that you stand on.
Of course, the other secret ingredient at Portibi Farm are their dining areas, which opens to a vast view of Cicurug. Because the farm is located on an elevated land, it comes with the view of the nearby town below. Having lunch with the clean breeze, the horizon in the distance, and a fun discussion with new acquaintances is definitely tasty!
“And this is the shared showers and toilet,” Jocean’s hands gestured a showgirl showing the prize to the next question on “The Prize is Right”. The sink and toilets surrounded the foundation of the water tank and faced outward. Beside it, were a few showers aligned in one line. Walls were a combination of concrete and bamboo.
Knowing that one can stay in an organic farm with a simple and ‘organic’ setting of wood and bamboo structure, bathrooms are one of the things you would be curious to see. The rooms in the Camground of Leuit, the cheapest accommodation at Portibi Farm, share restrooms, it’s pretty nice. It’s clean, even though simple and quite open to nature. En-suite bathrooms are only available in wooden bungalows, but still with open ceiling showers, which are the best kind in my opinion.
Parts of the accommodations.
Portibi lodging accommodates a wide, yet specific, market. Rooms range from thatched bungalows that can fit up to 5 people, to wooden teak bungalows for those looking for something private. However, there is no AC in any of their rooms, relying on the cool night temperature of highlands to help you sleep. If it’s the mosquitoes that worry you, fear not, mosquito nets are available in most of their rooms.
Room rates are from USD 10-66 / night.
“Wanna see the farm?” Jocean asks these three girls.
“YEAH!” we shouted out like little girls. The notion of playing outside, trotting the raw land and getting our hands dirty with earthly goods apparently brought the kid inside of us.
There are about 10 hectares of land to be used. For farm activities, Jocean is assisted by numerous people, including loyal friend, Yoyo . Jocean had warned us that he was an eccentric little man but had his heart in a good place. We only saw a strong principled man that really loved growing food. Both he and Jocean gathered a papaya from a tree and a few herbs for us to try. Without fearing pesticide sticking on the skin of the goods, we easily chowed down fresh samples. OK. There might be some traces of E.coli from organic fertilisers, but I lived the next day without diarrhoea, which pretty much means that the organic stuff is awesome!
While I can’t remember what he said precisely, he did say that he built the farm also as a relaxing retreat for people that want to get away from the hectic life. His hidden agenda is to help people see that a healthy life isn’t as hard as people think, if only they would give it a chance. Noble!
These 10 hectares of land is also accessible for the neighbors. Upon our visit, we met a few men, putting up bamboo windmills and comparing sounds. The objective was to make the loudest ‘whoop’ing sound. Apparently, this was local entertainment.
I read about the Portibi Farm from a blogger that participated in the WWOOF or the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, a movement connecting travelers to local organic farms around the world. In exchange for free accommodation and food, travelers have to chip in and help with the daily chores. Whether it’s a full or partial, exchange is upon negotiation. Portibi Farm is a delightful place to visit by showing people the lifestyle of growing your own healthy organic food, something I might try in the future.
I happen to visit on a day trip, coming in the morning and leaving in the afternoon. Day trips are available for USD 40, which include food and activities. Advance notice is strongly required and spontaneous visits will unlikely be served. All prices are also subjected to additional taxes.
In this convenient way of life where things are so easy to buy at the next convenient store, whether it’s a hipster life or not, permanently choosing to grow your own food is hard. It’s about lifestyle of patience and taking humans back to the important things in life, which is biting no more than you can chew. If you’re not a hipster that grows your own food in the city, then you could just travel to Portibi Farm and have a taste of the life. It’s a refreshing, if not educational, experience.
As for being a hipster and choosing a lifestyle, I like to eat, organic if possible. I think that’s enough of a lifestyle, don’t you think?
Jalan Ekologika No. 7 (masuk dari Jalan Alas Wangi) Cibuntu RT03, Pesawahan, Cicurug, Jawa Barat, Indonesia
If lost, call 0812.1995.1942, or 0813.8446 9096.