First trip to Desa Jalupang

Eight of my batch—including me—went to Jalupang yesterday, representing the other thirteen, to “survey” the area as well as find a place to stay (and negotiate the renting price, too) later in the fourteen of January.

Desa Jalupang in Subang is where I and 20 other students is going to stay for a month for KKN. And, despite the awfully long trip, the place doesn’t seem so bad.

Initially we were faced with problems regarding transport and how many people would go to survey, but with the kind help of Lia’s mom and dad we got ourselves a car but with the cost of the people surveying being cut to only eight people. Everybody agreed so we went on our way.

(Thankfully, though, the university will be responsible for our departure from Bandung later—but unfortunately not to Bandung, meaning we have to find our own way home when KKN ends in February!)

It was a two hour-plus drive from Bandung to Jalupang but unlike driving from Bandung to Jakarta, not only it takes less than two hours in a smooth circumstances, but also one does not have to go through a narrow two-way road (e.g., you have to make way for an oncoming car despite being “two-way”) stretching tens of kilometers ahead. We had an unfortunate navigation problem that caused us to lose forty minutes, though, but the rest of the trip was fine.

Jalupang is located in Kalijati. Kalijati itself is an area reserved for the planting of rubber trees. From afar we could see empty plots of lands (the greenest of land I’ve ever seen) and as we drove through the curvy narrow road—and slowing down when we were passing an oncoming car—the lands on each sides of the road gradually turned into plots of short, young trees planted in neat rows before eventually turning into big, matured ones. I noticed many had their barks cut spirally around the trunk with a small white bowl attached to its side to extract the rubber.

The trees then faded into small houses. One of us asked Are we here? and just then I realized we have arrived in Jalupang. I got off the car and the air felt a bit too warm; I can’t complain since this would be the air that I would breathe for a month. We were greeted by the village secretary in Jalupang’s village office at about eleven in the morning. He told us that the village chief was still on the way, so were asked to wait in the main room of the office for him. We waited awkwardly. I saw a collage of old, fading pictures of the village decorated one side of the wall. A collection of commemorative plaques decorated the top of a grey file cabinet; one of them was from Unpad. One of us asked the village secretary about the previous visits of KKN and we were told Unpad had been to Jalupang a couple of times in the past.

A few minutes later, a short man in black pencak silat outfit came. I wouldn’t have guessed that he was the village chief if he hadn’t introduced himself as one. But who knows what power—or perhaps, “power”—he has. He made a short speech about the profile of Jalupang and occasionally interrupted with phone calls which he responded in a loud, shout-like voice. He apologized for the phone calls and then took us to a tour of the two options of houses in which we can stay for a month in January–February.

The first house was a large, two-story house owned by the village chief’s brother. He said that the house had always been unoccupied and the neighbors occasionally came in to watch TV and hang out.1 The kitchen was in the back and it was practically bare-bones with no cooking utensils whatsoever. The second floor was practically empty but was very dirty and the wooden-plank covered floor was dusty. The house was pretty decent and, in contrast with the surrounding houses, was quite big. Later we would ask the village chief to help clean up the house before our next, longer visit.

The second house was located near an intersection. It also big but we decided not to stay there for security reasons: there was a warung in which the villagers drink and gamble next to the house. We’d rather not get ourselves involved with them.

We went back to the village office to make our choice. We negotiated the renting price with the village chief. We settled for one million and fifty-thousand rupiahs, electricity cost included—meaning fifty thousand rupiahs per person: not so bad. Before we left, we discussed what things to bring for our one-month stay while munching away plump, fresh rambutans the nice staff had harvested for us. We thanked the village chief for everything and went our way home.

Considering the circumstances I have a feeling that this KKN wouldn’t be as “painful” as I thought it would. The people I’ll be spending a month with seem nice (although I only met a few of them) and the location doesn’t seem so bad either. But thirty days being away from home in a village with eighteen people I’ve never met before is clearly a new experience for me. And it will definitely test the heck out of my psychological and physical skills due to the heavy social activities I will be involved in. I wonder what it will make me.

I guess I’ll find out later in January–February.

1. [The houses in most villages are not as neatly organized as they are in the cities; they are arranged rather randomly and every house are almost “stuck” to one another. The village chief permits the people to stay in this particular house maybe to keep the house occupied.]


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