plantation worker on the Malabar Tea Estate

plantation worker on the Malabar Tea Estate

The perfect retreat on West Java, away from bustling Bandung and Jakarta, except that there is little to do – and there is nobody; perhaps that is the attraction.

The longer we stayed at the Guest House of the Malabar Tea Estate, the more we got the impression of unrealized potential. The plantation is huge, tea as far as the eye can see, even after having climbed the hills. The Guest House is, in fact, the beautiful old planter’s house, probably well over a 100 years old, which has been turned into a lobby and dining room with a lot of character. Outside are a few wooden bungalows, with views over the tea-covered hills, and a block with nine modern rooms, attractively and comfortably furnished, each with a terrace in front, looking out over the lawn. Immaculately kept. Flower beds, not quite the Bogor Botanical Gardens, but impressive nevertheless.

the Malabar Guest House

the Malabar Guest House

the Mess Malabar (as the restaurant is called)

the Mess Malabar (as the restaurant is called)

plenty flowers in the gardens of the Guest House

plenty flowers in the gardens of the Guest House

 

view from Gunung Nini, a nearby hill

view from Gunung Nini, a nearby hill

tea bushes (1)

tea bushes (1)

tea bushes (2)

tea bushes (2)

And there is nothing to do. Well, you can take walks in between the tea, and onto several of the hills, and fabulous walks they are, with fabulous vistas. But there is no map of the estate, so you cannot really plan anything. We accidentally came upon the tomb of Karel Bosscha, the man who managed the estate from 1896 to his death in 1928. To get to the tea factory, you need a car, really, whilst it would be so easy – and fun to do – to rent a bicycle. Or a mountain bike, ideal for the hills around. And, whilst at it, why not lay out a mountain bike trail? Or build a pool? (Other plantations, apparently, have gone this way)

one of the traditional houses in the Sunda village

traditional houses in the Sunda village

a window in the village

a window in the village

As it is, the place is almost entirely undeveloped. Which has its attractions, naturally: we had the place essentially for our own, except for one other couple there were no other guests, and it didn’t sound like they were going to expect a lot of people for the weekend. But for a drink, except for a cup of tea, we had to go to the small village behind the Guest House, because there is no bar. We had to order lunch and dinner – like that, lunch and dinner, no choice of food -, and better do this well in advance, otherwise kokkie (the cook) had disappeared already. There is, in short, not much else on offer than walks around the tea plantation.

plantation worker busy picking tea leaves

plantation worker busy picking tea leaves

collecting the tea

collecting the tea for transport to the factory

 

But then, when it takes so much effort to get here, perhaps indeed very few people take the trouble. And what is really on offer, then, is a perfectly peaceful environment. Admittedly, a rare thing on Java.

next: on to Cipanas

plantation workers in between the tea

plantation workers in between the tea

loading the truck

loading the truck

8 Responses to 11. Malabar Tea Estate

  1. jen says:

    Hello
    I will go in Java in september and i want to book a room in malabar guesthouse.Do you konw how i can do that. I dont find a link to book , and i want to have a confirmation!
    Thanks a lot

    • Kaspar says:

      Hi Jen,

      Did you find information about how to contact the Malabar Mess/Guesthouse?

      I’m a good journalist from Copenhagen looking to stay a night there in October

      • Kaspar says:

        *Food journalist, haha

        • oudmayer says:

          Ha Kasper, it seems difficult to book anything at Malabar Tea Estate. If I remember correctly they have a head office in Bandung, but we just turned up – about the same time of the year as you are planning to go -, and had no problem getting a room, in fact there was hardly anybody. So that seems the thing to do, unless you manage to locate their Bandung Office (we didn’t) Enjoy your trip,
          Best, Bruno Oudmayer

          PS how about ‘good food journalist’? leaves open whether you consisder yourself a good journalist, or a journalist on good food….

  2. Ike Novitasari says:

    Hi,
    I planned to visit Malabar too and googling the review about the place, and was referred to this website.
    However, to check room availability, I think you can check to this web http://awn8.co.id/travel.php?id=16.
    anyway, the site is in bahasa, maybe you can utilise google translate to understand the web . Hope that help.

    • oudmayer says:

      Thanks, Ike, very helpful contribution. This turns out to become a real forum on how to get to the Malabar Estate. Perhaps an Indonesian reader can help, and shed further light on this? Regards, Bruno

  3. Ike says:

    Hi Oud, I’m Indonesian, but I thought Kaspar would like to explore the web by himself, thus I suggested to utilise google translate to help foreigner understand bahasa.
    Anyway, please forgive my misunderstading, turns out the web has the english version too, you can use the link below to explore the web in english version :)
    http://awn8.co.id/home.php
    I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

    regards,

    • oudmayer says:

      Once again, thanks, Ike, and I should have realised you were Indonesian, of course. You contribution is very helpful for any future visitors, as others have also asked me about the possibility to book ahead. Regards, Bruno

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