Sunrise is seen from Dieng Plateau area, Banjarnegara, Central Java last Sunday. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Dieng Rebuilds for Post-Pandemic Tourism
BY :YUDHA BASKORO
NOVEMBER 20, 2020
Jakarta. Dieng Plateau, the idyllic highland in Central Java, is ramping up its cultural and environmentally friendly tourism programs to attract tourists after the government easing the Covid-19 travel restrictions.
As a tourism destination, Dieng has experienced impressive rapid development in the past decade. Since the first time the Dieng Culture Festival was held in 2010, this traditional rural landscape at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level has begun to appear on the national tourism radar and consistently captivated tourists' hearts.
But the Covid-19 pandemic ground Dieng's tourism to a halt. The region had barely seen any visitors when the government imposed travel restrictions since March. Telaga Warna, a popular lake for tourists, lost 7,000 to 10,000 tourists a day and forewent an estimated Rp 15 million to Rp 20 million daily income as it had to close during the Idul Fitri holidays.
The annual grand celebration of the Dieng Culture Festival — a three-day event which in 2019 managed to bring in 177,000 tourists and Rp 70.8 billion revenues for the region — also had to go virtual last September.
The pandemic gave Dieng youths time to reflect and contemplate. They established Dieng.travel, a tourist information center, and created an environmentally friendly tourism program to attract visitors.
Dieng.travel invites tourists to participate in protecting the natural environment directly. Tourists will be invited to go around the forest accompanied by forest rangers, get education about the importance of caring for the forest environment, and see first-hand various kinds of animals, especially the Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch), a rare endemic species in the Petungkriyono area.
Since August 1, 2020, Banjarnegara and Wonosobo Regencies have reopened all Dieng tourist destinations to revive tourism in the area. Tourists are allowed to visit the Arjuna Temple complex, Telaga Warna lake, Curug Bajing waterfall, Banyu Bira hot spring, or Sembungan Village.
Tourists can also take part in tubing activity at Welo river, meet up with the gembel children, whose dreadlocked hair is considered sacred by Dieng's inhabitants, or participate in mongen ritual — a gathering in pawon, which is a traditional Javanese kitchen.
The Dieng community has a unique Javanese culture, adapting to their environment. Cold temperatures of 12 to 20 degrees Celcius during the day and 6 to 10 degrees Celcius at night make Dieng people accustomed to wearing warm clothes all day long. They also like to warm themselves up in front of the stove inside their pawon.
As a result of sitting too often in front of the stove, fireplace, or phone and being exposed to the heat, they developed a blackish mark on their forelegs' skin called mongen. Therefore, their habit of gathering and hanging out in "pawon" is also called "mongen."
Tourists who wish to visit Dieng are required to adhere to the government health protocol guideline. Tani Jiwo Hostel implements good health protocols requiring visitors and hostel staff to wear masks, implement physical distancing in the hostel environment, and build handwashing booths around the hostel.
The end of the year is still a good time to visit Dieng. While the tourists would not see the famous Dieng's frozen dew, tourists can still enjoy the green scenery's expanse with an orange tinge of the sun rising from the land where the gods reside.