Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 12 April 2019 • Destination
Born and raised in Bandung, with a temperature ranging between 9-25 degrees Celcius, my body hasn’t gotten used to cold weather. Hot showers used to be my saviour. So you can imagine how I heard heaven bells rang once Firsta asked me to join her to Sumber Alam Resort, a hot water spring resort in Garut.
Sumber Alam Resort in Garut was established during the colonial days by H. Maskawan Mustofa, a local physician. Built on land with a hot water source, he practiced his healing knowledge, combined with the remedial attributes of hot sulfuric water. Small rooms were equipped with bathtubs mimicking the Japanese ‘onsen’, accommodating people, especially with rheumatism and skin diseases. The overall resort design itself was called ‘Jasun’, which combines the Japanese concept and Sundanese house design.
Through time, the business developed into an accommodation with many bungalows in various sizes, spread throughout the property and all-you-can-bathe hot water source. And according to Bapak Tatang, a senior staff at Sumber Alam Resort, people still come to treat their diseases, especially rheumatism, skin diseases, or just to relax for a better blood flow. Specific treatments are held in the private rooms, and diseases are consulted to the hotel management.
Despite submerging yourself in hot water in a tropical country doesn’t sound pleasant. But Garut is actually quite cool at night, creating the right ambiance for a dip. So, what better time and place to splurge when the resource is abundant, right?
The first night, Firsta and I stayed in a two-bedroom pond-side bungalow with its own private plunge pool. The water was piercing hot! I couldn’t go further than ankle high nor longer than 5 minutes. I know, sometimes you need to bear it just a little longer so your body gets used to the temperature, but I never got used to it. Feeling like my skin was melting might be too extreme but I’m sure it would be if I stayed a little longer. So, we jumped out.
However, refusing to give in living closer to the lifestyle of the rich and famous, we decided to mix our own tub of water. We moved buckets and buckets of hot water from the plunge pool into the bathtub in the bathroom, mixed with the normal temperature water from the taps.
Laughing in irony, apparently to fake-live being rich, I still had to be my own private maid.
“The water isn’t as hot as it used to be,” Pak Tatang justified how rich the source used to be. I can’t imagine how hot it was then! And abundant, constantly flowing. To give you an idea of the amount of water we’re dealing with, aside to plunge pools in bungalows, hot water also flows in swimming pools and fish ponds throughout the resort. In fact, cold water requires a more complicated system as it is a rare resource. The water was also extremely clear without any added chlorine, Pak Tatang added. It felt very luxurious knowing that I could stay in the water longer because there were no dissolved chemicals. I even took a sip and it didn’t have that chalky taste like swimming pools. It was splendid!
As for accommodation facilities, Sumber Alam Resorts has the common attributes like any resort. An on-site spa, a restaurant, including breakfast for every room. Because Garut is usually cool, bungalows are not equipped with AC but a fan for hotter days. On weekends, there would be more local tourists, and I can assure you there would be very few foreigners around.
To keep up with the modern crowd and expand healing methods, Sumber Alam Resorts also has a wellness center. Consisting of modern designed villas, much like that in Bali with airy kitchen and glass windows surrounding pavilions. Each pavilion has its own private pool (long enough for 1-2 inhales) and clear as crystal, also without chlorine. The wellness center is run by a professional that would analyse your needs to return to your most optimal state. Treatment varies from spas and massages to crystal treatments and tarot readings, but all to restore the energy within oneself.
The center is a higher end accommodation offering modern design bedrooms and bathroom. Beds are with white sheets under the cool AC air like any five star hotel, toiletries are provided with fluffy towels. Of course, the hot water comes from the natural source, and with a tub in your room, you can submerge yourself in your own bath bomb.
By now, you probably have sense that I didn’t say much about cold water. Well, that’s because cold water is actually really hard obtain here. Ironically, they have to put in a lot more effort to get room temperature water, much more the resort puts in to manage the hot water. And as much as we want a cool-water pool, the resort just cant really make that happen unless they pull all ends. Such a funny little place!
Garut will always have a place in my heart. Aside to my experience in Papandayan Mountain, this town is a mini heaven for a hot-bath enthusiast like me. Oh how I wish it wasn’t a 4-hour ride from Jakarta (up to 8 hours with current highway development), but heaven has never had a record of a place easily reached. I will be back, and there ain’t nothing clearer than that!