The Humble Face of Mantar Village

I was shaken left and right badly on a beaten but tough Ford Ranger truck, paved its way through a dirt road to Mantar Village up above the hill. The “road” was really extreme that the only possible way to reach the village was by 4×4 jeep/truck, motorcycle, or by foot. The car was rocking left and right along some of the most steep slopes that without proper grip, I’d be thrown out to the cliff. Not only driving a 4×4 car to Mantar village needed guts but wicked skill as well. The driver’s dexterity with the truck was pretty  impressive, at least due to the fact that there was no one injured or fell off the truck.

Mantar village in West sumbawa is best known for its appearance in 2011 Indonesian movie “Serdadu Kumbang” about children and education in the village. Located approximately 600 meters above sea level, with its unique and beautiful scenery on the screen, Mantar stole people’s attention that after the movie was released, it was gaining popularity among eager travelers.

Stage houses dominated the village and it had no lodging or inn, so when I and other friends came to the village, we stayed at Mr. Ali’s house, the head of the village’s secretary, acting as a caretaker while his boss wasn’t around. The villagers were so friendly and they had an impressive tradition of honoring guests. Mr Ali’s wife even cooked their chickens for us.

I had a quick tour around the village with others, going along villagers’ houses and plantations then stopped at one of the highlights in “Serdadu Kumbang” movie: “Pohon cita-cita” or Aspirations Tree” where in the movie, the villagers wrote their goals and hopes on a piece of paper, put it in the colored bottle then let it hanging on the tree’s branch. But in reality, the tree which was located near the edge of the cliff at the village’s border was enclosed with the fence and it had very different appearance, but seeing Sumbawa from up there was amazing nonetheless.

After a short walk, we arrived at the football field, where Mr. Ali prepared a traditional game called “Badempak” for us townfolks. It was a game for men where a person tried to break two people formation with a blow to the legs. Some children were watching the game with us eagerly then suddenly, the field became a fun attraction with lots of loud talks and laughs.

According to Mr. Ali, the best way to start a day in Mantar Village was to enjoy sunrise at the back of the school, exactly at the edge of the cliff, above the clouds. Actually, woke up from a sleep in Mantar was very hard, it was quiet, chilly morning. If it wasn’t for a desire to take good pictures, I’d probably be asleep until the sun was high. Mr. Ali was right, the sunrise at Mantar was just like watching the sun rises from the top of the mountain, I could see the clouds, covering the ground below.

Coming to Mantar village is just like coming home: Warm welcome by nice, friendly people; calm and quiet environment; exceptional views; and great homemade food. Making you wish it’s actually your real home.

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