Although I was awake with Samudra so early today, I tried to stall getting out of bed for as long as possible as I had it in my head that I wanted to take him to Ragunan Zoo for a change of scenery, but remembered that it wouldn’t open until 9.00am. I figured by the time I bathed and fed him and we walked up to Jl Ampera Raya to find a taxi, it would be open when we arrived. I opened the bedroom door and there was nenek and kakek so they excitedly whisked him away and took him to his new pool they had bought him and were filling up outside.
I had been looking forward to Ragunan and since I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep, I gave in and walked up to Jl Ampera Raya alone and ended up catching an ojek to the zoo. I was really wishing Samudra was with me, but I needed to go and get some air and have a walk before it got too hot so decided to go by myself anyway. Just as we were nearing the zoo I noticed some scruffy looking men walking in a line on the side of the road, and as we got closer I realised it was men from the Badui tribe carrying their wares on their back. I was so excited that I was too slow when I asked the ojek driver to please stop so I could take some photos and he suggested I wait at the entrance of the zoo as they would be passing by anyway. I reluctantly agreed but by the time I arrived at the zoo I decided it may be better to leave the Baduy men to walk in peace without waiting around like a stalker..
The Baduy tribe live in the western part of the Indonesian province of Banten in the mountains and resist foreign influences to preserve their ancient culture and way of life. I haven’t had the good fortune to visit the area as yet but perhaps I will make the journey once Samudra is a little older, but then again I really don’t know how I feel about intruding on their traditional way of life. There are two sub-groups of this tribe; the Baduy Dalam (Inner Baduy), and the Baduy Luar (Outer Baduy) and no foreigners are allowed to meet the Inner Baduy which I think is pretty magical in this day and age, to be able to remain untouched by outside influences. The Outer Baduy do have limited contact with outside visitors, as people are able to visit their village and stay overnight in very basic traditional accommodation, and to purchase the handmade fabrics, clothing, and natural trinkets. You are able to order items to be made, and the Baduy can deliver to your doorstep. When I say ‘deliver to your doorstep’ this means that once the item is made, they will make the long journey into Jakarta on foot to bring you your goods as they do not use any form of transport and the journey to Jakarta takes a few days of solid walking. Naturally they need to wait until they have many items to deliver before they make the trek so it could be a long while before you receive your goods, but I think it’s worth it to receive something so special.
Getting back to the zoo… I did arrive just before 9.00am but the gates were already open and when I paid the Rp. 4,500 (around AUD 50 cents) to enter, I found that there were already large crowds milling around near the pelicans and sitting on the grass eating breakfast so I really have no idea what time it does actually open. I headed straight to the elephants as they are my all time favourites and I was happy to arrive to find that I was the only person there. I don’t know who runs this zoo but looking at the elephants broke my heart this morning, watching as two of them were in the direct sunlight in a concrete enclosure with their feet chained so they cannot take more than two steps forward or backwards, and then to see the baby elephants locked in the enclosure beside them but unable to reach eachother. Across from them was another mother and her baby and the mothers eyes looked so sad as she stood on the fencing trying to reach the trees with her trunk, most likely in search of food as there was none in their enclosure. She came right up close to me and I just felt sadness when I looked in her eyes. I noticed two zoo keepers behind a fence smoking with an open gate beside the elephant enclosure and was making my way up to them to ask if I could get closer and feed the baby elephant as rules do not apply in Indonesia and I felt I had a good chance of having my wish granted!, when I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard the word ‘bule’ so turned around. There was an Indonesian family behind me and they wanted me to have a photo with them but not with the elephants in the background!
I made my way around the zoo and watched all the animals sitting lifeless and bored, most of them alone in their enclosures, with no grass or trees and wondered what is the point of a zoo if not to be viewing animals in their natural environment so we can be educated about them. The only animal showing any signs of life was an orangutan who was climbing up and down a pole and then banging chains together to make a loud noise and I was dreaming that if only all these animals could jump they could all escape! The orangutan did come as close as he could to me and all I could think of was he was saying ‘save me’ before he went and banged on his chain ropes again. Then there were the bears in cement cages in the direct sunlight also and adults and schoolchildren were throwing food at them and laughing! The bears were standing on their two back legs trying to catch the food and I was hoping this was not the only food they receive here as they looked pretty sickly! If anyone has any suggestions on who to call to improve the conditions in this zoo I would love to hear from you!
I was super happy though to receive a call from Putra as I was walking around and he had come to the zoo with Samudra on the vespa.. yeah! So we sat on mats on the grass after looking at the elephants again and had something to eat before making our way back to the front gate to head home. Well, good timing on our behalf as half the population of Jakarta seemed to be lining up for tickets outside and the place was completely jam packed with people and it was only then that I realised that this was the 1st of May public holiday! HOORAY!
I hope you all had a beautiful day too wherever in the world you are.