Friday, April 22, 2011
Sumedang: A Cube of Paradise
So, recently, I went on a vacation with one of my student's families to Sumedang, an area near the mountain of ... (forgot the name, will add it in later). Sumedang is one of the main centres for the Sunda ethnic group and also famous for its tofu, which is deep fried and served in small 2-3 inch cubes. The family was in the process of building a gorgeous villa that had its own little mosque, fish pond (full of koi), swimming pool, and even an area for fish (for eating) and some animals, like chickens, ducks, geese, and pigeons. And all fed directly by pure mountain run off water! The place was still under construction when I went there so I had to sleep on a lawn chair, which had an angle to it. Indonesians are not as picky as westerners about beds, so I'm sure in their eyes it was just another place to sleep, but truth be told, it was a little uncomfortable. I had to squeeze down below the slope and let my feet hang off the bottom a bit. Oh well, small price to pay for fresh air and beautiful mountain views right out the window. I also got to go to a hot spring. It was very crowded, and surprisingly, nobody paid me any mind at all! Usually, foreigners get a lot of attention (almost exclusively positive) but in Sumedang, the heart of Sundaland so I heard, the locals were too busy enjoying the hot water, chatting, laughing and splashing. The water wasn't that hot to me, but considering most Indonesian houses (especially in the rural areas) don't have hot water, I saw many cute sights as kids and adults struggled to stay under the pipe which was dispensing the hot water. I watched first and from the reactions, I just assumed the water would really be piping hot, but then I tried it, it was a little warmer than your average shower but not by much. Us winter weather folk are not only immune to hot water but positively soak it up! I also visited a tofu "factory". Not sure about you, but to me when I hear the word "factory" an Eastern Bloc concrete monstrosity with enormous smoke stacks jumps to mind. The definition of "factory" in this case was a small bungalow on the edge of a rice padi field. It was very interesting to see the traditional method of making tofu. They had one modern machine for grinding the soy beans, but other than that it seemed like the old ways of production were alive and well. You had to wear boots before entering the house as there was a lot of boiling water sloshing around on the floor. As they didn't fry the tofu there, I wasn't able to taste the end product. We also played dominoes at night, and in the beginning, I was getting smoked by everyone, but then I clued into the strategy, and with a little luck, I was winning most hands by the end of the night! On the last day, as we were driving out of town, the family picked up a few bags of the famous tofu Sumedang. Ironically, after loving everything else about Sumedang, wasn't really my thing.