Lisa, our tour blogger writes:
After departing from the beautiful Majapahit Hotel after breakfast, we made our way to Kaliandra Eco-Resort approximately 3 hours from Surabaya.
On the way to Kaliandra the tour stopped at two key places of interest. The first was the Lapindo mudflows (drilling) disaster site. This was a real eye opener and sobering reminder of how difficult life is for many thousands of people in Indonesia who are not yet part of the rising middle class. 25,000 people have lost their homes and been displaced/relocated as a result of the blast that caused mud & oil to engulf their villages. The tour members walked out onto the mudflats and saw the mud still flows like a small river, and talked to some of the people who are still waiting on adequate compensation from the company responsible some 7 years after the initial explosion. This experience provided a real insight into the challenges (health, financial, education, social etc) that still face many Indonesians as a result of environmental mismanagement and corrupt practices.
After visiting the mudflows the tour group stopped at the Taman Safari Park in Prigen, not far from Kaliandra resort. Here we viewed a range of animals from the bus, but probably the most enjoyable experience for most people was the baby animal enclosure of the park. Here we were able to hold and play with a 2 year old orangutan which was a real highlight, and also get up close to a white tiger cub and lion cub.
We also watched the Climate Global Warming stage show where the animals and Taman Safari park staff performed a show that both entertained and educated the audience about the importance of keeping the environment clean and not cutting down the trees in the forest.
Although it was performed in Bahasa Indonesia, the message was easily understood by the group members because of the props, body language, intonation of the speakers and interaction between the animals and the safari park keepers.
From Taman Safari we continued on to Kaliandra, making a quick stop at a small local school on the way. A group of teachers and students from the Singapore Polytechnic were working at the school doing some renovations and our tour group saw how students & teachers are working to improve the classrooms & make them a more fun learning environment with bright murals of local flora & fauna.
On arrival at Kaliandra resort we were shown the different kinds of accommodation available to school groups or to the general public. The Kaliandra Foundation employs 70% of its eco resort staff from the local village and aims to educate and build the skills and capacity of local villagers to make a living in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. The activities on offer to guests are wide ranging – from batik making and gamelan lessons to white water rafting and bush walking. All the food served at the resort is grown organically in hot houses at Kaliandra by staff and locals who have been trained in organic farming practices. There is also a Wellness Centre at the eco-resort and profits help to sustain the programs that employ the local village population.
The meals generally consisted of a delicious and healthy soup, vegetables, rice and chicken, followed by a sweet coconut or agar-agar drink/dessert. We were never hungry during our stay! Teachers shared a cottage with one other tour member here, but each person had their own bedroom. The cottages were comfortable and set in a beautifully serene environment. After the evening meal we retired early to our beds, ready to wake up at 11.30pm for departure for sunrise at Mt Bromo by mini bus.