Saturday, September 6, 2008

Villa LeDuk and Kaliandra

We spent our first week in Indonesia as the guests of Sietse and Li Tho (brother and now sister-n-law) at Li Tho's uncle's estate. Unlike all of the other estates I've frequented (ahem), Villa Leduk and the surrounding bungalows and lodges that comprise Kaliandra, deliver finery and culture Indonesian style.

At the main villa, this translates to two hosts who are highly accomplished and successful in business, culture and etiquette, yet who treat you with kindness and listen attentively to your conversations without outward scrutiny, a highly trained chef who prepares fresh, local and mainly organic meals and snacks approximately five times a day, and a dozen house servants dressed in white button down tops and colorful pants who walk barefoot across the marble floors to deliver your beverages or serve you multiple courses in one of the many dining areas or grand outdoor terraces. This is coupled with a sense of relaxation derived from the temperate climate, the casual elegance of the owners, and the genuine friendliness and openness of the Indonesian people, who, most importantly for us, absolutely love children. We stayed in the forest bungalows, or the Hastinapura complex, a 10 minutes walk uphill and into the forest.

As you climb lava stone steps and cross hand woven foot bridges surrounded by lush vegetation, you hear birds and other forest creatures. Ezra's 19 month old status, enabled us to have a bungalow to ourselves!

Afternoon tea with sweet rice or banana desserts on banana leaves were brought to us every afternoon in our bungalow, and a young man would come to our bungalow every morning to inform us breakfast was ready on the upper pavilion restaurant. I haven't even begun to explain the decadence.

The life of luxury we maintained for a week as guests of Sietse and Li Tho at Villa Leduk (see 8/23/08 post for more photos) might have led us to feel inconsiderate and self serving in light of the extreme poverty just an hour's drive from this isolated paradise. But, we were able to avoid most of these feelings due to two things: The philanthropic endeavors of our hosts, Atmadja and Bagoes, and their prized non-profit, Kaliandra.

Kaliandra deserves an entry all its own, so I will just say that it marries two ideas that should co-exist in every society--environmental education and stewardship paired with cultural education and preservation. In other words, At and Bagoes ROCK! They give back to the community through this non-profit, provide many learning opportunities to local villagers, and a whole lot more. To learn about Kaliandra, visit the following link.

good night!


Chryss said...

Wow, you're a posting maniac! Love the description of the estate... reading it felt like a mini-vacation.

Yorkshire lass said...

I've stayed at Kaliandra too and it's everything you say - amazing place, lovely people, great food!