ABOUT KAMPUNG NAGA
Kampung Naga, a community of 101 families, between Garut and Tasikmalaya, in Neglasari district stirs this type of curiosity.
The long answer to the first question however has to be inferred, because if you ask the inhabitants, you will get a short answer, “Because we want to.” And if you feel like being obtrusive enough and ask a further why, you will be told, “Because we are comfortable this way.”
Since we are not in an anthropology forum, let us move to the next question: how successful are they in maintaining the purity of their traditions?
Physically, while most villages in West Java more or less blend into the wider environment, Kampung Naga, occupying an area of 10 hectare, stands out as a separate entity in the district. It has a distinct appearance, and its geographical position in a valley provides it with a natural buffer zone from the “outside world”, if the term could be used. To descend into the valley, visitors have to walk the nearly 400 steps from the road level entrance.
So the powerful feeling of stepping into a different world helps prepare visitors to accept the unique qualities of the village, especially as you descend those winding set of steps you also see in passing, wet rice-fields in perfect rustic settings.
Once in the valley, the ambience is so quaint and peaceful that an added aspect of stepping back in time enhances the overall impression of having left “”civilization as we know it””. Some women can be seen on their way to the communal well to draw water, either for washing or drinking. They are wearing batik sarongs, and on top, some have modern shirts or blouses, other have the more traditional kebayas. Around you are only the sounds of nature, human voices and their daily activities, and the occasional animal.
In the village common several elders are sitting chatting, some smoking cigarettes. If you discount the modern clothes on the women and the young men chatting at the entrance, the cigarettes would be the first indication of the ‘tentacles’ of the outside world.
The elders receive you, rather than welcome you. They are friendly and happy to strike up a conversation with you, but not particularly eager to please you. A request to look around the village is given with a smile and a nod, an elder will happily take you to see the interior of his house and explain the function of the rooms inside, but a request to spend the night in the village will receive a polite refusal. The only way to be part of this community is by marrying into it.
You have no need to see other houses, because they are all the same. They are even lined up in a uniform direction: north-south, allegedly so that each house can have the benefit of the morning sun. Since all the roofs, made of palm fiber, are black, — one of the traditions — if you look down from the top of the steps at the entrance, the village presents a dramatic sight.
Every house has two doors: one to the living area, the sitting room and bedroom, the other to the kitchen and pantry where uncooked rice is kept. The kitchen and pantry tend to be dark while the living areas are brighter and airier. Everything is clean and functional with no frills visible, yet there is ample air of comfort and satisfaction around.
All tools and implements used in their daily lives are made of natural materials. Even the mat-making equipment is made of untreated wood. It is astonishing therefore, to see old radios and television sets in some houses, though they are operated on batteries, since the village has no electricity. The community chooses not to use electric power.
So some people do follow news of the outside world, even telenovelas. And since there are no schools in the village, children go out to school in Neglasari village, which no doubt explains the modern clothes worn by some, especially the young.
Another point which adds to the layers of unreality of the community and its village is the fact that nobody knows where they came from, or why they are called the Naga (dragon) tribe. According to Muim, one of the elders, nearly all the houses, including important heirlooms and historical objects which may have been able to explain their origins, were burned down in 1956 by the rebels of DI/TII or the Indonesian Islamic Army.
One interesting point of reference, which may be significant or purely unrelated historically, is that the headdresses worn by the men are made of batik cloth from Yogya or Solo in Central Java, instead of those from Garut, which is only down the road. “”We don’t know why. They have always been like this as far as our memory goes back,”” said an elder.
Another tradition which is not obvious is that the line of inheritance is through the mothers, though the men are still the power-holders. Maybe that is also why, during our visit, on a Saturday, not one man was seen working, yet some women were working in the rice-fields.
While many questions find no ready answers, one thing is certain, Kampung Naga is able to remain a great deal more traditional than other communities in the district, in an enigmatic way, it seems. They are not, at least they do not appear, hostile, to outsiders or outside influences, yet mysteriously, they have managed to keep the number of houses the same throughout decades.
And they are attractive to tourists, most of whom are not concerned with the village’s history, but with the fact that they are culturally unique.
KAMPUNG NAGA & GALUNGGUNG MOUNT TOUR
Simple Itinerary :
05:30 : registration then leaving
11:00 : arrive in Galunggung mount
12:00 : lunch
13:30 : go to Kampung Naga
14:30 : arrvive in Kampung Naga then explore kampong naga
15:30 : buy souvenir
17:00 : back to Jakarta
21:00 : estimation time arrive in Jakarta
Note : (this rout trip can be changed spontaneity due to weather traffic jam etc))
– extra tip for guide and driver
– personal expense
– breakfast, lunch, dinner.