The word tourist often evokes a negative image – the Hawaiian shirt, Clark Griswold and his inept world travels, the bulging camera around the neck and map in hand. But many modern tourists defy that stereotype as they seek out more authentic travel experiences, preferring to go off the beaten path and interact with the local citizens to learn more about their culture. Often referred to as eco-tourism, this approach to travel emphasizes an appreciation of the local culture’s economy and resources.
Indonesia is incorporating its abundant natural resource of bamboo into unforgettable travel experiences for those brave enough to make the journey.
Following in the trend of learning vacations, the Green School in Bali, Indonesia invites tourists to tour their unique and innovative campus. Combining classic teaching methodology with hands-on learning about sustainability and the environment, the Green School is an oasis of eco-friendly resources. To lessen their footprint on Mother Earth, designers of the school veered away from traditional building materials such as hardwoods and cement, instead opting for traditional Balinese mud bricks, naturally-growing alang-alang grass and the highly sustainable Indonesian Bamboo. The buildings and classroom furniture are constructed primarily from bamboo, including the blackboards! Each student at the Green School plants their own bamboo plant and will eventually harvest it to build whatever they desire. And visitors are encouraged to leave their mark by making a donation in exchange for the honor of having their names added to one of the bamboo support poles in the school.
A highlight of the campus tour is the stunning central building. Referred to as “the heart of the school”, the building is one of the largest bamboo structures in the world and is as sophisticated in its design as many opera houses or cathedrals one could visit. Another spectacular feature on the campus is best described by Ronald Stones, Director of the Green School:
“One of our iconic structures is a stunning bamboo bridge that spans the river and is emblematic of what we aim to achieve at Green School: connecting learning with creativity; environmental responsibility with scientific knowledge; respect for self with respect for the many cultures represented in and around the school.”
For those travelers looking for a more fast-paced adventure, take a ride down the Amandit River on your own bamboo raft! Often combined with a trek through local villages, this bamboo rafting trip takes travelers to Southern Borneo to experience local customs and lush scenery. Adventurers can experience first-hand traditional diamond mining and polishing at Campeka Village and the local fishing market in Waja where trades are made boat to boat. Before embarking on their trip down the Amandit, rafters can watch villagers build the very bamboo rafts that will transport them. They can even get hands- on and help gather the bamboo for the villagers to use! Dayak tribesmen serve as the traditional oarsmen for these sturdy rafts and guide tourists on an incredible journey through the dense rainforest full of exotic animals and flora.
For whichever bamboo destination you choose, make sure to visit Green Earth Bamboo for breathable, super-soft bamboo clothing to pack for your adventure!