21 May 2012

Myrna's visit: day 1, stop 1 — 29 Feb — Puncak tea plantation

Since Myrna's visit was only for a week, we had to forgo trips to places like Bali and Yogyakarta. Instead, the hilly area of Puncak, outside Jakarta, was her one opportunity to experience Indonesia's lushness, in contrast to Jakarta's bétonisation. Traffic issues Monday through Friday meant Wednesday and Thursday were our only options after her Tuesday afternoon arrival. On the principle of sooner rather than later — and an enticing invitation from Dewi to drop by in the afternoon for tea — I woke Myrna up at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning for a 6 a.m. departure.

Our first stop was the Gunung Mas ("gold mountain") tea estate and factory. Luckily Connie was with us, and the best photos below were taken by her.

An official delegation was supposed to be visiting that day, so it seemed a tour of the factory was a no-go. Fortune was on our side, though, and as we peered through the windows, a charming guide eventually took pity on us.

 Our guide.

Lighting, practical and cheap.

Experimenting with Picasa's b&w feature.
Then, with another guide whose family has worked at Gunung Mas for four generations, we toured the plantation/holiday resort that surrounds the factory. Since I have now procrastinated until the end of May in writing this up, I can't remember the details I was sure I'd be able to recall without jotting them down. Once again, therefore, photos with (sigh of relief here) minimal text.
 This is a very paternalistic organization, so, like our guide, workers live and raise their children on the site.
Our guide.
Purwanto, our patient driver.
Connie, sporting a tea leaf.
Tea, up close and personal. Some of the plants are around eighty years old.
Ladies who pick. These women are pros at posing — and expect to be paid handsomely. Fair enough. Seeing them at work was a highpoint of our visit.
 Mushrooms are an added bonus of the job.
Kayu manis (cinnamon).

Wonderfully textured bark of mystery tree.
Vegetables come to the residents.
As always in Indonesia, gardeners and sweepers are kept busy.
But for some reason, just like in the Bogor Botanical Garden, removing refuse from streams isn't a high priority.
Children once again stealing the show without even trying.

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