Archipelago diaries |

A Village of Local Wisdom

Archipelago Diaries | 10 August 2019

Penglipuran Village is an ancient Balinese village developed into a tourist village to promote environmental preservation by implementing good rules, provisions and values.

Bali’s natural environment is one of the best tourist attractions besides its cultural heritage. In the development of its tourism, it’s not uncommon for physical development to contradict the natural environment so that it tends to over exploit nature without considering its natural characteristics. 

Ancient Balinese people have long been known for their wisdom in preserving the environment, especially how they always consider environmental balance amidst physical development, as we can observe from the way they established temples while considering the cleanliness of the area and avoid exploitation. 

The development of an ancient village into a tourist village has become a very interesting issue, with emphasis on the community’s efforts in protecting the environment, like in Penglipuran Village, Kubu sub-district in Bangli. 

One of Bali’s oldest villages, Penglipuran has been around since the 18th century during the period of the Bangli Kingdom. The village boasts clean and tidy houses in neat rows where the community live modest lives amid intense advancement of modernization. In 2016, it has been credited for the top three cleanest villages in the world along with Giethoorn Village in the Netherlands and Mawlynnong Village in India. 

NOW! Jakarta met I Nengah Moneng, Chairman of the Penglipuran Village Tourism Awareness Group while on a delightful tour to see how the locals are managing their village to keep it as one of the world’s most famous tourist villages. The tour brought us back in time to Bali’s more traditional times. 

It all began with a community initiative to improve their quality of life while upholding harmony in life and preserving the village’s ancestral traditions. Then, they together prepare themselves to create a cultural-based tourism village comprehensively, from starting a team, fixing accesses, providing proper amenities and various attractions that can be learned by tourists.

“In January 2012 we took an initiative to form a group of tourism awareness, which we end up calling Pokdarwis, and invited tourism figures to collaborate and develop the tourist village together. We see the need for this since tourists visiting our village could only sightsee, took pictures and returned home without giving any economic benefit for anyone. We only got money from entrance and parking tickets. Thanks to the organisation, we prepare ourselves and acquired government funding as capital in developing our village. We were also guided and trained in managing our village by government and tourism industry experts,” Moneng explained.

In order to keep improving, Penglipuran, has autonomous rights in the implementation of their customs, but this doesn’t mean that they are free from problems, especially the lack of mutual understanding in the interest of customs and government. In overcoming the issue, the community appointed two leaders: custom leaders or jero bendesa to resolve customary issues; and an environmental leader under the sub-district office to take care of environment problems. These two leaders are working hand-in-hand for the good of the village.

An example of the community’s nature preservation efforts is the 45-hectare bamboo forests available for tourists to trek and take in the verdant element of the village’s surrounding countryside. The principle of nature conservation has determined policies in forest management, such as the prohibition of logging certain vegetation, determining land use, liberating forest areas to be used as agricultural land and other function and prohibited to be sold to outsiders. 

Like other popular tourist villages, waste management has become a challenge that requires effective solution. 

“Around 700 tourists visit our village every month, which results in more waste. For four years we’ve been running a system in collaboration with Udayana University where we convert organic waste to fertilizer. We get a large amount of organic waste from bamboo leaves, so the quality is good. In addition, the government is helping us by providing garbage containers,” Moneng added. 

Penglipuran is also fostering hospitality, especially among youth through an institution called Sekaa Teruna, a place that offers character coaching to promote friendliness, good manners and respectable attitude.

Besides being presented with traditional buildings, visiting tourists can choose the treatment they want to get, starting from welcoming with dancing, enjoying traditional welcome drink and lunch with Balinese cuisine, joining cooking class or traditional games, learning to make typical Balinese decorations or staying in community houses. 

If that’s not enough memories to take home, tourists can return in December, where the community regularly hold the Penglipuran Village Festival with the theme the ancient Bali. 

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