It’s quite surprising to read that Java is one of the world’s most densely populated areas.
Though it may feel crowded living in a sprawling metropolis like Jakarta — where it is hardly possible to go anywhere without encountering people on every thoroughfare, bypass, street and corner — traveling just beyond the city’s limits leads to more rural and quieter parts of the island.
Venturing inland from the West Java town of Anyer, for example, affirms a sense of countryside serenity and openness. Gentle breezes caress palm trees as local farmers quietly go about tending their crops and herding their cattle among the rice fields set in the rolling hills.
Life here seems undisturbed by the marching of time and the chaotic intensity of big city life. The roads wind through scenery that is both tropical and soothing.
For people living in these parts in need of recreation and relaxation, Batu Kuwung is the perfect solution. Driving along the winding country road this place could easily be missed — it sits literally in the shadow of a hill.
Passing through the entrance, there is further suggestion as to the nature of what lies beyond and an immediate feeling of warmth. Although it could be classified as a water park, it is not the type with spiraling slides and fountains spewing chlorinated water — it is a hot spring, wafting up from the various pools that have been created to take advantage of the naturally steamy water.
The joyful screams of the children at play provide the soundtrack for the two largest pools. The water is warm, but slightly cooler than it is at other places in the park, and so the children joyously jump in and splash around, or swim and float on plastic inflated rings in these areas.
The larger pools seem to be almost entirely the domain of children, who are happy to take the plunge and fully immerse themselves in the water. The adults, though, are a little less committed and energetic and are more likely to be submerging themselves in the waters for therapeutic or medicinal purposes.
In other parts of the park, the water is almost scorching hot and thus any thought of jumping in and being totally immersed is simply impossible.
The hot water pours into this area and is pooled in large tanks to be distributed to the various pools and bathing areas that have been set up. However, at various points there are well holes for visitors to scoop the water out and use as they see fit.